The following article first appeared in the Sustained! web magazine from PEJE, an organization that serves day schools. Ken Gordon is the Social Media Manager of PEJE. It's an excellent article about how to build an online community on Facebook that can be applied to any organization. Read the full article on Sustained! a Facebook page for your Jewish day school community. You put up a few posts… and the only response was the soft click of crickets in your backyard. What now? Now you grapple with an important and awkward truth: social media is not entirely obvious. Using Facebook is not like reading a book. Or listening to a teacher in class. Or, you know, just talking to another person. Social media is a strange new kind of human communication, and it has its own obscure commandments. For those of us who didn't learn to talk and tweet at the same time, this stuff must be gleaned on the fly, later in life. You won't find a handbook on Jewish day school social media citizenship in the how-to section of any bookstore, or anywhere else for that matter. Indeed, the day school world is only starting to emigrate into this part of the universe. (Which is why AVI CHAI started their Social Media Academy for day schools, which is a great first introduction to the world of Fans and Followers.) Point is: Your Facebook kehila may be very perplexed; if so, show them the proper way to behave by offering a few essential principles of good social citizenship. Be a mentsh and teach these new citizens the rules of the road—or just pass this column along, if you're too busy—and soon we'll all be Active Daily Users.
You're a RegularEncourage your people to build in regular—daily, weekly, etc.—visits to your social media sites. How to manage this? Ask them. Send an email to your colleagues or close friends in the community requesting that they set aside a regular time of day to engage your page. (Ten minutes over morning coffee sounds good to me.) As for people far outside your offline network: advise them, in your newsletters and/or your email signature, to stop regularly so they can catch all your great links, videos, and updates. Just be sure that you, and/or your administrator, post enough valuable and diverse content to warrant such regular visits. (On the PEJE FB page, we post plenty of articles that come from outside sources. People tend to find it refreshing and useful when you share content that isn't just, say, "selling" your own stuff. Another tip: FB users in general, love video and photos.)
Lights! Camera! Action! Interaction!The most important thing about social media is the interactivity of its participants. Newbies need to understand that their input is wanted—desperately wanted. We them to react to the material posted on a Facebook page (and maybe even react to other people's reactions). How to do this? Glad you asked…
More Impressions than Rich LittleThe most passive way to contribute to a FB community is to simply view a Status Update or Link on Your Wall. Facebook counts each "impression," which The Next Web defines as the "raw number of times each entry has been seen on the wall and in the news feed of fans." The page administrator will receive regular reports on the number of impressions, which will delineate the range of your influence and indicate what does and doesn't interest your community.
Click and ReadYour people can do better than a few impressions. Actually clicking on a link posted by a Facebook user, and then reading it, is the first real step to joining the online community. If something catches your eye, be sure to click away.
You Like?Hitting the Like button—beneath a link or status update—is an even more active form of Facebook behavior. Likability is Extremely Important in the social media world, and it's also a good strategy for those of you who are seriously time-pressed. But it's not as substantial a response as the following two methods.
Sharing Is CaringSharing is good because it helps spread the word around. And if you're not the kind of person who likes to speak (or write) in public, this may be the best way you can serve in the PEJE social media crew. You click on the word "Share" right underneath the piece of content in question. A box opens up. You write in it, click the "Share" button, and it goes on your wall. Or you click the "Send a Message Instead" link. You fill in the names of the person/people you want to tell about this, write a message, and then send it off.
All the Rest Is CommentaryWrite a response, a thoughtful response, to a Status Update or shared Link and you've done something with true social significance. The process is simple: You click on the word "Comment" right underneath the piece of content in question. A box opens up, and you write your comment. Simple. Note: Not every comment has to be a dissertation—such things are better employed in grad school and your Friends will likely lose interest in a lengthy response—but it is a good idea to respond intentionally when you're commenting.
Answer the CallWhen confronted by a good question in a Facebook status—good administrators are constantly asking questions—you answer it. It's OK to hang back and read how other people respond … but it's generally good manners and a healthy social attitude to answer legitimate questions put out to your Facebook community.
Be a ModelNote: you can't be the only person on your Facebook page. Imagine a Facebook page that is nothing but status updates that get Liked and Commented On by the administrator. (This would be, as John Bender said in The Breakfast Club: "Sorta social—demented and sad, but social.") When you set up a FB page for your school, particularly when you're first starting out, it's essential that you invite some good role models to the party. People, that is, who know how to be a regularly active member of your community. So don't be shy. It's not cheating to ask for help, it's essential. Remember, this is social media. Two kinds of invitations may be necessary.
- Invite people you know are comfortable with Facebook, and your community, to join your group. These are folks, let's say, who know about day school and social media and will naturally become part of your community.
- Invite qualified people to respond to a stimulating question. You can—and should—arrange debates. Find a provocative piece of content, ask a provocative question, and then invite several smart people (of varying opinions) to respond on the page. One great way to get people to respond: call FB friends out by name with a tag.