Engaging UCF RESTORES’ First Responder Community Through Facebook Live
When COVID-19 quickly closed borders and communities in early 2020, UCF RESTORES® – a nonprofit clinical research center and treatment clinic established to change the way posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related concerns are understood, diagnosed and treated – had to close its doors along with the rest of the world. The pandemic’s increasing impact on mental health over the lockdown period posed a particular challenge for UCF RESTORES’ frontline first responder communities and beyond. Their team set out to find an innovative and accessible way to share mental health education and resources with essential workers plus the general population – all from behind blue-lit screens.
Pivoting to telehealth treatment to continue life-saving services, UCF RESTORES leveraged its team of culturally competent clinicians to share insights related to COVID-19’s impact on behavioral health with the program’s growing Facebook audience. The “UCF RESTORES Facebook Wellness Education Series” shared 12 live conversations over the course of six weeks – from April 13 to May 25, 2020 – to specifically address stressors unique to that time. Over the course of the initiative, Curley & Pynn (C&P) was tasked with securing 12,000 total views of the 12 videos in the series, a 4.5% increase in Facebook followers and a 2% increase in page likes (doubling the average monthly rate of growth over the 12 months prior to April 13, 2020).
Our strategy was to share evidence-based information on the mental and behavioral health impacts presented by the pandemic in a visual, easily accessible format. Given the widespread impact of COVID-19-related stressors and challenges, our primary target audience was widespread as well – Facebook users who were mentally or behaviorally affected by COVID-19. To develop message points for the series that would resonate with viewers, Curley & Pynn monitored emerging mental health trends in local and national news cycles. A one-on-one interview with Dustin Hawkins, president of the Florida Firefighters Safety & Health Collaborative illustrated a crucial need for mental health education, especially for first responders and essential workers. C&P leveraged research to propose 12 areas of focus and created in-depth background documents to guide conversations.
Officially launched April 13, the series introduction touched on recognizing signs of stress during difficult times, exploring reactions that are typical during periods of heightened anxiety and, conversely, those that may be cause for greater concern. It was just the start of many impactful exchanges on topics including healthy coping mechanisms, the hazards associated with unhealthy drinking habits, the importance of proper sleep and hygiene, leaning on social support in trying times, and much more. Ultimately, the campaign served to amplify UCF RESTORES’ mission – to restore lives, families and communities with hope for a better tomorrow.
UCF RESTORES’ Facebook Live “Wellness Education” series exceeded all metrics, garnering 40,614 total views of the series by May 25, more than tripling our objective. All views were garnered organically since no dollars were used to “boost” or advertise the series. UCF RESTORES also secured a 7.18% increase in page followers and a 6.35% increase in page “likes,” far surpassing our stated objective.
What garnered the most engagement was managing real-time and follow-up engagement with existing and potential Facebook followers. C&P moved the needle by revisiting past videos to, as appropriate, send direct invites to Facebook users that had “liked” the post, but had yet to follow UCF RESTORES’ page.
The initiative delivered incredible ROI for the nonprofit with an increase in social following that rapidly outpaced month-over-month growth seen in the year prior. Insights from the campaign – specifically, the success of follow-up engagement requests and personal insights from members of the UCF RESTORES team – were incorporated into the program’s social media strategies since the campaign’s close.
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