Promote Your Nonprofit Organization
Whether or not you know what they’re talking about, you’ve probably heard it mentioned by countless people that Facebook is a powerful communication tool for nonprofit organizations. And you want to be able to harness that tool and learn how best to use it to promote your cause, but you’re not sure how.
The Skinny on Facebook
Let’s begin with some basics about Facebook and its history. Watch the Simple English video below for a quick and easy-to-understand overview of the social media network.
Facebook in Simple English
Facebook for Organizations
When organizations first started using Facebook to promote themselves, the individual tasked with managing these communications had to first determine which of the following would be the best option to use for this purpose:
- A personal Facebook profile
- A Facebook profile created as a ‘professional’ identity specifically for these communications
- A Facebook group
- A Facebook fan page
After much trial and error (and as of the publication date of this post), the most effective communication tool for this has emerged as the Facebook fan page.
Here are a few reasons why.
- Low commitment on the part of users.
(All they have to do is “like” the page.)
- Ability for organizations to more frequently broadcast wide communications with non-intrusive messaging.
(Fans can see activity on the timeline without having to be directly messaged.)
- Designated administrators can choose to post either as individuals or as under the organizational FB page avatar
(Helps keep the line between personal and professional Facebook messaging.)
First things first, you’ll need to sign up for a Facebook account if you don’t already have one. You need an individual account in order to create a Facebook fan page, even if you plan on communicated as an administrator under the fan page. It’s a small catch-22, considering Facebook is still free powerful social media messaging tool.
The best way to understand how to use a Facebook page is to start using it. In the case of social media, some concepts are so abstract that you can only truly understand them once you get some hands-on experience.
A few things to consider first:
- Make sure you have an hour a day during the work week to dedicate to the task.
- Interact with fans online with the same decorum and professionalism that you would in person.
- Consider who your target audience is and what content you intend to share with them.
- Observe pages of organizations whose messaging you think would work well for your brand and try to emulate their strategy of communication.
- Make sure you have the necessary contact information needed to triage customer service complaints that might arise about your organization.
Launching Your Page
While it’s perfectly acceptable to send invite your Facebook friends to like your page once it has launched, you should really only do this once. Otherwise, you risk being burning them out with incessant pleas to “Like my page!” And the last thing you want is for them to start hiding you from their timeline or (even worse!) unfriending you.
The best way to organically gain a true fan base is to add social media links to your homepage, quickly and easily letting users know where they can find you online.
But until you’ve had a chance to really test out using the page, it’s best to wait on trying to gain fans. Why drag people to your page, if you don’t even know what you want to say yet?
Naturally, you’re going to want to share news about your organization with your fans but you also want to remember that social media messaging should be a two-way street. Additionally, you should act as an expert in your field, gathering and curating content that you think your fans will appreciate.
Be sure that your messaging includes a good balance between the following sources of content:
Updates About Your Organization
Don’t be afraid to brag about any accomplishments or awards you’ve achieved. This is your place to let people know what you’re doing.
News From Peer Organizations
It’s important for your fans to see that you are informed about what your peers are doing. They should see that you are helping keep them informed about your particular field of expertise by culling articles of interest from the Internet.
If you see that a Facebook friend has shared information that would be pertinent on your brand’s wall, be sure to share it and credit them for bringing it to your attention. Not only will your fans see that you are listening as well as broadcasting your own messaging, but you might just gain new fans in the process.
This is the place to run contests, giveaways, coupon codes or any other types of “sneak peek” information that will give fans an incentive to like your page. Reward your fans with this type of messaging to encourage them to keep an eye on your page for updates.
Up and Running With Facebook
The analytics section of the Facebook administrative page is pretty straightforward and after you’ve been using the page to interact with fans, you’ll start to get an idea of what kind of messaging is resonating the most. While you shouldn’t be afraid to try new types of messaging, it should help you determine which types of content will help you get the most return on investment over time.
Keep in mind that establishing a Facebook presence should be considered a long-term investment. This is especially important for a non-profit organization because it’s all-too tempting to launch a page and immediately start making daily pleas for donations. Fight this urge and instead be confident that by raising awareness about your cause on Facebook, you are increasing visibility for your organization over time. Trust in the value of building brand awareness.
To wrap up, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind about your Facebook messaging.
- Do have clear goals.
- Do encourage conversations.
- Do follow good examples.
- Do respond to complaints quickly with customer service contact information.
- Don’t ask incessantly for donations.
- Don’t be narcissistic.
- Don’t engage in unprofessional communications.
- Don’t beg for fans.
This is the second in a blog post series entitled, How to Make Social Media Work for You. If you haven’t already, check out Intro to Social Media: View from 10,000 Feet. Also, stay tuned for next week’s post about Twitter best practices for non-profit organizations.