Ask an Expert: Answers to the Top 10 Questions Asked by Nonprofits About Facebook Marketing

Last week, we partnered with Facebook to host a free live webinar, 4 Steps to Grow Your Nonprofit with Facebook.

It was a huge success and nearly 5,000 people registered to learn more about how to use the power of Facebook to better market their organization.

One of the best parts about the event was the conversation it sparked.  Hundreds of questions came in from attendees at the event and from people who participated on live chats on Facebook and Twitter.

Here are the answers to 10 of these questions that will hopefully help your organization get better results on Facebook.

1. “I’m confused about the difference between a Facebook Profile and Facebook Page, could you help clarify this for me?”

This is one of the most common questions businesses and organizations often have about Facebook—especially when they are just getting started. The basic difference between a Facebook Profile and Facebook Page is that on a Profile people will need to send a request to be your “friend” in order to see the content you share, and on a Facebook Page, all they have to do is “like” your Page and your posts will show up in their news feed.

Facebook Profiles are designed for individuals and are typically used for personal, not professional use. As a nonprofit, you’ll want to set up a Facebook Page. It will let you open your organization to a much wider audience and enables you to post and share content as your brand. Pages are also constantly being updated with new tools and features to market your organization—most of which aren’t available if you’re still using a Profile.

To clarify things even further, here is a helpful resource on the difference between Profiles and Pages.

When creating your Page you’ll be asked to pick a “type.” Most nonprofits will want to choose “Company, Organization or Instituion.”

2. “I’ve been using a Profile but want to switch over to a Page. Is there a way to do that without having to start from scratch?”

The short answer is—yes. Facebook will help you convert your Profile into a Page and will turn your friends into fans.

The longer answer is—not exactly. While you won’t lose your fanbase, you will lose all of the content from your profile, except your profile picture. This means, you will have some work to do when setting up your new Page.

There are two things you’ll want to do right away:

  1. Take the appropriate steps to set up your Page. This will include picking the right type of Page, updating your contact information, and marking your milestones.
  2. You’ll also want to let your old friends know about the change. You don’t want to lose valuable supporters or donors because they are unfamiliar with Facebook and don’t know how to interact with your Page.

It won’t be completely seamless, but it’s well worth the switch.

3. “Do you have any advice for “selling” the idea of using social media to members of our organization? We know we need to be on Facebook, but we need a way to convince our board and staff that it’s a good idea.”

Having to convince members of your organization to use social media—especially those who make the final decisions—is not an uncommon problem. The truth is, social media is still relatively new and many organizations that have a long history of results without using social or email marketing are often reluctant to change.

In this case, you need to be the voice of reason. Often it’s as easy as showing the results that other organizations have had on Facebook or other social networks, coming up with a strategy and articulating it to your colleagues, or even just volunteering to do it.

To have even more ammunition, read this post: 8 Ways to Convince Your Boss Social Media is a Good Idea.

4. “We have a video we want to stay visible on our Facebook Page. Is there a way to do that without it being lost amongst our other posts?”

As a small business, you can and should be using video to engage your fans and tell your story.

If you want to make sure those videos get the visibility they deserve, you’re going to need to “pin” it on your Facebook Page. After posting the video to your Page, hover your mouse over the right corner of the post and click the “pencil” icon. A drop down menu will appear and you’ll see the option to “pin to top.”

(NOTE: Your video will remain pinned for seven days, at which time you will have to find it and repin it.)

You also have the option to “highlight” your post. This will make the post appear across the entire length of your Page—giving it more visibility and a better chance of getting noticed.

Here’s some information to help you get started pinning and highlighting posts.

5. “I’m confused about the difference between a Promoted Post and a Sponsored Story—could you please clarify?”

Facebook hasn’t slowed down when it comes to rolling out new tools and features to help organizations reach new audiences. That’s great, but it can sometimes be difficult for the average user to keep up. So to get you up to speed …

Here’s a quick breakdown of Promoted Posts, Facebook Ads, and Sponsored Stories:

Promoted Posts: Promoted Posts are powerful for reconnecting with unengaged fans. Available to Pages with more than 400 fans, Promoted Posts let users get more visibility in their fans news feed. They are different from Ads or Sponsored Stories in that they don’t appear on the right side of the screen, but they are also limited to people who have already liked your Page.

Facebook Ads: Facebook Ads are advertisements you see on the right side of the screen when you log onto Facebook. You’ll notice them throughout Facebook: on apps, photos, groups, Pages, Timelines, and your home page. These ads are served to Facebook users based on specific targeting criteria. That includes anything from demographic or age information to the interests you have listed on your profile.

