AAUW NC social media history

[This is another post whose original version went to the webmgrs list at AAUW.]

AAUW NC has had

  • a mailing list open to all members since 1997 or so with more specialized lists (for branch presidents, state leaders) for several years. These are set up as “discussion lists” but only a few people ever post.
  • an RSS feed since about 2005  aauwnc.org/feed, which (theoretically) offers a way to subscribe to the news
  • a twitter account since 2007 or so (originally set up as a to retweet web site posts marked as “announcements” and encouraging folks to “subscribe via your phone”), twitter.com/aauwnc
  • and a Facebook page since ?? (maybe late 2008 or sometime in 2009). facebook.com/aauwnc

These are integrated in the following ways

  • Major news items are posted on the web site.
  • Twitter is used to tweet the titles of the web posts and is used for some “extra” news that doesn’t make it onto the web site.
  • Facebook pulls in the full text of the web posts via RSS. Most of the auxiliary twitter posts are also posted there along with, sometimes, more explanations and context
  • closing the loop, the web site pulls in the facebook news feed on www.aauwnc.org/news
  • every once in a great while the web site (and some Facebook) “headlines” are summarized in an e-newsletter to the all-members mailing list.


  • twitterfeed.com used to read the RSS feed from the web site and repost to twitter
  • ping.fm used to post items to Facebook and Twitter at the same time
  • tweetree used to read/post as @nes49  – a browser based client that doesn’t have the advanced “listening” features of something like tweetdeck or hootsuite but does have “real names” and threaded discussions which really help me understand the messages.
  • twirl used to manage “organization” twitter accounts, making it easy to be both @aauwnc and @ncwu
  • The website posts are imported to Facebook using the notes application — doesn’t always work correctly (and seems to be particularly problematic today, sigh).

An  earlier part of the conversation mentioned using Facebook to reach college/university populations. AAUW NC uses it to reach Facebook members in general, and doesn’t gear it for C/U communication in particular. There are many nonmember fans of the page, but few of those are on campuses. They are mostly friends of fans or come from connections through our allied organizations.

None of these communication avenues have a broad reach, and I don’t spend much time on analytics. From anecdotal evidence, I have to believe that the Facebook page is doing a better job of reaching our members. On the other hand, since we’ve set up the page we’ve cut back on our “e-newsletter” publications, and I’m sure we’re missing some people who haven’t “liked” the page, don’t use Facebook at all, and never check the News page on the web site. So we’re going back to basics and looking at better use of a mailing list, which is still the way many people prefer to get their news.  As for nonmembers — twitter and Facebook both reach folks who might not have heard about us otherwise — but we’ve not been  as intentional about the outreach as we might have been.

For more on the general topic of setting up a marketing plan and using new (and old) media, I’d recommend Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide”  (amazon link). It has a number of practical tips, some of which are aimed at larger organizations. But I found it useful to read in the context of a branch/state marketing plan, most of which fall into her “marketing department of one” target audience. See www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com for more. [I’m rereading it now — let me know if you’re interested in a virtual book discussion.]

See also www.aauwnc.org/subscribe.

Facebook for a small organization

[The original version of this was a post to the AAUW webmanagers listserve, a mailing list that’s about to celebrate its 11th anniversary. If you want more info on that list, please let me know.]

I’ve seen three different ways branches and states start their presence on Facebook:

  • Profile. Someone uses an e-mail address and registers the branch/state as an “individual” in Facebook. That entity has “friends”, posts show up on friends’ walls, and in general it behaves like anyone else on Facebook.
  • Group. Someone creates a Group in the branch/state’s name and becomes the “administrator”. The Group has “members” who can see each others names. It can be configured with places for discussions, wall posts, uploading photos, etc. The Group administrator’s posts show up as coming from their “real” name.
  • Page. Someone creates a Facebook Page in the branch/state’s name. The Page has “fans” who have said they “like” the Page. Fans can see a few other fans, but can’t browse through them all. The administrator’s posts show up as coming from the Page, not the individual. The Page can be configured to allow fans to post — or not.

