With nearly every college student using Facebook as their main method of communication and way to connect with friends, camps cannot afford to ignore it. This week Facebook created Pages, a way for you to connect to things other than people, without cluttering your Friend List. As a camp director, you can use both Pages and Groups in your arsenal of camp communication and marketing.
At the American Camp Association National conference in 2007 I did a Facebook session for over 200 camp people. I can still feel the fear many camp directors have about social networks. Social network policies are a topic for another day and are very camp dependent. You and your organization have to decide what you are comfortable with as a camp. If you are unaware these fears read Pam Belluck’s article in The New York Times, Young People’s Web Postings Worry Summer Camp Directors.
I have been using Facebook as my main communication tool for two years now. College students have e-mail but I have found I can reach them more quickly on Facebook. There are numerous features on Facebook that have become essential for my camp staff communication (photos, videos, events, third party applications, etc). In this first article in the series, I am going to review setting up your personal Facebook account, setting up Facebook Group for your staff, and setting up your camp’s page with the new Pages feature.
A Word About Myspace and Demographics
Myspace has some similar features but I have chosen to focus on Facebook because that is where 96% of my staff are located. I find my younger staff (Counselors-in-Training and some Junior Counselors) may still be using Myspace but they often also have a Facebook account. It is a good idea to have a presence on both for yourself and your camp. As an aside, if you would like to read more about the race/ethnicity and parent education differences in usage of Facebook and MySpace read danah boyd’s article. danah also wrote a great piece on controlling your public appearance.
Individual User Account & Friending
Facebook terms of service indicates that user accounts are for individuals NOT groups. That means they do not want you setting up your main Facebook account as a group. Pages was created for that purpose. Myspace, on the other hand, does not care and you can set up both a personal account for you and a camp account for your camp. Set up your Facebook account for yourself, add your photo, and click through all the account and privacy settings. Facebook has good privacy settings and I treat everything that is on that page as if I am putting it on a flyer on the staff bulletin board. For example, I don’t list my political affiliations, religious views, birthday, and relationship status. I also only friend people I actually know well. I friend all my staff but not everyone I meet at conferences. Not for privacy reasons but because I want Facebook to be useful for me and not overrun with individuals who are not in my immediate social network.
Set up a Facebook Group for Your Staff
Until this week, the only way to group people together was by creating a Facebook Group. This week, Facebook launched Pages, which is similar to Groups but geared more for a public presence than for private camp communication. I invite all staff members that have ever worked at camp into that main group. The privacy setting on the group is set to secret and staff have to be invited to join the group. With that privacy setting, the name of the group will not display on the member’s profile. I like this option because one of our policies is that camp staff are not to indicate on any social network page that they work for our camp. They cannot use out logos, etc. By keeping the group secret, only other group members can see that they belong to the group. All information about camp flows from this group and gives me the same privacy settings.
Administrators for the Group
By forming the group you are the administrator. You can invite any member of your group to also be an admin and have as much control over the group as you do. This is useful as your camp administrators come and go. You may want to make someone an admin for the summer and then remove them once the summer is over.
Camp Information in Group
I put essential information related to camp in this group. In the recent news section I have the camp dates, meeting times, all my contact information. I have links to download pdfs of camp manuals, organizational chart, and work schedules. I used the Discussion Board for longer pieces of information like details on first aid and cpr, how to get your pay check, getting W2s during tax time, etc. The wall is used by staff for their own public posts to each other.
Photos and Videos in the Group or in your profile
You can post videos and photos in your group. I prefer to keep the photos and videos associated with my profile. It is easier for me to manage the upload and I like that my other non-camp friends can see what goes on at camp. You may prefer to post your videos and photos within your group. The benefit of putting the photos and videos in the group rather than your profile is they stay linked to the group rather than to you. If you leave that camp, the photos and videos go with your profile. Be sure you have a camp policy on what you post online. We do not post photos and videos with campers in them online. Staff sign a release allowing us to post photos we take of them and need written permission to post photos of other staff. I do tell them to notify me if there is ever a photo online they want taken down.
Using Pages to Establish Your Camp’s Profile on Facebook
Pages are designed to be public profiles for a business, brand or product, public figure, or artist, musician. This is where you set up your official camp page. Assume parents and staff will be looking at it since the main information section is viewable everyone, even those without a Facebook account.
When you sign-up you have to fit your camp into a category. If you serve a local community you may want your page listed as a Local Business. You can also register it under Brand. Surprisingly, the Facebook developers did not think to include a category for camps and recreation. Neither Local Business or Brand have subcategories that make immediate sense for a camp unless you fit the nonprofit category. Hopefully more categories will be added. There are some additional text boxes if you choose to list in Brands and Products rather than in with Local Businesses. You can easily play around with both and delete the one you do not want.
The Difference between Pages and Groups
Pages are similar to groups in that people can join your page, you can post photos, videos, discussion, notes, etc. It is different from Groups in that you can add third part applications to Pages, the basic information (not the whole page) is publicly viewable to those outside of Facebook, and you can get some metrics on who is visiting your page by clicking on the link Insights. You cannot easily invite people to join your page like you can invite people on your friend list to join your group. Facebook wants you to buy social ads to get the word out about your page. There are also limited privacy settings in Pages so you can’t make your page secret or invitation only. Since the main goal of Pages is a publicly viewable profile, secrecy is somewhat counterproductive. One of the biggest features of Pages is the ability to create (and purchase) a targeted social ad campaign. It will be very interesting to experiment with the for staff and camper recruitment. Here is a link to the facebook page describing the new feature of social ads.
Becoming “a Fan of . . .” and Creating Two Pages
Once you have you page set up, anyone can “join” and a link is then placed in their profile under the heading “You are a fan of . . “ Once a person is a fan they can see the profile picture and names of all the fans attached to those pages. From the member list you can also message any of those fans. You can only see the full profile of an individual if you are their friend. I can hear the camp director’s among us concerned with the lack of control over who is associated with your page. If you have a fan on your page with an objectionable profile photo, you know the one with the teen and the Jack Daniels bottle, will a parent who also is a fan assume that person is a staff member or camper? At this point you cannot kick people off your page so there are some risks. This is not unlike the risk many corporations are considering when they get into social media and begin to let the users into the dialogue about their products. You have to determine what works for you and your camp.
Creating More Pages
With all the features and possible ad campaigns you can create, you may want to develop more than one page. You could have a page for parents and a page for staff recruitment. You can add different applications and photos on those pages. If you choose to run a social ad campaign to recruit staff you can send them to the staff recruitment page. If you target camp parents, you would use your parent page. The Facebook social ads provide ways to target demographics. Of course your region and target market will determine the extent to which your camp parents are on Facebook.
Once you get this all set up – send me a note – I would love to see it!