Sponsored Stories: The primary goal of Sponsored Stories is to introduce your Page to the people who are already connected with your current fans.  When your fans interact with your Page, their friends already see stories in their news feed (Example: John Smith liked a post from [Name of Organization]). Sponsored Stories work the same way, but show those stories more prominently by displaying them higher in your news feeds or on the right-hand side of Facebook (like Ads).

6. “I understand how social campaigns works for businesses, but what can a nonprofit offer as an incentive to attract new fans?”

Nonprofits have a lot that they can offer. One of the most common things we’ve seen nonprofits do is run a Facebook fundraiser. In this case, a nonprofit can partner with a business or individual donor and match the donation of each new fan with a certain contribution to their cause.

We’ve also seen organizations like the Guilford Art Center run a sweepstakes for tickets to an upcoming community art show, and increase their fanbase by 50 percent.

Think about the work you do and why your fans decided to “like” you in the first place. That will provide a good indication for the type of incentive you can provide to attract new fans. It’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with the businesses and other organizations that have supported your cause in the past.

7. “How often do you recommend posting on Facebook? I have heard every day, but was afraid that would overwhelm my audience.”

Timing and frequency should definitely be important considerations in your Facebook posting decision making process. Post too little, and you run the risk of falling off your supporters’ radar; post too much, and you risk turning them off and having them tune you out.

The right frequency of posts will really be based on your organization and the type of engagement you’re seeing from your fans. We recommend posting at least once a day, as a way of staying top of mind with your fanbase. Start there and try to work up to two or three posts a day, and see how your fans react.

If you’re offering engaging content and providing them with stuff they enjoy—most fans won’t mind seeing your organization show up in their news feed around breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here’s a great guide for picking the right frequency for your posts—without annoying your fans.

8. “I’m often told by fans that they don’t see our posts. How can we make sure our posts get more visibility?”

In a lot of ways, this question ties into the question about frequency.

The most common reason a fan won’t see your post is because of a variable in Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm. Essentially, the algorithm controls what type of content is seen by each Facebook user based on three factors:

  • The relationship between the organization and the individual user
  • The weight or type of content being shared (photos/videos get the most visibility)
  • The length of time they have been live on Facebook

This helps Facebook keep users from being overwhelmed by an overflow of content and makes sure everything users see is up-to-date.

Posting daily, using more rich media (like photos and videos), and making sure you’re delivering content that’s relevant to your fans, will all help improve the likelihood of your posts getting seen.

9. “I’ve been told that asking questions is a good strategy. Could you give me some idea of the type of questions we should post?”

Using questions to engage your fans on Facebook isn’t just a good strategy—it’s a great strategy—and it’s something you can start doing today if you’re not doing it already.

Questions allow you to collect valuable feedback for your organization and show your fans that you’re listening. It’s also a great way to test whether or not your fans are engaged in the type of content you’re sharing and if there’s something you should be doing on Facebook or in your community.

Simple opinion-driven questions can get as much as 90% more engagement than an average text-heavy post.

Here are some ideas for the type of questions you can ask.

  • Ask about current events related to your organization
  • Ask for feedback for a fundraiser or event
  • Ask for ideas for future projects
  • Ask for donations or volunteers
  • Ask what you can do better
  • Ask about how you can help them

Got the idea? You can also use an online survey to collect the feedback you want and need.

10. “We know all the stuff we need to do on Facebook, but with our small staff being stretched thin, we don’t have enough time to do it. Do you have any advice to help us make this easier?”

At the end of the day, you don’t want the work you do to promote your organization to get in the way of the work that matters the most.

Lucky for you, there have never been more tools available to help your organization manage its social media schedule. Here are a couple:

  • Facebook’s “schedule” feature: This recently introduced tool lets you plan posts ahead of time and set up a schedule for the day, week, or even month.
  • Hootsuite: This third-party app lets you manage all of your social media networks from a single location—reducing the hassle and confusion that comes with logging on and off. It also has a scheduling feature of its own and provides resources for staying organized across all of your channels.

If you want to make the most of your marketing efforts, you’re going to want to make a schedule that works for your organization. Consider sitting down at the start of each month to create a plan for the weeks ahead. Pick a goal you want to achieve each month—whether it’s more fans, donations, or volunteers—and use it as a way to stay focused.

Share your questions!

Do you have questions of your own?

Each week I sit down with a different expert from our organization to have those questions answered. Let us know if you have a topic you’d like to see us discuss in the comments below!

 

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