Tag: Facebook

You run a small nonprofit and/or membership-based organization and you’re looking for inexpensive ways to gain new members.

Have you thought of advertising on Facebook?

I know what you’re thinking: “We don’t have money to advertise!”

Hold that thought. I have no doubt that your organization, like many other nonprofits, is cash-strapped.

But, believe it or not, you’re already investing money into advertising. For example, How many events have you held where non-members could have attended? How much did it cost to host them?

An even deeper question: have you ever bothered to measure your return on investment (ROI) from the dollars you invest into getting one new member? Did you at least break even? Did you lose money? Do you not know this number (if not, it’s okay—not many people do)?

You need a model for advertising that brings in more money than you spend. First, let’s understand some simple calculations.

CAC — Customer Acquisition Cost

How much does it cost you to acquire a member?

This is the foundation of all marketing and sales conversations. In any business, in any industry, in any association, if you know this number, you’re ahead of most of the market.

Here’s a simple math question: If Joe finds a customer to whom he can sell a candy bar for $2.00, what is the maximum amount he can spend to buy said candy bar so that he can turn a profit?

Answer: $1.99

This is the math question you should be doing with your organization’s marketing and sales activities. If a member will pay $100 in membership dues per year, you can spend up to $99 on this member over the course of the year and call it a profit.

How to Measure CAC With Online Advertising

In the advertising world, there are two key ways you are “billed” as an advertiser:

  1. Cost Per Impression (CPM) — Remember the radio and TV ads we talked about? Under those formats, eyeballs or “impressions” (the number of people who see or hear your ad) are the units of value. The more people that come across your ad, the more expensive the ad is. This is why Super Bowl commercials cost into the millions.
  2. Cost Per Click (CPC) — This is the number you need to keep your eye on. This is how it works: If 100 people see your ad, but only 10 people click the link on the ad, you only get charged for the 10 people who clicked! Each person costs a certain amount—that amount is what we call CPC.

With Google AdWords and Facebook, cost per click is the big advantage. Who cares if one million people see a Super Bowl ad about your organization in Little Rock, Arkansas, if only 10 people out of the one million actually live in Little Rock and can feasibly join your organization?

Instead, think about this: What if you could show ads only to people in Little Rock?

Let’s take it a step further. Let’s say your organization was a professional association for nurses in Little Rock. What if you could show ads only to nurses in Little Rock?

And a step even further: What if you had to pay only if a nurse clicked your ad and landed on your website?

That’s the magic of targeted ads.

Wondering how to calculate your cost of acquiring a member using a cost per click arrangement? Here’s another simple math problem:


If 100 nurses click your ad at a cost of $2/click, and 50 of them end up being members, what is your cost of acquisition of one member?

100 clicks * $2 per click = $200

50 new members acquired for $200 total = $200/50 members = $4 spent per new member


Now what if each new member pays $100/year for an annual membership? You just made $96 that you can use to hold better events and provide more benefits for members!

You just used Facebook to measure the cost of new members! How cool is that?!

This is just the beginning of how to tackle a full Facebook advertising strategy. There are many other things you still need to address such as:

  • What should you say in your ad?
  • How will you find the right people to target?
  • Where should your ad link to?

I’ll be answering all these questions and more during this year’s Membership Growth Online Summit—a free online event focused on strategies to take small, membership-based organizations to the next level.

Facebook’s screwing them over: That’s what the ad agencies have figured out.

The very agencies that — by purchasing Likes and plastering its logo all over their traditional advertising buys — helped build Facebook into a multi-billion dollar corporation have grown exhausted of the bait and switch. They’ve invested time and money to build up an ocean of Likes only to be told by Facebook that they need to invest again just to get messages out to the audience they’ve grown.

Fortunately, you can learn from their costly lesson.

When you build your organization’s social presence on public social media sites — like Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Twitter — you’re beholden to their rules. The rules aren’t written in your favor and they’re constantly changing. In short, when you use public social media sites to support your organization’s goals, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.

This is the danger of digital sharecropping and why so many organizations are moving towards owning — instead of renting — their social presence.

One of the ways that organizations are taking control of their social presence is by setting up their own online communities. NTEN is reaping the rewards of an online community, and so can you. Download this guide to seven leading solutions for nonprofits if you’d like to learn about some of your online community options.

Online communities enable organizations to better control their online destiny by:

  • Deepening engagement beyond simple Likes and Favorites
  • Gaining the ability to view engagement data that public social media sites will never reveal
  • Increasing the likelihood that their messages will be seen
  • Setting community rules that favor their stakeholders
  • Mashing up data from both online and traditional engagement

Running your own online community may require a more significant investment of time and money than leveraging public social sites, but the ROI is both higher and more predictable.

