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Ready, set, Facebook

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Ann Lundquist

Ann Lundquist

Ann Lundquist

“We know we should be on Facebook, we just don’t know how to figure it out.”

How many times have we heard – or even said – this when talking about how to use Facebook and other social media to strategically connect people to our missions?

According to the social-media managers I talked with across the country, the “figuring it out as you go” part of Facebook is part of its real value.

By trying a range of different post formats and content, you’ll learn what engages and motivates your audiences – and what doesn’t – so that you can continually add relevant information and expand your list of followers.

Many of the people I spoke with noted that they started their Facebook efforts because they “knew we needed to do it” or “had a window of opportunity.”

Nobody said they had “figured it out,” but they were willing to share some thoughts based on their experience:

Vary both the format and content of postings you are using.

As you get started, one of the first things to remember is there are many different types of content you can post in various formats, including text, photos, video and links.  Content can include:

  • Updates of activities at your organization or new construction
  • Human-interest stories
  • Media coverage of your organization
  • Events/seminars at your organization
  • Job openings

Calvin Gilbert, design, production & web development manager for Goodwill Industries of Northern New England in Portland, Maine, says that in addition to being mission-oriented, he recommends “finding additional content your readers can relate your organization to, such as thrift shopping and green living for Goodwill.”

He notes that his organization frequently links to guest bloggers who are writing about Goodwill and that often a new blog post will be followed by a spike in new followers.

Focus on quality vs. quantity.

Everyone wants to be liked (which used to be measured by your number of Facebook “fans”), but it is more important to focus on the quality of interactions with your organization than sheer numbers of followers.

Christina Christian, former digital marketing manager for Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Columbus, Ohio, suggests comparing your Facebook presence to a person walking into a party and asking “Am I a good conversationalist?”

She aims for high-quality engaging posts through:

  • Posing a question in the post – “what did you think of our event last night?”
  • Using conversational jargon to create a community – “Hey Columbus”
  • Giving the end user a link or another piece of information
  • Providing an action for followers to take that will help deepen their involvement
  • Creating ways for followers to ask questions and create two-way communication

Keep social media as an element of all marketing plans.

Social media now is “always a standing action item” in marketing plans, says Andy Meyer, marketing consultant for North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn.

He adds that Facebook efforts have helped stretch marketing dollars by providing another way to highlight recent media coverage of the hospital, as well as positive comments by patients and families.

Places to include mention of your organization’s Facebook page include:

  • Website’s homepage
  • Print publications
  • Email-based newsletters
  • Email signature lines
  • Press releases

Maximize relationships with partners and friends.

Facebook is about building relationships – and that goes for relationships with other organizations.

If your organization is partnering with other groups, share their information on your Facebook page and ask them to do the same with your information.

The same goes for other like-minded organizations that share your commitment to a cause.

For example, one national organization is in the beginning stages of its Facebook presence, and an important first step will be to connect with the nearly 100 organizations that recently collaborated on an advocacy effort.

We know they will figure it out.


Ann Lundquist is a senior project director with Shoestring Creative Group, the nonprofit’s agency. She can be reached at affiliates@shoestringgroup.com or

1-888-835-6236.

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