For too long, organizations were told that Facebook was only for "building awareness." But we all recognize that awareness alone does not have a far-reaching impact on an organization’s mission or cause. Impact is the result of action; whether it’s supporters lending their voice or time to a campaign or making a donation.
As the uses for Facebook expand, more users join, and more organizations learn about the power and value of the channel, the mysterious all-powerful edgerank algorithm that determines what Facebook users see and don’t see in their newsfeed makes it harder to make an impact. In other words, it makes it harder to make your investment of time, money and energy seem worthwhile. And that’s after you’ve invested time, money and energy in growing your Facebook fan base (likers) to begin with. Even so, engaging users on Facebook truly is a great tactic to incorporate into your cross-channel marketing and engagement strategy.
The key is doing it well.
Impressive Facebook Facts
Your supporters are likely spending a lot of time on Facebook. When they’re at home, when they’re at work (shhhh), when they’re commuting, when they’re waiting, and even when they’re walking (stop that). Facebook logs 1.23 billion (yes, with a “b”) active users every month… and that number keeps growing. No joke: 57% of American adults are spending an average of 20 minutes there per visit. And as for mobile users – they are 1.19 billion strong; and according to TechCrunch’s estimates, 745 million of whom are logging on at least once a day.
The scale of use is impressive, but probably the most important stat to remember for your organization is: each Facebook user likes more than 40 pages (those are brands) and has on average 338 friends. Think about that for a moment – if your organization is one of those 40 brands, and a supporter is inspired to share your post with their network, then you have the opportunity to reach about 338 additional people!
But there’s a catch. It’s not a “gimme” that: a) your fans are going to be inspired to share everything you post or b) they’ll even see your post at all.
Facebook itself is just a piece of a good online strategy. It is just one channel to reach users that should be part of a larger multi-channel outreach and engagement strategy. Facebook’s success for brands is a confluence of access (to the channel by billions of users on multiple devices), ease (the actual interface is second nature to use – even if it does change with some frequency), efficiency (it’s quick so orgs can post frequently), and effectiveness (orgs can see how many people saw and interacted with their posts practically in real time).
Engaging users where they are already spending time means you are becoming a part of their routine; part of their life. With that access, though, comes responsibility. A responsibility to post channel-appropriate, interesting, inspiring, and “shareworthy” posts – and doing so with a voice that feels organic to users who are seeing your posts in the same newsfeed as posts from their friends and family members. Your post about a new fundraising campaign or petition could be seen between a picture of a cat in a bowtie, and the video of a dog napping with a baby. How are you going to stand out? By coming across as someone each user has a relationship with, not just an organization they follow.
How do you use Facebook to make an impact?
The power of social media lies in the amplification factor. In other words, you can reach not only those people who choose to connect with your organization on Facebook, but also their networks, and their network’s network. You can push a message out and watch it ripple. Your goal is to get eyeballs on your posts, and of course likes, comments and shares.
Make sure posts are inspiring and in a voice that will resonate with your audience. Post things that are worthy of re-sharing – things that you’d want to share if you weren’t the one posting them. Think about how that user will feel when they read the post and if that falls in line with your mission.
Remember: don’t shy away from posting things that are not specifically about your mission. Use Facebook to show who you are as an organization. Maybe introduce your staff, showcase events, talk about the culture. Share posts from other brands or organizations that are adjacent to your mission to signal that you care about the greater good, and have affinity for organizations that your supporters would also want to know about. These kinds of posts – the ones that are less about your mission and more about your social personality – are great ways to keep your Facebook fans interested. If they come to expect that everything you post is an “ask“ of some sort (do, sign, donate, call…), they’ll tune you out like that needy friend who only wants to talk about their problems but who never gives back to the relationship.
Be interesting, be inspiring, be social and they’ll not only remember you and know more about your cause, they’ll look forward to seeing you in their feed!
What can you post to get that engagement? So glad you asked! Here are a few ideas:
- Links – To content on your site, to tabs on your Page, to interesting news articles, to other orgs pages
- Sharable pictures & Videos – Funny, touching, moving, breaking news, infographics - and now you can post video directly on your Facebook page!
- “Cards” – Thank you, Birthday, Congratulations
- Questions or Polls – Relevant to cause, funny, interesting, controversial (if your social voice can handle that)
- Stories – Success stories, volunteer stories, touching stories that people would want their networks to read
Engaging users on Facebook should become an integrated part of your multi-channel marketing program. Whether you are simply trying to stay top of mind - creating a groundswell of activity before a big announcement or event, or promoting an important issue - consistently engaging users on Facebook will deliver results and relationships.