Facebook posts that help spread your message

If you manage your school or organisation’s Facebook page – keep the following tips in mind to help build your community and get your posts read.

Watch your language. Your posts will be read by a wide audience of people who may not be familiar with the jargon and terminology used in your field. Keep your language simple and generic so that a non-expert can understand your posts. Don’t use profanity or your account will be blocked and people may unlike your page.

Give your posts a human face that is unique to your school or organisation. Posts shouldn’t read as if they were auto-generated. First-hand accounts of real people in your organisation and what they are doing are more likely to get people’s interest that content recycled from other pages.

Time your posts for when your audience will be interested. Look at your page statistics to see when most of your posts are viewed and aim to post at those times – or to schedule posts at times when people are likely to read them. You will have more views if you schedule posts for lunch time, evenings or break times when people are looking for something to read than posts in the middle of the night or during peak working hours.

Consider adding videos to your posts. The most viewed posts on Facebook are ones that include a video or an image. Be aware though that people using Free Facebook or Facebook Lite may not see your videos, and people may not want to use up too much of their own data playing your videos. Also – keep your videos short – most people stop watching after 30 seconds unless you really grab their attention. Remember that many people will watch your videos with the sound off so consider adding in subtitles so they can read the dialogue.

Use photographs with caution. Posts with great photos get more engagement than text only post however make sure you have got people’s permission to post their photos. If you are working with children, old people or people with sensitive health challenges take extra precautions not to reveal people’s identities unless you have written permission to do so. Possible work arounds include showing people from the back, taking photographs of their hands or feet only, blurring out faces, asking children to hold the items such as tablets or soccer balls in front of their faces. Other options include replacing photos with stock images from free photo sharing sites (not plagiarizing other people’s images) or using animations, clip art or cartoons.

Aim for short and sweet. Think of how you can convey your message in 140 characters (like a Tweet!) and aim to keep most of your posts to this length. If you do have longer content to share you can link to a longer article, blogpost or item on your website, but posts that are too long will get scrolled over.

Get a range of input but keep consistency. Few schools or organisations employ a full time person who is only responsible for social media – but you don’t want your Facebook page to only include photos and news from one department. To have a range of fresh news on their pages, some organisations and schools ask various people to send their content and photos to the person who actually posts it on Facebook. At other organisations, multiple people have publishing rights on the organisation’s page but they also aim to use a consistent style.

Include a call to action. If you want people to do something – like your post, donate to your cause, sign up to attend an event – make this clear in your post using simple language and including your request at the top of your post. Including a suitable image – for example of someone one the phone if you want people to call now – may also boost responses.

Consider reposting tweaked content. If you posted something and didn’t get many responses, consider reworking the post and posting it again. A different image and tweaked wording, or posting at a different time may boost engagement. Reposting the exact same post over and over, without other fresh posts in between though will lead to unlikes.

Read and respond to the comments. If people are asking lots of questions in the comments section about info that should have been obvious from your original post, your post may need reworking. Of course, comments that show engagement should be welcomed and questions should be responded to so that you show appreciation for people who have shown an interest in what you do.

Keep the 80-20 rule in mind. Provide content that your audience will enjoy 80% of the time – news and photos, memes, jokes, tips, links to useful articles etc. This will help you to build an audience, who can then respond to the 20% of your posts where you ask your audience to do something – register for an event, donate to your cause, share their views etc.

Tag people and organisations to help amplify your message. If you are working with another school or organisation on a project – tag them in your post so that it appears in their timeline. Ditto if specific people were involved in a project or event. Do this with caution though so people don’t feel that you are spamming them or taking over their timelines with your posts. If you like other organisations’ pages they may like you back – so that you can both benefit from working together.

Consider scheduling posts around a theme. You can schedule posts in advance which means that your page will always have fresh news even if the person who does your posting is unavailable or your school or organisation have no current events. Make a regular feature, such as #ThrowbackThursday (where you post images or events from your archives) or #MotivationMonday (which gives a thought or goal for the week) so that people start getting familiar with your posts.

Many of these tips and ideas were originally shared by Sam Posselt of Phambano Technology Development Centre, Cindy McNally who runs the SA NPO Network and Gina Woo the Facebook Global Programs for Good Manager at the Facebook NGO Day which took place in Sandton on 26 June 2018.  We will definitely be putting this advice into action on our SchoolNet SA Facebook page – but we are sharing this advice here because we know that a lot if it will apply to school Facebook pages too.

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