Facebook Groups

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More than 400 million people worldwide are Facebook members, and chances are you’re one of them. If you’re not, however, you’ll need to know that Facebook is a social networking site that began as a place for individuals to connect with friends and family. As the site has grown, it has added capabilities that allow organizations, causes, and clubs to create group profile pages. Facebook group pages are easy to create and can help spread your organization’s message to potential new volunteers.

Facebook ads let you target the “right” people.

Before we discuss Facebook group pages, we’ll briefly point out Facebook ads and how you can use them to target potential volunteers.

Ads on Facebook show up in small blocks, usually down the right or left side of a page. The great thing about buying ad space on Facebook is that you can target your ads to the exact users you want to reach. Ads show up for users based on what information they share about themselves in their Facebook profile. This information usually includes age, location, interests, and gender, among other things. You can choose to have your organization’s ads show up only for people in certain zip codes or in certain age ranges. You can also have it show up for people who mention volunteering or working with youth as an interest. When you’re setting up your ad and defining your target audience, Facebook will tell you how many people will see your ad based on your specifications. You’ll know, for example, if you were too specific and your ad will only reach five people.

Facebook ads also let you decide how much you want to spend. You pay a per-click fee when a user clicks your ad. You can choose whether you want to pay, for example, five cents per click or one cent per click. Paying five cents adds up faster, but paying the higher fee also earns your ad higher placement on the page, making it more visible to users. Finally, you can set a ceiling for how much you want to pay per month. For example, if you set your ceiling at $50, your ad won’t appear anymore after you’ve reached that limit. Facebook will alert you when you reach your preset limit, which is a good feature if you’re working on a tight budget.

You determine what happens when someone clicks your ad. You can have it send users to your website, to a volunteer forum, or to anything else online.

Facebook group pages act as an organization’s profile and can complement your website.

Facebook group pages are an additional way to showcase your organization and drive traffic to your website. They also provide a way to maintain control over information about your organization on the web. It’s a good idea to take the time to set up a Facebook page, because any Facebook user could decide to create one about your organization, and they don’t need your permission (or Facebook’s permission) to do so. Creating one yourself allows you to keep control of content and communications.

On your Facebook group page, you’ll provide basic information about your organization, including its name, mission, contact info, and website. It also offers space for you to advertise upcoming events.

Facebook users can find your group page by searching, and they can request to become group “members.” Members are essentially just people who support your group. You can set controls so that users request to become members, and you have to approve them before they have full access to your Facebook page. It’s a good idea to briefly review the profiles of people who request membership, as people post personal and sometimes inappropriate information on Facebook. (People will generally understand your organization isn’t advocating the behavior of your group members, but just try to be aware of who is affiliating themselves with you.)

Features of a Facebook group page include a discussion board, a “wall” on which members can post comments, and a section that links to groups related to yours. Click the icon to explore and learn more about the features of a Facebook group page.

Click to open interactivity Learn about the features of a Facebook group page.

Learn about the features of a Facebook group page.

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Report card: Facebook group pages are easy to use, but require motivated staff to keep them updated.

Facebook group pages are free to set up and use. You will have to pay if you want to post ads, but how much you spend is up to you. Security on Facebook is low, so you shouldn’t post anything that is confidential or not for public view. Facebook works best as a tool to publicize your organization. You can gather new members and generate interest from people not already involved with your organization; however, Facebook is not a great platform for managing messages or exchanging internal information.

In terms of skill level required, administrators should be comfortable posting content to the web. If you already have a personal Facebook profile, you can handle it. If you don’t have experience with Facebook, check with your current staff and volunteers. Chances are, someone is comfortable with the site and can manage the page for you. Make sure, however, that this person can devote time on a regular basis (preferably daily) to keeping page information up-to-date and providing fresh content.

Using or viewing the page is even easier than posting to it. You can look at a Facebook group page without being a Facebook member (though you can’t post comments), so you don’t need a lot of skill to view the page.

Facebook group pages’ key benefits include viral marketing, the chance to connect with a younger demographic, and inexpensive but targeted advertising. Drawbacks are that the page requires consistent monitoring and dedication. You should check the page every day and actively respond to users/members. Also, once again, be cautious with affiliations. Take a cursory glance over member profiles before you approve them.

Visit Facebook to create or manage a page for your organization by clicking here: http://www.facebook.com.