While online communities are relatively new on the technology scene, there is a growing body of research and best practices. If you’re thinking about implementing your own online community, here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Start with a simple, laser-focused strategy:
    A great online community strategy can overcome a suboptimal community platform, so it’s important to get it right. Broad, unfocused strategies like “empower users to collaborate” will do you no favors. Find an important program in your organization’s strategic plan that needs some life breathed into it and see if you can build a community strategy around it. Your audience will need a reason to participate in your community, so be sure to take their wants and motivations into account. Having a focused strategy will require saying no to other potential uses for the community, but only to begin with. Once you get traction with your initial strategy, you can branch out to others.
  2. Identify a dedicated community manager and engage them early:
    Just as important as a solid strategy is a dedicated community manager. It’s important to ensure that their attention isn’t divided between the community and other priorities. Effective community management is a daily process, and if the process goes undone for days at a time because of competing priorities, your community will suffer. Involve your community manager in the project early on. When they’ve had a say in decision-making, they’ll be more invested in the process.
  3. Select a software package tailored to your community strategy:
    Based on your community strategy, create a list of up to 30 of your most important community technology requirements and prioritize it. Not all of your requirements are equal; force yourself to make these hard choices. Distribute the prioritized requirements list to community software vendors (download a guide to some of the leading solutions for nonprofits) and ask them to submit a proposal if their features meet the requirements. Don’t let the account exec just do their standard product demo. Take control of your demos by using your requirements list as the agenda and ask the vendors to show you how their software satisfies the requirements.
  4. Expect the unexpected during implementation
    You’ve probably never implemented an online community before, so be ready for some surprises. It’s different than implementing a CRM or CMS. Most community implementations take between 2-4 months, but some can last longer. Resist the temptation to stand up every feature that the community software offers. This extends and complicates your implementation, and also tends to blur your laser-focused community strategy.
  5. Don’t launch your community, build it:
    Avoid flashy launch campaigns and don’t make a big deal about your community until it’s actually a big deal. Your community should go live on an average day, not on the first day of a major event. A slow, steady build is more effective than a noisy launch. Also, temper expectations with management and the board. Some communities need up to two years to reach critical mass, which is the point at which more activity is generated by the members without help from the community manager.
  6. Dedicate your organization to community growth processes:
    Effective community management is a process. There are daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly tasks that virtually guarantee success when followed. It’s critical to make the process part of your daily routine. If you’re not — or can’t afford — a dedicated community manager, add the tasks to your calendar and set reminders so you remember to do them.
  7. Start reporting on your community from day one:
    As the community project owner, you should be more serious about community ROI than anyone in your organization. Take monthly measurements in your community starting at go-live. Begin with a list of 8-10 metrics that align with your community strategy and post your reports to the board and staff so they can see your progress. Include in your reports screen shots when you see examples of the community accomplishing the objectives it was intended to produce. But keep in mind that stats are only symptoms of success. You must be able to link your stats to the strategic outcome that your community is intended to support.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. NTEN has a Community of Practice specifically for online community managers called CommBuild. Join the group today and start owning your organization’s social presence.

I love nonprofits. And I love social media.

But nonprofits don’t always “get” social media. While there are few truly firm rules about using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or any of the other myriad platforms out there, there are some things that bug donors.

So I emailed some of the top authors and social media experts from around the world and asked them to quickly answer this question: What is one thing you wish nonprofits “got” about social media?

The replies were great! Here they are:

Use social media for new work

“I wish nonprofits would use it as a platform for new work, not a way to hide from doing the old work.”

Seth Godin, New York Times Bestselling author and inspiring business artist

Focus on being useful

“Like most businesses, nonprofits tend to look at social media as a money-first or money-only channel. So I would recommend they temper the expectations that social is about fundraising and just focus on being a resource, useful and/or entertaining to their core audience. Make people happy with your content. The donations will come.”

– Jason Falls, Founder SocialMediaExplorer.com

Use visual stories

“Using visual stories: That is taking pictures and posting them on sites like Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc. and then writing the story behind it. They could also take videos where the story is and recite it as it plays.

I have seen dog shelters do this. They take videos of dogs that came to them in very bad conditions and were then nursed back to health. It’s a complete story. Told visually.”

– Mitt Ray, Founder Social Marketing Writing

Use social media year round

“I would say consistency is so important. I often see nonprofits only when they have an event or a campaign they want you to be involved with. I think they could increase awareness and response if they worked on building the relationship throughout the year.”

– Katherine Salt, Social Media Consultant at Marketing My

Create a volunteer social media corp

“Create a volunteer social media corp. For nonprofits to be really effective at social media, the first step is teaching your volunteers to amplify your messages. By ‘amplifying,’ I mean sharing with their own social profiles and connections, not speaking on behalf of the nonprofit. To do this well, you’ll want to create some method of getting the word out to the volunteers when you have content that needs sharing. You can use a service like GaggleAmp or create a Facebook group or Google+ community.

“As you start to see that some individuals are more adept than others, you might want to start training them to actually become community managers. Even if in a group of volunteers of, say 10 people, each person took one hour per week, it could have an enormous impact on your social media communications. To read more about this approach, check out my blog post on Social Media Today.”

– Ric Dragon, CEO DragonSearch

Leave gaps & be vulnerable

“One lesson that I’ve learned is when asking for help is to leave gaps. Let people have a place they can help and make a difference. People are more willing to help if you look like you need it and if they can see gaps that they can help with.”

– Nick Kellet, Co-Founder of List.ly

Harness the amazing energy of others

“Nonprofits must find a way to tap into and utilize the passionate amateurs who surround their brands. Frequently, there are people who are more than willing to donate their time and expertise to your cause. Find a way to tap into their energy and put them to work. Ask them to attend events and shoot photos or video. Invite them to blog. Hold a monthly meeting and ask for their ideas. These people represent a powerful force with amazing energy just waiting to be tapped into. What are you waiting for?”

– Sean McGinnis, Founder 312digital

Keep social media usage visual

“One thing I wish nonprofits would get right about their social media is knowing that it is important to have a visual focus when it comes to marketing your content. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with sharing content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc that highlights links, text or video but in the end it is vital that a major focus of all these channels is to share visuals over all other types of content.

