Facebook for nonprofits

Figuring out Facebook

Mckenna Bailey

I speak to nonprofits all day long.  Every single organization I interact with is interested in figuring out how to use Facebook to share their mission.  But most are struggling with HOW.

It’s tricky.  Some of us who attempt to use social media to reach a larger target market are the same folks who had beepers (if you don’t know what a beeper is – Google it) a few decades ago. Technology has changed so rapidly that it’s challenging to figure out the most effective ways to use these tools and keep up with the latest and greatest.

At Virtuous, we have been trying to learn this as well over the last several months (so you might have been a victim of our re-marketing efforts) – and there are a few things we have found are very effective in reaching new potential supporters:

  • Know Your Audience, Know Your Audience, Know Your Audience. Second to this is knowing your audience and knowing your audience.
  • Share compelling stories.
  • Test your messages. And after that test again. And then again.

Facebook can be an incredible source for engaging new givers. But it can also be an terrible waste of time if you don’t have a strategy in place to maximize your efforts. Here are some steps to increase your success rate:

Step 1: Know Your Base

Do you really know who is in your current database?  Why do they give to you?  How old are they?  What do they like?  Do they have children? Grandchildren? If you do not know who is already engaged with you, building a larger Facebook audience is going to be like building a field and hoping they come to watch the game.

Step 2: Use Your Understanding

One of the great things about Facebook is the Artificial Intelligence that you have access to when using it to find new audience.  IF  you know who is currently interested in supporting your mission, you can use the common traits to build additional audience that are look alikes.  If you know women between 40 and 60 who like cats and beer are your most prolific givers, you can find more of the same on Facebook!  That is the beauty of the “Like” and “Share” buttons.  It’s genius.

Step 3: Know How to Communicate

Photos and videos work amazingly well.  Think about what you stop to look at on Facebook.  One of my personal favorite nonprofits on Facebook is Canine Companions for Independence.  Of course, pictures of cute puppies are always compelling, so they use those pictures to make you stop and look at them, then use that second you did to tell you more about their amazing work.

Step 4: Analyze What is Working

First things first: do you have a way to measure what communications are working? If not, you need to address that right away. Otherwise, you run the risk of having lots of activity with no results.  A Good Modern CRM should not only manage your data, but also manage your ROI on communications.

Step 5: Don’t Give Up

We have found that it takes a while to figure out the secret to how to use Facebook to your advantage.  If you start with one thing and it isn’t working, try something different. I have a friend who took over a very small page called Firefighter Wife in 2012.  Four years later, running this out of her house, she has over 96k followers and a nonprofit that helps support Firefighter families. Hard work – no matter how big your team is – can pay off if you take the right approach.

Facebook is truly a way to speak to millions of people who you would normally never even meet.  Its targetting capabilities makes it ridiculously easy for small and midsized nonprofits to benefit from cutting edge algorithms at reasonable prices, so don’t be afraid to use it.

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