by George Taniwaki
In addition to direct contact with friends and acquaintances through letters and email, you should also consider using the web to reach a larger circle of friends-of-friends. This method of less personal communications is called social media. The three most popular social media services are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. A description of each service and how it can be used in your search is described below. To start, I recommend you sign up for a Facebook page for your kidney donor search once you have completed your initial direct contacts.
If you are already an experienced social media user, you may want to consider expanding your search by setting up a blog or even a custom personal website. These options are also discussed below.
In all cases, you should not rely on social media exclusively for your search. Direct contact is more likely to be the successful way to find a donor. For some data on how the number of newspaper articles that mention finding a donor using Facebook, see a May 2013 article on the Living Kidney Donors Search tool site.
Facebook is a social network that helps friends and families stay connected. Since there is often little overlap between different friends, a circle of friends-of-friends can often be very large. This can help you find a donor who you don’t know directly but who nonetheless has a connection to you.
If you don’t already have a personal Facebook page, you can quickly and easily set one up at https://www.facebook.com. All you need is an email address and a password. Remember to create a secure password and not to use the same password that you use for your email account.
Once you have a personal account, you can create a page specifically for your kidney donor search. A great place to find tips is at Find A Kidney Central.
If you prefer to do it yourself, start by going to the Create a Page site and click on Cause or Community. Give your cause a name like “Kidney Kampaign for John Smith”, agree to the terms, and click Get Started. You should select a name that can last because you cannot change it after the page receives 200 “Likes” from visitors.
Once you have created your page, you will want to take the following steps.
- Add admins. These are other people, like your “matchmaker,” who will also have the ability to make changes to the page. There are several types of admins, so take care in choosing who can do what. For more see Managing Admins in the Facebook Help Center
- Customize the page. Add a cover photo, profile photo, and complete the summary information. For more, see Customizing How your Page Looks in the Facebook Help Center
- Get an audience. Send an invitation to everyone you know, both on Facebook and elsewhere to “Like” your page. Once they do this, posts of your page will appear on their timeline feed. For more, see Reach More People in the Facebook Help Center
- Keep them coming back. To keep people interested in your search, and to keep your posts from falling to the bottom of your audience’s timeline, you need to provide regular posts that receive “Likes.” A rule of thumb is to have a post at least twice a month, but probably not more than twice a week (unless it is timely news). For more, see Best Practices of Page Admins in the Facebook Help Center.
Screenshot of Facebook community page entitled Wanted: Kidney Donor
Incidentally, you should Like the Living Kidney Donors Network Facebook page so that you can participate in the discussion and support provided by other kidney patients and donors.
LinkedIn is a social network that targets working professionals and employers. You can create a “Group” in LinkedIn that is similar to a “Page” on Facebook. However, I do not recommend this. First, my guess is that very few professionals will want to join a group dedicated to finding you a kidney donor. Second, maintaining two pages (one on Facebook and another on LinkedIn) will be a burden on you. Instead, I recommend posting occasional reminders on your LinkedIn profile for people to join your Facebook page.
Note that I could not find any groups on LinkedIn dedicated to finding a donor for a kidney patient.
Twitter is a broadcast service that allows a member to create a short message called a tweet that is sent to a self-selected group called followers. The followers can see all Tweets sent to them by viewing the feed page.
I recommend using Twitter to announce updates to your blog or website. However, I don’t think Twitter is the correct media to send the actual content of a blog entry or changes to a website since they would probably be too long. Twitter can be used to announce updates to your Facebook page or the entire content of a Facebook post if it is short.
I have a Twitter account that I use to broadcast updates to my blog. I follow several people and publications, but must admit I do not check my Twitter feed regularly. For instance, the screenshot taken below is the first time I have logged into Twitter in several months.
Screenshot of my Twitter feed page
Facebook is a great way to post current information. However, it only allows posts to be organized by date and it is difficult to search for content. If you want to create a repository of information and don’t mind being limited in format or style, then I recommend using one of several free blogging services. The blog you are now reading is hosted by WordPress, though I also like TypePad and blogger.
Screenshot of home page of blog entitled Kidney transplant for kylies mom
If you are comfortable managing content on your own and want complete control over the user experience including text, pictures, video, and interactive elements (also called widgets), then you may want to create a custom website (using a web host such as GoDaddy, Intuit, Yola, or many others).
The cost of registering a domain name is about $10 per year and hosting a website is about $5 to $10 per month. The hosting companies provide website templates, but you can also customize your site as you see fit if you know web programming, or know someone who does.
For an example of a custom website, visit www.HarveysKidneyKampaign.com. This is the site developed by Harvey Mysel, the founder of the Living Kidney Donors Network. This site does not have any fancy interaction but is nicely done. Harvey gives permission to any kidney patient who wants to copy content from this site.
Screenshot of home page of a custom website at HarveysKidneyKampaign.com
For more ideas on finding a donor, see my Kidney patient guide.
[Update1: Added a link to article on the LKDS website.
Update2: Added a link to Find A Kidney Facebook page.]