How Non-Profits Can Maximize Engagement on Facebook

by Zachary Sniderman


he Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media. Eight of the world’s top ten brands use the Buddy Media Platform to power their social marketing on Facebook. Find out why here.


It’s important for any digitally-minded non-profit to be on Facebook because of the sheer number of active users. So, great — you set up a Facebook account for your organization. Now what?
Best practices are pretty variable when it comes to social media. This is especially true with Facebook, which switches up its appearance, services and features every few months. We did our best to put together some of the best approaches for non-profits, with some serious help from three social media mavericks at top causes.

Read on for some dos, don’ts, and a golden rule or two for how non-profits can better utilize Facebook.

How Facebook Can Help You



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“We have to remember that Facebook was not made for non-profits,” says Danielle Brigida, the digital media marketing manager at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). “Unlike Twitter, it is very hard for an organization to foster any individual relationships on Facebook, and it is almost best used as a discussion tool or for broadcasting.”
This certainly doesn’t preclude the ability to have conversations with your audience. However, the format does change how and what your audience will respond to. A question about IT staffing on Facebook may result in crickets, but that question would perform well on LinkedIn, says Holly Ross, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). “But if we ask our Facebook group what kind of music we should add to our hold lines, we’ll get twenty responses in an hour.” Ross sees NTEN’s Facebook community as a virtual water cooler — great engagement is about knowing what your community wants from your various social media profiles.

Golden Rules of Facebook for Non-Profits



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“Ask open ended questions and use [Facebook] as a two-way street,” says Brooke McMillan, Livestrong‘s online community manager. “Always stoke conversation between you and the fan as well as fan-to-fan. We’ve seen some of the most supportive comments in the fan-to-fan relationship.” McMillan has helped build a vibrant online support community on Livestrong’s Facebook page, which has become a key component of Livestrong’s online identity. On the tech side, McMillan recommends posting at least once a day or as often as your organization has fresh content.

For Brigida (NWF), her golden rule is actually the age-old golden rule: “I engage with people how I want to be treated on Facebook,” Brigida said. “I don’t post things that will not engage our members … or overshare.” The NWF has specific audience pages — for photographers, teachers, gardeners and more — which Brigida targets from message to message. Understand that your community may be interested in different facets of your organization and tailor your posts to those niches.

Definitely Do Not Do These Things


Our experts honed in on two major non-profit no nos: lack of purpose and being too promotional.
“You have to have a reason to be on Facebook,” says Ross (NTEN). “Are you recruiting volunteers? Cultivating activists? Stewarding your donors? You won’t find any success in Facebook if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish.” McMillan echoed this, urging non-profits to keep their site active and their audiences engaged.

The other unfortunate truth is that no one really likes press releases. You don’t like writing them or receiving them, and your fans will get turned off by boilerplate messages. That said, your fans do want updates and information about your success and new campaigns. Ross recommends writing a post specifically for Facebook rather than copy/pasting a release. Adds McMillan: “In the [non-profit] world we often have really great studies and scientific papers that we want to share, but the general public doesn’t necessarily want to read an abstract for a research study — snoozeville.”

Find a way to deliver this information in an engaging way and your Facebook fans will reward you by actually reading it.

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