“A study conducted by psychologist Albert Mehrabian showed that 93% of communication is nonverbal, since visuals can be processed by the mind 60,000 times faster than text. With this in mind, it’s crucial to tell the story of your mission using appealing visual elements across all of your social platforms.

A helpful article on how nonprofits can focus on the visual elements of their social strategy is 5 Ways to Get Visual on Social Media.”

– Brian Honigman, Digital Marketing Executive at Marc Ecko Enterprises

Be social!

“I wish that nonprofits would get that social media is social. So many nonprofits broadcast only. It’s like they are standing on the balcony, shouting their message onto the people below. A few nonprofits get down and walk into the crowd. They speak to people one on one and in small groups. They talk normally. They are social. Those are the nonprofits I actually connect with using social media.”

– Becky McCray, author Small Town Rules

Invest in good design

“What I really like is seeing nonprofits investing in great design. It really stands out about other nonprofit websites and helps people more easily connect with their cause.”

– Cindy King, Director of Editorial at Social Media Examiner


“The 1 thing I wish nonprofits ‘got’ about social media is how to humanize the purpose of their cause.”

– April Ennis, Social Media Consultant


“Let the folks who give be part with their hands and minds—not just their hearts and wallets. We’re not the only ones with great ideas. We’re not the only ones who can get things done. Let them participate fully and they will own what they do, protect it, and love it too.”

– Liz Strauss, Co-Founder SOBCon (and on Forbe’s list of Top 10 Women Social Media Influencers)

Become a trusted member of your community

“Make a sincere effort to become a trusted member of your community—to become one of them. What this means is pouring sweat, tears and love into listening and demonstrating how much you care, with replies on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. It means expressing appreciation for your community to the point where it almost seems like the community and the cause comes way before your organization. When this is done correctly, it always results in increased donors, volunteers and revenue. All that’s required is time, consideration and trust.”

– John Haydon, Author “Facebook Marketing for Dummies”

Develop from within

“The biggest thing is that they can no longer ignore it.

The web is now a connected one and that means that every nonprofit must add interacting and storytelling into their marketing and fundraising initiatives. Relying on only phone calls, fund raisers and direct mailings is no longer enough.

They need to bring in new blood to help them determine how best to approach social media. There are no cookie cutter solutions, so it is important to develop from within.”

– C.C. Chapman, Author “Amazing Things Will Happen”

Tell your story

“Telling their story, it’s baseline, basic, who do they impact and how? Show me how you are changing the world…”

– Joe Hackman, Founder of Managed Solutions


“I wish more nonprofits focused on understanding their donor, and creating a positive unforgettable donor experience; whether it’s their website, email marketing or engagement on any social platform.”

– CASUDI, Principal & Solution Specialist at ESSE GROUP

Part of a 3-pronged strategy

“Social Media is one piece of the digital marketing equation, and it has a specific role. This is critical for every nonprofit to understand. It is not the ‘godsend’ nor the ‘enemy.’ It is one key piece of a three-pronged approach.

Social Media is the ‘conversation driver’ that relies on other content. A nonprofit’s blog should be the content center that offers substance and the full detail. As each new posted is created, then email marketing is the mechanism of distribution to extend the reach of the content to the current community. When content is created and distributed, then social media comes in as a way to cultivate conversation, build and extend community, and harness the energy and passion of the nonprofit’s mission. Too many make the mistake of shouting out the needs of their nonprofit via social media, rather than seeing it as the conversation and community builder that it can be.

When social media is used well within this 3-pronged online strategy, the entire digital marketing efforts of the nonprofit are multiplied.”

– Mike Gingerich, Co-Founder TabSite

Do interesting projects

“I wish nonprofits would realize that if you take risks and do interesting projects leveraging technology in innovative ways, social media will take care of itself.”

– AJ Leon, Nomad and Doer of Good

Make it easy to share your story

“I wish nonprofits understood their stories are powerful, and the more rich the quality of the story, the more it will touch the lives of those you serve, and those you want to sponsor your organization. As much as you can, do video stories. If not video, do audio. If not audio, do a photo and text.

Tell me a story, get me involved, and help me see myself in your story. You can always make the richness smaller (videos can be converted to audio which can be converted to a photo and text) but it’s harder (and more expensive) to scale that up. Let your audience choose which format they want to consume – and which one they want to share.

Make it as easy as possible to share in whatever way I want to, and don’t worry about people stealing it. If it’s any good, they will steal it, they will rip it off, and they will riff on it. Embrace that.”

– Phil Gerbyshak, Chief Connections Officer, Milwaukee Social Media

The power of conversations

“The one key thing that I wish non profits understood better about social media is the power of conversation online and the art of telling real, human stories. Conversation is powerful. Sharing real human stories can be the difference that people need to understand and get behind supporting an issue. For example, the incredible work that Mark Horvath of Invisible People does by sharing video conversations with people who are facing homelessness has been invaluable in raising awareness related to the true epidemic that communities in Canada and the United States face related to this issue. That said, not every organization necessarily needs to make videos. How about gathering community stakeholders in Google+ Hangouts to discuss issues and solutions? What about using a tool like Audioboo to record the audio of key discussions, educational events or other important storytelling moments? Sometimes audio can be more engaging than video because it requires people to create images in their own mind’s eye.

There are amazing possibilities for non profits when they use social media tools in creative ways. Conversations and stories matter because we can all relate to them.”

