YMCA of Metro Chicago Launches Facebook

How do you get 50 authors prepared to manage 15 Facebook pages in less than 2 months with a team of 4 people?

The YMCA of Metro Chicago faced just this challenge in the summer of 2010.  There was a desire to get a presence established on Facebook in order to connect with our communities in new ways and do it quickly! Our bigger challenge was managing the pages once they were launched. This case study will walk through the process we followed to get the pages launched and equipped the authors to manage them.

Below is a short summary or for a more visual representation view our YMCA of Metro Chicago Facebook Case Study Presentation.

Our Challenge

Our members and communities connect with their individual center and want information from them. But there are numerous obstacles in allowing our membership centers to take primary responsibility for their own pages:

  • Membership center staff already fill numerous roles and have limited time to dedicate to new projects
  • Experience with social media and online communities is limited in depth beyond personal experience
  • Staff already struggle to get content created for our websites, newsletters and email communications
  • Limited full-time staff at some centers and limited resources to pay part-time staff

 Our Metro office had challenges of its own to overcome:

  • Limited capacity to manage page for all centers, need to equip authors to create sustainability
  • Brand management and YMCA information needed to be monitored and consistent across our channels
  • How can we provide enough support to make sure the center pages are successful and what do we do if they aren’t
  • Manage risk, possible negative interactions and uphold character values

 Our Strategy

The key to our success was the readiness of the authors, not the mechanics of the page. So with seven weeks to work with we decided the key was to establish staggered deadlines for the authors to meet and a focused one day boot camp.

Due with application Due at Kickoff Due before Boot Camp Due before launch
  • Create Flickr acct
  • Completed Application
  • Create Facebook profile
  • Attend kickoff
  • Communication samples
  • 15 photos
  • Review Facebook privacy
  • Write 2 status updates
  • Marketing calendar
  • Fill in Facebook page
  • October Mktg. calendar
  • Document comment reply process
  • Sign Author Ack.
  • While the authors were busy preparing their materials; Marketing and IT collaborated to get the Facebook pages configured and designed for all of the centers. Our approach was to get all of the pages setup identically to a point where they were ready to launch without involvement of the centers. We created guidelines of what could be edited and what should be left standard. We wanted our centers to focus on the content, not the structure of the page. However we did give them the long term freedom to make changes once they were ready to support it themselves.

    This structured approach allowed us to gauge the readiness and commitment of each member center even before launch. It also helped set expectations for our Boot Camp.

     Our Materials

    Once the authors were trained and the pages launched; the centers have primary responsibility for managing the page with limited support from Marketing and IT. So we needed to be very purposeful in providing them with the appropriate resources. We provided them with:

    • Social Media Author Acknowledgement – In addition to getting their commitment to represent the YMCA appropriately, we provided clear expectations of the role
    • Comment Escalation Resources – we shared the Air Force Blog Response Chart along with a Comment Escalation Flow Chart to clearly identify steps in replying
    • Content Tips –Strategies for quality content and how to represent the brand
    • Page Administration Guidelines – Parts of the pages that can be edited and disallowed Facebook Applications
    • Marketing Calendar Template – Table structure to assist in thinking about how to post content across all communications and marketing
    • Links to articles on privacy – Shared links on updating your personal Facebook profile privacy settings

    Most of these resources are included in the attached Facebook Manual.

    Click here to download manual

    Our Outcomes

    Aug 23 we launched our pages, before the end of the day we had our 25 fans to secure our vanity URLS and our authors were posting welcome messages. Over the next couple weeks our centers worked to promote the page to all of their staff to build up some initial fans. We placed the “find us on Facebook” button on all of our website homepages. By the end of August we had over 1100 fans across the pages, 116 wall posts by authors, almost 1500 unique page views and some great early engagement.  In October we began our mass promotion of the pages to our members through emails, newsletters, program brochures and more.

    As of today, Nov 2, we are up to 2,285 fans across 15 pages, with 2,618 unique views and 396 comments\likes on our content for October. Our authors have done a fantastic job moderating comments and posting content!

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    14 Responses to YMCA of Metro Chicago Launches Facebook

    1. Cathy Adams says:

      Congratulations, as always a great job. Glad to see you are sharing the resources as well. It’s nice to see that you are still walking the edge and bringing YMCAs into the 21st century

    2. Jennifer Mau says:

      Thank you so much for the contribution. These are fantastic resources that can help our culture use these community-building resources.

    3. Judith says:

      Thank you both, Steve did a great job on this and we really owe a lot of credit to the Marketing group, we could not have done this without them!

    4. James Howe says:

      Hey! Great to see some of the results of a conversation that I had with Judith in the early stages of the YMCA of Chicago’s move into social media. Exciting to see how they were able to roll out a presence across their association in such an organized manner. It’s something other YMCAs, charities and even businesses can learn from.

      Congratulations Judith and Steve!

    5. John Oliver says:

      This is an excellent resource for YMCAs of all sizes. It’s refreshing to see such a large association commit to entering social media methodically. I imagine this was a much larger undertaking than this post really let on.

      Looking through the resources I didn’t see anything that addressed whether or not YMCA employees should have direct contact with minors associated with YMCA programs. For example, are camp counselors permitted to be friends with campers on Facebook? It’s a tricky question, and is probably more of an HR question than IT, but I’m wondering whether or not that was discussed.

      Excellent work.

    6. heyesteve says:

      Thanks for all of the great comments, glad to see it is useful! And as Judith said, this wouldn’t have been possible without the Marketing Team.

    7. [...] media authors decide what action to take in addition to the reply. The chart was used in helping to launch the Facebook presence for the YMCA of Metro [...]

    8. [...] media authors decide what action to take in addition to the reply. The chart was used in helping to launch the Facebook presence for the YMCA of Metro [...]

    9. [...] Define roles and guidelines and create a sense of accountability to establish clear expectations. This structure is key, but it needs to be realistic and designed to empower and encourage. Creating an author agreement, documenting escalation process, content templates, and content calendars can all help with this structure. At the YMCA of Metro Chicago we created a set of these resources that you can use as an example. [...]

    10. [...] Define roles and guidelines and create a sense of accountability to establish clear expectations. This structure is key, but it needs to be realistic and designed to empower and encourage. Creating an author agreement, documenting escalation process, content templates, and content calendars can all help with this structure. At the YMCA of Metro Chicago we created a set of these resources that you can use as an example. [...]

    11. [...] Define roles and guidelines and create a sense of accountability to establish clear expectations. This structure is key, but it needs to be realistic and designed to empower and encourage. Creating an author agreement, documenting escalation process, content templates, and content calendars can all help with this structure. At the YMCA of Metro Chicago we created a set of these resources that you can use as an example. [...]

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