With over a billion users, people are spending over 700 billion minutes each month on Facebook. They're looking to connect: to friends, to brands, and to nonprofits who match their interests. The largest social network is ideally suited for nonprofits to reach potential potential fans, engage them as friends, and ultimately find ways to turn those strengthened relationships into donations.
As with anything in life, in order for a nonprofit to use Facebook successfully, it requires a commitment: the fan pages are free, but one must go in with a well-defined strategy that captures the nonprofit brand – and then allocate the proper amount of time to execute that strategy.
Here are 10 tips on how nonprofits can use Facebook to raise fans, friends and funds:
- Keep it social. Don't start out asking for money and don't ask for it every day. Instead, concentrate on building relationships, so that those financial assistance requests are better received when they happen. Using a first-person voice in posts to personalize the medium can be a strong part of a nonprofit's social strategy.
- Provide value. Treat fans as if they are already donors, offering virtual behind-the-scenes access whenever possible. Update fans about positive accomplishments in which they can share a sense of pride. Invite them to events – and share post-event photos and details to remind those who came about the experience and to inspire those who didn't to come next time.
- Be active. Consistency is key to any relationship, from personal to brands to nonprofits, and that is especially true in the Facebook world. Post new content regularly. Equally important: monitor and respond to fans daily.
- Leverage fan content. Coming up with content on a regular basis can be time consuming, especially for time-constrained nonprofit organizations, but fans can help! Encourage fans to become an active part of the community. Sharing the content they provide and giving them credit rewards those loyalists and fosters sharing to their social circles.
- Be shareworthy. Posts should do more than inform – they should make fans want to connect, either by "liking," "commenting" or "sharing." Pictures really are worth 1,000 words, especially when paired with a great headline. However, don't discount the written word – short text-only posts can elicit quick responses (especially questions).
- Connect the dots (and the dot.coms). To make sure people are aware of a nonprofit's Facebook presence, the social network should be prominently featured...everywhere: on the website, e-blasts, signage, ads (print, digital, etc.). Likewise, it should be easy to find a nonprofit's website from the Facebook page.
- Get analytical. Social media changes rapidly. To see what is working on your nonprofit's Facebook page and what isn't, use Facebook's free "insights" analytic tools. From overarching views to granular examination of each post and its effectiveness, the learnings here should help tailor future content to provide best fan connection.
- Ask for money, when appropriate. Share donation opportunities with social fans first – especially exclusive ones like experiences. Consider using a small budget, if available, to boost posts like this to draw in non-fans to the community. Peppering in creative ways to ask for money as part of a nonprofit's Facebook strategy is ok when a strong community is in place.
- Ask for help, when needed. It takes a village to raise a child – and a team to make a social media community. To be done right, Facebook takes a commitment of time and talent that exceed a single individual. Look for help within the organization, requesting content, expertise, ideas and monitoring / responding assistance. And don't forget the fans: Facebook is the perfect place to reach out to ask for specific needs that may not be available internally – such a graphic design.
- Make it a December to remember. Car dealers know all about finishing the year strong – so do nonprofits, but they don't always take advantage of their social presence to trigger action. Tap into that end-of-year giving spirit with December content that maximizes engagement, reinforces the organization's strength in fans' minds, and (yes) requests for donations.