Social media is a fantastic free tool that is ideal for small organisations to share and show off to the outside world what we do. You can use social media to raise awareness, help children whose parents are separating and support the national child contact centre movement.
Raise awareness: Once someone ‘likes’ your Facebook page or ‘follows’ you on Twitter they are engaged in a small way with what you are doing. This is the first step in them perhaps becoming a volunteer, raising funds or simply being a champion online for what you do and how important your cause is.
Help children: Parents, grandparents and other family members going through family separation can be reached through social media awareness. Awareness of your child contact centre and what it does can help friends and family signpost your service to the adults involved and help the children impacted by the separation.Support the national picture and win £50 for your centre! By getting involved you can support the child contact centre movement on a national level, keep the issues of child contact on the national agenda, engage with MPs and keep informed about new legislation and policy affecting children and separated parents. Find out about our MP photo competition – bag a £50 prize!
Getting started on social media?
- See below for how-tos on setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts for your centre.
- Facebook can be used to share a wordy story whereas Twitter posts can only be 280 characters and need to convey a simple message.
- Keep it regular – people will forget about you otherwise…. But keep it realistic as of course you are all busy people. Why not start by trying and post something once a week, or share another organisation’s post saying why it is relevant to children using your centre?
- Don’t worry about making mistakes! If you get it wrong, you can always delete a Facebook post or Tweet and try again. However, if you retweet something on Twitter you cannot undo that. And of course, some things are not appropriate to share (see below).
- The more people that like your Facebook/Twitter pages, the better. NACCC’s Facebook page has 550 likes and its Twitter account has over 750 followers. This has increased gradually over the years but has increased more significantly during campaigns or following successful posts.
- If you are not very confident at using social media why not try using Facebook or Twitter on a personal basis first to get the hang of how it works?
- Remember, once you’ve shared something online it is not private and is in the public domain.
- Never share personal details that could identify an individual’s address, personal phone number etc
- Do not share someone’s photo unless you have specific permission. Once a photo is in the public domain it can be accessed by anyone.
- Anyone posting on behalf of an organisation needs to be representing that organisation’s values and responsibilities online. Information on putting together a social media policy can be found online: https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/how-to/how-to-create-a-social-media-policy
- Check the settings of your centre’s Facebook account. You can set it so that only the administrator can comment on posts or it can be open to anyone commenting. The advantages of keeping commenting possible is that it allows for discussions and signposting which can help families but can then of course be open to abuse. Anyone not following Facebook’s code of conduct can have their account blocked. Some centre volunteers choose not to comment on their centre’s posts in order to protect their privacy.
Setting up a Facebook page for your not-for-profit
Do not use your personal Facebook page for your centre posts – set up a new page. Make sure you select ‘Company, Organization or Institution’ for Page Category as this will enable you to access exclusive tools Facebook has made available to non-profits (see below how Facebook posts can be used to collect donations and birthday fundraisers). This link explains how to set up your new page: https://nonprofits.fb.com/topic/create-a-page/ Have a look at other centre’s Facebook pages for ideas – why not ‘like’ them as well! This will help you to see what they are up to and encourages mutual support.
The Profile picture would normally be your centre’s logo – remember it only shows this in a square, so may crop a rectangular logo. The Cover picture could be a picture of your centre, or merged pictures showing different aspects of your centre. Remember do not use pictures of children unless you have specific permission to use these. It may be best to use royalty Free photos to avoid any problems. NACCC uses istockphoto.com but there are other suppliers.
Top tip – ‘Like’ other charities’ pages – this gives you an idea of what other organisations are doing, and if the interests are like your own, their posts may be worth sharing. You can see the pages that NACCC likes by going to https://www.facebook.com/NACCCOFFICIAL/
Setting up a Twitter page for your not-for-profit
Again, don’t use your personal Twitter account for your centre posts – set up new account which is just for centre posts. Again, follow the same principles as Facebook for sorting the profile picture and cover picture. These links below give guidance on setting up and using Twitter account for your centre:
Top tip – if you want to share a long link on Twitter but are finding it hard to keep to the 280 characters you could use ‘Bitly’ website to shorten your links. Just paste your long link in and it will convert it to a small link for pasting into Twitter. https://bitly.com/
What to share and what to say?
