Introducing the topic
As a nonprofit on Facebook, you probably want to do two things: reach and engage more supporters. The good news is that nonprofits actually have an unfair advantage over brands and profiles just by being nonprofit pages! This means you’ll want to treat your page a little differently than you would other pages. Dig in to learn how you can manage your nonprofit’s page like a pro and reach and engage thousands of supporters on Facebook.
Why is learning this important?
More often than not, nonprofits on Facebook are not leaning into their natural advantage. This means they reach a lot less people and hinders their goals on the platform. This playbook on page management will help maximize your advantage and achieve your mission. We’ll show you some simple best practices that will make all the difference.
“Back up. My nonprofit has a natural advantage on Facebook? Tell me more about that!”
As a nonprofit, you share content on Facebook that people care about and want to be seen sharing. Your content matters unlike that of a brand like Nike or Pepsi that is just selling you something.
Think about it. Your content informs people on subjects they care deeply about. This is content your supporters want to share because they think it can help their friends and family too. It can also help them tell their story and share what is important to them. For example, I’m a big animal rights person. Therefore I like to share content that shows this side of myself to others.
Through the natural desire to share your content, your Facebook supporters help spread your content to those outside of your current page fans and followers. This is free reach!
What you will need
Before we dive in, let’s check what you’ll need to be successful:
- A nonprofit Facebook page
- At least a couple hours a week to focus on Facebook
- Ability to try new things and a willingness to play!
- Optional but strongly suggested: An ActionSprout account
Step one: Setting the stage for success!
Set a mission-oriented goal for your page: How will Facebook help you achieve your mission both on and off Facebook?
If your work on Facebook doesn’t bring you closer to reaching your organizational goals, why are you doing it? Few nonprofits have the time and resources to play on Facebook without moving the dial for their cause. Save time and money by setting a clear goal for your page. Then map all your work on Facebook back to reaching that goal.
Let’s look at an example of a good goal that helps you reach your organizational goals, and one that may seem like it would, but actually does not. For the example, our nonprofit will be a birth center.
A good, organizational Facebook goal:
Engage 500 people on the topic of breastfeeding in the hope of dispelling misinformation.
Why it’s a good goal:
- It’s measureable. We can check if at least 500 people engaged with the post on breastfeeding by leaving a reaction, comment, clicking on the post or sharing.
- It influences behaviors that tie directly back to the mission of the birth center: Keep mama and baby as healthy as possible.
An ineffective goal:
Get 500 more “Likes” on the birth center’s Facebook page.
Why it’s ineffective:
- The number of Likes on the Facebook page doesn’t influence the health of mama and baby. We have no way of knowing if they read any of our content or learned anything about newborn health by Liking the page.
- The goal is purely a popularity number and has little to do with health.
How will you measure progress against this goal?
What’s worse than not having a goal? It might be setting a goal without any way to measure your progress against it! Start at the end and think through what meeting this goal will look like. In other words, “How will you know when you have reached it?” Then decide the best way to measure your goal that will keep you on track to hitting it.
Perform a quick content audit of your page. Which types of content engages your audience the best?
Now it’s time to audit your Facebook page to figure out which of your posts are engaging supporters and which ones are not. The best way to do this is through the Timeline feature inside of ActionSprout.
Timeline shows you which posts are performing best, and why they did well, so you can recreate your successes. The tool will also analyze your less engaging posts and will make suggestions on how you can avoid them in the future. Scrolling through your page’s posts, patterns are likely to jump out at you. Look for what engaging posts have in common and test more like that on your page. Overtime Timeline will help you figure out what types of posts your audience enjoys the most and engages with.
If you don’t have an ActionSprout account you can audit your page using Facebook Insights. Just choose Posts from the left side menu and choose Engagement rate as the metric.
Set a daily posting goal
Now that you have an idea about the types of posts your audience engages with, its time to set a daily posting goal for your page. Posting consistently a few times a day, everyday, will ensure your posts keep reaching your supporters news feeds. Why?
If people don’t engage with your page for too long, Facebook will take this as a sign they are no longer interested in your page’s content. Therefore Facebook will show less of your posts to people and maybe stop all together. Not posting content regularly, and therefore not giving your supporters a chance to engage, can artificially put your page in this position. It’s possible to dig yourself out, but during that time your page is down for the count!
