THIS IS A SHORT article meant to help charity and non-profits optimize their Facebook fan pages. But first, check out these two scary stats:
“In 2012 almost 100% of nonprofits were on Facebook but less than 3% fundraised more than $10k.”1“Online giving has had 4 consecutive years of double digit growth but it still only accounts for 7% of total giving in the US.”2
It’s based on one fundamental shift that, after looking at dozens of pages, I believe will provide large benefits to a charity in terms of awareness and interaction.
Charities and non-profits face two main challenges on social media. The first challenge is that the act of donating to a charity is often private. In Judaism, for example, it’s considered a mitzvah (good deed) to donate anonymously. Secondly, people who are affected by a cause that a charity supports (for example prostate cancer) can be members of a stigmatized social group and may prefer to interact in private.
Other than the two aforementioned difficulties, a charity Facebook fan page is primed for success on social media for reasons I’ll describe below.
It can be argued that there are some altruistic people, but most are not. Peoples actions on social media are driven largely by selective self-representation–they do things publicly because they feel it makes them look good–and supporting charity has that effect.
Even many of the largest charitable organizations that have Facebook pages of over 1 million fans have abysmal interaction. Most statuses have under 100 likes, 1-5 shares, and hardly any comments. Whether small, medium, or big, charity Facebook fan pages should be busy centers of interaction and growth.
It’s not that people don’t want to talk about your charity, it’s that you haven’t given them a reason to do so. People share and interact on Facebook because of how they feel it makes them look both consciously and sub-consciously; this is the key and it’s the basis of the one fundamental shift I want to discuss in this article.
After discussing that shift, I’ll briefly speak about getting your updates seen by more people in Facebook followed by giving a couple different types of status categories to immediately use on your Facebook page.
The Shift Is…
…that even though your Facebook page is supporting a worthy cause, it still must be about your page user and what they have to gain from being a part of your page–it’s not about you, your cause, or your movement–it’s about what the person will gain from being a part.
Every status update should give the fans of your something for being a part of your community–often this is perceived social equity and, if that’s the case, it should be explicit or strongly implied.
Any page that’s supporting an organization that represents social good should focus strongly on the message or idea that it represents. Throughout the week, a large amount of the status updates should be celebrating others, communicating information in a sharable way, and passing along good feelings even if they are irrelevant to the specific focus of the charity.
The goal of any Facebook page is to give people a reason to think about your message more often and to give people a reason to talk about it to others. Posting feel good stories, information about upcoming events, and the occasional study from the media that speaks about your cause is fine but won’t result in ongoing awareness.
I suggest including a number of status updates that give your fans an opportunity to feel like they are representing to their audience that they are good Samaritans. Whether or not they appear that way is irrelevant. To drive action on Facebook you must make people feel like they look a certain way; perception is everything.
Things like quotes, vivid pictures, and infographics work exceptionally well and should be used often with a smattering of success/feel good stories and profiles of donors or supporters.
I want you to leave this article with 3 things to immediately implement that will improve the reach of your page. One has to do with understanding how Facebook works, and the other two are specific types of status updates to use.
1. Tweaks to How You Upload a Post
Want to get 20-30% of your page users to see your status update organically for free with no increase in interaction? Merely upload the status as a text based status and not as a picture or link.
An effective status that many charities use is a story or profile of somebody who is suffering, has overcome, or is helping out. Usually it features a picture with the story or a snippet of the story with a link to read the rest of the organizations web page which, barring a select few, is rarely built well to gather leads and gain traction.
A picture will get seen by ~10% of page users organically and a link with preview in tact will be seen by 3-5% (Note: I wrote about this in detail in another post. Click here to open it in a separate window to read after.)
When posting a status update, it’s important to consider the type of interaction that will result. If you want shares, pictures are more effective than text-based updates even with less organic views. If you are attempting to get a picture to share from your page there are a couple good options. Allow me to go over 3.
The Pictoquote – Take a quote by somebody within your charity or somebody notable that represents the feelings of your fans, put it on a picture, provide attribution, and share.
The Infographic – Practical value leads to an increase in virality. Infographics can be two different things: A list of things to know or steps to implement. Choose a topic that affects people in your industry, write out tips to solve it, put it on your template, and share. For the list of things to know, generally the more obscure the better.
