Facebook & Barbershop

Written by Steve Sutherland
Pioneer District webmaster

Networking used to only mean schmoozing business associates to cultivate relationships within their industry. But the term has also become known for communicating to one group online and that message being passed around to other groups online.

There are many online social media sites, the most cited are Facebook and Twitter. There are advantages to most of them but Facebook is several times more popular than all of them and would probably be more complimentary for our needs so that will be the focus here.

At last count in the U.S. there are 155.6 million people on Facebook, about half of the country. Of those people approximately 80 million Americans are on Facebook "daily," factoring in age that's one out of every three people over the age of 13. That's free access to a substantial audience and worth serious consideration.

What's it look like?

A Facebook account is free, easy, and a great tool to use for sharing with family, friends, and with the general public. For those who have never seen a Facebook account, basically it looks like a webpage with news blurb posts scrolling down. Posts can be just text or photos, video links, and other website links. You control who the posts are from by choosing who your friends on Facebook are, your Facebook Friends, this includes
people as well as organizations like your barbershop District and your choice chapters. Then everything they type on their page, each photo or link they share, appears on your page as well and in real time. But this doesn't mean receiving a deluge of email messages because in order to see it you would have to go to your free Facebook account online and then can check it as often, or as little, as you want (infrequently you might receive emails if you're 'tagged' in a photo or someone writes to you specifically but this can be blocked as well if you want).

So what's the big deal about this networking thing?

Social Networking takes advantage of the six degrees of separation concept. Facebook Friends are like an email addressbook, and people collect on average 132 Facebook Friends. If a barbershop chapter sets up a Facebook 'page' for promotion and gets the chapter members to join the page then for every member on the page there is an pocket, and for each member's 132 people each of those people have on average their own 132 people, and so on. "Reed's Law, or 'The Law of the Pack', states that compared with a network of 10 people a network of 100 people is
worth two raised to the power of 90. I just put this in an online calculator, and the number is so big it has an 'E' in it – literally, the value of your network is exponential." - Lucy Goetz, The Science of Social Reach

Sweet! Then what's the problem?

The majority of barbershoppers already have internet access but statistically they are part of the smallest group by age using Facebook. "The median age of BHS members is 66 and 40% of barbershoppers are 70 and older." - BHS. Most baby boomers have internet access and 60% of seniors as well, which is a significant proportion, and together they make up about 40% of the US population but only account for 13% of Facebook users. They're online but it's not to use Facebook.

"There is no doubt that younger generations are the first to adopt new technologies, but once they go mainstream, it is the Boomers' adoption that is driving the real growth of technology. The Boomers have always embraced science and technology and are using today's internet-linked products to enrich their lives by staying connected, socializing, shopping and entertaining themselves. While they are slower to adopt the new technologies, once they are mainstream, Boomers buy in." - Nielsenwire, August 2012

It's just a matter of getting a jump on the curve and encourage all age groups but particularly the boomers and seniors to expand their internet usage and participate in social media like Facebook to help promote barbershopping online. In our chorus with about 35 on the risers we were able to encourage about a dozen not already on Facebook to join so it's not an insurmountable feat to make a significant difference there. People are analog creatures and we need only to try something and play with it to understand and get comfortable with it.

It's all easy peasy lemon squeezy, no schmoozing required. And yet getting people to click "like" is strangely difficult. Most casual users of Facebook just use it to communicate with their own immediate network of family and friends but many without realizing it also play a part in bridging other groups together extending their networks. You wouldn't see a photo or video clip posted by someone you don't know, unless one of your Facebook Friends knows them and clicks "like" on it, then they bridge that other person's network to you for just that one post and now
you can see the post as well.

And although you see it now on your Facebook account (newsfeed or profile aka timeline) that doesn't mean all of your own chosen Facebook Friends see it, you choose what they see from you only if you also 'like' it. If a show flyer is posted on the chapter's Facebook page and none of the members respond to it then nobody outside the chapter members will ever see it, it just dies there. Facebook doesn't broadcast messages to everyone everywhere like a radio ad, they are instead passed on by the users like the flame of one candle lighting the next. If a member
clicks 'like' or 'share' or comments on the posted show flyer then they are sharing that flyer with their average of 132 peeps, the cyber equivalent of them putting up 132 flyers.

In our chorus of 35, after a lot of encouragement about 25 now have a Facebook account (way above the average) but only 1 or 2 would ever 'like' a post. Two months before a big event we would post at least weekly a flyer or info about the event on the Chapter's Facebook page. Through rehearsal announcements and newsgroup emails to the chorus we would explain the benefits and importance of promoting the event via Facebook and provide links directly to the chorus Facebook 'page' but it would rarely generate any additional participation by the chorus members.

