When a Like Is Worth a Buck: How One Day School Made FB Pay

by Ken Gordon

There I was, on January 15th, at the North American Jewish Day School Conference, conducting an intense, face-to-face social-media consultation with Oakland Hebrew Day School’s Rabbi Yehudah Potok.

R.Y.P., as his Board President fondly calls him, was deeply focused, asking good questions, making all kinds of notes. Yet as we yammered away, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Could a Head of School really be that interested in social media?”

The answer I later learned was this: R.Y.P. is totally serious and smart about Facebook.

Y’see, our man at OHDS had asked me about how to increase the size of his school’s FB fan base. I casually suggested that he:

  • Figure out how many Fans his school had at that moment.
  • Pick a reachable Fan goal.
  • Select a date to reach that goal.
  • Appeal strongly to his community – on Facebook but also in an email blast – to do the work and make it happen.

His response? On January 18, just two days after the conference ended, he took this modest idea into the stratosphere. He wrote to his people:

Help be an Ambassador for OHDS! Having entered the world of social media just over a year ago, OHDS already has 160 fans on our OHDS Facebook page. Over the next two weeks (by February 3rd), we would like to challenge our community to recruit as many fans as possible. For every fan we add, $1 will be given to our scholarship fund. Please share the following link with your Facebook friends and ask them to become a fan of OHDS.

In one stroke he transformed the act of asking people to Like a page – a simple and easy-to-accomplish task – into a powerful fundraising activity. Think about it: he created a way for his community to directly contribute to OHDS’ financial sustainability, and engage in a conversation about the community, by merely clicking a button. Brilliant.

I can see many schools using the incremental-but-real incentive of tying together social engagement and fundraising. This social shidduch makes a ton of sense – and OHDS’ particular manifestation seems just the very first step here. I imagine particular conversations being “sponsored” by different JDS programs. For instance:

Create a video about how much you love the Land of Milk and Honey, post it on FB, and we’ll donate $20 to defraying the costs of the eighth grade trip to Israel!

But back to the present: the data from the OHDS experiment was very impressive.

In less than 24 hours, OHDS grew from 160 to 194 Fans.

As I type this, their page has 250 Fans.

Will they add 100 new Fans – 260 Fans – by their deadline?

Don’t know.

But let’s do what we can to help those folks reach 260. Now. Go Like ‘em!

Ken Gordon is the Social Media Manager at PEJE, Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Update: OHDS did meet their goal – and they have a new sponsor and a new goal. From their FB page:

“Wow! We just blew past our 260 ‘Facebook fans’ goal! But, there are still 2 more days…  and Oakland Kosher Food has now offered to match another $.50 for every fan that we can get by Friday if we can reach 300 fans. This is on top of the $1 that is already being donated for every new fan that likes the OHDS Facebook page. Keep the fans coming and thank you to all of you for helping us in our fanraising!”