Facebook success for local ME charity
16 Aug 2016
Social media had never really made it to the top of the To Do list for ME North East - a busy regional charity supporting ME sufferers and carers. But then they got the opportunity to do some training with social tech charity Good Things Foundation - through the Lloyds Enhance Programme - and they’ve not looked back since.
In just a few months they’ve increased their Facebook followers by 30% to more than 900, and their page has become their main communications channel with their members.
“We did have a Facebook page”, explains Chief Executive Jennifer Elliott, “but we didn’t use it very much and it was very dry! Our trainer Jonathan showed us how to jazz it up, how to put pictures in, talked us through what to post, how to start conversations, how to manage our responses and then how to look at our insights and track what was working. Everything was tailored to our organisation and what we wanted to achieve. We also learnt the basics about Twitter and Gmail, but Facebook was most relevant to our needs.
“It was a whole new world to me, yet in a short space of time we’re already reaping the benefits. Our Facebook feed now covers many streams of work, from the latest research information at home and abroad, details of groups and workshops, local stories and our fundraising events. A recent call-out for Team ME places in the Great North Run helped us recruit runners for 2016, and one of our informational articles recently got more than 3,000 likes.
“It’s even saving us money. We used to have a newsletter which was printed and posted out to more than 1,800 addresses. Trouble was, we often struggled for content that was timely and relevant, and it was becoming very expensive. Now we’re ditching the newsletter altogether because we’re doing everything on our Facebook page!
“The best thing is that unlike a newsletter, Facebook isn’t just one way. We can respond to enquiries and actually talk to people about our posts. In fact our Facebook messages have pretty much overtaken email. It’s instant and immediate, and sometimes our audience really needs that.”
Facebook has proved very popular with our ME members as an easy way to communicate. As Jennifer explains: “People with ME often can’t get out, can’t travel to meetings, or find groups of people overwhelming. Online they can interact from the comfort of their own home at a time to suit them, and get support without any pressure, stress or special effort. That’s pretty powerful.
“As well as connecting us to our audiences, it’s also helped us connect them with each other. Several splinter support groups have now formed on Facebook, spinning off from our page. It’s been a fantastic tool for our young members, who are often isolated from their immediate peers and outside of mainstream education. Through Facebook we’ve been able to link them to others in the same situation so they can share their experiences.
“All in all, improving our social media presence on Facebook has been a massive success for the charity. We’d still be in the Dark Ages if it wasn’t for Jonathan from Good Things Foundation! I’d definitely recommend other small charities or social enterprises to make the time for social media, and get help if they need it. It can help you help your organisation, and your customers. We are still in the early stages of our journey on Facebook and we are confident it will get better, and better and BETTER!”