Two Stations Build Community for Parents in a Time of COVID-19

facebook, Social/Mobile, COVID-19

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In the past, staffers at both St. Louis Public Radio and WDET in Detroit had discussed ideas for parent-focused reporting and engagement, but neither station had developed anything definitive. Then the coronavirus pandemic drastically altered lives and routines. Among those most obviously affected: parents. With schools and extracurricular activities canceled indefinitely, parents of all walks found themselves responsible for not just their own daily duties, but also for those previously handled by teachers, caregivers, and coaches. 

Sascha Raiyn, an education reporter at WDET, says it was then that she and her colleagues knew it was the right moment to create content specifically for parents. 

They launched a Facebook group called "Doing Our Best: Parenting in the Age of COVID-19."

“We realized [parents'] lives were changing," she explained. "And there was a way to engage them. Parents' experience with this, their feelings … that was a gap we could fill."

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How OPB Builds Audience by Paying to Boost Facebook Content

facebook, instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile

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To make boosted Facebook content work, you have to pay attention to audience behavior, according to Jan Boyd, director of digital strategy and community engagement and Paul Loofburrow, vice president marketing and communications at Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). 

The team took some time to study their audience’s behavior by watching how posts performed over time, then tested their assumptions and refined their conclusions by marking certain content for additional promotion. 

The team has what they call the “Crushin’ 5,” five pieces of content each week from various content areas that are likely to perform well on social. The Crushin’ 5 are a combination of what audiences need to know and what mirrors (in style/topic) other content that historically has performed well on social.

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How National Geographic Builds Social Media Trust During the Facebook Apocalypse

facebook, PMDMC, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, General Management

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Thanks to “fake news,” bots, and political polarization online, trust in social media is at an all-time low. But social platforms still offer a powerful way to connect with audiences and donors.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans regularly use social media (Pew Research Center, 2018) and 31% of online donors now say that social media is the communication tool that most often inspires them to give, surpassing email for the first time (Global Trends in Giving Report, 2018).

A PMDMC 2018 session entitled “Building Brand Trust and Engagement in the Facebook Apocalypse” explored how one superstar brand, National Geographic, has built and maintained its social media effectiveness in an era of social media mistrust.

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More Social Media Strategy for Stations From Heather Mansfield

facebook, linkedin, instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, twitter

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Heather Mansfield of Nonprofit Tech for Good recently hosted a social media Q&A with Greater Public. (Members can always view the full webinar on-demand.) Heather offered station tips on Facebook-sponsored content, how often to post to Facebook, and how to set engagement benchmarks for social media platforms.

Greater Public members can register for Heather's next social media Q&A, scheduled for May 4.

Q: How helpful are Facebook-sponsored posts?

A: It's getting more difficult to apply best practices across all sectors and brands because Facebook changes its algorithm all the time. But I will say that I am very lukewarm on Facebook advertising unless you have thousands of dollars, the right ads, and plenty of time to invest.

Here's why.

I started buying Facebook advertising two months ago. My practice had been to post something visual every two days and I'd get 10,000-15,000 people reached. It was a reliable rhythm.

Then a client gave me $250 to experiment with Facebook ads. I'd pay $50 for a sponsored post and it would hit a 25,000 reach. But next thing I know, all of my non-sponsored posts are reaching just over 1,000. During the two or three weeks following my sponsored posts, my reach dropped by 90%. These are the lowest numbers I've had since I began using Facebook! I don't find it any coincidence that my numbers started dropping significantly from the moment I started purchasing advertising.

In fact, I was experimenting on other platforms too. I had a $1,000 budget to experiment with advertising across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and I have to say it was the worst $1,000 I've ever spent in the 10 years that I've been using social media. My best guess is that they want to get you hooked on advertising by plummeting your reach when you're not paying to sponsor the content.

I have read some case studies that indicate that large-scale experimentation is worth it. For example, the African Wildlife Foundation spent $50,000 on Facebook advertising, which they were able to turn into about $120,000 in donations. But most nonprofits I know can't make a $50,000 investment in Facebook advertising. And, in my own little thrifty world, sponsored posts have only diminished my overall reach and engagement.

