Western Washington University (WWU) uses Facebook to reach and connect with alumni living across the globe. Their team works hard to identify and tag those who engage with their Facebook posts so that they can track their engagement and build relationships. From there they can target alumni about fundraising and events that support WWU.
WWU Alumni Association’s mission is to strengthen WWU by building strong and caring relationships among their students, alumni, friends and the greater University community. Through these relationships WWU is able to raise money, host events that connect students with alumni and foster a community that changes student’s lives and help them reach their full potential.
The goals of WWU Alumni Association are:
- Reach and identify WWU alumni on Facebook in order to grow their alumni network
- Engage alumni with compelling content to remind them how much they love WWU
- Bring them into the alumni fold and build productive relationships that benefit the university
- Tap the alumni network to meet ongoing fundraising goals
- Reached nearly 10,000 people with a single shared trending post in 24 hours. (For context their Facebook page has just over 6,000 page likes!)
- Identified over 60 new alums they didn’t have in their records yet from a single post!
- Boosted posts for as little as $20 each, and reach nearly 28,000 people in 22 countries
ActionSprout’s Inspiration feature empowers Facebook page managers to take back control of their reach. Instead of spending time guessing what audiences might enjoy, the tool tells you! You’re provided with daily trending content that is proven to reach and engage people on Facebook today.
The WWU Alumni Association follows over 200 Facebook pages through the tool. These pages are related to their work and local university community and share a similar audience. Inspiration then shows them only the top trending Facebook posts from these pages. Their staff can then browse through the content and choose which posts to share on their own Facebook page.
Because this content is already proven to engage similar people on Facebook, there is a good chance it will perform well on WWU’s page too. You can think of it as low “risk” content. This is how WWU reaches and engages tens of thousands of alumnis on Facebook without spending an arm and a leg on Facebook ads!
ActionSprout’s Timeline feature on the other hand, can help you know when to spend money on ads if you have the budget. The best way to find success with Facebook ads is to only boost your top, most engaging posts. Facebook’s news feed and ads feed algorithms are very similar. Therefore if a post is doing well in the news feed, it’s likely to do well as an ad. This means lower cost per result, $1 and under, and reaching more of your target audience!
Using these two content features together, WWU Alumni Association shares content that reaches more alumni without the need for ad spend. And when they do spend their ad dollars, they know they are doing so in the most efficient way possible.
“We use it everyday and I have boosted posts on the stats ActionSprout provides to get immediate results!”
We mentioned at the beginning that WWU Alumni Association was applying alumni tags to the folks who engaged with their posts. By applying these tags, WWU easily tracks who's who on their Facebook page.
They can also choose to filter their Facebook audience by tag and only take a look at alumnis:
This post alone helped them reach and identify over 60 WWU alumnus! Notice how they frame the article and pose a question to alumni to engage them in the comments.
Campaign lessons and takeaways
1. Lean into sharing other’s trending content.
We know this can be a difficult best practice to wrap your head around, let alone, get your boss on board with, but it really does work! The key is to make sure you’re following related pages that share content that could be shared on your page as well. It’s important to keep in mind that sharing content is one of the biggest functions of social media. Therefore sharing other’s content won’t make your organization look like they’re stealing or being lazy!
2. Include commentary, pose a question and start a conversation.
When sharing other’s trending content, be sure to include your own thoughts and commentary with the post. Why should your audience care? Is this good or bad news for the community? This helps frame the content for your audience and invites them into the conversation. This is how WWU is able to keep identifying “new” alumni not yet recorded in the comments section.
3. Only promote content that is already engaging.
Very few have a budget that allows casual, carefree spending on Facebook ads. Instead, most organizations need to squeeze every ounce of value out of their ad dollars. The best way to do so is only spend money to promote posts that engaged more people than average. The Timeline feature inside of ActionSprout clearly shows you which of your page’s posts have engaged more people than average so you know if and when to boost.
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