This is not to say this is an issue isolated just to our chorus.

The Pioneer District Facebook page currently has over 500 fans. Fans are people who have clicked the page's 'like' button who would then receive posts placed on it (like 'friending' a person on Facebook), and while many worthwhile events are posted on it, like Harmony Explosion
youth camp, Supercharge Your Chapter seminars, chapter shows, barbershop charity stories, etc, out of those over 500 people realistically only a couple might click 'like' to help promote the event. We're not talking just about the barbershoppers who rarely visit their Facebook account, we're talking about almost all of them. More than 99% of barbershoppers on the District's Facebook page don't use it to promote barbershop.

There are strategies to make post more 'likable' which will be covered here but even tactics that can double your 'likability' are only doubling the 1% participation to 2% and is not where we will have the biggest impact. We need to encourage the preservation of barbershop by promoting online and educate members to take that next step. Sign up for a free Facebook account. It's super easy at http://facebook.com.

The sign up walks you through the whole process including how to use Facebook but if you have questions here's a great tutorial that includes screen shots and video.


A lot of the following instructions are for the group's designated moderator to set up and post to Facebook accounts but would be need to set up your own profile first. To get started for a barbershop chapter on Facebook here is an outline:

1. Set up the chapter's public Facebook 'page.'
2. Set up a members' only Facebook 'group.'
3. Get members to start their own free Facebook account.
4. Friend members then sign them to members' Facebook group.'
5. Invite members to join chapter's public Facebook 'page.'
6. Post to the chapter's public Facebook 'page.'
7. Get members to click 'like.'

See, doesn't sound too bad. Our chapter has made much of the transition detail here.

1. Set up chapter's public Facebook 'page.'

After you've set up your own free Facebook account then set up the Facebook Page. How to find the Facebook Page's creation page is tricky because they change it occasionally but as of the writing of this article go to your Facebook newsfeed's left hand margin where it says "Page," hover your mouse there, "more" will appear, click it then on the new screen click the Create Page button at the top by the little orange flag icon. Or use this link: http://www.new.facebook.com/pages/create.php....and follow the steps.

More info at this link
More general info and great tutorials at this link

While setting up the page select your category which you can always change but be aware about naming the page, that will become permanent. With naming I recommend using your city and chorus name so not to be confused with similarly named groups. Select the option to set up as a Facebook 'Page' (not group) aka Fan Page, for your chapter or quartet's public face. Basically a 'group' allows anyone to post any comments they
want while a page doesn't allow for new topic comments on the main page so you can control your page's message, although they can comment on your posts. Some chapters already have their public Facebook account set up but it is for a 'group.' It's a pain but it's still recommended to set up a new one as a 'page' that looks more professional and encourage members of the 'group' to join the 'page' and then block posting to that group.

Follow the same steps you would in setting up a personal profile and be sure to add/invite all your chorus and quartet members. Facebook walks you through the whole procedure.

2. Set up members' only Facebook 'group.'

This is a 'private' Unpublished group made available only for current and past chorus members so they can stay in touch and talk about any topic which are only visible to the group's members and can not be linked with the rest of Facebook. This allows for discussion of topics ranging from non-barbershop to barbershop, to making suggestions, or to vent and discuss items not for public consumption (but politely). Set up an as an unpublished or private Facebook 'group.' If the members' Facebook group is unpublished as opposed to private everything posted there is still
only visible to members but then members trying to join can find it on Facebook and request to join as well.

3. Get members to start their own free Facebook account.

The sign up process is fast and walks you through each step....http://facebook.com. Again the process is self explanatory but here's a link to an easy tutorial....http://www.gcflearnfree.org/facebook101. Our chapter uses a free newsgroup which is an effective way for chapter leadership to send emails to communicate with chapter/chorus members.

Pioneer District's PioNet

Our chapter newsgroup was originally set so any member could post/email as well for group discussion. The newsgroup settings were changed so only key members could post to the newsgroup. Limiting the newsgroup access was to both limit the number of emails and to encourage members to use Facebook to communicate with each other instead. Then we gave instructions at rehearsal announcements, and, tutorial links in emails to encourage members to start a Facebook account.

4. 'Friend' members then sign them to members' Facebook 'group.'

The members' Facebook group moderator then seeks out chapter members with Facebook accounts, 'friends' them, then adds them to the members' Facebook group. Even as a member of the group participation is strictly voluntary, if you don't go to your Facebook account you don't receive those posts.

