Note from Beth: Greetings from the Gold Coast in Australia. I’m here to keynote Connecting Up Conference, While I am in OZ, I invited Jon Stahl to share this amazing case study. Enjoy
For several years now, nonprofits have been investing time, energy and money building Facebook pages and working to engage supporters on Facebook. Unfortunately, as Beth has pointed out , Facebook doesn’t always make it easy to generate meaningful and measurable results that drive your mission or your bottom line.
About a year ago, Facebook began rolling out a series of important changes, most notably the launch of Facebook Open Graph, designed to empower app developers (like us here at ActionSprout) to create tools to help brands and organizations get more out of Facebook.
Over the past year, large corporate brands have embraced Facebook apps from companies like Wildfire (purchased by Google), Buddy Media, (now part of Salesforce) and WooBox, for things like coupons, sweepstakes, and contests. Others have spent tens of thousands of dollars to build custom Facebook apps from scratch. These apps help organizations take advantage of Facebook’s new functionality in order to generate more meaningful and measurable fan engagement.
These are powerful tools. But even nonprofits that can afford them find that they don’t address our sector’s unique needs to engage people in advocacy, organizing and fundraising. That’s where ActionSprout comes in.
In this blog post, I’ll show off a simple campaign that generated some great, measurable results for Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends is a nonprofit organization that is working to bring about an end to pet homelessness and the shelter killing of nearly 4 million animals a year. The Society has a large and vibrant online community, including a Facebook page with more than 300,000 fans, and many of their posts get thousands of likes and hundreds of clicks and shares. (And yes, many of their posts feature cute dogs
But, like many organizations, Best Friends Animal Society has struggled to find a seamless, consistent and budget-friendly way to convert those fans into email list subscribers, donors and action-takers. Changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank formula have only added an extra layer of complexity. With a goal of converting thousands of “likers” into leads, Best Friends turned to ActionSprout to help make that goal a reality.
Best Friends’ first ActionSprout campaign was designed to engage Facebook users in supporting a long time friend of the organization who had recently learned that her adopted paraplegic dog, Red, had been diagnosed with cancer. Best Friends created a “Get Well” card for Red, and invited Facebook fans (and their friends) to sign it and add their best wishes forRed’s speedy recovery. The resulting call to action was a richer, more engaging and measurable online action than the typical like, share or comment.
Promote It With A Wall Post
Best Friends promoted Red’s Get Well Card with a single Facebook wall post.
Cute dog photo: check. Emotionally compelling, urgent call to action: check. But instead of sending people away from Facebook, when people click on the link in the post, they are taken to the campaign located on the ActionSprout app on Best Friends’ Facebook page.
Users click “Sign” to sign the card. If they have never taken action through ActionSprout before, they get a standard Facebook App permissions dialog. This dialog gives us permission to read (and share with Best Friends) basic contact information (name, email) from their Facebook profile and to use Facebook Open Graph to share their online actions. After users sign the card, they can also leave Facebook comments on the card itself, generating additional engagement–and more shareable Facebook activity!
ActionSprout includes more than 30 different actions you can choose from, each of which can have many different kinds of objects, giving you a broad creative canvas to play with when designing your own campaigns. Once Best Friends had their content written for the post, it took them about 5 minutes to configure and launch this campaign.
Measurable, Meaningful Results
Best Friends launched Red’s Get Well Card with a single Facebook wall post, let it run organically for about 48 hours, then promoted it with $300 worth of Facebook “promoted post” advertising. All told, the post was seen by about 65,000 people.
1265 people signed Red’s Get Well Card, or about 2% of the people who saw the initial wall post. The biggest surprise of this campaign was that of the 1265 signers, only 216 were already fans of Best Friends’ Facebook page, and only 142 were already in Best Friends’ email file, so Best Friends was able to generate more than 1100 new supporters with this single campaign.
These 1100+ new supporters came on board because they saw their friends interacting with the campaign in a number of ways, including:
- 4481 people “liked” the original wall post promoting the campaign.
- The campaign received a total of 1377 comments, including both comments on the wall post and comments on the Get Well Card itself.
- Supporters shared Red’s Get Well Card 2082 times. This includes both shares of the wall post, the campaign itself, as well as automatic shares generated through Facebook Open Graph by users taking the ActionSprout action.
Red’s Get Well card was one of Best Friends’ most popular and most engaging posts in February 2013. But even more impressive is the fact that unlike their other posts, the team can measure its success by:
- Number of new supporters (with names and email addresses) acquired — over 89% of the supporters who signed Red’s Get Well Card were new to Best Friends’ file.
- Number of fans whose contact information was acquired.
- All of the standard Facebook content engagement metrics such as likes, shares and comments.
Happy Endings for All
Red’s Get Well Card is a simple example of what the next generation of Facebook engagement and organizing looks like: creative, meaningful social actions that users can take without leaving Facebook. More importantly, they include permission-driven capturing of contact information and integrated peer-to-peer sharing so organizations can begin to move their relationships beyond the walls of Facebook.
Campaigns like this can open up important new rungs on your Facebook Ladder of Engagement.
Oh, and our story has a happy ending for Red as well. On February 14, nine days after the card went live, Best Friends’ Melissa Lipani wrote:
“We’ve got terrific news to share! We received a call this morning from Diane, Red’s dedicated mom. She was happy to report that the veterinarian caring for Red let her know that surgery to remove the cancer was successful, and they were able to get ‘clear margins.’ Diane shared how touched she was to read all of the sentiments posted here and on Red’s card. She feels they are a big part of Red’s recovery! She let us know that Red is doing very well, and sending virtual kisses to all of his friends. A big thanks to all of you! -melissa l.”
Jon Stahl is Director of Strategy at ActionSprout, where he helps organizations engage, organize and fundraise on Facebook.