promoting events and news on facebook

exec summ: attach links to facebook status updates and use the share feature to maximize visibility for stuff you want your network to see.

my organization holds events around the country to raise awareness and money for brain tumor research and patient services. we work to publicize those events in the media, including social media. here is a mini case study of the ways to use one of those channels.

putting your best face(book) forward

this weekend, there was a brain tumor walk in portland, oregon. after the event, a supporter used the nbts facebook page to inquire whether pictures were up yet from the day-long walk. our social media manager promptly responded, and added a link she found to local news coverage of the event:

this is good customer service, but what else could we do to leverage the free publicity? as you can see, inserting the hyperlink into a comment provides the link but little in the way of bells and whistles. even if someone “likes” the comment (that’s my thumbs up, btw), the object of one’s affection doesn’t jump to the liker’s stream – therefore, it doesn’t broaden the exposure.

liking versus liking liking versus…what are we, in seventh grade?

facebook’s Like feature is not really a great promotional tool. Note that I am not talking about the “liking” that used to be “becoming a fan.” because once you fan/follow/whatever it is a page, every update to that page shows up in your stream. there’s an opportunity to capture new eyeballs.

no, this liking is that little word that shows up at the tail end of everything in facebook like it wants to be the new period. getting a lot of likes is good for the ego maybe, but for broadening your audience? not so much…

over 600 people liked frank rich’s op ed piece in the times. but their liking it when the piece rolled through their stream did nothing to increase the audience for that information. liking or commenting earns the item a single text line in the other stream:


sharing works better

but wait, you say. what about all that stuff on top in that frank rich piece. a-ha! my friend kevin did more to promote that news item than 600+ casual clickers by sharing his affection. by clicking on “share” rather than (or in addition to) “like,” kevin created a content-promoting engine, complete with an image, a link to the original story – even a brief (and editable) synopsis!

can we do this with the portland walk news piece or other nbts content? can we ever!

I grabbed the link in the original comment above and attached it to a status update. Facebook lets me post the update to just my network or, with the normally dreaded “everyone” setting, makes it a searchable object that can turn up in a google ort yahoo search.

here’s how it looked to my friends. cool!

earlier today I did the same thing to build some buzz for an online event that launches next week, Tulips Against Tumors. I created a status update and attached a link to the info tab on its facebook page

note that the summary contains a link to the actual Tulips Against Tumors website, allowing viewers to navigate directly to it. note, too, how facebook muddies the waters by announcing that “31 people like this.” this just means the TAT facebook page has 31 fans followers adherents, not that 31 people clicked the little “like” below my original post. but I digress.

I asked co-conspirator and light of my life alice hanes to use the share link on the above tulips item, she graciously did so, and this was the result on my page:

to those in alice’s network who don’t (yet) know me, the item showed up like this:

recommendation for non profits or other businesses that want to put themselves in front of potentially vast audiences: have everyone in your organization who is on facebook use the share link to promote events and important news. the resulting barrage of rich media will seem like overkill at first if you are seeing everyone’s share. but remember that your employees/volunteers have a lot more friends who are not associated with you than who are. so while you’re seeing a post five times or ten, you will be reaching a broader audience which will see it only once or twice.

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the qualified yes is Stephen Fry proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache