Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - 9:00am
posted by
Maria Rainier
,
Freelance Writer & Blogger
First in Education

Social media is a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all types, and it is especially useful for nonprofit organizations, which typically struggle more to reach a large audience on a tighter budget. Facebook is a leader in social media, with approximately 500 million users across various demographics. It's an especially valuable tool for nonprofits, since it's free and offers a large, accessible audience.

By using Facebook, nonprofits can connect with other organizations and reach supporters. They can raise money, recruit volunteers, or spread awareness about their cause. However, simply signing up for an account and posting some information about the organization is not enough to make Facebook an effective marketing tool. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of Facebook:

Create a Page, Not a Group


Organizations can't create a profile on Facebook — only a page or a group. Pages are essentially like personal profile pages for businesses, but they have more features and interactive options. Group pages are meant for smaller-scale interaction with a select group of people who have to join (or be invited to join) your group. Pages reach a larger audience and allow you to communicate on a broader scale. Through pages, you can publish content that will appear in the main news feed, send messages and other notifications to a large list of fans, and create interactive content. You can also get statistics on how fans interact with your page, helping you determine the most effective communications strategies.

Add Unique, Interactive Content

Don't use your Facebook page to simply reprint information that's already available on your website. While there may be some overlap, you should aim to create content that's unique and specific to your Facebook page. Some options include videos, podcasts, interviews, polls, insightful status updates, and more.


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Facebook also allows pages to be customized using html or tab options. You can add a store or donation box, create an app or game, or add your own unique content. And be sure to take advantage of other features on Facebook, like ads (which are paid for according to performance) or causes (which spread awareness and can also be used to raise money).

Be Active and Promote Community

Don't let your Facebook page languish! Be sure to update your page regularly with engaging content. But don't update too often, or you'll start to become a nuisance to your followers. Updating once or twice a day is a good rule of thumb. Promote community interaction by inviting reader feedback through questions, and then be sure to respond to comments. Your Facebook followers want to feel like they share a connection with your organization. Help foster that.

Promote Your Page

While Facebook ads can help you promote your cause, the best thing you can do is to link to your page through your website and other communications. Add a link to your newsletter or other mailings, let your donors know about the page at events, and include share buttons on all your electronic communications, your blog, and other networking sites. Hold special promotions exclusively for your Facebook fans to encourage participation, and invite your followers to share your page with their friends.

Social networking is a powerful tool for nonprofit organizations, and Facebook is one of the leading sites. Take advantage of the opportunity it offers by creating a dynamic page that can help spread your message and solicit new supporters.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blogger for First in Education, where she's recently written about obtaining a master's degrees in teaching through distance learning, along with a piece on online art history programs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, playing piano, and working with origami.


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Comments

As mentioned briefly, organizations should be looking at the analytical aspect of using Facebook for the means of marketing themselves. Any company utilising Facebook should be accessing the Insights tool available to them. This will help form a better understanding of your organizations user audience, their demographic and their interaction with your page(s) allowing you to enagage with them in a more targeted manner.

Day in and day out, we're inundated with networking: at the mall, in the car, at home, even on the street corner. Social networking is more a part of our daily lives than at any other point in history. Yet we expect people to devote two hours of their day to pure networking, sitting quietly, and politely applauding at the end of a great post. This has its place, but it doesn't have to be the steadfast rule.

If you have the budget then running Facebook ads directly to a facebook page can be a very effective way to promote your cause or organisation and it usually ends up being a lot cheaper per click than sending people to an external website.

The important part is to word your ad so that it engages the reader - even charities get it wrong by talking about themselves too much.

e.g. "We are an x organisation that has done x for 20 years."

This is bad and boring.

Better:

"Do you want to help stop homelessness for ever? Help real homeless people in your community right now - visit our Facebook page to find out more now!"

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