Don’t put your page in this position in the first place! Decide on a daily number of posts you want to hit and stick with it the best you can. The sweet spot for most pages is somewhere between two to five posts a day.
Keeping up with posting, while challenging at times, is nothing like trying to dig your page out of a hole of no engagement.
Use Inspiration to curate content
The good news is, you don’t have to create multiple original posts yourself to keep up with your posting goal each day. Instead lean into the power of sharing popular, trending content that ties back to your cause.
Inspiration is a feature inside of ActionSprout that will show you the most popular posts related to your cause on Facebook. Resharing this content on your page, with your own commentary included, is likely to reach and engage more people. We like to say shoot for the 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts are shared from others, while 20% is original content.
Use Timeline to re-share your own high performing posts and stay up to date on what engages your audience the best
Remember the Timeline feature in ActionSprout we mentioned before? Another powerful way you can use this feature is by resharing the posts that performed the best on your page. Like we heard, Timeline calculates the data for you and displays your most engaging posts. Clicking the Share button on these posts we can schedule them to our page and reach and engage more people than we did the first time. It’s like free reach without Facebook ads!
Step two: Building relationships with Facebook supporters by making them feel seen and heard.
Actively manage comments on your posts
One of the most important activities you can take on Facebook is liking and replying to your comments. At our core, people want to be seen, heard and cared for. Actively managing your comments shows your followers you appreciate and care about them.
ActionSprout has a feature called Comments Inbox that can save you time while focusing on your most important comments. These comments are from supporters who frequently engage with your page, folks who are tagged as a donor in your ActionSprout account or comments that contain a question or vulgar word. If you only have time to manage these priority comments that’s fine! You’ll still be head and shoulders above most nonprofits on Facebook!
If you don’t have a ActionSprout account, you can use the inbox on your Facebook page.
Bonus step three: Create and run social actions on your Facebook page
Use social actions to engage your supporters at the next level
- Start soft with pledges, polls, questions or sproutlets
- Work up to petitions, letters, and events
- Lastly work in donation upsells and ease into full donation actions over time.
Watch out for these common pitfalls!
Now that you have all the knowledge and tools to manage your nonprofit’s Facebook page like a pro, it’s time to point out some common pitfalls you’ll want to watch out for as you work.
1. Letting the comments section get out of hand and turn toxic.
The more you manage and show a presence in the comments, the better they will be. Showing your audience you care also influences your supporters to help police the community and maintain rules of conduct.
2. Losing organic reach/engagement by not paying attention to what your audience enjoys or not posting consistently everyday.
Nothing on Facebook lasts forever. That’s why you’ll want to check your Timeline tool from time to time to keep up on what your audience’s current likes and interests are. This will help you keep sharing content they can’t help but engage with and stay on top of your posting goal!
3. Not setting a measurable goal for your Facebook page that ties back to your organizational mission. Or losing sight of the goal you once had!
Similar to number two, revisit your goals from time to time and your progress against them. It’s super easy to get wrapped up in daily task lists and lose sight of what you really want to accomplish!
Wrap up & Key Takeaways
Serve your audience of supporters and they will serve you.
- Listen to them
- Pay attention to what they engage with and what they don’t
- Reply to them
- Make them feel seen, heard, and valuable
- Post content that is for them first and your organization second
It’s okay to share other’s content, play with new ideas and fail a lot on Facebook. What’s not okay is not learning from past experiences and mistakes!
- Use ActionSprout’s Timeline to figure out what works and what doesn’t
- See what’s working for others in your space through ActionSprout’s Inspiration feature
Posting consistently on Facebook is a MUST! This is the only way your “down to business” posts, like petitions or donation appeals, will reach anyone on Facebook without paying for ads.
Think about it, if you hadn’t talked to a friend in six months, then called them out of the blue to take you to the airport, they probably won’t be too excited to help you. Same goes for your Facebook page. If you ignore your Facebook followers for months, then post a donation appeal, you probably won’t receive as many donations as you hoped for.
Bonus: Our favorite free web tools that can help you create awesome content!
Pixlr - A free, web based photo editing tool that comes in basic and advanced versions.
Pablo - Easily add text to any image.
Unsplash - A source of free, beautiful stock images.
BarnImages - More free stock images!