man with bullseye on his t-shirt
PHOTO: Simon Connellan

The music program at my daughter’s high school was looking for parent volunteers. The available roles included co-president, treasurer and secretary. And then I saw an opening that had “me” written all over it: website coordinator.

I work for a company that makes a content management system (CMS), and I manage the marketing-related content on our website. I volunteered for the role. My main job was to update the “Music Boosters” page on the school website. We’re a parent-led group that provides essential funding to the music program.

Keeping the Page Updated

The page I managed was two levels deep: Visitors first navigate to “Parents” from the homepage and then go one level deeper to get to our page, which is for the parents of music students. I added everything a music parent would need: forms, fundraising links, concert details and news from the music department.

I didn’t have access to the site’s analytics data, so I had no idea about the key metrics a website coordinator cares about: visitors, page views, sessions, etc. If we had five unique visitors per day, I would have been happy. But it sure didn’t feel like we were even reaching that level.

And then something interesting happened.

A New Website and a New CMS

The high school is part of a school district with six other schools. The district IT team consolidated the seven schools onto a new CMS. They applied a single set of themes and page templates across the seven school sites and migrated content from the original sites.

Each school had its own site, organized at the folder level beneath the district’s top-level domain. Our Music Boosters page was migrated to the new site, but I didn’t have access to the new CMS. As website coordinator, I felt like my job was eliminated.

Facebook Saves the Day — Wait, Really?

While I battled existential thoughts about my role, perhaps the situation wasn’t so dire. After all, visiting the “Music Boosters” page on the school website wasn’t part of the weekly routine of any parent, save for myself.

There had to be better way to reach parents.

I thought that creating a Facebook page could be the solution. Here is how I came to that conclusion:

  1. By informally polling parents, I discovered that many are active users of Facebook.
  2. I know that users check Facebook multiple times per day — or per hour ;-) .
  3. If we could get through Facebook’s algorithm, we could reach parents.

During a meeting of the Music Boosters board, I presented my plan to create a Facebook page and it was quickly approved.

Early Success on Facebook

I asked a friend to design a logo and cover photo, then I created the Facebook page. We asked the school’s music teachers to email parents, letting them know about the page. We also spread the word to the other music parents that we knew.

There are more than 200 students in the music program, and our page currently has 67 likes. That doesn’t cover all parents, and we know that some parents don’t use Facebook, but it’s a higher potential audience than we had with our page on the website.

In terms of engagement, some of our most successful posts were:

  • Photos from the winter concert.
  • Facebook Events listings for upcoming concerts.
  • Photos of a new Pearl concert bass drum that we helped purchase.

Parents were seeing and engaging with our posts. We were getting through Facebook’s algorithm and reaching our audience. I think the algorithm determined that our content (e.g. photos of students, details of upcoming concerts) was important to our audience.

Current Phase: Audience Expansion

The music teachers established critical mass by encouraging the first set of parents to like our Facebook page. However, unlike a webpage, which parents wouldn’t return to, Facebook is always there. And parents who are on Facebook check it quite often.

From that set of early adopter parents, we have seen our Facebook audience grow. The likes, shares and comments that parents leave on our page are seen in the newsfeeds of their Facebook friends. And those friends include other music parents.

As we continue to post to our page, parents will engage with us, and our Facebook audience will grow. That wouldn’t have happened on a static webpage.

Continuing to explore audience expansion, we spent a little money with Facebook Ads. For an upcoming concert, we boosted our Facebook Events listing to a geo-targeted audience. Our concerts are open to the public, so it’s useful for us to promote our concerts to the local community.

We generated thousands of impressions on Facebook, which resulted in close to 100 clicks to our ticketing page.

The Lesson for Marketers

I still don’t have access to the new CMS. And that’s just fine, because Facebook is our new home page. I spend the same amount of time putting content together. Facebook is better suited to us, since our content revolves around photos and events.

The lesson for marketers: Don’t spend time creating content when your target audience won’t see it. Focus first on how to reach your audience. I’ll continue to post to Facebook and monitor page engagement. While Facebook is “rented” rather than “owned” land, it’s the best solution for our needs at the moment.

And that reminds me: I need to ask for a change to my job title.