by Cathy Seiler, PhD
Program Manager of the Biobank Core Facility at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Barrow Neurological Institute.
This is the second in a series of articles to help you get involved in social media, and in particular, to learn how to use social media to engage with and promote ISBER. This installment is all about Facebook. The first part is for all the Facebook newbies to help you create an account and navigate the site. If you’re already set up on Facebook and post a half a dozen times a day, skip to the second part about how to use Facebook to support ISBER.
Getting Started on Facebook
Facebook is the largest social network in the world with over 1.5 BILLION monthly active users. If you’re not already on Facebook, why do you want to join now? Maybe it’s to know what your friends and family are up to. Maybe you have a business, blog or website that you want to promote. Maybe you have a special interest (like biobanking) that you want to share with others or learn more about. Whatever your reason, it’s easy to start and up to you how much or how little you are involved.
First, you have to sign up by going to www.facebook.com (Figure 1). The next step is to create your profile. Sometimes also referred to as your individual user page or personal timeline, your profile is what you will create and maintain to let people know about yourself and what you’re doing. Once you sign up, you will be directed to enter your personal information (if you want to) including a profile photo and a cover photo. What’s the difference? The cover photo will only show up at the top of your profile but your profile photo will show up whenever you do anything on Facebook (more on that below). You can add as much or as little to your profile as you would like, but realize that unless you carefully set your privacy settings, whatever you put on Facebook is public (see Figure 2 for where to change privacy settings).
Now that you have a profile, what are you supposed to do? First, you should find your friends and colleagues. You can do this by searching for their name in the search box at the top of the page or by clicking on the friends tab on your profile and “finding friends.” When you find someone you know, send them a friend request. Once they accept you’ll be able to see what they are up to on your News Feed and they will be able to see what you post on your profile. You can also send each other private messages through the Facebook messaging feature. Friends will also send you requests (see Figure 2), which you will have to accept if you want to see what they are posting.
This brings us to how you communicate on Facebook
- Look at your News Feed (see Figure 2 for where to find it). The News Feed lists what your friends and pages you follow are posting. It’s how you can keep abreast of what everyone is up to.
- To let people know what you’re up to, post on your own profile. How do you find your profile? Click on your name on the top right menu (Figure 2). This will bring you to your timeline, which is a history of everything you or anyone else has posted about you. On your timeline you can post anything: what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, a photo, multiple photos or links to other pages on the Web. This is called a status update. When you post, you have the option of “tagging” people in your post or your photos. This indicates that the people were there and also will show up in their notifications (Figure 2 shows where the notifications are found and Figure 3 shows where to update your status).
- You can also post on someone else’s profile or page. You can post the same type of info on someone else’s timeline as you would post on your own (Figure 4). Keep in mind that whatever you post on yours or someone else’s timeline is public (unless you modify the privacy settings).
- If you want to communicate privately to just one person or page, you can send them a private message (see Figure 2 to show you where to access that feature). Only the person you send the message to will be able to see it. You can also send messages to a whole group – this works well if you’re trying to coordinate an event together.
Now that you are an expert Facebook communicator, know that you can do more than just post status updates and read posts – you can provide your feedback and opinions on posts to!! For example, look at the post on the ISBER page in Figure 5. You can like the post, which just lets people know that you’re supportive or interested in what they posted. You can add comments if you have something to say about the topic they posted about. Also, you can share the post on your own timeline so that your friends will also be able to see it. This is how posts “go viral,” by one person posting something, lots of people sharing it with their friends, their friends sharing it with their friends, and then everyone is talking about “that thing they saw on Facebook.”
If all of this communicating feels like a bit too much, don’t worry! Lots of folks create a profile, find friends and follow pages and don’t post a thing. You can still see what other people are up to without posting.
Using Facebook to engage with and promoter ISBER
As an ISBER member and a person interested in biobanking, how do you engage more with ISBER and this community through Facebook? Here are some ideas:
- Like the ISBER Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ISBERorg/. By liking this page, you will see ISBER posts on your News Feed and will be in the loop.
- Invite your colleagues and professional contacts to like the ISBER page so they can also know what’s happening in the biobanking community. You can find the button to invite “friends” directly on the ISBER homepage (see the green box in Figure 4).
- Post your biobanking-related news and information on the ISBER Facebook page. This is a great way to get information about newly published papers, techniques, job postings, events or news out to the public. This information will also show up on the News Feeds of everyone who likes the ISBER, so you’ll have a wide audience to disseminate information.
- Use the ISBER page as a community to ask and answer questions. You can ask a question by posting on the ISBER timeline and people can answer questions in the comments.
- Post photos of your biobanking experiences on the ISBER page. A picture says a thousand words, and there’s no better way to engage people than with a photo. This will help the ISBER community to get to know one another better and also help non-ISBER members better understand biobanking. These photos can be of you and your colleagues at the ISBER Annual Meeting, of your biobank, or of something interesting you saw in the course of your day.
- Share things you see posted on the ISBER page with your friends. It will help inform the public about biobanking and will increase awareness of ISBER.
- Share biobanking-related news on the web on yours or ISBER’s timeline. Many websites or online articles have a Facebook icon that allows you to directly post the link to Facebook. For example, if you want to share an article from Biopreservation and Biobanking on your Facebook page, you can click on the icon pictured in Figure 6.
What’s great about Facebook is that we, as an ISBER community, have the chance to become the leading voice about biobanking in this social media format. We have the opportunity to turn this into a rich resource for ISBER members and the biobanking community as a whole. In fact, we can use Facebook to help entice non-ISBER members to join ISBER!
So now it’s up to you! Go create a profile. Post your first status update. Like the ISBER page. Share some information. Get engaged. Have fun!
Catherine Seiler also publishes a blog (thingsitellmymom.com) about science and scientists but explaining it as if she’s telling her mom (aka, the public). Included are a few posts related to biobanking.
For the first in this social media “how to” series (Twitter), go here.