How-to speak the language of Facebook


The advent of the Internet changed everything about the way people interact with one another. “The Web began making the transition from being static to social.” (Mansfield, 2012) We are no longer in the age where if you wanted to find out how someone’s day was you would just ask. Now, all it takes is a check-in on Facebook to know everything about your 400+ friends. Everything from what someone ate for dinner to where they are working out is all shared on social media.

But social media doesn’t just have to be for individuals. It is an untapped resource for public health non-profits. Social media is essentially free marketing for a non-profit. It allows the organization to connect straight to their target audience, inspire them with their mission, share how they are making an impact, and get them involved.

So if you are a public health professional working in a non-profit and you are ready to get started on social media, where do you start?

Start with Facebook

Facebook is the largest social network that will give you the most return on investment. Facebook is the no-brainer. If you aren’t on Facebook, you are missing millions of people who could hear and possibly support your organization. But, be careful, you can’t just post whatever you want and expect people to be automatically engaged in your organization. Social media takes finesse; it takes an understanding that there is a “language” to Facebook.

3 tips to speak the language of Facebook

1. Be casual, but credible.

Facebook is a pretty informal platform. Once you sign-on, you will see a news feed that seems to never end of your friends’ posts. Here’s an example of a standard type of Facebook post.

Facebook post

In no way is this post scientific or academic. It’s extremely conversational and informal. An organization’s post should look a little different. This is a post from TED. It’s informal in its post, but clear in its message. TED’s voice is to inspire, to encourage people to be extraordinary.

Facebook post 2

It only makes sense that their status update is a quote from their speaker’s video. To find your voice, Mansfield (2012) suggests trying different tones of voice. Trial and error will be your best friend to finding your organization’s voice.

2. Don’t be a robot.

Facebook is Facebook because it allows for conversations to happen. It allows people to share what’s on their mind, what sorrow and joy they may be experiencing, and for their friends to interact with them. That said, your voice should always reflect “you”.

3. Let photos and video speak for you.

Sometimes you just can’t find the words. That’s ok. It’s important to always have a link, photo, or video in every status update you do. (Mansfield, 2012) A picture is worth a thousand words and well; a video is much more than that. Here’s a great status update from Kaiser Permanente and their support of the Special Olympics.

Facebook post 3

Photos and videos give your organization an identity. It allows viewers to interact with you in a different way. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or videographer to do this successfully. Just make sure you have a smart phone and you’re ready to go.

Final notes

Facebook is an amazing social media network that allows you to instantly engage with your audience. Remember to be casual, authentic, and use photos and videos. With these 3 tips, your Facebook page is sure to come to life!




5 thoughts on “How-to speak the language of Facebook

  1. Sparkling tips contrasting casual and professional use of social media platforms. Blog provides good reinforcement of “finding your voice” journey and branding approaches. It can be used as straightforward reference for public health professionals looking into posting messages on Facebook platform.

  2. Very interesting post. I think this is one of the many things that makes Facebook so great. Its casual style I think really helps stimulate conversation. Another benefit of its casual style is that you don’t have to post something earth shattering to get your point across.

  3. Nice summary about Facebook and overall blog; informative, free of jargon and short. Facebook does have a special place for NPO’s with socially engaging activities and campaigns. Kaiser’s Special Olympics Facebook plug is a great example of this. I think there is a time and place for social media use for promoting NPO’s and their activities. For most NPO’s, social media is not a substitute for traditional marketing or information based web-sites.

  4. Hi, Deborah. Your post is really helpful. Great tips, especially about being both credible and casual. In fact, you could have been following your own tips. The post is credible and professional, but definitely not stuffy. and there are good, illustrative visuals. I think another possible tip could be to update your page frequently to keep followers interested. I follow this stop smoking service – , whose Facebook page also seems to have been built using similar principles to your tips. Recently the activity has slowed down and there are no visuals. It does make it less interesting to read. The short, sharp posts of status updates could lend themselves more to anecdote than evidence, so sharing links to more detailed information/scientific evidence could help with the credibility, too.

  5. This is an awesome summary of how to use facebook. I completely agree with the advice “let photos and videos speak for you.” I never pay attention to posts with more than 1 or 2 sentences of text. Going “casual” is truly the best way to get your voice across on facebook. Also, I love the organization of this blog post with the numerical sections broken up with screenshots of real posts.

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