Q: All of our Facebook posts have visual elements, yet we only reach about 500 users, or occasionally 1,500. We post three or four times daily. Any advice?

A: I know from studying Facebook that 1,500 reached means about 10% of that actually saw the post. What reach actually means is that it was published to the news feed of 1,500 people. But if it was published to someone's newsfeed at 8:00 a.m. and that person didn't log on until four hours later and didn't bother to scroll down, then they didn't actually see it. I don't pay a lot of attention to these reach numbers unless I see a drastic increase or decrease. Then I can ask what was going on to cause the change? That helps me learn what type of content sparks interest in my audience.

But you may want to rethink your strategy of posting three or four times a day. What I've learned from my own habits is that if I post at 9:00 a.m. and reach 5,000 people, my post at 3:00 p.m. that same day will have many fewer views. There's something in the Facebook algorithm that knows you've posted twice in 24 hours and demotes your posts because you're generating a lot of content.

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What Facebook's New Fundraising Tools Mean for Your Public Radio or TV Station

facebook, Membership, Social/Mobile, digital revenue

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In November of 2015, Facebook began to test Charitable Giving tools with 37 nonprofits. The tools have been the subject of buzz among station fundraisers ever since. Will they become available to public radio and TV? Will they make a difference in how stations raise money? When can we try these new options out?

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10 Facebook Tips for Public Radio & Television

facebook, Social/Mobile, social media, marketing

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1. Use the 80/20 rule of content to marketing.

That means that for every five posts you post on Facebook, four of them need to be focused on your content. Then the fifth post can be a strategic call to action like “become a member," "watch our program," "download our app,” etc. Don't overwhelm your feed with 90-95% content. Missing those calls to action means you're not getting the full benefit of Facebook. But remember...

2. Don't post too often to Facebook.

People assume that if you have 100 fans, all 100 get your content in the news feed. That’s not how Facebook works, nor has Facebook ever worked that way.

Facebook's feed algorithm decides which stories appear in each user's newsfeed. About five years ago, 30% - that's three out of every 10 of your fans - actually got your post in their news feed. Facebook does this to try to weed out spam. When you post more frequently, Facebook decreases the visibility of your post.Let's say you make the first post of the day at 9:00 a.m. If you post again at 11:00 a.m. Facebook is likely to decrease your score by half. Another post in the afternoon? Your score might be at 1%. Now, if you have 100,000 fans, it's probably worth posting several times a day because you'll still reach 1000 people with your lowest-visibility post. But if you have 5000 fans, all of those posts aren't worth the effort.

One study looked at 1.1 million Facebook pages and determined that posting every other day had the strongest correlation to growth of "likes" and net fan growth rate. The number one reason why people will unlike your organization is because they’re seeing you in their feed all the time. Aim to post no more than 3-5 times per week.

If you're posting more frequently, try using your spare time to check out other social media like Instagram or Snapchat.


3. Try posting photos instead of links.

Photos get four times the engagement that links do. So, if your station's Facebook page has fewer than 100,000 likes, consider posting some of your links as photos instead. Here's how to do that, using a news article as an example:

  • Find an image to represent your news article. It can be from the article itself or elsewhere. Save the image.
  • Write the title of the your article in the body of the update. Add the link to your news article using a link-shortener like Bitly. (Don't forget to use a colon between the title and the link).
  • Click the photo icon to upload the photo you saved earlier.
  • Click publish.

Facebook will register your update as a photo instead of a link and will add your photo to the photos tab. Try this as an experiment, but don't start posting all of your links as photos. Mix it up.

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Nine Must-Know Best Practices for Distributing Your Station’s Content on Social Networks

facebook, linkedin, instagram, Social/Mobile, social media, twitter, marketing

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The Internet is at a tipping point. It’s estimated that by late 2014 or early 2015 the majority of adults will get their information from social networks rather than search engines and that social networks will become the primary source of referral traffic to your website and blog. Any doubts that social networks aren’t powerful or don’t need to be prioritized in your online communications and fundraising campaigns can now be put to rest. The sooner you can master content distribution on social networks, the more likely (and faster) your fundraising and content strategies will result in success. Nonprofits have been experimenting with mobile and social networks for years. Sadly many of them do not fully understand how social networks are different from traditional online communications and fundraising, and consequently nonprofits are making many mistakes that are hampering their success.