- It gets boring sharing ‘a good session of contact today’ every time… Vary it. Do include a photo if you can as this immediately makes the post more eye-catching and people may then share it as well…
- If you have a news story on your website, you can include a link to this on your Facebook post/tweet for people to find out more.
- It becomes more personal and engaging if you talk in the first person. Rather than “The Child Contact Centre is raising funds to buy some new toys for the centre….” you could say “we’re raising funds for some new toys at the centre – can you help?”.
- Sometimes it helps to put the wording together for a post in another programme (like Microsoft Word) before you take the step to publish online.
Checkout these posts to give you an idea…
Share compliments and if something special happens at your centre. Let us know at NACCC so that we can share this too!
Never be afraid to celebrate! Make the most of a compliment or good news and shout about it…Chiltern Child Contact Centre shared this thankyou on Twitter and we shared this story on Facebook about what East Northants Child Contact Service had been up to over Christmas…
Remind people that you’re open…
If you’ve not tweeted for a while it’s always a good idea to remind people that you are ready for business! Avenue Child Contact Centre did just that…
Explain what you do…
Why not tweet about what your centre does or what you’ve been up to in your last session? NACCC will try and spread the word too!
An eye-catching photo always helps!
You can be creative and capture life at your centre without having to take pictures of people. Checkout this lovely artwork going on at Neutral Ground Child Contact Centre which they shared on Facebook! Their 25th anniversary celebrations cake also catches the eye!
Invite your local MP – they will help spread the word
Inviting your local MP to visit your centre will not only raise their awareness of your vital service but they will also share this on their social media – especially if you can arrange for a photo to be taken. Do let us know so that we can share your news. We shared Tom Purslove MP’s tweet on Twitter following his visit to East Northants Child Contact Service and put together this post on Facebook celebrating Philip Davies’ visit to Bingley Child Contact Centre.
Promote your fundraising activities/events
Is someone raising funds for your centre? Are you holding a fundraising event? Use your social media to promote and raise awareness. Lucas’ Three Peaks challenge raised £1,265.00 was raised for Neutral Ground Child Contact Centre and £1,300 was raised through Andover Child Contact Centre’s annual quiz supper (see below). Jonathan, Co-ordinator told us “This was a popular event with 80 people attending thanks to promotion via Facebook and Rosebourne Garden Centre. Our quiz master had organised 8-9 rounds of quiz questions with each team’s score being updated on an electronic scoreboard! We made £5-£6 profit on each ticket once we’d paid the restaurant for the food and we also had a raffle which generated funds as well.”
Not much going on – what can I share?
If you don’t have much to say, then why not go to the pages that your page ‘likes’ for ideas? If you comment on their story and relate to what you do it will become more eye-catching. [If you can’t view the pages that you have liked, add the text “/pages_feed/” to your Facebook webpage. For example, NACCC’s feed is: https://www.facebook.com/NACCCOFFICIAL/pages_feed/]
Recently NACCC shared a post from the charity FareShare commenting on how this scheme is helping local centres and separated families. We also shared a Twitter post from the charity Turn2Us about their Response fund. This was retweeted 14 times with 54 people engaging.…
Fancy a challenge?
Names of people and organisations on social media are identified by a handle. When you set up an account e.g. Anytown Child Contact Centre your ‘handle’ or username would be @anytownchildcontactcentre. By typing this into a post or a tweet it will get their attention. E.g. by typing NACCC’s tag @NACCCOFFICIAL will mean that we will look at your post and can then share it on if appropriate.
These are like keywords prefixed by the ‘#’ symbol (e.g. #divorce #childcontactcentres #relationshipbreakdown #volunteering). If you put a hashtag in your post or tweet, Facebook and Twitter enable these words to link to all other posts by other people using the same hashtag. It also means that anyone searching for those tags will find your posts and find out more about child contact centres.
Receive donations and enable birthday fundraisers
Once you have set up your centre’s not for profit Facebook page you can apply to Facebook for access to fundraising tools. Further information on this link:
We hope that this article has been useful. Do let us know how you get on. If you’ve not already done so, do like NACCC’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NACCCOFFICIAL and follow NACCC’s Twitter page https://twitter.com/NACCCofficial
Ruth Miles, Data and Media Officer