– Jane Boyd, CEO 45conversations

Relationships are primary

“In the nonprofit sector, relationships matters most: the relationships with the members, donors and supporters that NPOs depend on for volunteers, financial support and cause advocacy.

Storytelling is the best way to get attention of people on social networking sites. These stories emotionally connect people and they share them instantly. These actions not only create awareness among a mass audience but it ultimately helps NPO to raise funds and help people in a cause. One nonprofit really effective at this is NOT FOR SALE, an organization founded by David Batstone.

The second thing is to attract influencers to promote a cause; these influencers include celebrities as well. People are ready to act when their favorite influencer endorse something. Sharing visual content, both videos and stills is also an important tactic to go viral on social networks; visual content delivers a thought fast. For more, read Brian Solis’ post Social Slacktivism: How to use social media to promote human rights and social justice.”

– Muhammad Saad Khan, Social Media Consultant & Activist Fighting Human Trafficking

Before and after

“The one thing I wish nonprofits got about social media is that telling true before/after stories is a million times more compelling than kitty pics. Seriously.”

– Lori Randall Stradtman, author of Online Reputation Management for Dummies

Marc’s post originally appeared on The Fundraising Coach

Budgets are barely budging, staffing is scarce, and there’s a growing arsenal of tools & techniques to be tinkered with. I surveyed the nonprofit marketing communications scene to find out which strategies, tactics, and activities worked—and which didn’t—this past year. How did your efforts stack up?



Facebook’s value as a communication tool is hard to deny, with many NPOs utilizing this free social media tool with success.

We have more people not just liking us, but engaging with our posts. It has been wonderful to publicize events as they occur in real time and we have gained the attention of new people.

We’re pleased with Facebook…it’s helping raise our profile among other organizations we’ve “liked”, and gives us an opportunity to share some great nature photography (and gain more likes) so we’ll definitely continue using it.

But others are moving beyond pages & posts to engage audiences in other ways, such as using Facebook’s paid advertising services.

We were able to do some simple advertising that takes advantage of existing personal relationships and triple our number of fans pretty quickly… So-and-so likes us, and when we see popular posts, we opt for spending the $5-$10 to promote the post.

(Want to learn more about how nonprofits can use Facebook ads? Check out this slide deck by John Hayden)


Electronic communication in the form of email remains one of the most popular tools at an organization’s disposal, allowing for frequent and consistent contact with clients and other stakeholders.

Even though they can use some work, I still think e-news gets our message to the most people.

Email continues to be the top driver of website traffic and event ticket sales.

Our email newsletter is great to get out a mix of time-sensitive info and some interesting links and resources.

Email campaigns—published & distributed via professional email marketing tools like EmailNow, Constant Contact, and MailChimp— can take several forms, from e-newsletters – which inform and educate – to more singular topics, such as those focusing on fundraising, advocacy, and events.

Having proven their worth, NPOs also spent time this past year improving their email lists by building and segmenting them.


Despite the high cost of production and postage, printed forms of communications remain the best way for many nonprofits to reach their constituents— in the form of newsletters, annual reports, postcards, one-pagers, brochures, direct mail, and more.

We get a lot of anecdotal feedback on our newsletter: “I read the newsletter cover to cover” – which tells us our strongest supporters appreciate the effort we make to communicate in print.

This year is our 25th Anniversary, and we went way above and beyond our usual Annual Report format. The end result is that we have a commemorative piece, which is a good tool for promoting ourselves to new partners/donors/funders.

Direct mail is hands-down the best communications tool for us. We are able to tell our story to our stakeholders in a way that they respond to— getting a nice letter in the mail is the channel these people know.


Nearly every organization has one, and in 2012, not surprisingly, most considered it their most important important communication tool. Feeding your website frequently with fresh content—with blogging and video uploads—is an ongoing, year-round activity, enjoyed by almost all.

2012 was also a time to modernize websites, with many organizations performing much-needed updates. One of the most popular tweaks included social media integration.

Our site has a new section called Tomorrow Lab for Humanity which uses personal video dedications to encourage online giving, and is closely linked to Facebook and Twitter.

This past year, some groups started planning for—or completed—a site overhaul.

We’re redeveloping our website (after 12 years!) with a focus on mobile-first design and web-enabled mapping— – since our mission is historic preservation and we want people to go out and see historic places firsthand.

We won a new website through The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge. Key features: WordPress based, incorporates event registration (Eventbrite API) and our Twitter feed, is nicely organized, and beautiful.

Twitter & Pinterest

While certainly not new, many organizations used 2012 as a time to give these social media platforms a spin. The result? Cautious optimism.

We’re using Twitter to join conversations we otherwise wouldn’t have been a part of. We’re still refining its use but have gotten a good deal out of it.


I’ll continue to use [our Pinterest board] as an easy place to curate content. My most successful uses were displaying silent auction donations (linking to donor websites) and curating costume ideas for a Halloween-themed 5K our organization sponsors.

Sascha D. Freudenheim is a Senior Vice President at Resnicow Schroeder Associates, where he works with many non-profits in the arts and culture sector to help them develop and implement communications and audience engagement strategies. About Twitter, he observes,

“Some organizations like Twitter and use it well. These orgs are able to engage external audiences effectively; that is clearly the goal. Other organizations seem to do it because they feel they are supposed to—so they Tweet periodically and they share info about themselves. But that’s just broadcasting your info via Twitter, which isn’t particularly “social.” If you’re missing the “social” part of social media, you kinda have to ask yourself why you even bother. Better to do something else, and do it well.”

