My Facebook page is a focus group or channel for research. It helps me to understand the questions, concerns, and everyday context of many nonprofits that want to embrace emerging media like social or mobile and to design and build peer exchange programs or Train-the-Trainers programs.
If don’t synthesize the ongoing stream, it gives me vertigo. I set aside an hour or two a month to review my valid metrics, but also to do a meta synthesis of the conversation to curate the best points and resources. I synthesize a threads every week as blog posts, but then I like to step back and look at the overarching themes that become a foundation for a peer exchange.
This post summarizes the knowledge shared by many nonprofit folks on how to use Facebook effectively. What’s missing?
1: Create a Facebook culture inside your organization
- A social media policy provides the rule book for all staff to participate
- Organizational and Community Facebook Guidelines
Networked Nonprofits have a created a Facebook culture inside their organizations. They use social media to engage people inside and outside the organization to improve programs, services, or reach communications goals. They gotten leadership buy-in, addressed concerns head on, and codified the organizational rules around using social media. They understand that trust is cheaper than control. The process of creating a social media policy includes discussion about the issues, reviewing policies from other organizations, and reviewing and approving the policy internally.
While organizational concerns vary by type of organization, a common one is sharing control of the official spokesperson role for the organization. The Mayo Clinic has addressed in its social media policy – many nonprofits have borrowed their language. Another common barrier that keeps many people inside of nonprofits opting in to participate on social networks is privacy and security. With training and support, this can be mitigated.
Finally, there will are two specific policy points for Facebook. Some larger organizations establish clear guidelines for how departments should set up an effective Facebook presence. Also, community participation guidelines for the Facebook which are similar to online community guidelines. These can be a brief and simple reminder about civility and respect and deleting in appropriate comments.
2: Use SMART objectives that align with communications strategy
- How many by when?
- Results, Capacity, or Tactics
- Guides, not report cards
Using SMART objectives for nonprofit communications strategies is not new idea. Spitfire’s useful SMART chart planning tool has been used by many nonprofits and was adapted for social media for nonprofits by NTEN’s WeAreMedia project several years ago. SMART Objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely objectives. The Aspen Institute’s Nonprofit Advocacy Campaign guide points out they come in three flavors: results, tactics, and capacity. Here’s an example of 25 SMART social media objectives from arts organizations.
The process includes beginning with identifying intent. Next, make it specific by adding a number, percentage, increase/decrease and a date. Some nonprofits find it hard to do because it takes hitting the pause button. Also, there may be a feeling that one is getting “graded” if they don’t make the deadline or hit the target number. SMART objectives can be revised along the way.
Some struggle to find an attainable number. Benchmarking comparing your organization’s past performance to itself or doing a formal or informal analysis of peer organizations can help. It also helps to break down your goal into monthly or quarterly benchmarks.
3: Have a measurement strategy on the front-end, not the back-end
- Pick valid metrics in the context of an integrated campaign
Many nonprofits are not measuring their integrated social media campaigns and often push the task to the backburner. There is a lot of confusion over what metrics to select to measure. As measurement guru KD Paine says, you need the right measurement tool for the job – identify SMART objectives, pick valid metrics, and then your tool.
Measure your results, not just numbers. Don’t just count the number of Facebook fans. What should be measured are shifts in awareness, comprehension, attitude and behavior related to donations, purchase, branding, reputation, public policy, employee engagement, and other shifts in audience beliefs or behaviors related to SMART objectives. Don’t get distracted by bogus metrics like AVEs stands for “Advertising Value Equivalents” or as KD Paine likes to call it “Assessment By Voodoo Economics” This is using a meaningless metric to translate into some value.
This means measuring in the context of an integrated campaign strategy, not just social media tactics. The “Valid Metrics Grid” is a proposed standard being debated by measurement professionals, but can help guide your thinking. It looks at communications in three phases with each having specific metrics
The messages or story is created, shared via intermediaries and consumed by a target audience that takes action. The other part of the matrix based on the “Marketing Funnel” going from awareness, understanding, consideration, support and action.
