Nonprofits need not pay for Facebook space to keep readers engaged | Miratel Solutions

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As Facebook accelerates ‘pay to be seen’ advertising, here’s why nonprofits don’t need to play that game

Chances are that your nonprofit organization is using Facebook on a regular basis to help inform, inspire and connect with your donor audience or simply help to extend the overall awareness of your nonprofit fundraising efforts. According to a recent article in the New York Times it seems that competition for being seen in news feeds on Facebook is far more likely to become a ‘pay to participate’ arena which is not only unfortunate but might leave social media managers wondering about the value of Facebook.

My initial reaction is you have to take the news from the NYT article with a pinch of salt, the likelihood of being seen (and having engagement) simply by appearing on people’s news feeds has never been very high, perhaps in the region of five to ten percent so the article speaking of a two percent reach, while not good news, isn’t the cause for alarm it could be interpreted as being.

The most effective use of Facebook in terms of business pages for nonprofits is using Facebook insights to measure how your audience are engaging or have engaged in the past. Taking the time to see whether video, custom graphics, shared news, open-ended questions, or blog updates are being noticed can help you create a page that is being noticed and building awareness. Ideally the best business pages become a ‘stopping point’ for your most regular readers – a page that they might visit once a month, once a week or even every few days to get a feel of the latest news and buzz around an organization. You may notice that your demographics are changing or that people are most likely to visit on a Sunday evening for example and you modify your output accordingly. Incidentally we previously wrote a guide to using Facebook Insights here on the blog, you’ll find part one, part two and part three each linked here.

The reality is that Facebook users are being bombarded with content every time they log in and start to browse. The typical Facebook user might follow as many as fifty or even a hundred or more companies, organizations or groups so the reliance on a news feed becomes less and less of a factor as Facebook continues to grow. Of course it’s true that Facebook can dictate that prime placement can be purchased and your ‘impression’ rate will grow substantially but the second leading cause of new likes can and should be via shared content from your existing audience if they find your updates to be interesting and valuable.

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As ever the most organic source for Facebook ‘fans’ should be from your own website, blog or other channels, people ideally feel engaged at that initial point and see social media as the ideal way to stay connected. Don’t let your social media platforms develop dust, nothing will see your followers dissipate as quickly as a stagnant page with no new content or even blocking feeds that don’t interest them. If posting in real time isn’t feasible be sure to schedule your posts in advance. Above all else try and use your website and your Facebook page to help improve email/newsletter subscriptions which aren’t (in essence) competing with paid advertising to be noticed and read.

As the article states the average Facebook user can be faced with seeing a feed from a selection of about 1,500 potential new items when they first log on – trying to stand out in such a crowd is engaging in a war of ever-diminishing returns. Rather than joining that battle by purchasing paid space or post ‘boosts’, instead devote that time to really listening to your audience and finding out what they respond to as you create winning content for your own page.

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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centreeBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including inbound telephone fundraisingoutbound telephone fundraisingonline fundraisinglottery fundraising servicesdonation processing and receipting and direct mail fundraising services. We are committed to our CSR business values and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.

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