I’d recommend against using a Profile for a branch/state Facebook presence. While this may no longer be explicitly counter to Facebook’s terms and conditions, there are just too many places where Facebook assumes that a Profile is for a “person.” It gets confusing to publicize a branch/state with a Profile. For instance, when you (as the branch Profile account) ask someone to be a friend, who, exactly, is doing the ask? Would you be apt to respond to such a request without being able to “see” the real person?

So should you use a group or a page? It depends –

  • Pages are better for reaching out to new people and posting public information (say things that appear on your web site — or would appear there if you had a web site). “Liking” a Page is a low risk action for new people: they aren’t giving the Page any additional access to their Profile. However, it does mean that information posted on the page will get into the news stream that they see when they login to Facebook. They will also get messages from the Page — but these will go to the “updates” section, not the “normal” Facebook inbox.
  • Groups are better for sharing information with a committed group of people who will “go” to the Group periodically to see what’s new. Group administrators can send messages to the Group members and these will go directly to the main Facebook “inbox” as coming from the Group. You may see your friends’ activities as they post to the Group, but, in general, things posted to the Group stay in the Group.  It’s possible to control access to a Group so that only those with an invitation can join — so a Group could be used as, for example, a virtual yearbook where only members of the branch are allowed access.

So just as you wouldn’t set up a web site when you really need an e-mail list or vice versa, Pages and Groups can have very different niches in your social media strategy. You may want one or the other or you might have reasons to set up both. Multiple people can be named administrators of either: check them out and see how they can improve your AAUW communications both to the public and to current members.

The more things change…

Here’s a quick summary of this week’s Facebook user interface changes, particularly those apt to affect the Facebook for AAUW document that may be useful to AAUW members across the country who want to introduce Facebook to attendees at their state conventions this spring:

  • The icons to access various Facebook applications have moved from the lower left to the left hand column (where they used to be). They replace the “quick links” to show the news from subsets of friends.
  • The “notifications” icon has moved from the lower right to the upper left (and is now almost invisible). I’ve yet to see any notifications come in, so I don’t know if it will be move visible when it’s active.
  • The only thing left that uses the bottom of the screen is the chat application (which also appears in the left hand menu). I don’t use that, so I’m not sure if there are other changes.
  • The confusing News Feed/Live Feed options are still there — but can now be accessed on the upper right of the main content window as “Top News” and “Most Recent”.  By default, as before, Facebook shows the “Top News” chosen by some proprietary algorithm that no doubt uses some metric about how “close” you are to a particular friend and how many other friends have commented on the post. If you want to see everything, click “Most Recent”. [There used to be a way to make “Most Recent” the default. If I find out what that is, I’ll post here.
  • Access to your list of friends has changed from the top menu to a topic in the Account menu (at the top right). That’s where you’d go to search for new friends, edit your friend lists, etc.
  • The friend lists that used to appear in the left hand column are now a click or two away under the Friends link in that column.

With gajillion Facebook users feeding data to the Facebook developers, I have to believe that these changes were based on usage patterns. For instance, it’s possible that few people “found” the icons at the bottom of the page, and that few people actually used the prominent access to friend lists in the left hand column.

Obviously, change is unsettling — we all have other things to do with the energy it takes to adapt to these changes. But since all gajillion of us do use a single interface, our choices are to adapt as Facebook solves problems that no other company has ever had, or go off and start our own networks where we have more control (and have to spend considerably more energy on the information architecture, user interface, recruiting participants, and other issues). My choice is to stay here — where there’s a much greater probability of finding the folks I’d like to talk to.

For more on the reasons behind the changes, see the Facebook blog.

If you want to help update that “Facebook for AAUW” document, please contact me or one of the other folks listed in the document.

Getting info from Facebook pages

Here’s a quote from the comments of


[I]f you are fan of a lot of Pages, the ones you never made a comment or a “like”, there are good chances you never see the updates in your News Feed

In my experience, this is at least plausible.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you are coming to depend on Facebook for updates on your friends and family, you can also start getting information about organizations, businesses, candidates, and more that interest you. What are the steps?

