This guest blog post was written by Shanxi Omoniyi, online content manager for Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA). Founded in 1981, CFCA is a nonprofit sponsorship organization serving more than 300,000 children, youth and aging friends in 22 countries.
At CFCA we value the opportunity that social media provides in helping us create a community of compassion around the world.
Hopefully these best practices we’ve compiled can help other nonprofits harness the enthusiasm of their Facebook supporters to continue making the world a better place!
1) Put your best face forward.
Your Facebook profile picture is prime real estate in the social media community. It shows up on people’s news feeds, search fields and wall posts.
Just like a personal profile picture, it’s best to have a person’s face there as well as your organization’s logo. Not only does it humanize your organization, but it also gives you the opportunity to recognize your whole Facebook community.
In August 2010 we introduced the “Faces of CFCA” profile pictures, where we feature a picture of a sponsor with their sponsored child or aging friend for a whole month.
It’s a way of appreciating our sponsors and thanking them for being such strong CFCA supporters. And we’re happy to say we’re still getting submissions months after our introduction!
2) Encourage your supporters to help you.
We have the best Facebook fans in the world! Whenever we ask them to take action on our behalf, they’ve regularly gone above and beyond by liking, commenting and sharing our posts with their friends.
In 2010 we tried a new approach to helping children in need by posting their pictures and stories in a Facebook photo album (see an example here). In the post, we encouraged our fans to share these albums with their family and friends.
Because Facebook is such a visual medium, photos are one of the most highly shared items. Last year 52 children, youth and aging people were featured on Facebook and sponsored.
Photo albums are also a fantastic way to keep your supporters posted because you can regularly update the photos. When you do, everyone who has previously liked, commented or shared the album will receive an update.
3) Create a hub of great content to support your Facebook efforts.
When we began cross-posting our blog posts to our Facebook wall, we noticed an increase in our blog audience almost immediately.
Additionally, our blog posts also increased our Facebook presence, creating a relationship of mutual encouragement and support.
The CFCA blog has now become central to our social media strategy, where great content is produced and then shared across a variety of platforms such as our website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
4) Take time to express your appreciation.
Sometimes I’ve seen Facebook pages that respond on their wall only to negative comments, or comments that ask a question.
While this is better than not responding at all, I strongly encourage Facebook page administrators to respond also to positive comments.
Sometimes just a “Thank you! We appreciate your support” response is all it takes to make a commenter feel special and valued. And after all, we want more of those positive posts appearing on our Facebook wall, right?
Tip: Under Facebook’s Account Settings, you can toggle the “Notifications” settings so that Facebook will email you anytime someone posts to your page’s wall or leaves a comment.
5) Get organized.
For us, a Facebook editorial calendar is an absolute must. It helps reduce writer’s block and keeps us focused on learning how best to serve our audience and how often to call on them.
So far the best experience for us is to post twice a day at most, in the morning and afternoon. It’s a delicate juggling act to know when and what to post, but this has worked best for us in our experience. Also, weekends can be our most responsive times for Facebook posts.
Another tip is to reach out across departments to help with your community outreach. The CFCA social media team started in the Communications department, but we’ve realized over time that social media doesn’t belong to just one person, department or office.
We share updates about Facebook at our weekly community meeting, which includes all departments at our Kansas City headquarters – finance, child services, information systems and more.
From this has come a growing, vibrant Facebook community that never ceases to amaze me. It’s been my privilege and great joy to work at CFCA, and I’m excited to see where 2012 takes us!
Do you have any best practices for growing your Facebook community? This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!