With all the social causes and real needs that exist in the world, it can be an overwhelming challenge to feel like you’re pulling your weight in being a good neighbor. Luckily, I had the chance in the Fall of 2015 to participate in a four month effort to strengthen the social media presence of Mercy Brown Bag Program, a non-profit in Oakland, CA that has provided food to low-income seniors since the early 1980s.

The effort involved managing their Facebook page and seeing if I could build an audience. My focus in developing social media content was to establish a consistent brand that reflected their devoted, “in the trenches,” self-sacrificing efforts. I did this by establishing a consistent look in the content I created. This included using the same filter for all on-location photographs and telling the stories of their many long-time volunteers. Each week I would sponsor a post highlighting a volunteer. Their black & white photo framed by brown paper would be accompanied by a caption in their own words of “why they volunteer.” In addition, I would regularly post photos from various locations in Alameda County of their work in action.

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After four months, their Facebook followers doubled and their reach expanded as people engaged with the content — sharing it and leaving uplifting comments. People appreciated their work and many wanted to help out in some way. Perhaps more importantly, however, it served to generate excitement among employees and volunteers, as they received recognition from the community. Additionally, the brand helped to unify the program, build a sense of confidence, and establish a clear identity.

Looking forward, the effort is leading to a much needed update and expansion of their website and a further development of their brand. I look forward to helping them continue to tell their unique and pioneering story of caring for the needs of Bay Area seniors.

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