by Erik Hanberg, Author, The Little Book of Gold: Fundraising for Small (And Very Small) Nonprofits
Facebook is not an end in and of itself. You’re not trying to get people to like you on Facebook simply because it feels good.
Think about someone liking your page on Facebook as being the same as if they gave you their email address. They are signing up to get information about you, mixed in with updates about their family and friends. That’s big!
So give them something they want to see.
The most basic use of Facebook is to share posts from your nonprofit’s blog.
When the blog post is ready to go, copy and paste the link to the post into the status update and add a one or two sentence note about it. Maybe a quote from it, or just a short explanation of why people might find it interesting.
Share the link, and then keep Facebook open for a few hours to see if anyone comments or shares. Because they aren’t anonymous, Facebook commenters are generally much nicer than blog commenters, and they often comment more frequently. Feel free to respond, if you feel called to, or simply “like” people’s comments.
Do this every time you post to your blog.
What else can you do on Facebook?
Facebook allows you to “create an event” and then send notifications to fans about it. This can be a very powerful tool for getting people to come to your event, but it runs the risk of being annoying to users. If you have a weekly event series, don’t send notifications to every single event, just the main ones (the first, the last, and a couple big ones in between).
You can also share an image of the invitation, a link to a registration page, or otherwise promote the event without using the “Events” function of Facebook.
Post a live photo from the event
Show off the crowd, your speaker, your volunteers, students … or whatever else will look good on camera. Post it while actually at the event. Some people might say they were sorry to miss it, others will comment afterward and tell you how much they enjoyed it.
Thank attendees, post sponsor logos, and—most importantly—post a variety of photos to an album of the event. Do as many of these activities as is practical after an event.
Focus on what’s happening right now
Interesting things happen to us all the time. We win grants, we start a new year of classes, we have hilarious stories from behind the curtain at the symphony. Use Facebook to tell interesting stories or share photos about what happened at your organization today, especially small stories that aren’t big enough for a blog post.
Since Facebook encourages actual communication with people who already like you, ask them questions. Not dumb questions like “Coke or Pepsi?”, but questions related to your mission.
“What plays would you like to see in next year’s season?”
“What advice would you give to someone taking their first drawing class?”
“What’s your favorite old building in Smallville?”
“Do you know a breast cancer survivor who has inspired you?”
“Trying to figure out next month’s training schedule. Do you prefer mornings or afternoons for education sessions?”
Don’t commit to anything you can’t later deliver, but don’t ask meaningless questions either. You have a whole group of people who like you … ask them what they think about something and you just might find their answer to be helpful!
Facebook is like a great, interactive mailing list. Use it regularly, stick to your brand, have some fun, and people will definitely respond. After a few months, when you post a call to give, to attend an event, or to volunteer, the work you’ve put in on Facebook will really pay off.