Public Relations

We use press releases to announce milestones and great successes.

With some organizations pulling back on the traditional press release to focus on social media and blogging, others have found that the strategic use of issuing well-written announcements to the media and other outlets—including aggregator sites — can still be a very effective tool. “Remarkably, a well-written press release still works as a means to share information,“ Freudenheim notes. “Use them to create a narrative around some piece of news and tie it to institutional goals.”

Web Tools

Here’s a brief run-down on some favorite tools NPOs used in 2012 to help make their marketing communications more efficient & effective:

  • Animoto—create videos from photos, video clips, words and music
  • Bitly—shorten, save, search, and organize web links
  • Square—a mobile credit card payment system

We use Square to electronically accept donations at events.

  • Formstack—a drag-and-drop online form builder that allows you to collect and manage data.

We’ve seen great results with the Formstack tools. People seem to be more likely to volunteer or come by [the facility] when they can request a tour online.

  • HootSuite—manage social networks with a dashboard


All these tools, tactics and techniques can be eye-opening, yet paralyzing. Can you relate?

It’s becoming rather overwhelming to manage!

A growing realization within the nonprofit community is that no single organization or marketing team can successfully play with every conceivable tool out there. “There are way too many options and channels. People are thinking strategically about which are the right ones for them, and not feeling as guilty if they can’t do it all,” observes Kivi Leroux-Miller, president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com and the author of “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause”.

Freudenheim concurs. “Like most things, without a clear strategy, different tactics and tools don’t do much… they can be complimentary, but you still need to know how to use them, and revisit your strategy each time, not just the first time.”

Before we even start writing content or think about communication channels we need to make a list of keywords that put us in the shoes of our customers—make a list of words that summarize what we want them to DO, THINK and FEEL about our organization. Then we build everything around that, measuring and adjusting as we go.

Finally, at the same time, nonprofits communicators report that their best forms of communication rely on high-tech tools and apps only as used in conjunction with these decidedly low-tech approaches: in-person meetings, individual phone calls, and word-of-mouth.

Nothing replaces face to face. Our best partners are developed in personal conversations.

Did you have similar results this past year? How did your efforts compare? Please share your favorite trends and anecdotes.


Many thanks to the nonprofit marketers who took my survey on 2012 nonprofit marketing communications trends.

I also greatly appreciate input from the following consultants:
Kivi Leroux-Miller, President

Sascha D. Freudenheim, Senior Vice President
Resnicow Schroeder Associates

Archers don’t aim at the point halfway between the arrow tip and the target. If they did, they would never hit the bullseye.

In the same way, many nonprofits still focus too much on counting Facebook likes and Twitter followers as if these metrics are the end goal, and then feel frustrated when they’re not getting the results they expected.

Going beyond counting likes and followers means asking a number of quantitative and qualitative questions about:

Reach: 10,000 Facebook fans doesn’t mean you’re reaching 10,000 people. In fact, a Page with 10,000 fans reaches only about 1,700 of their fans with updates.

Surprise, surprise! Additionally, you want to be asking:

  • Who are you reaching?
  • How are you reaching them?
  • How frequently do you reach them per week or month?

Reaction: 10,000 Facebook fans means nothing if they aren’t talking about your nonprofit. And that’s the whole point of your using social media, right?

People who are talking about you are usually a subset of people you’re reaching. Some questions you want to ask about people talking about you are:

  • Who is reacting?
  • Where are they reacting?
  • What are they saying?
  • What are we saying that get’s them talking?

Action: No amount of followers and fans have any value unless you’re converting people. New members, subscribers, donors, etc.

Some questions you want to ask about people you’re converting:

  • Where did they come from?
  • What actions did they take previously?
  • Who is taking these actions?
  • What actions are most important?
  • Are they also talking about us?

Always put goals before metrics

Defining and measuring reach, reaction and actions becomes much easier if your goals are crystal clear. Interestingly, lack of clarity is a big reason why many organizations don’t go beyond measuring fans and followers.

Instead of focusing on metrics first, ask yourself what you ultimately want people to do. Then the metrics come into view.

This article was originally published at http://www.socialbrite.org/2012/05/29/beyond-counting-likes-and-followers/ and is reprinted with permission.

We already know that Facebook is crushing it and that schools have an incredible opportunity to use the platform to deepen relationships with families, students and alumni.

But is your school (or nonprofit) getting the most out of the platform? Are you using Facebook to its full potential?

Based on what I’ve seen I’d say there’s a high likelihood that you’re not.

But there is hope!

Amongst the countless schools I found using Facebook poorly there were plenty of shining examples of schools doing really well utilizing Facebook to build lasting relationships with families, students and alumni (both University and K-12).

Here are some of the key findings/takeaways from my recent presentation on how schools can leverage Facebook … (keep in mind that these apply to schools as well as any other nonprofit trying to effectively use Facebook as part of their online strategy).

Make the Most of Your Cover Photo

Facebook Cover Photo for Schools

Your Facebook cover photo is prime real estate. It’s the thing that people will see first when they visit you on Facebook. Think about it like you would that area on your main website – You have two seconds to grab the attention your looking for.

When thinking through your Facebook cover photo make sure you keep your brand in mind, but try to also show off your culture, history, mission and values. You might also try having a little fun with your cover photo. Here’s a few ways you could go about communicating these things

  • Show off your campus
  • Highlight what you’re known for
  • Include your students
  • Show off landmarks
  • Give parents an idea of the community they’ll be joining
  • Promote key Alumni
  • Go off campus

Make sure the photo is high quality and sized correctly (851px X 315px).

