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How Your Program Can Use Facebook to Build an Online Community?

Learn tips and strategies to make your Facebook page one of the most effective tools for engaging families, students, alumni and faculty. From setting up your page for success, to promoting posts, to measuring your success this presentation has what you need.

Why Facebook?

Social Media is a broad universe with lots of different ways to connect with your community. If the people you most care about are families, then Facebook is the best first step in your social media strategy.

• Active users are on Facebook, and over half of these users check the site every day.

• It fits your budget. Because it’s free! There is no cost associated with setting up a Facebook account.

• It’s easy to get started. You don’t need a lot of training, setup time, tech help to have

an engaging Facebook page. You will need some time to maintain and grow the page, and we will show you how.

Think of your Facebook page as an extension of your website. It’s important to note that while a Facebook Page is an excellent opportunity for schools to supplement their web presence, it doesn't fully replace the benefits of a strong website.

Ways that your program can benefit from establishing an effective Facebook presence

Facebook is an excellent opportunity for a program to connect with families and share information rapidly. If the program is consistent in keeping the information updated and accurate, students and families will likely come to rely on the Facebook Page as a resource to find information about what’s going on at the program. There are many different types of information that a program could choose to share on its Facebook Page.

A Quick Note on Protecting Students

As we discuss the potential benefits of using Facebook, it’s important to frame the discussion with a warning about protecting our students. Before launching a Facebook Page, program leaders must ensure they've thought through the types of content they’re going to share with the world. Before sharing any information about any student (including pictures, videos, first names, work samples) you must ensure you have obtained consent from the child’s guardian. Additionally, you should avoid sharing last names of students as this can potentially jeopardize their safety. With a little forethought, Facebook can offer a variety of benefits without risking any safety to students or members of the school community.

Share What’s Happening

A Facebook Page is a great place to post noteworthy happenings around the program via a status update that posts on the program’s wall. This is an easy way to keep families informed as to what’s going on during the day. Additionally, it only takes moments to do (which in a school is always a good thing). If an event is particularly exciting, take some photos or video to share.
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Share Upcoming Events

A Facebook page is an excellent opportunity for a program to post upcoming events using the Facebook Events app. This app not only allows people to RSVP, but also makes it easy for them to share that they’re attending the event. Utilizing Facebook Events can potentially lead to increased attendance at program functions. A program can also update attendees about any change in plans and send out a reminder as the event approaches.

Make Program Announcements

Facebook is a great space for programs to make announcements to parents and students. For instance, if there is a snow day, announce it on the Facebook Page. If a school shares the snow day on its Facebook Page, the news will be sent to the walls of everyone that has Liked the page. Consistency is the key here. If the page is consistently updated with school news, followers will develop an expectation that they can count on the Facebook Page when they want to learn about something concerning the program. I’d also bet that news like a snow day will get plenty of likes, which will spread the news quickly across the community's social graph.
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Many programs pride themselves on creating a unique culture that promotes not only academics but also the social development of its students. Facebook provides an opportunity to showcase this unique culture with those who can’t be in the building during the day.

Share Photos

Photos are an excellent way to showcase program culture. A program may choose to use photos to highlight a variety of aspects of the program, including:

  • Students exhibiting values the program encourages

  • Celebrations of student work

  • Field trips

  • Experiential learning activities

  • Assemblies or program-wide celebrations

  • Recognition of individual students for excellence

  • Share your ideas!!

Share Videos

Videos can be an incredible way for a program to personalize its online presence and actually demonstrate what it is that makes it special. A program may add videos that showcase a lot of different things, including:

  • A variety of learning, including different subjects and age groups

  • Assemblies or school-wide events

  • Community meetings

  • High caliber teaching and student engagement

  • Testimonials of students, teachers, and members of the community discussing what makes the program special.

  • Share songs, chants, or cheers that are used as a part of school culture or academics

  • Sporting events

  • Plays, concerts and other performances

DECATS at St Laurence

DECATS at St. Laurence manages an open Facebook page for the purpose of providing positive support, good news and timely information for all members of the DECATS Family. In keeping with the intent of our Facebook page, we ask everyone in our community to keep to the following norms:

  • Use this page for the purpose of building strong, positive relationships that serve to support our scholars as learners.
  • Positive questions for the good of the entire DECATS Family are always welcome and will be answered on the page.
  • Individual questions/concerns should be addressed with the staff member closest to the issue. Call our main office so we may direct you to the person who can best help you.
  • Feel free to make a post wishing our kids well or sharing some great news about our kids’ accomplishments or great things going on in the community. We love sharing the good news!
  • Negative or defamatory comments about the school or an individual person will be removed from our page promptly. Facebook is intended to be a place of positive, supportive interaction.

We ask adults and scholars alike to model good digital citizenship on our Facebook page. To this date we are proud of our student fb fans for modeling excellent digital citizenship!

DECATS at St. Laurence Family Digital Citizenship


Your Facebook cover photo is very important. Think about it like you would that area on your main website. Use that area to communicate your brand, culture, values and mission in a compelling way. You've got 2 seconds to grab a the attention your looking for.

  • Make sure the photo is high quality and sized correctly.
  • Cover photo: 851 x 315 - Profile picture: 180 x180
  • Show off your campus
  • Communicate your culture
  • Highlight what you’re known for
  • Include your students
  • Give parents an idea of the community they’ll be joining

UPDATE YOUR ‘ABOUT’ PAGE One of the first things a new visitor will do on your page is check out your profile. Parents are your key audience here. Make sure you take full advantage of this area.

