Thursday, July 9, 2009

Facebook: More than friends?

Image credit: Lone Wolf Librarian

If you’re reading this blog, the chances are more likely than not that you have a Facebook page. In fact, there are more than 200 million active users of Facebook; 100 million of those log on each day. If you are one of those 200 million people, it’s time to start using Facebook to as a platform to speak out to your friends (if you’re similar to the average Facebook user, you will have 120 of them).

Today we launch Part 1 of a three-part series about using Facebook as an advocacy and outreach tool.

Part 1: Using the Status Bar to Share Your Message
Part 2: Using the Causes Application to Raise Awareness (and money!!)
Part 3: Setting Up a Page that Will Set You Apart

Part 1: Using the Status Bar to Share Your Message

If you have a Facebook account, you probably already know how to use the status bar. For those without a Facebook account, the status bar allows you to type in short messages that will appear on your account as well as the home pages of all your friends’ accounts. It is common for Facebook users to type a short summery of their thoughts, activities, etc. in to the status bar.

Your status bar is an excellent place to share your thoughts about important legislation, policy issues or news items with your friends. Facebook’s new status bar allows you to share a links to encourage your friends to visit a website you direct them to. Sharing online action alerts with your friends is an especially effective advocacy opportunity.

Here’s the step-by-step for sharing a link. In this example, we use an action alert from Research!America. This is a great model for you to post action alerts from your own membership organizations.

Step 1: Click the “Attach Link” icon in the Status Bar.
Step 2: Insert the link in the text box that popped up. You can easily copy and paste a link from another browser winder. Click “Attach” to load the link. Text will automatically appear when Facebook reads the website you are linking to.

Step 3: Edit the text that appears. You can click on the blue title and the black text to edit each box. Sometimes Facebook reads the wrong section of the website you are linking to, so make sure the edit the text so it says what you want. You can also use the arrows to scroll through other pictures to appear on your status message.

Here is a finished example done by Mary McGuire Richards, a Parkinson’s disease advocate with the Parkinson’s Action Network. Mary is asking all her friends to contact their senators in support of a bill. Mary is also able to share this message directly with her friends by clicking the “Share” link.

Once the “Share” box appears, click the “Send a Message” tab. Here, you can type your friends’ names in the message box and send them a personal message with you link. To save time, you can send the same message to multiple friends by typing each name in before sending. However, the “Share” function is so easy to use that I usually send individual message to each of my friends that may act on my link. I use the same message text, but add their name into the message to make it seem more personal.

While you're using your Facebook status bar to advocate, don't forget to join the Your Congress-Your Health fan page for updates and links to share.

Stay tuned for the next part in the Facebook as an Advocacy Tool Series!

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