You might have read about me blogging for the dog in the past. This spring and summer I was using Facebook for the dogs, specifically for International Assistance Dog Week.
Along with IADW founder, Marcie Davis, we started a Facebook page to help promote IADW 2011, held annually in August. At first I felt like we were just talking to ourselves, since nobody knew about the page or “liked” us. But once we started promoting the Facebook page in our e-newsletter and website, we began to build our audience, and the page became an important part of our overall communications.
As the time for IADW approached, the posts on the page were more and more about global events participating organizations were presenting, and links to media coverage of IADW. Now that IADW 2011 is over, we continue to post every day, but the posts are more about general assistance dog topics. As we move into the new year, we’ll start promoting next summer’s IADW, along with general assistance dog information.
More and more, there are others joining in the conversation. The IADW page is evolving as a place where people can not only find news, but also promote their assistance dog events, ask questions about assistance dogs, share information, and connect with others.
From zero about six months ago, we’ve built up the IADW page to now having almost 800 likes. I think a lot of our growth has to do with:
- Posting consistently, year round
- Sharing posts from related organization/topic pages
- Promoting the page through emails and other communications
- Having friends’ pages invite their followers to like us
- Facilitating comments and discussion when needed
What has been great, too, is having people start to see the page as theirs, posting their own news and events, instead of just waiting for us to post. And when Facebook luminaries like Surf Dog Ricochet, with more than 50,000 “likes,” ask their friends to like IADW on Facebook, well, that doesn’t hurt either.
Some relatively new Facebook features are also helpful, including Insights, the tagging feature, and recommendations on who to follow. Then there are the old faithful features, like comments.
- Insights gives us statistics about people visiting the page, data which might be of interest to potential corporate sponsors, as it shows visitor numbers and demographics.
- Tagging lets us share information with like-minded individuals and organizations, and have our posts show up on their pages, helping to bring awareness of IADW to more people.
- The recommendations from Facebook on who to “like” is similar to a feature that’s been on Twitter for a while. It can be very useful in turning up pages we might not have known about.
- Comments let IADW friends interact with Marcie Davis, IADW founder and assistance dog author and expert, and with each other.
This was the first year IADW was celebrated internationally, and Facebook is one way for this nonprofit event to reach people globally, with the only expense being time.