Scaffolding by depth of relationship is a familiar framework for many nonprofits – whether it is donors or activists using the ”Ladder of Engagement.” It has been applied to specific social media channels – for example Twitter Ladder or Facebook Ladder or to describes different levels of engagement across channels. These frameworks show the process for becoming an activist or donor as linear one – going from name recognition to advocate. New research is finding that in an age of media clutter and information overload, the process is less linear and more like a decision journey
4: Recruiting fans should be your first step
- Use a custom landing page
- Promote Facebook through other channels online and offline
If you set up a Facebook Page, will anyone like it? Your first step should be a recruitment campaign that includes reaching out to your organization’s circle friends, cross promotion through other channels both online and offline, and use a custom landing page. BrandGlue had a studywhere they did a split test ads and they drove ads to custom landing tab and another set was driving just to the wall. They found that the custom landing tab will convert visitors to fans at a rate of about 47% versus the wall which is about 26%.
Your landing page should show value at a glance, support your SMART objective, and have a clear call to action. There are some free tools (and low cost tools here and here) available to get your basic Facebook landing page up and running, but will need some graphic design skills though. Want to look at a few inspiring custom landing pages, check these out or cruise through these landing pages of art museums or other nonprofits.
5: Identify and build relationships with Super Fans
- Understand the ladder of love on Facebook and leverage it
The big mistake that many organizations make is that they stop at the “attention” phase of the ladder of Facebook love. Getting people to click the “like” button and join your Facebook is only the first rung. What you want to do is grow an army of “super fans,” or brand ambassadors who will spread your brand and messages across Facebook and to their neighbors. To bring your fans higher up on the ladder of love – to loyality, leadership, and evangelism – takes consistent engagement and relationship building. Here is a framework for identifying and cultivating Super Fans on Facebook from Aliza Sherman.
6: Engage with your fans for a few minutes every day
- Become an expert at starting conversations
- Always be commenting
- Ask different kinds of questions
- Two tools than make this efficient and effective
The secret sauce to success on Facebook is a deep engagement strategy At the very basic level, engagement is about asking good questions.
Here is pattern analysis of different Facebook Wall posts that were questions “16 Ways To Get More Comments on Facebook“ that illustrate different examples of questions. Here is a handy checklist to help you brainstorm different types of questions, it also includes examples.
“ABC: Always Be Commenting” on your Facebook page. You need to comment quickly, often, and respond to everyone. Jo Johnson over at the London Symphony is a master of this technique. And, you don’t have to live on Facebook for this to be effective as you’ll see from the tips below. Another tip is to repeat the proven stuff. Not all your fans will read everything you post and if you are tracking per post interaction, you’ll have a sense of what resonates. Simply repeat it.
Finally, research shows that posting shorter posts, posts with photos, and after hours also works to drive up engagement. It is also important NOT to automate your posting because this gets in the way of interaction because Facebook’s algorithm, Edgerank, tends to hide automated posts from the newsfeed as Mari Smith explains in this thread. See JD Lasica’s post unpacking what Edgerank is and what it means.
7: Recycle, reuse, or repurpose content from other channels
- Chop shop
- Editorial calendar or inventory
Before running off to create “Facebook” content, it requires a mind shift. Nonprofits need to think of the content they hope to create as expressions of a single bigger idea or theme. Or alternatively, if your organization is starting with something larger, like a research paper or an entire season for a performing arts program, think about how to create smaller chunks of shareable content. Many nonprofits are more used to thinking of content as a single campaign.
Having an ecosystem is also important or a regular schedule or wrapping your content strategy around an editorial calendar. For organizations that museums and performing arts organizations, this is an easy and natural extension of their programming. The part that requires capacity is how an organization can effectively recycle its content. The book warns that it should not be an afterthought, but more intentional and suggests that content be “reimagined.” It’s like leaving bread crumbs in the woods or “atomizing” as Todd Defren describes.
Here’s an example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On Facebook, they post an Artwork of the Day which is a simple reimagining of the content on their site about objects in their collection. They’re using the same source material, but reaching difference audiences.
Here’s a spreadsheet that helps you think through your content and an editorial calendar.
8: Build time for learning into the work flow
- 2-4 hours per week
- Metrics Monday
Don’t live on Facebook, it isn’t effective. Design your work flow. Small (15-20 minute) chunks of daily time for implementation (posting content and answering fans) and some concentrated time for planning your monthly editorial calendar of content and engagement. Nutshell Mail can be a useful tool for monitoring responses. You’ll also need to schedule time to collect and analyze your data. Once you have the work flow down, you can do Facebook effectively a couple of hours of week. If you’ve empowered staff and volunteers and cultivated your super fans, you’ll increase your impact with having to do more work.
Set aside an hour a week for learning from your data and reflecting on how to improve..