Spice up Your ‘About’ Page

Facebook About Section for Nonprofits

One of the first things a new visitor will do on your Facebook page is check out your profile – even if it’s only a quick glance at the small box located right under your profile picture. Make sure you take full advantage of this area.

Here are a few tips to ensure your Facebook about section is filled out in a way that makes it useful to those who check it out…

  • Tell your story (Keep it short, but get the main points accross)
  • Add your mission statement
  • Make sure to include all your contact info (email, phone, etc)
  • Enter your address w/ map
  • Include links to your website and other social networks
  • Include calls-to-action just like you might on your website
  • Add milestones

Tell Your Story by Filling in Your History and Milestones

Facebook Milestone Post for Nonprofits

Milestones give you the ability to tell people more about your history. Most schools (and nonprofits) have a long history of helping the community through impacting the people they serve. Keep that in mind and do your best to tell the world about the work your doing.

If you haven’t yet, think of at least five milestones that help tell your story then hop over to Facebook and fill them in. Use photos as much as possible.

Here are a few quick ideas to get the creative juices flowing…

  • Date when school was founded
  • Significant accomplishments, awards, recognitions, etc
  • Famous or well know individuals/students
  • Launch of new programs, colleges/schools, community work, etc
  • Significant sporting events
  • Graduations
  • New deans, principals, presidents, etc…
  • Significant community outreach/services/programs

Set up A few Apps (the Facebook Call-to-Action)

Facebook Apps for Nonprofits

Apps (Icons you see above highlighted in red box) are Facebook’s version of a call-to-action. Nonprofits (and schools) understand how to use calls-to-action in their appeals and other forms of asking their supporters to mobilize. Think about these “apps” in a similar way. Use them to get your Facebook fans to take the actions you want them to take.

Apps are also a great place to continue reinforcing your brand (see how well LIVESTRONG has done it in the image above?). You have the ability to use your own icons so you’re only limited by your imagination.

What types of things could you do here?

  • Quick links to key resources
  • News / Important info for students/families
  • Social media policy
  • Special offers, discounts, prizes, etc…
  • Custom pages focused on what you know parents/students want
  • Donate, subscribe, register, volunteer buttons

Make sure the photo is high quality and sized correctly (111px X 74px)

Get the Most out of Your Posts

Facebook Highlighted Post for Nonprofits

Before you can engage your nonprofits / schools supporters, students, teachers, families or alumni on Facebook you’ve got to build a relationship with them (on Facebook) – meaning you can’t simply rely on them being fans, you have to get them to engage with your posts on a regular basis.

If your supporters don’t engage with you regularly then even when you do post to your Facebook wall they won’t see what you’ve posted.

So how do you create more engagement?

  • Pin posts you want people to see for a while – Pinning post allows you to keep your more important message at the top of your Facebook page for seven days.
  • Highlight your best posts– Highlighting posts give you the opportunity to make certain things stand out more than others on your Facebook page.
  • Promote posts that need to reach the masses – Promoting posts give you the opportunity to reach a much larger portion of your Facebook fan base. You can easily see a fifty percent increase.

There are a lot more factors that matter when it comes to creating engaged fans on Facebook. Check out 22 Ways to Stay Connected with Your School’s Alumni on Facebook for more on this topic.

Pay Attention to Your Fans (a lot)!

Getting your nonprofits / schools Facebook fans to create content in the form of pictures, videos, status updates, questions, etc and share on your Facebook page is arguably the top thing you should focus on when trying to build an effective presence on Facebook.

But Facebook made that slightly more challenging with the introduction of Timeline.

Timeline for brands (nonprofits / schools) makes it such that fan-initiated engagement and content takes a back seat to brand-initiated engagement and content. Meaning, Facebook no longer puts fan posts directly into your wall now that they’ve rolled out timeline to everyone.

If a fan posts something directly to your Facebook page (i.e. not in response via a like, comment or share to something you’ve posted) it will now show up in a small box that lives below the “number of people who like this” section in the right column.

That means you need to actively monitor what your fans are doing on your page and, when appropriate, highlight their content.

Here’s how to highlight fan content… Go to the Admin bar at top of your fan page (you’ve got to be logged in as an admin). Then hit the Edit page button > Use Activity Log. You’ll see a screen similar to what you see below.

Dig through the activity log to find posts from your fans that you want to highlight. Once you find something you can hit the little circle located to the right of the activity, click on it, and select “Highlight on Page“.

Facebook Highlighted Fan Post for Nonprofits

Bam! You’ve just made one lucky fan very happy!

Facebook for Schools: 5 Strategies for Success
Make sure to check out the full presentation slides from our Social Media for Schools Series. You can view them below or download them from SlideShare by clicking here (look for the download button right above the slides when you get to SlideShare).

This article was orginially published at http://www.netwitsthinktank.com/social-media/6-step-facebook-plan.htm and is reprinted with permission.

[Editor’s note: this is cross-posted from the M+R Research Labs blog]

By Ezra Billinkoff, M +R

Wow! Once again, you’ve amazed us! Over 450 people joined us for the 2012 Benchmarks Extra: Facebook webinar we co-hosted with NTEN and the Ad Council last week. Thank you again for being such a great audience.

