Web 2.0 for Nonprofits – Facebook

Facebook is Job 1 when starting out in social media

Facebook is most important social media platform for a nonprofit to master. If you have adequate resources for only one social media platform (after creating a great blogging website and dynamic email program), it should be Facebook.

everything starts with facebook pageIt all starts with your Page. Not a Group, never a Profile. Facebook Pages are specific to businesses, organizations and brands and have the advertising and sharing characteristics you will need to create virality. Don’t split your volunteers off on to a separate page either; they are going to be your best tool to promote your posts organically and a way to show a community of backers to page visitors.

Your followers see you… Not

It’s very important to understand that your followers don’t interact with your page directly, except possibly when they initially “Like” it. The majority of the time Facebook users spend on the site is on their own News Feeds, reading the posts that Facebook displays. That is, the posts that Facebook thinks are titillating enough to display.

If you think that your posts are dutifully forwarded to your follower’s News Feed by Facebook, you’re in for a disappointment. There are billions of posts every day, far too many to display to users. Facebook rates posts and decides if the post is interesting enough to be passed on to friends and followers.  According to Facebook, a mere 16% of your fans will see any given post. If a follower doesn’t interact with you for a long time, they may not be seeing any of your posts – depending on their Facebook habits and your post’s rating. This rating is based on an algorithm Facebook calls EdgeRank.

facebook edgerank2EdgeRank looks at 3 factors: Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay. Understanding how they affect your post visibility is ver important.

  • Affinity is a measure of a follower’s connection to you based on how many interactions i.e. likes, comments, and shares he or she has had with you.
  • Weight assigns a ranking based on the type of interaction. Likes carry the least weight, comments are in the middle, and shares carry the most. The reasoning is that it takes a little more effort to make a comment than to click a like button, and that sharing posts with friends is the best indicator of an interesting post.
  • Time decay is just that; how much time has elapsed since the post.

What this means is that your posts need to be engaging and make readers want to share, and that timing has a lot to do with how far up on the newsfeed you are. One study of 4000 Pages showed that as many as 5 out of 6 of your followers may not be seeing your posts at all.

Make Facebook another volunteer opportunity

Fortunately, there is something you can do, and what helps your Facebook visibility in this case actually helps internal community building as well. Gather your volunteers and have a Facebook training. Teach them to interact with your page by sharing, talking to you, and talking to each other. This will increase the visibility of your posts and the value of your page overall.

Want shares? Post kittens!

funny kitten pictureWe are a nation of visual media consumers. Photos generate 53%  more likes than the average post. Videos are shared 12x as often than links and text posts combined. Nearly 300 million pictures are being uploaded to Facebook every day. User studies show that, as Facebook users are scanning their timelines, they skip much of the text and look at the pictures. Photos are the lure you should use to draw a readers attention.

One of the great tricks is to post short funny messages as text on the photo itself, rather than posting a photo with accompanying text. Or use someecards or Rotten ecards to create easily sharable, fun digital postcards.

Facebook ads

Facebook has a bewildering array of ads, promotions, and promoted posts. You can feature an outside website or a post that originates on your feed. Facebook ads can be very rewarding and cost effective. Part of the reason is the deep demographic choices you can drill into when choosing a target audience. They are relatively easy to set up and manage, and you set the budget ahead of time. Facebook recently reduced the number of likes a page had to have before being eligible for promoted posts, so now almost anyone is eligible.

Keep you eyes open, video ads are coming soon to a Page near you!