For lots of rescues, Facebook is used for everything from posting adoptable animals and celebrating adoptions, to hosting events and connecting with other rescuers. But not every rescue has a Facebook "page" (i.e. a profile specifically designed for their rescue group as a non-profit organization), and even those that do will benefit from this article given Facebook itself has likely changed a lot since your rescue's page was first created.
This blog post is the first in a series of FOUR articles that will explore how to set your Facebook Page up for success. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to building amazing relationships with your fans, donors, and potential paw parents!
Before we dive in, let's quickly review a few data points (you know we love our data!) about why, despite it becoming more and more difficult to 'break through' or gain exposure on Facebook, this medium still matters A LOT.
There are 20,000 people on Facebook every second.
People share 1.3 million pieces of content on Facebook every minute of every day.
Users spend 21 minutes per day on average on Facebook.
OK, now, if you don't have a Facebook page yet or if you've had one for a while but it's not getting as much attention (through measures like "likes" or post "engagement) as it used to, here's 2 VERY important questions to ask yourself:
What is the purpose of your Facebook page? Some rescues use their FB page exclusively to post adoptable animals (almost like a replacement to PetFinder). Others use it to celebrate success and connect adopters and fosters. There is no 'right way' to use a Page but HOW you use it will decide what type of person follows you and the impact your page has on your rescue
The reason for this is that - because of the sheer volume of content now on Facebook - Facebook controls which stories appear in a person's newsfeed and which don't...and over time what appears changes based on how much a person interacts with a certain story, what their friends interact with, and how they set up their Facebook newsfeed settings
We won't get into all the technicalities just yet, but the point is, there is less certainty that your rescue's content will show up in your followers' newsfeeds than ever before ... so you want to make sure you think about the purpose of your rescue group page and what type of follower the page will attract before you jump in
Who will manage / is managing your rescue's Facebook page? Once you're up and running, your follower base will only grow if there is new content posted regularly and consistently (at least 1-2 times a week). So who will manage that?
Lots of rescues rely on a dedicated volunteer who will be in charge of updating all of the rescues' social media accounts on a regular basis. College or high school students who are looking for internships and experience are a great crowd to reach out to (We actually used this site to get an intern for Sparkie!).
For those who want to maintain control over their rescues' content, social media management software, like Hootsuite, can be a great option (and they are usually free for a certain number of social media accounts or users)
Side note: It's better to put no content out there than sub-par content, especially since Facebook will only suggest stories to people based on their personal connections and activity on Facebook. So if you want to target potential ADOPTERS, but they only tend to read and share stories about positive rescue outcomes, then a Facebook page full of pleas for dogs won't show up in their feed, however, it might show up on the page of a rescue transport, who engages with rescue requests frequently. Again, there's no 'right' or 'wrong' here, just different outcomes based on rescue page goals
If you don't have an answer to both of these questions yet, give it some more thought before you create a page. And if you already have one, challenge yourself to see if you can easily answer them (and if you can't, take a step back and think about where you want your rescue Facebook page to go in the future)
OK so now that you know what your rescue page is going to be used for and how you'll keep it updated, here's a few tips to get started setting up your page:
Have a profile picture and cover photo ready.
Your profile picture should be 180 by 180 pixels and your cover photo should be 815 pixels (wide) by 351 pixels (long). If your photos seem too big, simply resize your image in a photo editing tool like Microsoft Paint or Mac’s Preview (get that social media manager to help you out :)
Lots of rescues use their logo as the profile picture and then their slogan (usually with an engaging photo) as their cover photo
- Decide on a tone of voice to help keep all of your posts consistent.
- Some organizations that do this really well include the ASPCA and American Red Cross. Both Facebook pages post content consistently and in the same 'style'. If you decide to post a video every week, make sure you stick to it. This encourages your Facebook fans to form habits and come back week after week (and increases the chances of your stories appearing in their feed)
Use a calendar to plan out your content
Coming up with good content consistently can be challenging. But having a calendar to follow helps A LOT. It will force you to think about your posts and, by laying everything out across a couple weeks or months, you'll be able to more easily visualize how everything fits together. Content calendars can be as simple as a sketch on a piece of paper, or as organized as a spreadsheet
OK, ready to get started? Here’s a quick tutorial of how to create your rescue's very own Facebook page:
Does your rescue have a Facebook page? How have you used it? How have you seen it help your animal rescue? Share your thoughts on this in the comments section, or directly with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.