Social media has the potential to revolutionize the way you do and share Scouting. Using these platforms to share your activities, build interest, and give Scouts some well-deserved pride in their accomplishments will help you build and improve your unit and program.
As part of our social media certification program we will be introducing you to some of the most popular platforms. This week’s choice is Facebook; we use Facebook to keep you up to date on our Social Media Certification in Utah National Parks Council.
While Facebook may not be popular with your youth, this is a great platform for connecting with parents. For example, click on the picture above to take a look at what Troop 411 in Sandy, Utah is doing with it. Whether you are a Facebook pro or still wondering why Facebook is neither a book nor a face, we want to help you better use this platform to help Scouting do what it does best: build youth.
What is it?
So let’s begin with what Facebook is: a social networking site designed to help you stay connected with friends and family online. Facebook consists of two simple elements:
- Facebook Page: Just like an autobiography , your page is where you write who you are and your favorite interests.
- Status: This is where you share with the your list of friends what is going on in your life.
Creating an Account
Step 1: Go to www.facebook.com, and create an account.
Step 2: Write a couple of brief sentences about who you are.
Facebook is a wonderful way to form online communities like your pack, troop, team, or crew, where you and others can gather to have conversations and share information. Ken Krogue,
Founder of InsideSales.com and volunteer Scouter, uses social media to advocate for Scouting as if he worked for the BSA because he understands the power of collaboration in advancing a cause. In Forbes, he wrote:
“A great Employee Advocacy program trains and invites its employees (and other advocates such as key customers, advisors and partners) to share information as they are comfortable and see fit…” (Krogue, Forbes).
The National Council, BSA, as well as many local councils, camps and some units are using Facebook to share the fun and adventure they are having in Scouting. Of course, creating and maintaining a Facebook page for your unit is a big responsibility and should not be entered without an ongoing commitment. Remember, too, that before you begin you should get all your Scouts started on our social media certification. This gives them a foundation to use social media at home, responsibly.
It may be valuable to think of a Facebook page as a little like a troop meeting that is always open, always going on, and where members of the public may drop by and watch or participate at any time of day or night. That means Scouts and Scouters can be even more involved in sharing the fun and excitement of Scouting and be a more active part of the group discussion. However, if your Facebook page is unstructured or unattended by Scout leaders, this never-ending meeting could easily become a problem.
When considering whether or not Facebook might be a good option for your unit, it is important to remember that Facebook requires all users to be at least 13 years of age. So any troop scribe older than 13 could take this assignment on and serve as your unit Social Media champion. In this position, youth members have great ways to “hasten the work” through story telling.
Before creating a Facebook page, you should educate yourself about what Facebook is and how it is used,
and familiarize yourself with its terms of service. This will help you navigate carefully in your development of a fan page.
When creating a Facebook page, you should make it a public fan page. In addition, you should designate at least two administrators who have access to the login, password, and page management/monitoring information. This conforms to the two-deep leadership policies of the BSA. At least one of these page administrators should be a registered volunteer who has taken Youth Protection training. All Youth Protection policies that govern the use of email are applicable to the use of the messaging capabilities of Facebook.
Perhaps the biggest strength of Facebook is also its biggest weakness: Facebook fan pages are open to the public, which means any information shared on that fan page can be viewed by essentially anyone. As such, you should make sure that any information shared on that page by you or by your fans is information that is appropriate to share with the public. This is especially true regarding the level of detail you provide regarding Scouts and their activities. This is not the place to share sensitive personal information like full names, addresses, or other things you don’t want going public. If you need to share specifics with troop members and parents, consider starting a private Facebook group so you can control access.
For the Info Tab of your Facebook page, you should use the guidelines set forth on the BSA National Council Facebook Info Tab in its Digital Contract, found at http://www.facebook.com/BoyScoutsofAmerica#!/BoyScoutsofAmerica?sk=info
Once you have created a Facebook fan page, invited people to “like” your page and started gathering “fans,” it is important for you to post good and appropriate content and monitor the content that is posted to your wall. Unfortunately, not all the content posted to the wall by your fans may be appropriate. All content posted by you or by fans on the Facebook wall should conform to the precepts of the Scout Oath and Law. Content that does not meet that standard should be removed immediately.
If a user posts highly offensive content, the content should be removed immediately, and you may need to block or ban the user who posted it. Such an action should not be used liberally but only when content is truly objectionable.
This type of careful monitoring requires vigilance. Before creating a Facebook page, you should consider whether you or someone else who will administer the page will be able to monitor that page and post content consistently to help ensure that only appropriate content is posted. Pages with inconsistent and infrequent updates can cause your fans to become disinterested, and your page can become a target for spammers or other predatory parties who recognize that you appear not to be actively involved on your page.
As with any online site, it is highly important that you do not give out personal information about Scouts or Scouters to anyone on Facebook. Every effort should be made to help ensure that your fans and those Scouts and Scouters that use the Facebook page are protected. Keeping Scouts safe and keeping their private information safe should be the primary concern in any endeavor involving them—whether that’s keeping them safe on a camping trip or keeping them safe on the unit Facebook fan page.
Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. Should you have questions regarding the use of a specific social media channel, please contact the BSA National Council social media team at firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also find BSA’s Social Media Guidelines helpful.