COVID-19 Updates: The Wisconsin Historical Society hours have changed. See a full list of COVID-19 Closures and Events HERE.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

How to Use Facebook to Build Support for Your Historic Preservation Group

How to Use Facebook to Build Support | Historic Preservation | Wisconsin Historical Society

Social media has made it easier than ever for your historic preservation group to reach a wide audience of potential supporters. Although there are many social networking tools available, Facebook is by far the most popular. It offers enormous potential for raising awareness, support, and money — if your group uses it to best advantage.

Why You Should Have a Facebook Page

Your preservation group's Facebook page can serve these two key purposes:

  • As an online "address book" of all your Facebook "friends"
  • As a casual, interactive place for discussion separate from your core website

Any of your group's supporters who have a Facebook account can "friend" or officially "like" your group to be added to your group's friends list — that is, your list of contacts. You can use your contacts as a membership list to send news, post thank you messages, and make requests.

Although most advocacy groups have yet to move from acquiring Facebook friends to getting their Facebook friends to send money, some online causes have done an extraordinary job of raising money through Facebook and Twitter.

How You Can Make the Most of Facebook

Here are some tips to make the most of your preservation group's Facebook page:

Create Your Facebook Presence as a "Company, Organization or Institution"

Although your group can set up its Facebook account with any option, creating your "Page" as a company, organization or institution makes your group easier to find through a browser search. Your group can have an unlimited number of "likes," which means your followers will receive status updates about your group. A Facebook page gives you access to all the Facebook features, including wall posts, photo albums, and discussion groups. You can integrate blog or website content through an RSS feed reader.

Use Your Facebook Page as a Forum for Dialogue About Your Work

Post relevant content — news, pictures, stories, announcements — at least once a week on your Facebook page. This effort will foster online conversation among your supporters. Comment quickly on what others have posted to your page. Upload photographs of your events to demonstrate your group's active status. It may be helpful to put a reminder in your calendar to update your Facebook page.

Only Post Content On Your Facebook Page That Is Related to Your Mission

You should not assume that your Facebook fans share your views on issues unrelated to your group's mission. Avoid posting content on politics, religion, and other hot-button topics that have no connection to your group's work. Your Facebook fans may not share your sense of humor either, so be cautious about posting jokes or funny stories.

Make Your Facebook Page a Social Hub

Your Facebook page should be a hub of social activity. Use your Facebook page for frequent updates, like a news feed, and mix up your topics. If you've got an upcoming event, promote it. If you have a tough public meeting, write about it both before and after the event. Link your Facebook page to your group's website, and provide links to other social media sites such as Twitter, blog sites, YouTube videos, or your Flickr photostream. Make certain your supporters know they can also contact you through regular channels (email, postal address, telephone).

Make a Game of It

You can connect with your fans and members creatively using popular Facebook quiz and game tools. For example, you might create a game such as one of these:

  • What Kind of Preservationist Are You?
  • What's Your Advocacy Style?
  • What Historic Building Style Are You?
Add a Donations Box

You can use your Facebook page to advertise and launch a capital campaign for a new initiative. Although you cannot receive donations through your Facebook page, you can use your Facebook page to point to another website where you can accept donations (such as PayPal). Make certain that your request for money is only a fraction of the content you share. Include compelling content about the initiative and the actions your group is taking so supporters are inspired to donate.

Review Your Success

Your group can evaluate (and perhaps celebrate) its success in building online support by reviewing usage statistics about your Facebook page. You can do this by periodically reviewing Facebook's "Insights" portal, which offers the following use statistics:

  • User exposure
  • Total interactions
  • Demographic information
  • Aggregate counts of wall posts
  • Likes
  • Discussion posts
  • Comments

The Insights portal also provides a quality score that can help your group understand how well your posts are provoking feedback. Determine what posts seem the most popular, and which ones fell flat — then adjust your Facebook tactics accordingly.

Learn More

Find more how-to articles about historic preservation advocacy.

See more Facebook tips in this October 12, 2012, posting from the National Trust for Historic Preservation Facebook blog's "10 on Tuesday" series.

Read this advice from TechSoup for help to develop a social media policy. Developing a policy is a wise decision for any group that uses Facebook or any other social media tool.