In my conversations with nonprofits using social media, I always ask them one question first – What do they want to get out of using Facebook?
I always single out Facebook first because it is alternately so loved and so hated, and the mere mention of it always elicits spirited discussion. Facebook is also very different than other platforms and requires more finesse.
So let me ask you – Why is your nonprofit on Facebook? I’m willing to bet it is for one or both of these reasons:
- To fundraise.
- To promote the activities and programs of the organization.
(If you said “raise awareness” or “gain new supporters”, those are really just slight variations of the above two bullets.)
Here is why Facebook users are on Facebook:
- To see what their friends are doing.
- To connect with family.
- To share common interests.
- To find out what is going on in the world.
- To be entertained.
See the disconnect?
There are certain things for which Facebook marketing is ideal:
- Lending credibility to your organization, which leads to increased trust and affinity, which in turn can lead to more loyal supporters.
- Establishing your organization as a viable entity with staff, volunteers and vibrant programs.
- Showcasing your impact – the people you serve every day, the change you are making in the world, and the REASON (the need) behind your mission.
- Making it easy for your most passionate online ambassadors share your mission with their networks.
It is not ideal for:
- Raising money.
- Increasing event attendance.
- Creating deep and lasting connections with donors.
Facebook should be used as part of the donor cultivation cycle, but it should not be relied upon to find new donors, form relationships with supporters and to broadcast your news and announcements to the greater community.
Despite all the evidence that this broadcast approach isn’t working, nonprofits continue to use Facebook as a megaphone, posting boring information with complete disregard for what their fans really want.
This is a big reason why I have no problem with the latest news from Facebook. Earlier this month, they announced that promotional page posts (not paid ads) will be getting buried in the News Feed.
Before you throw your computer and iPhone out a window, know that this will not affect the majority of nonprofits. Facebook is really talking about 3 kinds of posts specifically:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
Their rationale (which I completely endorse):
Our goal with News Feed has always been to show people the things they want to see… By making News Feed more engaging for people — with Page post creative that is more relevant to them — we’re also creating a better platform for businesses to reach their customers and find new ones.
The key to success on Facebook lies in this simple sentence:
Businesses should think about their Page as a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply as a publishing service.
Imagine if we all started thinking of Facebook this way!
Your Facebook fans and Twitter followers and blog readers do not HAVE to read your posts or listen to anything that you have to say.
Your audience makes split-second decisions (unconsciously) every minute about what information they will like, comment on and share with their networks. The ball is forever in their court (and hopefully the odds will be ever in our favor).
Social media is not a megaphone. It’s not about YOU and your agenda and what you want to promote.
Charities that understand how these tools have forever changed the way we communicate will succeed. The ones that don’t will fail to use the platforms effectively.
What do you think of the new Facebook announcement?
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