So many people asked interesting and thoughtful questions during the webinar that we wanted to make sure everyone gets a chance to see them and participate in the discussion! Check out the questions and answers below – they should be useful whether or not you were able to attend the webinar last week. Combine all this knowledge with your free copy of the Benchmarks Extra: Facebook study, and you’ll be rocking your organization’s Facebook page in no time!

Q: I missed the webinar. Are the slides available?
A: Of course! You can download a PDF of the slides and get the recording of the webinar right here.

Q: Viral Reach? Daily Action Rate? What do all these terms mean again and how do I calculate them?
A: We know, a lot of the terms we used might be new for you. That’s why we included a Glossary at the end of the report – download the report and check it out! Many of the metrics in our report require no calculations. Total Reach, Viral Reach, Fan Page Users, People Talking About This, and Daily Page Engaged Users are all reported by Facebook Insights – export your monthly data and you’ll see. And for you math nerds, here are the formulas of the metrics we calculated outside of Facebook:

Daily Action Rate: [1,000 * Total likes and comments on page’s posts for a given day] / [Fan page users]

Monthly Churn: [Total users end of last month + New users this month – Total users end of this month] / [Total users end of last month + New users this month]

Q: How do I find how many people have unsubscribed from my page’s feed?
A: It’s hard to count exactly how many people have unsubscribed from your page, which is why we report churn instead (the overall loss of people you’re reaching). A good metric to keep an eye on if you’re concerned about churn is Negative Feedback, which represents how often people hide your post or choose to hide all posts from your page. Facebook reports negative feedback on a post level, and also as daily, weekly, and 28-day page metrics.

Q: What are some tactics for growing your fan page size?
A: We got this same question a few times during last year’s webinar, so we offered up some advice for growing an email list through Facebook, and vice versa.

One of the tactics we highlighted during the webinar is the “like drive” – where you promote a campaign to receive more likes through various channels, including a dedicated email. Learn more about best practices for a “like drive” from our blog post. Someone asked if hiding content from non-fans violates Facebook’s terms of service – it doesn’t! Just be sure to stay away from offering prizes or sweepstakes.

Also, if you increase your reach, your page will get in front of more people and more people will have the opportunity to like your page. And don’t forget about Facebook Ads – they can be very effective!

Q: What is EdgeRank and how does it work?
A: EdgeRank is Facebook’s algorithm for what items populate a user’s news feed. The likelihood that your page’s content will get into a user’s news feed is determined by how recently the content was created, what type of content it is, and past interactions between your page and the user. We love this post from FirstGiving – consider it a primer on EdgeRank.

Q: So, bottom line, how can I increase my reach?
A: That’s what everyone wants to know! You have to play into the EdgeRank algorithm, and you can do that two ways:

  1. Post rich content like photos, videos, and links. EdgeRank gives these higher value for news feeds.
  2. Get people to engage with your content. As people are interact with your page more, EdgeRank will show your content to them more often, thus increasing your reach. Your viral reach will also increase because with every like, comment, or share, your page’s content shows up in more people’s feeds.

Q: How do I post engaging content that generates likes, comments, and shares?
A: You’ll see some examples of engaging posts in the Benchmarks Extra: Facebook study and a few more below. Asking questions or posting trivia are great ways to get people talking in the comments. You can also simply ask for likes and shares directly.


Also remember that photos and videos often spark a lot of engagement. You may not be a wildlife or animal welfare group with cute animal photos, but don’t count yourself out of the photo game. Take some tips from Nonprofit Tech 2.0 and post one of these 11 types of photos to engage your audience… or you could just work cute animal photos into your mission, like HRC did here.


Q: Should I be using third party apps like Hootsuite to post to Facebook?
A: Ideally, no. Posts from third party apps are downgraded by EdgeRank, so they aren’t shown to as many people. In the past, third party apps were sometimes necessary because they allowed page administrators to schedule posts. But now, Facebook has built in this feature so you don’t need to use third party apps which would hurt your EdgeRank. Learn from Facebook how to schedule your posts.

Q: What should my organization be tracking?
A: What your organization should be tracking depends on your goals. So before you set out to make a list of what you’re going to track, you should take a step back to determine what you’re trying to achieve. Here’s a tip – if you choose the same metrics that we’ve included in the study, you can compare yourself to other organizations!

Once you’ve identified what measures you want to track and set your goals for improving or maintaining them, put them in a spreadsheet and begin tracking them regularly (weekly or monthly). Track your own progress over time, and compare to benchmarks measurements.

Q: My sector isn’t in the study. What should I do?
A: Look at the “All Sectors” numbers, or pick the sector most similar to yours.

Q: How does a new sector get added to the Benchmarks study?
A: We want to include as many sectors as we can, but we need a critical mass of groups to make it work. If you want a new sector in next year’s Benchmarks study, please email us to volunteer to be in the study! And if you can also help recruit other organizations from the sector to be in the study, the chances we’ll be able to break your results out by sector will be even better. (We’ve heard a lot of chatter about wanting Arts & Cultural organizations… we hope to include you all soon – get in touch!)

Hopefully we’ve answered a bulk of your questions, and now you’re ready to use the Benchmarks Extra: Facebook report to start mastering your organization’s Facebook page.

Have a question we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

A couple of years ago, my colleagues and I were spending over 150 hours a month on the phone trying to reach high school students in our program. Each time an event took place, or there was a change in our scheduling, we would have to notify several hundred teenagers by phone. The average call would take approximately 6 minutes. Of those 6 minutes, less than a minute was actually spent talking to the student. The other 5 minutes were spent doing one of the following:

  1. Listening to a ring tone.
  2. Getting a busy signal and redialing.
  3. Listening to an automated message indicating that the number has been disconnected or changed.
  4. Waiting on the phone while a parent/sibling called for a student.
  5. Listening to a voice mail message.

