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This post was authored by Frank Barry, Blackbaud digital marketing strategist.
In my most recent session of the School's Out for Summer series, I took a deep dive into how schools can get the most out of Facebook. It was a lot of fun presenting (and talking to) this extremely engaged group of people. You can find out about upcoming sessions here. Here are the six steps we covered in the session.
With Facebook, schools have an incredible opportunity to deepen relationships with families, students, and alumni.
Is your school (or nonprofit) getting the most out of the platform? Are you using Facebook to its full potential?
Based on what I've seen, I'd say there's a high likelihood you're not.
But there is hope!
Amongst the countless schools I found using Facebook poorly, there were plenty of shining examples of schools doing really well utilizing Facebook to build lasting relationships with families, students, and alumni (both universities and K-12).
Here are some of the key findings and takeaways from my presentation.
Your Facebook cover photo is prime real estate. It’s the thing that people will see first when they visit you on Facebook. Think about it like you would that area on your main website – you have two seconds to grab the attention you want.
When choosing your Facebook cover photo, make sure you keep your brand in mind, but try to also show off your culture, history, mission, and values. You might also try having a little fun with your cover photo. Here’s a few ways you could go about it:
Make sure the photo is high quality and sized correctly (851 pixels by 315 pixels).
One of the first things a new visitor will do on your Facebook page is check out your profile – even if it’s only a quick glance at the small box located right under your profile picture. Make sure you take full advantage of this area.
Here are a few tips to ensure your Facebook "about" section is useful to those who look at it:
Milestones give you the ability to tell people more about your history. Most schools (and nonprofits) have a long history of helping their community. Keep that in mind and do your best to tell the world about the work you're doing.
If you haven’t yet, think of at least five milestones that help tell your story, then hop over to Facebook and fill them in. Use photos as much as possible.
Here are a few quick ideas to get the creative juices flowing…
Apps (the icons you see above highlighted in the red box) are Facebook's version of a call to action. Nonprofits (and schools) understand how to use calls to action in their appeals. Think about these "apps" in a similar way.
Use them to get your Facebook fans to take the actions you want them to take.
Apps are also a great way to continue reinforcing your brand (see how well LIVESTRONG has done it in the image above?). You have the ability to use your own icons, so you’re only limited by your imagination.
What types of things could you do here?
Make sure the photo is high quality and sized correctly (111 pixels by 74 pixels).
Before you can engage your nonprofit's or school's supporters, students, teachers, families, or alumni on Facebook, you’ve got to build a relationship with them (on Facebook) – meaning you can’t simply rely on them being fans, you have to get them to engage with your posts on a regular basis.
If your supporters don’t engage with you regularly, then even when you do post to your Facebook wall, they won’t see what you’ve posted.
So how do you create more engagement?
There are a lot more factors that matter when it comes to creating engaged fans on Facebook. Check out 22 Ways to Stay Connected with Your School’s Alumni on Facebook for more on this topic.
Getting your nonprofit's or school's Facebook fans to create content in the form of pictures, videos, status updates, or questions and then share it on your Facebook page is arguably the top thing you should focus on when trying to build an effective presence on Facebook.
But Facebook made that slightly more challenging with the introduction of a feature they call "Timeline."
Now that Timeline is in place, Facebook no longer puts fan posts directly into your wall.
If a fan posts something directly to your Facebook page (meaning, not in response via a like, comment, or share to something you’ve posted), it will now show up in a small box located below the "number of people who like this" section in the right column.
That means you need to actively monitor what your fans are doing on your page and, when appropriate, highlight their content.
Here’s how to highlight fan content. Go to the Admin bar at top of your fan page (you’ve got to be logged in as an admin). Then select the Edit page button > Use Activity Log. You’ll see a screen similar to what you see below.
Dig through the activity log to find posts from your fans that you want to highlight. Once you find something, you can hit the little circle located to the right of the activity, click on it, and select "Highlighted on Page."
Bam! You’ve just made one lucky fan very happy!
Make sure to check out the full presentation. You can view the slides by clicking below or download them from SlideShare (look for the download button right above the slides when you get to SlideShare).
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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