5. Invite members to join chapter's public Facebook 'page.'

6. Public Facebook page Administrator/Moderator post content promoting barbershop, the chapter, chorus, quartets, and shows.

7. Get members to click the 'like' links that appear beneath each post.

The trick is convincing members that just because they see the post on their Facebook Newsfeed doesn't mean all their Facebook Friends see it, that the members have to 'like' it for their Facebook Friends to see it and that this small gesture ripples across the pond. It can be a powerful tool if we could just convince members to respond. Here are some strategies for member participation.

  1. For Chapters, get the support of your board. Ask them to 'like' posts and to lead by example.
  2. Find those members who frequent Facebook and personally ask them to 'like' a particular post.
  3. Encourage members who are on Facebook to 'friend' chorus members new to Facebook.
  4. Give newsgroup emails and rehearsal announcements for members to 'like' a Facebook post.
  5. Encourage use of mobile devices for members to 'check in' at rehearsal, posting their location to promote their rehearsal site.
  6. During rehearsal break encourage using smart phones to take a photo of some tag singing etc. showing off the camaraderie and upload to Facebook right then and there. This is a great way to promote the chapter activities on a personal level.
  7. 'Tricking' them into 'liking.' Ok, not really 'tricking' them, more like advertising strategies that make them 'want' to 'like' them.

Here are some good tactics to make posts 'likable' or to entice readers to comment.

  1. Keep posts less than three lines of texts which receive about 60% more response's than longer ones.
  2. Address recent events and make barbershop relevant like holidays, reality music shows like Sing-Off, etc. Some holiday posts can get about a 90% greater response.
  3. Create a question post or write a text post with a 'fill in the blank' posts which receive about 90% more responses than typical text ones.
  4. Pose a simple question like 'What's your favorite barbershop song or tag?' or 'Who's your favorite quartet?'
  5. Post photos and videos. A photo album garners 180% more response, a picture 120% or a video at 100%. Also tagging photos with the names of those pictured not only promote your activities they often generate positive feedback from member's families and friends. It's heart warming to see members' family respond to these tagged photos saying that they're proud or pleased in this singing facet of their life.

But remember double nothing is still nothing.

These strategies are helpful but keep in mind these percentages look great but if you only get 1 'like' on a regular post, then a video's 100% additional would only equate to an average of two 'likes.' The most important thing that can be done is that people understand the significance and care enough to respond. You have a loyal army of followers at your disposal to help promote their group and you need to find some way to mobilize them.

Moderators tend to your garden.

Many choruses have Facebook pages, the BHS has one, barbershop Districts do, and many quartets as well. However like a garden they do take some tending to and there are often some site's that aren't touched for months at a time and suffer from the lack of attention.

  1. Post links to impressive barbershop youtube videos (avoid unprofessional looking ones).
  2. Whenever someone comments on a post reply back or 'like' their comment to engage them and let them know you took notice.
  3. Try setting up a Facebook contest.
  4. Post weekends and 2 pm-5 am on weekdays for more response. Peek periods 9 pm-10 pm.
  5. Post regularly several times a week. Consistency is important too.

*Some caveats.

The percentage of posts seen by your Facebook Friends is actual 12-16%. This is due to their Facebook settings, plus Facebook software that gleans some content, and simply because they just missed it as it gets crowded out by cute cat photos. Also Facebook is often tweaking the system and changing things so nothing is written in stone. This article has been encouraging use of the 'like' option but commenting and 'sharing' also bridges post to the members' personal networks. Using the comment and share are more effective but usually requires composing
a sentence which might intimidate the uninitiated which is why the push to 'like.' Benefit of 'commenting' is people are more inclined to take notice of something their Facebook Friend commented on. such as with an endorsement. Clicking the 'Share' looks more like a new post from them which they can personalize with their own description like a personal invitation and has a greater visual presence.

Although websites have important uses, generally they're not frequently visited and it can be difficult to get a webmaster to update them in a timely manner. If I had to choose between a website and a social networking site I would consider something like Facebook that's far easier to use and has more benefits.

Useful articles and resources.

Social Media for Barbershop Quartets and Choruses
http://greatlakeschorus.org/misc/facebook/ socialmediaforbarbershop.pdf

The Science of Social Reach by Lucy Goetz

Facebook Marketing Tips: Make the Most of Your Fan Page

Facebook Tips: How to Use the Social Network Like a Pro

Facebook Page Publishing Best Practices
Engaging your audience by publishing to your Page

Best Practices For Your Page And Media Strategy

NewMediaTrendWatch Demographics

Don’t Ignore Boomers – The Most Valuable Generation

Facebook Tutorial

Music Line

Back to Social Media


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