If you’ve been relying on Facebook for visibility and donations, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Recent changes by the company are having a direct impact on organizations’ Pages in users’ News Feeds.
Most nonprofits have heard that Facebook is waiving the donation processing fees and assumed that was good news for NPOs. Unfortunately, the social media outlet is making it clear that the days of free marketing there are over.
In October, Facebook ran a test taking all non-ad Page posts out of the user’s News Feed and putting them in the much less visible Explore Feed. This led to some Pages receiving 4X less engagement than before. (The test was officially run in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia.) While Facebook has said that it doesn’t plan to immediately roll out the change worldwide, page admins in other countries reported similar changes in the same timeframe.
Facebook also announced on December 18 that it’s demoting “engagement bait”—Pages designed to get people to engagement by answering a question or clicking on a link. Unfortunately, any Page that asks followers to like, comment or share a post is now being demoted. Although Facebook said in its announcement that Pages that ask for help—like those that raise money for a cause—won’t be impacted, it’s yet another blow to organic search.
This follows a previously known issue with the word “please”—as in “please like, donate or share”. While it may cause development professionals heartburn, it’s best to leave the word out of any calls to action on your organization’s Page.
So what’s a nonprofit to do?
First, don’t leave your organization vulnerable by over relying on one social media platform for online visibility. Determine which social media networks your potential donors are using, and make sure you also have a presence there. For example, if the majority of your donors are women over 35, have a presence on Pinterest.
Next, start a Facebook Group and invite like-minded people. It seems that Groups aren’t subject to the same rules that Pages are yet. Groups also consistently get more engagement as members check them more frequently than Pages. Facebook made some welcome changes to Groups in April that are worth exploring: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/10/new-features-for-groups-to-build-communities/
In spite of the recent changes, we have to admit that Facebook still has more users than any other social media platform—more than 2 billion active profiles. If it’s still your top choice for reaching potential donors, plan to spend some advertising money to boost your organization’s Page and visibility there in 2018.