Judging by the number of news stories over the last few weeks about parents who have adopted after finding their child’s birthmother through Facebook, I’m sure she isn’t the only one who is adding the social networking site to her networking toolbox.
First there was this story about a Maryland same-sex couple who used their adoption Facebook page to:
- connect with their son’s birthmother
- keep in touch with her after the placement
- find support after their previous adoption matches fell through
Then there was this story about an Ohio couple who brought home a baby a mere 24 hours after their child’s birthmother found them through their adoption Facebook page. Of course, both of these stories I posted on — where else? — our adoption Facebook page where they were subsequently shared on other people’s adoption Facebook pages.
Facebook is clearly a social networking juggernaut. Every day 128 million Americans — one in three people — visit the site. It’s not only a great way to share and connect with your family and friends. It’s also become a proven way to share and connect with a prospective birthmother.
Reading these success stories, you can’t help but get inspired and say to yourself, “hey, if they can do it, why can’t I?”
But don’t let these stories fool you. Matches through Facebook happen. But they don’t happen every day. As with any online connection, luck and timing have a lot to do with it.
That said, there are ways to make your adoption Facebook page stand out and boost your odds of connecting with a prospective birthmother.
Use the right keywords
Creating an open adoption Facebook page couldn’t be easier. Just make sure that you choose an attention-getting title and that all of your contact information is prominently displayed and easy to find.
Using your first names in the title of your page personalizes it. But with so many other adoption Facebook pages to choose from, you need to find other ways to stand out.
And that means using the right keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases that internet users type into Facebook or search engines like Google to find you. For instance, this post targets online users who are
- looking to find a match with a birthmother
- hoping to adopt
- interested in adoption or adoption networking
- curious about creating an adoption page on Facebook
Choose your keywords carefully — from the perspective of a prospective birthmother. If you were looking for a couple to adopt your baby, what words would you use in your search?
Words and phrase like “hoping to adopt” “adoptive parents” and “open adoption” are all obvious choices and will increase the chances of your page showing up in adoption-related search results. But good as they are, they’re all pretty generic.
If you really want to set yourself apart from all of the other couples hoping to adopt through open adoption, you’ll need to refine them.
Since many prospective birthmothers are searching locally for adoptive parents, adding your city, county or state will help them narrow down their search and make you easier to find. For instance, if you’re a couple in Maine, call your page “Kim and Steve’s Maine Open Adoption Page.”
Using multiple keywords that are geographically specific won’t let you connect with every prospective birthmother, but there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re not trying to find a match with every prospective birthmother — only those who are looking for an adoptive couple in Maine.
For consistency sake, use the same title across the board for all of your social media channels and include links to your online profile, website or blog to help prospective birthmothers learn more about you.
Post eye-catching photos
Photos, especially your cover photo, are just as important as your keywords, if not more. They’re the first thing that a prospective birthmother will see when she visits your page.
Your cover photo doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the more casual and relaxed you look the better. What counts is that the quality is good and that it captures your personality. Ideally, it should make you look warm and approachable — the kind of people that a prospective birthmother would want to get to know better.
Try to have a bit of fun and remember who you’re trying to appeal to. Pick photos that are child- and/or family-friendly.
Keep your page fresh with regular updates
Keeping your news feed fresh and up-to-date is another way to draw prospective birthmothers to your page. Facebook users have notoriously short attention spans so it’s important to keep adding new content. Doing so will not only bring viewers back to your page and get you new users, but it also let them know that you’re still looking be to matched.
Use your page to share snapshots from your life — showcasing your interests, family, home, travels, and pets. Photos, videos and images are by far the biggest draws on Facebook, so always be on the look-out for an opportunity to post one.
You don’t need to say a lot. Let the photos do the talking for you and keep your captions short and snappy. Think of your posts as part of an ongoing conversation with your Fans and use hashtags — #openadoption #hopingtoadopt #adoptiveparents — to boost your visibility.
Don’t overdo it, though. While multiple updates work well on Twitter, on Facebook one or two updates a day should suffice. Afternoons betweeen non and 2 p.m. and nights after 7 p.m. are considered peak posting time, when Facebook gets the most traffic. But you may find that your users respond better at other times so schedule your posts accordingly.
Engage your fans
Remember that Facebook is a social networking site so don’t be afraid to socialize. To increase your engagement, add questions to the end of your post and invite your Fans to share their comments.
When people reply, be sure to reply back. Doing so will help you extend your reach and give them a reason to come back and connect again.
In regards to what to post on your page, just about anything goes. It’s your page so share content that gives a window into your life, shows different sides of your personality and what kind of parent you would become. Behind-the-scenes and unguarded moments work best because they’re more spontaneous and authentic.
Whatever you post should be relevant, useful and have value.
- Relevant: this is content about your personal adoption journey or family; for instance, photos and highlights from a recent afternoon of hayrides and face painting with your nephew or niece or of a recent vacation you took with your partner
- Useful: a new study or “water cooler worthy” story in the news, not necessary adoption-related, that people are talking about and guaranteed to generate a discussion
- Value: an inspirational infographic, blog or website, again not necessary about adoption, that you’ve discovered and could be of interest to your fans
Get more “Likes”
Getting more “Likes” will not only make your page more interesting and engaging, it will also help you climb to the top of people’s news feed. There are many ways to do this. The easiest way by far is to just ask people to “Like” you. But you can also put out a call to action on your other social media networks or in your email signature.
Commenting on other people’s page is another tried and true way to bring them back to yours. Use Facebook Insights to measure the response to your posts and to find out what works, what doesn’t, who’s visiting your page and when. Then, using that information, fine-tune your content to get more “Likes” and boost your engagement.
Expand your reach through advertising
No matter how good your posts are, typically your Fans will only see about 10 percent of them. So if you want to extend your reach, you’ll need to try other methods such as advertising.
With a bit of planning, Facebook advertising can be a smart, cost-effective way to get attention and drive a prospective birthmother to your page, website, blog or online profile.
When it comes to advertising, Facebook offers a range of options, from simple targeted ads and page post ads to sponsored stories and promoted Facebook posts. Whether you want to get more “Likes,” promote your page post or get new users, you’re bound to find the option that’s right for you and your budget. Start small and test it out using different messages and formats until you find the one that clicks with your viewers.
And finally, keep in mind that while an adoption Facebook page is a great way to increase your exposure and spread your message to a prospective birthmother, not everyone who will be contacting you will be a prospective birthmother.
As with any online tool, screen your responses carefully and have your adoption professionals weed out possible scams. And be careful about your privacy. Don’t post anything on your page that you wouldn’t want to share with the rest of the world.
Looking for ideas and inspiration for your adoption Facebook page? Check out these pages from some of our couples hoping to adopt:
Adopting in Seattle – Jennifer & Evan Hope to Adopt
Andrew and Michael’s Open Adoption Journey
Susan & Mitch Adopt
Jason Smith Robert McGill
Brian & Stephanie want to adopt a baby- a New York family
The Odum’s Adoption Journey
Nori and Phil Perry – Our Adoption Journey
Open Adoption- David and Melinda Vargas
And you’re looking to increase the visibility of your adoption Facebook page or online profile, don’t forget to post a link to it on our Facebook page on the first Friday of each month, when we turn over our page to you.
How have you used your Facebook page to help you in your adoption journey? What has helped you get more likes? Share your comments in the space below.