Five key lessons learned: Social media’s impact on CFCA marketing strategies

Guest post by Shanxi Omoniyi, online content manager at Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA).  Founded in 1981,  CFCA has grown into a movement of more than 250,000 sponsors who are supporting more than 300,000 children, youth and aging friends worldwide.

Here at CFCA we’re blessed to have an organizational strategy that is extremely open and flexible to the potential of social media.

We believe in the power of community, and one of the best ways to illustrate that is through our social media team.

The team spans several departments but has one goal: to support our marketing efforts by providing a welcoming space where sponsors and potential sponsors can build community, receive answers to their questions, and hear more about our work.

Here are some of our key learnings over the years:

1)       Personalize wherever possible.

We hear great stories every day of lives being changed through CFCA’s work in developing countries. These are the stories that get the most views on our blog, retweeted most on Twitter, and shared and liked most on Facebook.

Even in blog posts when we’re running a list of “how-tos” or “Top 10 things to remember about sponsorship,” for example, we’ve found that it’s essential to feature a picture of a sponsored friend in the post.

Often your headlines are the most widely read part of your content. Therefore we’ve tried to personalize every blog post headline, tweet and Facebook post.

Sometimes this just involves asking questions: “Why isn’t my sponsored child smiling in photos?” or “What happens when my friend leaves the sponsorship program?”

At other times, it means using pronouns like “you” and “your.” A good rule of thumb is to try to think of your headlines as if they were to appear on the CNN home page – would you click on them?

2)       Encourage your supporters to help you.

We have the best Facebook fans in the world! Whenever we ask them to take action on our behalf, they’ve regularly gone above and beyond by liking, commenting and sharing our posts with their friends.

In 2010 we tried a new approach to helping children in need by posting their pictures and stories in a Facebook photo album. In the post, we encouraged our fans to share these albums with their family and friends.

Because Facebook is such a visual medium, photos are one of the most highly shared items. Over the last two years, more than 80 children, youth and aging people have been featured on Facebook and sponsored.

Photo albums are also a fantastic way to keep your supporters posted because you can regularly update the photos. When you do, everyone who has previously liked, commented or shared the album will receive an update.

3)    Create a hub of great content to support your Facebook efforts.

When we began cross-posting our blog posts to our Facebook wall, we noticed an increase in our blog audience almost immediately.

Additionally, our blog posts also increased our Facebook presence, creating a relationship of mutual encouragement and support.

The CFCA blog has now become central to our social media strategy, where great content is produced and then shared across a variety of platforms such as our website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

4)    Take time to express your appreciation.

Sometimes Facebook pages respond on their wall only to negative comments or comments that ask a question.

While this is better than not responding at all, I strongly encourage Facebook page administrators to respond also to positive comments.

Sometimes just a “Thank you! We appreciate your support” is all it takes to make a commenter feel special and valued. And after all, we want more of those positive posts appearing on our Facebook wall, right?

Tip: Under Facebook’s Account Settings, you can toggle the “Notifications” settings so that Facebook will email you anytime someone posts to your page’s wall or leaves a comment.

5)    Get organized.

For us, a Facebook editorial calendar is an absolute must. It helps reduce writer’s block and keeps us focused on learning how best to serve our audience and how often to call on them.

So far the best experience for us is to post twice a day at most, in the morning and afternoon. It’s a delicate juggling act to know when and what to post, but this has worked best for us in our experience. Also, weekends can be our most responsive times for Facebook posts.

Another tip is to reach out across departments to help with your community outreach. The CFCA social media team started in the Communications department, but we’ve realized over time that social media doesn’t belong to just one person, department or office.

We share updates about Facebook at our weekly community meeting, which includes all departments at our Kansas City headquarters – finance, child services, information systems and more.

Hopefully many of these thoughts will coincide with your own social media experiences. Now it’s your turn! How has social media affected your organization’s awareness and marketing efforts?

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