It goes without saying that, next to text message and email, Facebook is the default publication, data management, and communication tool for animal rescue groups. But Facebook is also a massive technology company that updates the way users find, see, and engage with content almost daily; so if you aren't keeping up with it, it's easy to become overwhelmed or confused by these changes.
So for this post we decided to highlight 3 very useful parts of Facebook that your rescue may not be aware of but, by the end of reading, should be confident in giving a try!
1. "Official" Facebook for Non-Profits Materials
If you want to really understand in great detail all the ways FB helps non-profits then it's worth spending some time on a page they created specifically for non-profits called, simply, Non-Profits on FB. Launched over a year ago, it looks to us like it's been revamped in the last couple months.
The website not only goes through the basics of effectively setting up a Facebook page, but it also offers best practice tips to address different objectives that non-profits want to fulfill, such as raising brand awareness or utilizing the donations feature. Interactive videos and lots of screenshots make it fairly easy to understand and digest all the information.
2. Consider an Ad (or a Boosted Post)
First let's call out the minor difference between these 2 promotional tools.
- Boosted Posts are, well, what they sound like. After you write a post you will see a button on the bottom right of the post asking you if you'd like to 'boost your post', which just means pay some money to make sure it shows up on your followers' feeds.
While this can be super useful if there is an urgent message you want to communicate, be careful not to rely on this feature too heavily. The reason is that, like a lot of things, over time your followers may get tired of seeing so many urgent posts appear and decide to unfollow your rescue group entirely or, worse, hide the post or report it. So we recommend to use this feature sparingly.
- Ads, on the other hand, don't show up in your feed and act the way well, TV or print ads might work in that they are targeted to certain audiences to raise awareness of your rescue. Firstly, to create an add, you need to find the Facebook Ads Manager tool on your Facebook page, which is located at the top of your FB page:
Once selected, you'll be in the FB Ads manager, which has a slightly different look and feel from the rest of FB
Once here, you first want to select your goal for the ad.
As an example let's say you want to boost page likes, you can select "page likes" from one of the categories in the Ads Manager
From there you can target your audience so your ad will reach a specific demographic. When targeting your audience, two important questions to consider are:
- Who do I need to reach to have the impact I want?
- Who will most likely respond to the call to action?
Once you figure out those answers, you can enter the necessary information like age, gender, location, interests and hobbies, to deliver your ad to this demographic. Facebook Ads Manager actually has a pretty cool meter that determines whether or not your target audience is too broad or specific. Falling far into either spectrum will make your ad ineffective, so make sure you find a balance in the middle!
Once targeting is done, you can now focus on the visuals of the ad.
Make sure the images and text you use are personalized to the audience you're trying to reach. Use images that are striking and that will grab people's attention when scrolling through their newsfeed. When writing the headline, make sure the text is conversational and will prompt users to want to share the ad with their friends and family.
Here is an example of an ad we ran to increase page likes:
3. Facebook for Events
Finally, consider using your page to not just promote but also schedule and manage events. After all, as a rescue, you're doing more than just saving animals' lives, you're also an active participant and an integral member of a huge community. As such, chances are you host several events a year (or month), so why not use Facebook's event pages to advertise those events and track attendance?
The good thing about the event feature is that it's pretty straightforward.
Once on your page, just set up an invite and fill in the requisite info, like this:
Just a couple final tips about events in general:
- At the event you want to make sure that it's exciting for people to share their experiences with their friends and family. Encourage everyone at the event to take pictures and videos to share on their own Facebook walls! Some rescues actually run contests where the the best social media post will get a special prize. This is an interesting way to incentivize people to publish your event
- After an event is done, make sure you follow up with your intended audience, even if they were unable to attend. In our case, when we hosted our first webinar unfortunately only 5 of 40 RSVPS attended; but we nevertheless sent out a post that provided a link for users to view the session online conveniently. This allows for continuous engagement and keeps your rescue on everyone's radar!
Hopefully this blog post has shown that Facebook has a lot of usefulness to animal rescue, but if you aren't using it the right way - or trying out the most recently released features - you might not be getting the most out of it. We hope these tips and tricks give you something new to think about in promoting your rescue.
As always, if you have any questions about this - or anything related to animal rescue + tech - let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!