Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.
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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Click here to read "Twitter Dashboards and the Dark Side of Tweeting" — where ASU Lodestar Center's Kayla L. McKinney investigates the harsh reality of social media.