Launching a new Facebook Page and building your community is no small task. The old phrase, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t usually apply to Facebook. Building a Page from the ground up is months of diligent work, planning, and trial and error.
United for Kids is currently in the process of just that.
Recently we had the chance to talk to Marcus Swift, who is responsible for the growth of their Page. He shared with us his breakthroughs, lessons learned and some of the surprises along the way.
If you’re in the process of growing your Page, this interview is a must-read.
Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy, how often do you post?)
Our audience is mostly Oregonians who care about kids. That includes parents, lawmakers, advocacy groups and voters who want more of an emphasis placed on our youngest members of society. We just launched this movement in March, so we are still small, but growing. We are trying to do so organically and as inexpensively as possible, and ActionSprout has been a good tool to do so. One of the goals of UFK is to highlight our partner organization’s good work—so we also post a lot of content, giving them a shout-out for their efforts.
What does an average day look like?
I manage both the Children First social media and the United for Kids social media, so most days I log in and check on both first thing in the morning. Right now, I’m more focused on the United for Kids Page because we are running an online campaign to increase sign-ups and likes. I will see how my Action is doing, maybe get some inspiration elsewhere to post. As the day goes on, I often get breaking news updates about certain legislation, so I try to post those on Facebook and Twitter as quickly as possible. Throughout the day, I will post and check on content while also doing other things like drafting content for our UFK blog.
How has your Facebook strategy changed over time with the growth of your Page?
At first, we really just needed to get something up and going. We are a small staff and we are often juggling a lot of things at once. So just getting the Page up and completed was a small victory. But we realized pretty quickly that we needed a long-term strategy, so I worked with our amazing consultant who gave me some excellent tips, and we started building our likes, growing the Page, and doing a better job of posting timely and interesting content. One of the first things our consultant recommended was ActionSprout, which has been really helpful so far.
What’s something you wished you learned sooner in terms of social media?
Posting fresh, interesting content that will grab people’s attention is so crucial to maintaining a good readership on your Page. It took me a while to fully understand that and then work hard to make it happen. I’m still not perfect, but it’s a start!
What has been your biggest surprise so far?
I’ve been really surprised at just how big of an audience you can reach through Facebook. I was never convinced that social media was really that important until I started doing the work. Now I realize how big of a positive impact it has on our overall communications goals.
What organizational goals do you hope your Facebook efforts will support?
We are working to sign up as many supporters of United for Kids as possible so that we can build a pro-kids movement in Oregon. Our Facebook efforts are crucial to helping us achieve those sign-ups. Facebook is also helpful because it allows us to start building our reputation as a trusted source for news and information about children’s issues in Oregon.
How are you currently trying to meet these?
We are running an aggressive online sign-up campaign using social media. ActionSprout has been a key part of that strategy. Our UFK blog is also part of our strategy of highlighting the great work by our participating advocacy organizations, individuals and lawmakers. The blog also helps us shine a spotlight on great pro-kid policies that more Oregonians should know about.
What are your goals for the future? How do you plan on meeting these?
We plan to continue building United for Kids over the next several years. Our goal is to grow this movement into an effective force for pro-kid policies. We want to make Oregon the best place to be a kid. We plan to meet that goal by continuing our online work on social media and our blog, as well as our email list, but also through traditional face-to-face, on-the-ground organizing.
Do you have any advice for other nonprofits just starting out?
If you don’t know social media, ask someone who does and learn as much as you can. Then develop a plan; it doesn’t have to be extensive or elaborate—even a one-page plan is helpful—but develop something. It will help you stay on task and on track to meet your goals. My other advice is to set a calendar reminder to post on Facebook every day, several times. That will keep you honest and make sure that you are adding new, fresh content to your Page, which will help increase your reach and your likes.