Joshua Gray - CEA Website Chairperson

Facebook is becoming a very useful tool for non-profit organizations to spread the word about their upcoming events.  At the State level, there are two Facebook groups that you should consider joining to keep informed about events in Connecticut.  The first, "Connecticut Elks Association", is the official Facebook group of the Association.  This page provides information on upcoming State Association events like Special Olympics, the Bowling Tournament, and District/State Hoop Shoots.  The second is "Connecticut Elks Local Lodge News and Events".  This group is for sharing events at your lodge with the rest of Connecticut.  To join either group, you do need to be a member of the Elks, although not necessarily a member of the CT Elks Association - Elks from other states are allowed to join.  
At the local lodge level, there are many options for Facebook groups.  The first option is to create a personal account.  This option is not recommended because it limits the administration to one person; however, your lodge might have set up this kind of page in the early days of Facebook.  The second option is to create an organization.  By doing this, you can set up administrators and editors.  You can also allow members to join the group so that posts are private unless you choose to make them public.  You can also remove unwanted or inappropriate posts, or even screen them prior to posting.  This model is used by the CT State Elks Association for both of their groups.  A local lodge example is the New London Elks group.  
Once you have established your Facebook group, you can now add Events.  One of the best features of Events is that they provide features like "Interested" or "Going", letting members know who is already going to an event.  Once a member indicates they are "Interested" or "Going", it is shared on their wall, organically increasing the advertising for that event for free.  You can also "Boost" the event, paying money to target the advertising of your event on other people's Facebook pages - a little bit of money can go a long way to reaching people.  By spending a little money prior to an event and getting some people to click on "Interested" or "Going", the event can rapidly spread.  This happened to us in New London recently with our Trunk or Treat event.  Within the week before the event happened, we saw that nearly 850 people were "Interested" in our event.  We responded to increasing the amount of candy and volunteers we had available and were prepared for the masses that arrived.  Without that information, we would have had many upset children and parents.  
Another way to increase your advertising of Facebook Events is to get your local town to share your posts.  In New London, for example, the city's Facebook group routinely shares our posts.  You can also connect with other service organizations in your town and cross-advertise.  And of course, do share your event on the CT Elks "Local Lodge News and Events" page so your fellow Elks are aware of the great things happening at your own local lodge.  
Of course, social media like Facebook brings issues as well.  Visit the CT Elks Association page and click on "Our Programs" followed by "Website" to view a powerpoint presentation detailing the "Do's and Don'ts" of social media.  Rick Gathen, Marketing and Membership Manager for Grand Lodge, has provided this list as a guideline for what is acceptable.  
If you need any guidance or help with setting up a Facebook group, your district and state officers for Public Relations and Website are there to help.  We look forward to seeing your Events posted soon!