Rescue & Shelters: Get Started on Facebook

Posted by Jennifer on June 10th, 2011

Facebook is a massive, complex social networking site. But don’t be intimidated! You can quickly and easily create an account for your rescue, shelter, or any kind of support organization (like a volunteer network), and use it to help get more homeless adopted, find volunteers, and lots more!

There are many ways you can use and get on Facebook, but here are some quick tips to get started. Keep in mind these tips and facts about how Facebook functions are from August 26, 2010. Facebook is changing all the time, so if you notice something is different than what’s described below… that’s why!

1. Sign Up
If you don’t have any kind of Facebook account yet, create one under your own name by filing out the Sign Up form at  http://www.facebook.com. This will create a personal account, called a Profile. This is the basic account type. However, if you don’t want your real name associated with your organization’s Facebook presence,  you can avoid that in three possible ways:

  • A) After you’ve signed up for your personal profile account, and then created a Page (see #2 below), you can “use Facebook as Page” — and your real name will be hidden. But you won’t be able to send or receive private messages as the Page.
  • B) Though technically its not “allowed” by Facebook, many shelters & rescues use their organization’s name in the  ”First Name” and “Last Name”. So for example, Fluffy Pet Rescue would put First name: Fluffy Pet, Last name: Rescue.
  • C) You can create a Page without creating a profile. Look for the “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business.” link below the main Sign Up form at www.facebook.com. The downside to this is you will not be able to send or receive private messages using Facebook’s built-in email-like messaging system, but you may prefer not to!

2. Create a Page or Group
Once you have a Profile, you can create a Page or Group. But you probably want to build at least a small list of friends on your profile first (see #3 below for why).

a) Pages look almost identical to Profiles, but have some BIG differences in their functionality. To name just a few, there is no limit to the # of people that can become your friends (ie “like” your Page), and you don’t have to click “approve” for someone to “Like” your page, where as you do have to approve each Profile friend request, which can be time consuming. On the downside, you cannot screen who is clicking “like”. If that’s ok for you, go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/ and click “Create Page”.

b) Groups – Groups are have a few key differences that can make them work better for your goals. They let you decide if you want to allow anyone to join (“open”), if members must be approved by you (“closed”) or if membership is by invitation only and the group does not show up in search results (“secret”). And… this is a big one…  you can “Message All Members” of your group, and send them a message that will go right into their Inbox! If you message all your fans from a Page, it goes into their Inbox’s “updates” folder, which many people rarely read, and from a Profile, to message all your friends, you’d have to add  each person’s name one at a time (painfully slow for more than a few people). To create a group, go to: http://www.facebook.com/groups/create.php

3. Add Friends, Get Likes
Facebook makes this super easy for your personal Profile, they have a “Friend Finder” tool that can import contacts from most email programs, and then send them a friend request from you. For a Page, you can only “Share” with your profile’s friends – so you need to have friends on your profile first! Same for Groups, you can only invite your profile’s friends. Building the number of “likes” is a whole field of expertise! Here’s one good article on building a professional page.

4. Start Sharing!
Now you’ve created your account, what do you share on your wall with your friends and fans? One of the easiest things to share is pets for adoption on AdoptaPet.com. Search for a pet from http://www.adoptapet.com then click the SHARE button (look for the orange cross). Or, go to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/adoptapetcom and just click “share” on any of the pets or links we’ve posted. Voila! You are helping pets get adopted!

Bonus tip: For your profile, immediately you can set a short “Username” for your Facebook web address. (For pages, you have to wait till you have 25 fans/likes.)
So instead of your facebook url looking like this
http://www.facebook.com/pages/MySheltersName/110403995650871
it can look like this
http://www.facebook.com/MySheltersName
Well… provided someone hasn’t taken your Username yet! To get your Page or Profile Username, go to: http:/www.facebook.com/username

And please…. go “Like” us at http://www.facebook.com/adoptapetcom — thanks!!


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