The effective use of social networks is a skill not to be underestimated. Each mobile and social network has its own unique tool set and etiquette, and only the most observant new media managers have learned what makes each social network unique and then adapted that knowledge to their content strategy. There are universal best practices that can be applied to all social networks. To avoid being repetitive by listing these best practices in each of the chapters dedicated to social networks, those universal best practices are:

1. Prioritize storytelling over marketing.

The five content approaches of success, urgency, statistics, quotes, and humor should be interwoven throughout your social network strategy. Increasingly, donors and supporters follow causes on social networks. If you make storytelling a higher priority than marketing, then over time your nonprofit’s brand becomes synonymous with the cause(s) you advocate.. In practice, for every five status updates, posts, or tweets, four should be related to storytelling (through blogs, website articles, video, photos, stats, and quotes), while only one should be a direct ask such as a marketing or fundraising pitch. The only exception is in crisis situations where urgent calls to action require mobilizing your social networking communities to donate, volunteer, or participate in advocacy campaigns.

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The Top Ten Ways I Use the Internet and Online Tools to Prospect for Clients

facebook, linkedin, sales strategy, Corporate Support

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Now, I recognize that no one had funnier “Top 10 Lists” than David Letterman. But in honor of his retirement last month (not that he has anything to do with public media) and, to mark the occasion I thought I'd come up with my own. Plus, there’s something I know that I don’t think David Letterman knows: selling public media. So, with a tip of my cap to David (drum roll, please)...

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Ten Best Practices for Your Station's Facebook Page

facebook, Social/Mobile, social media

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With more than one billion active users, Facebook is the largest social network in the world. More than two-thirds of its users log in every day and three-fourths do so on a mobile device. Without a doubt your supporters use Facebook on a regular basis. Therefore, Facebook pages should be your first priority and entry into social networking. But to stand out from the other 50 million pages regularly active and all vying for likes, comments, and shares, you must excel at Facebook. These 10 best practices below will ensure you're on the right path.

  1. Invest in quality graphic design for your avatar (a.k.a. profile picture), timeline cover, and tab icons.

First impressions are very important on social networks. To maximize the likes of your page, invest in quality graphic design.



  1. Turn on “Similar Page Suggestions” to increase your likes.

Under Settings > Similar Page Suggestions, check the box to include your page when Facebook recommends similar pages. This simple tweak could become your greatest source of new likes.



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Make the Most of Social Media During Drives

facebook, linkedin, instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media

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The goal of a membership drive is to connect audiences with their treasured public media service. Connection is the very currency of social media, and these platforms can be very effective tools - specifically during drives - to move audiences toward membership.

In a recent webinar for Greater Public, Minnesota Public Radio’s audience relationship & communications manager Jess Horwitz talked about the best ways to use social media during drives to support audience engagement and overall fundraising.

Why use social media during drives?

Jess explains that drive time is the best time to make sure all channels are blazing with messaging in order to optimize fundraising. She creates a planning grid to unify plans for all communication, including direct mail, telephone, on-air, website and email. Social media should support and unify this messaging.

Here are some of Jess’s top recommendations for how make the most of social during (as well as before and after) drive-time:

Do cultivate your social media presence by adding social links to all of your digital communications. Make your social presence consistent and ubiquitous. Create a shareable message that pops up at the end of the donation process encouraging members to tell their friends to support the station: “I just gave and you can too!”

Don’t overextend yourself by creating profiles on several social media platforms that you can’t maintain. Be thoughtful about what your staffing and schedules will allow. An inactive social media profile can be a poor reflection on your station.

Do try to post at least once a day on each platform. If you’re at a loss about what to share from your own organization, look for content to share from other public media sources. Check out #nprlife and #pubmedia, for example. But...

Don’t go on a retweet rampage. Try to balance your Twitter feed with some original tweets and some retweets.

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