Please—don’t start a Facebook Page.
I mean it–don’t.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. Starting a Facebook Page can be a great way to dive into social media. And now that over half of Americans are Facebooking away, odds are good that at least part of your audience is there waiting for you.
So I’ve changed my mind–go ahead and start a Facebook Page. But please, before you do…
- Get comfortable. Facebook works in mysterious ways, but creating an account for yourself, connecting with a few of your friends, and liking some Pages can help you get the lay of the land. And if you’re the type who likes to read all the instructions before you play the game, there’s also a comprehensive Help Center with a guide to getting started and a special Page of resources for nonprofits.
- Set goals. Why are you creating a Page? “Because everybody’s got one” isn’t a good enough answer. Figure out what Facebook means to your organization’s communications strategy, and why you want people to connect with you there. Then invite, promote, and create content in ways that help you reach your goals.
- Make time. Facebook isn’t magic. Like any tool, it doesn’t do the work for you–the results you see are proportional to the time you invest. Most nonprofits need to spend at least two hours a week posting, responding, measuring, and growing.
- Stay cool. It’s all too easy to overshare on Facebook. If you post too often, your likers will feel spammed, and they’ll hide your updates. So start slow–limit yourself to one post per day, encourage responses by including a question or call to action in each post, and see what happens. If your likers are loving it, you can start stepping up the volume.
- Integrate. Your Facebook community shouldn’t be a world unto itself. Promote your Page on other materials–websites, emails, brochures–and vice versa, and make sure your Facebooking supports and reinforces your other communications.
- Have patience. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting an immediate response or rapid growth in your first weeks and months on Facebook. It takes getting used to, both for your organization and for your audience. Try new things–different types of posts, different times of day, different frequency–and keep an eye out for small successes that you can build on.
And if all this Facebook stuff doesn’t align with your nonprofit’s values or support your communications goals, don’t start a Page. Really. It’s okay. Facebook is one tool among many–powerful, yes, and popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for every nonprofit.
If you’re on Facebook, what would you recommend to a newcomer to help her get started? If you haven’t taken the Facebook plunge yet, what’s holding you back? Add your thoughts in the comments.