Tell your story • Add your mission statement • Include links to your website and other social networks • Make sure to include all your contact info (email, phone, etc) • Include calls-to-action just like you might on your website • Add milestones • Enter your address w/ map

FILL IN YOUR HISTORY AND BIG MILESTONES Milestones give you the ability to tell people more about your program history. If you haven’t yet, think of at least five milestones that help tell your story then hop over to Facebook and fill them in. Use photos if possible

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Use Facebook Discussions

One opportunity lies in the Discussions tab on the Facebook Page. A program can create a discussion about a specific topic and allow members of the community to share their thoughts within the thread. Admins will be able to moderate the thread and remove any posts that are inappropriate.

Use Polls

Polls provide a chance for a program to solicit feedback directly from its followers. The nice thing about using a poll is that a program can limit the choices available and, with a few simple clicks, blast it out to all of its followers. It’s a great way to quickly collect data that can help inform decision making.

Use Facebook Questions

An alternative to polls, Facebook Questions allow a program to solicit feedback from the community while being a little less restrictive. Questions provides the option for a program to allow users to write in answer choices.

How to Create a Facebook Organization Page in 4 Simple Steps?

1) Choose a Classification

Navigate to the following URL in a new tab to create your organization page on Facebook:

Once there, choose from one of the following six classifications:

  • Local business or place
  • Artist, band, or public figure
  • Company, organization, or institution
  • Entertainment
  • Brand or product
  • Cause of community

This classification will help you rank for more relevant searches and provide relevant information fields on your page.

After selecting one of the six, choose the category you're in and fill out your organization name (or if you selected one of the other options, your brand or company name). The business option also asks for further location information. Keep in mind that your category and name cannot be changed once your page is created. So type wisely, otherwise you’ll have to delete the entire page and start a new.

2) Complete Basic Information

Upload Photo

Facebook will now prompt you to upload the main photo for your page. This photo will appear as your icon every time you comment on a post or appear in news feeds. Ideally, it should be your company logo. The actual dimensions of your profile picture is 180X180. This will shrink on your page to appear as 125X125.

About Section

Next, you need to write your 'About' information. This small blurb will serve as the main 2-3 sentence description for your organization. It will be on your main page, so make it descriptive but succinct. Be sure to include a link to your organization website as well.

3) Use Your Admin Panel

Your admin panel is the main hub for managing your page. It's filled with various features and options to optimize your page and your monitoring of that page.

Edit Page

The 'Edit Page' option in the upper right provides various options. The first option, 'Update Info,' allows you to update the basic information you provided earlier in the tutorial. This will also allow you to enter a description, which is an extended version of the 'About' information you entered earlier. Users only see the description by literally clicking 'About' on your page, so you should feel comfortable sharing lengthier and more detailed information in your description.

You can also manage the roles of your page administrators. This allows you to invite various staff members from your organization to be administrators on your Facebook page in order to respond to comments or messages specific to their function, without giving them complete power over your page. The other options under 'Edit Page' allow you to manage your notifications and add page permissions.

Build Audience

Promote the page.

4) Fill the Page With Content

Cover Photo

With the introduction of Timeline came the introduction of your best visual real estate on your business page: the cover photo. The exact dimensions of this cover photo are 851X315. Be sure to select a creative horizontal image that will appeal to users who land on your page.

Posts: When posting on your page, be sure to use a variety of content. What images would your audience like to see? What stats would they like to read? What links would they like to click? You can also click the little star to the upper right of any post to highlight it horizontally across your entire page. Not only will this make it look like you have a cover photo on your actual timeline of posts, but it will highlight the page as a milestone in your company history. Use this feature for product announcements, business anniversaries, and other major events pertinent to your brand.

Once a school has set up a Facebook Page, there are a few settings it may want to consider to ensure it’s easy to monitor. Please note that in order to do any of the following you must first be logged in and designated as an Admin of the Facebook Page.

Posting Ability

It’s a good idea to control the permissions regarding what content users are allowed to upload. To access permissions, do the following:

1. Click “Edit Page” in the upper-right of the Facebook Page
2. Select the “Manage Permissions” tab on the left side of the screen
3. Uncheck “Users can add photos”
4. Uncheck “Users can add videos”
5. Leave “Users can write or post content on the wall” checked
6. Click the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page

It’s a good idea to start off by limiting these permissions. If a school ultimately decides it would like to expand the permissions it offers its followers, it’s easy to do so.

Also, it’s worth noting that unlike with personal photos on Facebook, followers won’t be able to tag people in the photos that the school uploads to its Facebook Page. As discussed above in the privacy section, this is a good thing when children are involved for many reasons.

Enable Email Notifications

To prevent page Admins from having to constantly be checking the Facebook page, it’s a good idea to enable Email Notifications. To do so, do the following:

1. Click “Edit Page” in the upper right of the Facebook Page
2. Select the “Your Settings” tab on the left side of the screen
3. Check the checkbox beside “Email Notifications”
4. Click the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page

Now, whenever a user posts or comments on the Facebook Page, the Admin will receive an email letting them know that the interaction has occurred.

The key to any program successfully leveraging Facebook is finding what fits the personality of the individual program. The above ideas are merely suggestions as a way to get started. The important thing is that each progam makes their Facebook Page an extension of the amazing things they are doing every day.

While Facebook is at times a bit daunting, when used effectively it can provide programs with an excellent opportunity to engage the communities they serve and act as a key component in a program’s online presence.

Do you have any additional tips?

Click the link below for tech tools for your FB posts!