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Maximizing Your Nonprofit’s Impact on Facebook

If you manage a nonprofit organization’s Facebook page, there are almost certainly days when you feel frustrated and overwhelmed. I hear you, I see you—and I have some tips and strategies for making your work both easier and more impactful. 

THE FACTS

In case you’re wondering if Facebook is still worth investing in, consider that nearly 70 percent of U.S. residents spend at least 30 minutes a day on the platform and receive the majority of their news from Facebook feeds. If your nonprofit isn’t appearing in those feeds, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to connect with your supporters and donors on a regular basis and build a reputation as a trusted information source.

And here’s the good news for nonprofits: Facebook continues to tweak its algorithm to prioritize content from local connections, such as your nonprofit. The algorithm also boosts stories on topics that generate the most engagement, such as the environment, homelessness, children, animals, etc.—e.g., just the sorts of things nonprofits tend to focus on.

Data from ActionSprout indicates that nonprofits aren’t taking advantage of these opportunities. On the more than 400,000 Facebook pages in the ActionSprout system:

  • 52 percent of nonprofits post less than once a week

  • Only 14 percent of nonprofits post at least once a day

  • 60 percent of nonprofits have inaccurate or incomplete page settings

If your organization is one of these nonprofits, never fear. There are simple steps you can take to improve your visibility on Facebook.

POLISH UP YOUR PAGE SETTINGS

First things first: By taking just a minute or two to complete your page settings, you can get better placement from Facebook’s algorithm and make yourself a stronger, more appealing resource for your community. 

Click into the “About” section of your Facebook page, in the panel on the left-hand side of the screen, and make sure your categories include “Nonprofit.” About half of nonprofits are set as a community or place and don’t use the Nonprofit category—and this means they’re missing out on Facebook’s nonprofit tools. Then make sure you have at least a city, state, and country set, as this information lets Facebook prioritize your posts to people in your local region.

COMMIT TO POSTING ONCE A DAY

The cold, hard reality is that not all posts are equal in Facebook’s eyes. Facebook’s algorithm assesses signals from your page to decide how many of your followers it will show your stories to, and how prominently those stories will appear in your followers’ feeds. The most important signal you can give to boost your standing is to post one story that will engage your followers every day

Sounds daunting, right? But it’s not really.

Most organizations’ top-performing posts aren’t original content—they’re news stories reposted from other sources with a simple message contextualizing the piece for their specific audience. Use a tool such as Google news alerts (free to anyone) or ActionSprout (free to nonprofits) to find news items related to your mission. Then share one with a sentence or two.

Here’s an example: Climate Emergency Fund shared this NPR story on its Facebook page, and voila! It got an 11 percent engagement rate.

Climate Emergency Fund Facebook post. Shows an area view of a somewhat mountainous area with the statement We have to rethink how we do everything if we are to survive the #ClimateEmergency

WATCH, LEARN, AND GROW

Once you’re posting on a daily basis, pay attention to how people are engaging (or not) with the different types of stories you post. Use this real-time feedback to inform what content you keep sharing. My rule of thumb is that if I get over 5 percent engagement on a story, I try to find more posts like that one. If I get less than 5 percent, I probably want to try something different. 

Once you’re posting regularly, it’s inevitable that you’ll get trolls—people who post comments that aren’t constructive and make others uncomfortable. Your best course of action is to promptly hide these comments when you see them. The person who posted the comment won’t know you hid it, and nobody else will be able to see it. A hidden comment won’t get any feedback, which will discourage the troll from continuing to comment on your stories. 

I highly recommend allocating a bit of budget to try out Facebook ads on your curated stories, as it’s the most cost-effective way to reach new people and grow your base. These stories are extremely cheap to promote: Just $5–10 can have a huge impact on your page’s growth rate. I personally started a Facebook page on the subject of aquaponic gardening, and by spending just $150 on ads, I now have more than 1,600 fans and regularly get 60+ people engaging with my posts. 

TRY THIS ONE LAST TRICK FOR THE ROAD

Invite people who react to your posts to like your page. It’s a hidden secret to growth—especially if you’re using Facebook ads to promote those curated stories!

When you take it all together, this plan might sound like a lot. But just start simple, work on posting once a day, and the rest will begin to follow. 

Shawn KempShawn Kemp is the CEO and founder of ActionSprout, the world's leading tool for causes and political candidates on Facebook—now 100 percent free for nonprofits. He has been working in this space for more than seven years and has supported Facebook and many others in endeavors such as launching the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, fighting Zika virus in Brazil, bringing awareness to environmental issues, and changing legislation around early childhood nutrition.

Topics: Nonprofits on Facebook
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