Things to Know Before Getting Started
What is Facebook?
Facebook is a social networking website that makes it easy to connect and share with family and friends online. Originally designed for college students, Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg while he was enrolled at Harvard University. By 2006, anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address could join Facebook. Today, Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with more than 1 billion users worldwide. (Source:http://www.gcflearnfree.org/facebook101/2)
71% of adult internet users and 58% of the entire adult population use Facebook. Usage among seniors is increasing. Women are also particularly likely to use Facebook compared with men.
Among Facebook users, the median number of Facebook friends is 155. When asked to approximate how many of their Facebook friends they consider “actual” friends, the median number reported was 50.
Facebook users have a wide variety of friends on the network:
- 93% of Facebook users say they are Facebook friends with family members other than parents or children
- 91% say they are Facebook friends with current friends
- 87% say they are connected to friends from the past, such as high school or college classmates
- 58% say they are connected to work colleagues
- 45% say they are Facebook friends with their parents
- 43% say they are friends with their children on Facebook
- 39% say they are connected to people they have never met in person
- 36% say they are Facebook friends with their neighbors
How It Works
Time and Effort Requirement
Facebook is a relatively low-resource platform. You can maintain a consistent posting schedule in a small amount of time and share existing resources. You may also invest a larger amount of time and resources into creating your own content for the platform, such as creating graphics, making videos, or blog posts.
- Post consistently
- Post once a day at a minimum
- Consistency in quality and type of posts helps people know what to expect from you
- Using a content calendar can help you plan ahead and make sure posts cover the major topics you intend to cover
- Use Facebook’s native scheduling tool to schedule posts for when the majority of your audience is online, such as Saturday and Sunday mornings
- Invest in a quality graphic design for your profile picture and timeline cover. First impressions are very important on social networks.
- Turn on “Similar Page Suggestions” to increase your Likes
- Under Settings > Similar Page Suggestions, tic the box to include your page when Facebook recommends similar pages
- Prioritize uploading photos over posting links
- Research consistently demonstrates that photos receive more engagement than any other type of post
- Pin popular updates to the top of your page
- Post a link to your schedule of direct education classes or website
- Have more than one administrator for your page
- To protect your organization from losing access to its page, have at least two Admins with full privileges. You can view the administrative privileges of various roles here.
- Add Facebook icons to your website, newsletters, recruitment materials, etc.
- Stay away from posting your opinion. Stick to information and tips from evidence-based sources and present the information with a positive but unaffected tone.
- Check the length of your post and consider the average attention span. If you have to hit “Continue Reading” to read the rest of you post, this may be too long.
- Do not use Facebook to “vent” about social issues. Remember you are representing a professional organization and you are receiving funds from the federal government.
- Make sure what you post is applicable to your target audience (i.e., do not promote recipes using expensive, hard-to-find ingredients to a rural, low-income audience)
- Consider your tone, as with all online communication (text can be misinterpreted).
- Avoid “post chain status updates” to promote a cause that may be important to you. This is where you encourage your network to re-post your original post about a social cause in order to reach a wider network and raise public awareness. Although the intention is good, when one’s newsfeed fills up with the same status, people tend to get annoyed instead, associating negative emotions to the social cause.
- Always use legal images (original or purchased from a stock-subscription). If you use images in the public domain, make sure to read the fine print. Sometimes, they require you to credit the source or impose limitations for use.
- If you are linking to another organization’s webpage, blog, recipe or resources, always credit the source.
- Be mindful of linking to recipes. If you do not fully trust the site from which it came, you may consider testing the recipe before posting. Recipes may appear healthy and perfect for your target audience, but end up tasting terrible or containing inaccurate cooking instructions.
- Reply to comments, especially if they are questions. Reply in an informative tone and refrain from arguing.
Facebook can be used to post text status updates, images with captions, videos (either by sharing a link or by uploading directly to Facebook), and links. Hashtags are enabled on Facebook, but are not a core use on the platform. Content must follow Facebook’s Community Standards.
Specific uses within EFNEP
- Determine your goals and objectives for your Facebook page and research best practices for before launching your own page. Consider formulating a charter to guide your efforts.
- Understand your organization’s social media guidelines prior to launching your Facebook page
- Determine resources available to administer and maintain the Facebook page
- Determine how you will reach your target audience (i.e., advertisement through your program participants and community partners)
- Can use Facebook Insights to determine the demographics of your followers, such as gender, age range, geographic location (city, state), and language spoken (note: income level cannot be determined)
- Monitoring the popularity of the posts with Facebook Insights will help determine the types of posts and content that is most useful and relevant to the target audience
- Consider having your counties administer a survey at the end of the last direct education class to the participants who have decided to follow the Facebook page. This will aid in formative research necessary to improve and fine-tune social media efforts.
- Consider whether you want to have a state-wide page only, or if you want each county to have its own page (note that county-level pages take more resources but are able to promote that county’s direct education series and other local community partner efforts)
- Content shared on Facebook should be research-based and reflective of the core areas of SNAP-Ed and EFNEP. These areas include diet quality, physical activity, food resource management, household food safety, and food security.
- All content shared and links to external resources should be science-based and unbiased. Plagiarism should not be accepted.
- Respect all copyrights of content sources, including photos and references to the original source.
- Photography used should include original photos, stock photos purchased through a stock purchase subscription, or else be from sites in the public domain or who encourage the sharing of their materials on social media, with references provided.
- Content should be appropriate to your target audience, taking into consideration recommended reading levels, as well as culturally appropriate materials.
- Content should have a conversational, yet professional tone. Messages should be presented in an active voice using positive language for optimal impact on followers’ knowledge retention and behavior change.
- Content should contain behavior-oriented advice and not solely information.
- Consider sharing content from organizations with similar goals and objectives, as a way to build partnerships with the community and grow a wider audience, assuming those partners may also choose to occasionally share your content.
- Encourage two-way dialogue by asking open-ended questions and encouraging people to comment. Make sure a resource is assigned to monitor comments.
- Determine policies to protect your integrity as well as criteria for the comments posted to your Facebook page. Monitor them frequently and delete any inappropriate comments.
- Consider how to keep your Nutrition Educators or Program Managers in the loop, considering county-specific internet usage guidelines.
- If some will not be able to access the page at work, consider creating a “monthly digest” of posts planned or posted for that month and sending it out to your listserv.
- Consider creating guidelines around how much time county-level staff may spend on Facebook if you encourage them to keep up with your page.
- Consider stigma when creating your Facebook page. If your nutrition education program has a neutral name, use that instead of labeling the page “SNAP-Ed” or “EFNEP.” These terms are acronyms that not many people may know, and if they do know them, they may carry stigma.
- Create a short description of your page that concisely sums up the information you will be offering on your page.
- If an indicia is required, it can be added to the long description in the “About” tab.
- Make sure to include your website address
- If you have a blog specific to your nutrition education program on your organization’s website, link back to your blog entries with “teasers” on Facebook.
- Google Analytics may be utilized to determine hits to your website, and the percentage of hits that originate from the Facebook page. In this way, you can determine whether social media is increasing the visibility of the program.
Facebook Live video streaming (launched April 2016)