The Pretty Picture With a Meaning – The best use of pictures to get them to share without turning it into an infographic is to take advantage of your fans already existing associative connections via priming. Consider what it is that your audience wants to accomplish and a symbol that represents it. For example, palm trees and beaches are generally associated with freedom and serenity. Beautiful scenic photos also allow a user to represent that they are interesting so are doubly effective.
To get attribution free high-quality photos, I recommend either pixabay.com or sxc.hu (note that some photos on sxh.hu have attribution rules associated with them). The Facebook page for Fast Company does this well. Below is an example.
Note: Instead of sharing other peoples quotes and infographics, get a template designed at 403*403px (the size of a Facebook picture) that has your charities color and font scheme and Facebook page name on it. This way even if people download the picture and re upload it will still represent your page. Hire a designer to make a template once for each and write different text on it as you need to on an ongoing basis.
Bonus trick – To get interaction on a story or profile, use the following tools: The “I’m in”, “tag a friend”, or “by a show of likes” instead of saying something chincy like “LIKE if you agree”. The next point is all about how to use those tools.
2. Use the “I’m In” or the “by a show of likes”
As mentioned earlier, Facebook fan pages for charities that represent social good need to give people a reason to talk.
There’s two different ways that the following two tools can be used. The first is to upload a status discussing an upcoming fundraising effort or event. At the end, ask users to write “I’m in” in the comments if they are taking part. The second way is to upload a short status that highlights an act people want to show off starting with the words “by a show of likes”.
Below is an example of both in action:
The “I’m in” works for 3 reasons:
EdgeRank is a term used to describe Facebook’s algorithm for deciding how relevant a status update is both to an individual and to all the fans of a page. Comments on a status update increase one of the 3 components of the EdgeRank score called EdgeWeight.
The more comments you get = a higher score = more people seeing your status update organically.
Facebook does not discern whether or not the comment is well thought out or not, just that it’s there. So a comment saying “I’m in” is just as important for EdgeRank as a long and well thought out passage.
2. Social Proof
“It is the conduct of such people that gives us the greatest insight into what constitutes correct behaviors for ourselves.” – Robert B. Cialdini, PhD
A large reason why anybody takes action is because others similar to them are doing so. In order to take advantage of this ingrained within us trait you must make the process public on Facebook. Having thousands of clicks on a link doesn’t make a difference for anybody new encountering your page if there’s no evidence of those clicks.
This way, when somebody new sees the status update they encounter all of the “I’m ins” and follow the leader.
3. Social Equity
As I’ve discussed multiple times on this blog, people selectively self-represent online. They want to feel as if they’re being perceived as intelligent–whether or not they actually are is irrelevant.
Writing “I’m in” on a status from a charity Facebook fan page allows them to feel as if they are representing that they’re a good person. As a result, they gain perceived social equity.
[Note: These 3 points are taken directly from my previous article entitled One Simple Trick to Get More People to Click on Facebook Links]
3. The Little known
Usually as a text-based update (infographics can work too), the first step is identifying a concept or idea that your industry knows to be fact but may not yet be common knowledge amongst the general population.
Likely this topic is a point of contention especially if the media perpetuates misinformation concerning your topic. What is it that bothers you about how your charities message is perceived? Is it misunderstood in anyway or do you feel that there are any aspects pertaining to treatment or management that are still relatively unknown. If there are, you’re not the only one bothered by it and in writing a status update on the subject others will want to share it as an extension of their own thoughts.
The key to this is to articulate the spoken or unspoken thoughts of your audience. In 2010 only 15% of Facebook users reported creating their own status update and 56% reported updating their Facebook less than once a week3. People are more likely to share the words of others that represent their own thoughts than create their own.
It’s not that people don’t want to talk about you, it’s that you haven’t given them a reason to. Time to change that. Thank you for your commitment to social good.
Now it’s your turn
Two things to do:
1. Join me on Facebook because I’ve got lots more material to help you raise awareness to your cause.
2. Tell me in the comments below in 3 sentences or less about your charity or non-profit and the work you do in the comments below.