  1. Find a Page and click the “become a Fan” button.
  2. Then, engage, people: If you see a post that you like, simply click the “like” link underneath the post. If you have something to add, make a comment!

In other words, in this brave new world we call web 2.0, you have a vote as to what information you see. The way Facebook implements it (analyzing your actions even after you subscribe to content), you can continue to say “yes, this really interests me” even after you make the initial “subscription” decision. It can tell what content “grabs” you and it tries to show you more of the same. This is so much better than the old “check back often to see what’s new” and I encourage you to make the effort to see how it can simplify your information gathering life.

[Of course the pages I’d like to see you engaging with are the ones for AAUW and AAUW NC.]

Facebook live feed/news feed

I’m starting to think about a workshop on Facebook that I’ll be doing at a couple of AAUW state conventions next spring. I may start using this space to write up notes and  test ideas. If you’d like to be more involved in the workshop development, or would like to have me attend your state convention, let me know.

Facebook crossed the 300 million users threshold last month — and it continues to be a grand experiment. Somewhere there’s a group that’s figuring out how that very large population can best communicate with each other, while maintaining the Facebook principles of simple, streamlined user interface and a focus on messages from one person to another (as opposed to messages from groups/organizations to people). As things change without warning, this can be disconcerting. Following the Facebook blog can help, but we are still pretty much powerless to effect change in the Facebook juggernaut. I find it best to just “go with the flow” and tweak around the edges when my motivations for using Facebook don’t mesh completely with the Facebook view of the world.

Anyway, Facebook’s recent change to the “home page” allows users some control over what they as they first bring up Facebook:

  • The default “news feed” shows some collection of items that Facebook predicts will be “interesting.” Their algorithm is clearly undergoing some changes and has occasional hiccups when it will emphasize something from a week ago even though you’ve checked Facebook regularly since then.
  • With one click you can change the “news feed” to a “live feed” that shows, in most recent first order, all the traffic from your friends — what they posted on their status, notes they wrote on others’  walls, links they posted, pictures they uploaded, friends they made, groups they joined, and more. This is more information than appeared on the old home page, but is closer in spirit than the edited news feed.

Note that both of these view are configurable. Look for an “edit options” down in the lower right. In the news feed options, you can hide friends and fan pages that you don’t want to hear about on a quick check of Facebook. In the live feed you have a “hide” and a “show me more” for both friends and pages. You can also change the 250 default limit on the number of friends who will appear in these feeds. Note that you can still “hide”  friends and pages (and the applications they may use) by clicking the “hide” at the top right of a particular story for the options that pertain to that story. Any users you’d hidden before carry over to the new views.

There’s also an option that some are recommending to configure the home page view by looking at the left hand side and dragging “status updates” to the top of the list, above “News feed”. [You may need to click “more” to see the “status updates”.] This, then, shows status updates from your friends — but doesn’t appear to show their other activities that would appear in the “News feed” or “Live feed”. Therefore choose this carefully.

Another option is to create “friend lists” that will then appear in that right hand menu. Add Jane, Sally, John and Paul to a list called “relatives” and you can then click the “relatives” list to get caught up on all of them. Spend some time thinking about how you group your friends, maybe who you’d expect to see at the same party, put them into groups and then you can click through to see their content in the context of each others remarks. This doesn’t prevent you from “introducing” someone from one area of your life to someone from another area (one of the key benefits of Facebook), but it may cut down on the information overload — especially if you have a “really important” list that you drag to the top of the left hand column so posts about those folks will be what you see when you start Facebook.

So, keep in mind that Facebook is offering a way to “follow” friends and acquaintances that is sometimes hard for our brains to absorb — particularly for those of us who remember when phone calls were expensive and communicating over long distances usually involved paper. Facebook  hasn’t figured it out perfectly, but they’re trying. Take some time to experiment with different options and find one that works for you and the circle of friends and organizations you’ve chosen to follow. And be prepared to change again in a few months.