“I had just started running The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital Facebook page,” Rory said. “And it was fairly inefficient for me to receive an email from philanthropy, extract all the contents I needed, create a post, and then continuously circle back around for approvals via email, too.”
He began forging a direct partnership with the philanthropy team to streamline the planning processes and to supply a good amount of content to The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital social channels.
“Partnering with philanthropy was a no-brainer because they have so much relevant stuff going on already, and they have a good pulse on events happening inside the hospital as well,” he said.
Rory added most of the content they partner on is specifically for The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital Facebook page, but they also have a presence on Maine Medical Center's main Facebook and Instagram pages as well.
Rory is the only full-time employee working in social media at the organization so, within the philanthropy partnership, he also collaborates with the women and children's service line marketing manager.
To ensure they stay in alignment and know what events are coming up, they hold monthly meetings with one or two of the philanthropy team members.
According to Rory, the philanthropy team are great writers and don't need much training or guidance from him.
“They write good, engaging copy, which takes a lot of stress off of me,” he said.
He's currently working on getting a department iPhone or camera so the philanthropy team would be able to capture high-quality images at the events on their own. He said right now, each team member just uses whatever device they own, which doesn't always meet their expectations for quality.
Overall, the partnership has helped increase engagement on the content the hospital shares around philanthropic events, Rory said.
“A big part of the relationship has been improving the content,” he said. “They've needed some guidance on that because before I came into this role, social media was an afterthought. They were just working with whatever content they happened to have.”
“As a result, the types of posts they're putting out have greatly expanded,” said Rory. “It goes beyond philanthropic fundraising asks. Now, the content is supporting philanthropy's longer term strategy by showing followers where their donations are going.”
Rory said the hospital's annual Camp Week was a good example of how their partnership has helped improve philanthropy-focused social content.
The event — which the philanthropy team works closely with the child life team on — brings camp to the children in the hospital by setting up activity stations in communal areas at the hospital.
“They put on some great events. The kids made their own slime and they got to slime a couple doctors,” Rory said. “That event provided a lot of opportunities for great content.”
He said in past years when the hospital had put on the camp week event, the content shared on social was so fragmented that from the outside it really wasn't clear that anything was going on that week at all.
“This time we had content every day of Camp Week across Facebook and Instagram, with a real thread for our audience to follow and keep them engaged. As a result, we saw a huge leap in engagement and reach compared to previous years — I'd put most of that down to simply optimizing our content for each channel appropriately.”
He explained creating content in partnership with the philanthropy team has posed some challenges too, including working with tight timelines and limited resources.
“Most of the content comes through at the eleventh hour,” Rory said. “They're very tight on resources, so they rarely can put that content together in advance.”
But, because he has monthly content calendars planned out ahead of time, it's easy to swap out pre-planned posts and slot in that content when it comes in.
Next, they hope to move in the direction of getting native donations set up on their platforms and use them as a fundraising tool.
“We've dabbled in supporting smaller fundraising efforts on social media,” said Rory. “We have a program called My Miracle Birthday where we post patient stories and suggest to our followers to donate. We're tracking the interaction on the fundraising side as well as the engagement side for that.”
Rory's partnership with the philanthropy team is the first of its kind at the organization, but he's looking forward to building similar partnerships with other teams in the future.
“That way, we can get even closer to the content people care deeply about,” he said.
Rory emphasized the importance of reaching out to as many people as possible when building a partnership like this.
“Meet with as many people on the team that are available to get around the table,” he said. “Get a sense of who is easy to work with, who's interested, and who's willing to work with you.”
He also suggested keeping up regular communication with those people because the key to getting the best content is establishing relationships. “It's helpful to be able to just send a text message to someone and ask for their input,” he said. “When you remove the formality, there's a lot more opportunity to be had.”