by Taylor Olmstead
Facebook is the largest social networking site in the world, with one of the largest user bases on the web (most recent user total has climbed to 1.11 billion). Consequently, your community is probably full of Facebook users who interact with their friends, family and other loved ones regularly through the site. Leveraging someone’s passion for your organization to motivate them to spread the word about you to these trusted connections is one of the keys to a successful social media strategy. A Facebook Page is the perfect way to get started leveraging that passion to reach those connections.
Below we’ve assembled a list of five ways you can use your nonprofit’s Facebook Page to engage your community as well as those outside it, and motivate your supporters to share your work with those they know and trust. These tips move from basic to complex, so if you feel you’re already doing one well, by all means, move on to the next.
1. Extend Your Online Presence
Facebook is a great showcase for all the content you and your community create. It’s also a great place to input contact information where it’s easily searchable and located within an interface most people work in every day. Thus, even if your Facebook is nothing more than a duplicate of the blog or news page on your own website, it places your content on another easy-to-find page where new eyes can reach it. And, if you output your normal content as updates from your Facebook Page, it will automatically appear on the Facebook News Feeds of all of your community members. This way people can see the latest news about your organization where they already are and won’t have to navigate to an external page.
2. Create a Sense of Online Identity for Your Community
People often attach themselves to a nonprofit to feel a sense of community; this community can (and should) extend into the online realm of social media. A Facebook Page is the perfect way to create an identity for this community based on the mission and aim of your organization. Posting information about what your organization does will keep your community informed, but specifically tailoring these posts to excite their sense of community will do something even better: By getting your community excited about their place in the group, they’ll be more likely to share your posts. Consequently, your mission will also be shared with their friends and family on Facebook through it’s built in “Share” Button, as well as original posts. Writing shareable posts will get you more engagement and build a precedent within your community of being vocal about your cause.
The key to shareable posts is to excite your community. Post messages about campaigns and events that your community will want to share, in order to show their friends what they care about. Keeping these posts brief will attract more eyes, as Facebook users often avoid “walls of text.” Facebook also includes built-in sub-pages for Events which are easily sharable and allow users to RSVP and invite their own friends as well. Square images with brief information about events (Date, Time, Location, etc.) can also be incredibly useful if the caption includes a call to “Share” the image on one’s own timeline or with interested friends.
3. Show Outsiders All the Great Things they’re Missing
Facebook is intended for natural social interaction and engagement, so you don’t want your page to come off too corporate or professional. One great way to build in that sense of organic interaction and community is to regularly post photos of your members and community actually engaging with your organization in person. Whether that’s volunteers working with kids, candids of a service, or posed group shots of happy participants, any photos that people will perceive as ‘normal’ people who are involved with your organization will be helpful. This makes it clear to people stumbling upon your organization for the first time through Facebook that you have a dedicated community who really loves what you do and is willing to support you. With any luck those first impressions will lead people to come in and see all the great things they’re missing.
4. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Though not intended as a fundraising platform, Facebook does have some fundraising potential if used sparingly. There are two key types of fundraisers that work well with Facebook: spontaneous and long-term community based. Facebook is absolutely perfect for spontaneous fundraising such as immediate assistance in the wake of disasters and accidents. An account can be set-up on an external donation site and a link can be quickly disseminated through your community in the wake of a crisis. However, this tactic will come across as pushy in most other contexts and should be used extremely sparingly. When your organization is holding a long-term fundraiser, Facebook is best used to motivate the community to stick to their goals as a group rather than recruiting new donors. For example, if you are putting on a fasting fundraiser you could use your page to post motivational words to participants as well as helpful tips and tricks or even fast-safe recipes. Another option is to post progress photos and/or Infographics which show community members what their donations are already doing, and what the next step will be if giving continues. The key here is to show what you’re doing with money rather than simply asking for it, which will go hand-in-hand with your community’s existing personal connection to your organization.
5. Build Small Groups Within Your Community
A great way to keep people engaged with your organization is to get them into a small group that meets regularly to socialize as well as to discuss your mission. If these sort of groups don’t already exist in your community or you’re looking to shake them up a bit, Facebook can be used to motivate the natural formation of these groups. Putting up a few posts pertaining to certain core groups and demographics in your community, you can encourage the formation of small groups in the comments section. The post would look something like this:
“Are there any 18-24 year old single guys looking to get a group together to talk about church and running? Comment below if you’re interested.”
The posts can call for groups as broad or specifically targeted as your community will allow. The key will be to monitor the comments section and encourage conversation if it starts to lull. If a post receives no comments, try something broader or encourage community members at an upcoming meeting to use your Facebook Page as a way to get involved in a small group.
Facebook is a powerful tool for engaging your community as a nonprofit. If you can find the right balance between informative organization-related posts and human appeals to the existing interest in your organization and its mission you can build a thriving online community through the platform.
Originally posted May 23, 2013, on Roar.pro. Used with permission.