We were doing this several times a month and it didn’t make sense – especially since we were relaying notification messages that did not require a response. The amount of time we spent trying to reach students significantly overshadowed the amount of time we actually spent talking to them.

Why not just send an email instead? Other program sites had tried this and the results were abysmal: the email open rates of students were approximately 10%. How do you send email to a demographic that doesn’t use email?

The answer is simple. You don’t. Whether you are a front line youth worker, a parent, or a social media marketer, the question remains the same: “How do you communicate so that teenagers will listen?”

Many of our students could often be seen using Facebook at their schools and community centres, yet using Facebook as a professional tool for communicating with students had not yet been given serious consideration in our organization.

Then, we developed a social media policy using the free tool at PolicyTool.net and a small pilot project was launched. Staff were provided with the option of creating a professional Facebook account account and the results were remarkable: within a year, there was 95% staff participation and we are now saving approximately 3,600 hours annually, the equivalent of two full-time staff positions.

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to meet weekly with a small student advisory group and they have provided valuable feedback on our program and our various projects. The students are forthright in their assessments of how our organization is using social media and their insight has provided valuable information regarding their day-to-day use of technology.

Based on my experience, here are the six trends you need to know about engaging youth with social media:

  1. Facebook is now the primary online communication medium for the majority of youth in high school.
  2. The majority of youth who have email accounts do not regularly check their inboxes.
  3. Some youth do not use email at all, preferring to use only Facebook for online communication, since Facebook allows students to authenticate accounts with mobile phones.
  4. Students with cell phones typically average between 1,200 – 1,500 sent messages per month.
  5. The number of text messages sent is lower for students who use smartphones. Instead, they are using BBM, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter.
  6. SMS broadcasting is a particularly effective tool to remind and engage students of upcoming events or tasks that need to be completed.

The trends identified above are based on my experience of working with high-school aged youth who reside in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. I suspect these trends apply readily to many other communities in the United States and Canada. In order to get a more accurate picture of what is going on in your individual communities, just ask the youth around you. Assemble a group of youth on a regular basis and ask them what they do on a day-to-day basis with technology. It is also helpful to sign up for the social networks that they frequent and simply observe.

But let’s go a little more in-depth: What do youth think about online communications?

Let’s start with email. Youth generally consider email to be outdated. Some youth do not use email at all and this number has increased since Facebook started allowing accounts to be authenticated via a mobile phone. For youth who do have email accounts, the majority of youth check them infrequently, not more than once every few days days. Youth who check their email frequently report that they do so because they are receiving notices relating to school or volunteer placements. Students who may not be engaged in school or volunteer opportunities have less incentive to check emails regularly.

Youth attitudes towards email shift significantly when students are provisioned with a college or university email account. Since it is usually the primary and official means of communication with the college or university, youth report that they check it daily. However, personal accounts are still checked infrequently.

While all communication with schools and other organizations are conducted via email, nearly all communication with friends is conducted via Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, BBM, or iMessage. Students will typically only accept people into their networks that they know and trust, so it is important for youth workers to ensure that they have established a working relationship with students before communicating with them on social media channels.

When youth log into a computer, the first sites that are typically visited are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. Email is mentioned only as an afterthought. Facebook is regarded as a “public” space where youth can hang out, chat and make plans with friends.

In contrast, Twitter is regarded as a more “personal” space. Twitter is used to see what is going on with friends and celebrities. Youth also report that it is used for venting and saying anything that may be bothering them or whatever they may be thinking about. It has been described as a “personal feelings page” that is “better than Facebook” because it provides more of a feeling of connectedness.

If youth have access to a smartphone, both Facebook and Twitter are accessed primarily on the mobile devices. Otherwise, access is conducted primarily on desktop and laptop computers. Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are favoured because they can do all these things without having to “go on the Internet”. For youth, the “traditional” way going on the Internet involves having to turn on a computer, log on, and stay in one place. Even a laptop is considered inconvenient when compared to a smartphone.

With a smartphone, youth can take whatever they are reading, searching, and/or tweeting. When considering youth-friendly spaces, wifi availability is important for students who may not be subscribed to data plans. If given the option, many students would prefer to use a smartphone over a standard cell phone without extended functionality. Currently, the favoured smartphones brands are Samsung, Blackberry, and the iPhone.

Text messaging is ubiquitous among students and, when presented with the opportunity, students appreciate receiving text message reminders of upcoming events. The ability to text pre-determined lists of people is now available on many cell phone plans, and websites such as Remind101.com are an indication that being able to reach students while protecting personal boundaries is an industry that is still nascent. FrontlineSMS can also be used by organizations with the technology capacity to implement an in-house text-messaging solution.

As a youth worker, it can be challenging to stay on top of rapidly shifting technology trends, but the efforts have been worthwhile. Utilizing social media has not only allowed our organization to better communicate and engage with our youth – it has also provided easier ways for our youth to communicate with us. The switch has allowed staff in our program to spend more time focusing on building more positive relationships with our youth and less time listening to busy signals.

If you would like to share your experiences in engaging youth on the front lines, please feel free to share in the comments below! And if you are interested in learning more, please come out to my presentation at the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference, “OMG WTF: Engaging Youth on the Front Lines of Social Media”