Digital Outreach

Building a nonprofit’s Facebook presence & community: success story by Presbyterian Homes & Services

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Finding time to post on Facebook is tough. Getting people’s attention on Facebook is even tougher. Perhaps most challenging of all is convincing your nonprofit coworkers and your board that a strong nonprofit Facebook presence is crucial to building up your nonprofit community.

These are obstacles Minnesota-based nonprofit, Presbyterian Homes & Services, ran into this past year: not everyone believed Facebook would be worth such an effort due to the expense and time commitment. Likewise, seeing as the nonprofit serves 42 communities across 3 states, their reach is fairly widespread, which makes a well-maintained Facebook page an even greater feat. One final challenge? The employees of this nonprofit consider themselves as guests in these residents’ homes. Because of this, when the staff have photos or stories to share online, they have to make sure each individual feels comfortable sharing the content.

Despite these challenges, like many nonprofits, Presbyterian Homes & Services rose to the occasion. Since they’ve seen such success, we can all follow their lead. They even found out ways to make the process rather fun. Read how they approached increasing their nonprofit’s Facebook presence and review some examples of their success below. Hopefully you feel as inspired as we were.

Success by numbers

Presbyterian Homes & Services Facebook page was set up back in 2012. For the first few years, they were comparable to other nonprofits on social media, struggling to increase interaction on their page and not finding the time to develop a strong social strategy.

In the last six months, they launched an effort to start pilot pages as branches of their main Facebook page – which they hope to eventually do for each of their 40+ communities – and to put more energy into the Presbyterian Homes & Services page itself. Since this initiative, it is rare to see a post on this page that didn’t have Facebook reactions like hearts or thumbs up and several shares. What’s more, they now have over a thousand page likes.

The reason for the success?

Besides their diligence and hard work, it’s become clear the community is there – their target audience is already on Facebook (find out more about meeting your target audience on social media in this podcast). Plus, there’s evidently a desire from this audience to connect with fellow residents and share this community with their friends and family.

How did they do it?

To cover this story, I spoke with Director of Sales & Marketing, Darcy DeMars, and she excitedly shared how this success has unraveled.

As far as residents sharing their stories, they’ve continued to make sure the needs of residents are met first, so they only share with permission. The positive effect of this is it also means the posts that are shared are often from people who are more excited to be a part of the social media effort. They these folks share with their family and friends.

Darcy admits it takes some time to gather content and manage this social strategy on her own – an hour or so each day. Fortunately she also gets help from members of other staff as they enthusiastically share photos and stories from their own community. This work has resulted in several success stories of which Darcy and crew can be quite proud.

To track all of this, Darcy takes notes on what’s worked. She’s also careful to track holidays and other such trends to makes sure Presbyterian Homes & Services has something to say. She has experimented with Hootsuite, but is still figuring out the best tool to help manage all this content.

Telling Residents’ Stories

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Having Residents & Family Check In

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Connecting & Building Community

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Showcasing Awards

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Promoting Their Communities & Services

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Celebrating Holidays

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Participating in the Greater Good & Spreading Awareness

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Recognizing Employees

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HR Recruiting

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What can you do now?

As Presbyterian Homes & Services continues to grow their Facebook presence, they are working towards getting each community on its own Facebook page and encouraging them to post more frequently. Then, once those pages are regularly updated by each separate communities’ staff, each community can share content and stories amongst one another. Hopefully, this will increase ties between communities, while also building up each community as a whole.

Share this post if you need help showing your nonprofit board or fellow staff members all that social media can do. Similarly, take a look at “Convincing your board content marketing matters” to help your case.