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Facebook for Nonprofits: 5 Basic Ways To Improve Your Reach

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that it has changed it’s algorithm. As if Facebook for nonprofits wasn’t challenging enough. Understanding the new changes is essential for successful nonprofit Faccebook social media strategy.

Facebook’s announcement highlights how its new changes — especially to the Facebook mobile app — give Facebook a more Twitter-like feel, and give preference to quality links and content. What this means is that the visibility of link-based text posts will increase and text-only updates from fan pages will decrease.

“The goal of every update to News Feed is to show people the most interesting stories at the top of their feed and display them in the best way possible.”
-Chris Turitzin (Facebook Product Manager, News Feed Ranking)

As a result of these updates, the organic reach of your Facebook posts will decline significantly. Yes, you read that right. Facebook has decided to decrease the importance of text-only updates from company pages in the News Feed. What this means is that you, as a Page manager, are going to have to work harder to capture your audience’s attention. Gaining new Facebook likes is great, but insuring that your new supporters actually see your posts is another story.

Here are 5 ways your nonprofit can improve your nonprofit’s Facebook reach:

1. Ask Engaging Questions

In an effort to keep the News Feed populated with posts from users’ friends, Facebook announced that it will begin “bumping up” posts that users’ friends have engaged with. This means posts that receive more likes, comments or shares will reach more people.  It also means that the same story has the ability to appear on a user’s news feed several times-  after new comments have been added, or after the post has been shared.

For Page managers, the new update puts greater pressure on producing high-quality and engaging content. A great way to achieve this is by posing questions to your community. A few examples of community-engaging questions are:

  • Would you rather questions (e.g. Would you rather travel to Paris or London?)
  • Fill in the blank questions (e.g. This year, I want to travel to ____)
  • Trivia questions (e.g. What is the capital of France?)

If you’re really looking to vamp up your Facebook presence, you should include some graphics in these posts. It seems to be that posts with images continually perform better than those without, so this would be a sure way of boosting your engagement.

For more information on how to ask engaging questions, check out this Media Cause post.

2. Format Your Links Properly

According to Facebook’s own research, posts that include a link (with properly sized thumbnail) receive a higher engagement rate. Luckily for us, Facebook makes it pretty easy to share links properly. Facebook wants Page managers to share their content in the “link-share” format, also known as “metadata.” Metadata is data about data, or the hidden code that pulls vital information, such as titles, descriptions and images, from your website. Metadata creates the “preview” for a link when you paste it into Facebook. Once the preview is created, you can delete hyperlink itself.

When posting to Facebook, be sure to:

  • Paste the link into your post
  • Choose an appropriate thumbnail
  • ERASE the URL from the text box
  • Include a short description of the link, perhaps with an engaging question
  • Post your link!

3. Use Hashtags

You may have noticed that hashtags on Facebook are now clickable. When you click on a hashtag it takes you to a feed of public posts that contain that hashtag. By using relevant hashtags in your Facebook posts, you will expand the reach of your posts, and ideally boost your engagement.

4. Post Quality Content

In August of 2013, Facebook posted an announcement about an “improvement” they had made to the News Feed algorithm. In addition to these improvements, Facebook suggested that Page managers think about three things to help post quality content. Is your post timely and relevant? Does it build credibility and trust with your audience? And lastly, would your audience want to see what you’re posting in their News Feed?

5. Keep Your Posts Short and Sweet

No one wants to read long posts on Facebook. The average Facebook user is looking for short posts containing content that is engaging and interesting. Keep your posts visually stimulating.

 

Remember to engage with your audience. The new Facebook algorithm is written as such that it favors engagement over everything. This means that the more people who interact with your content, the more visible it will be for others. Lastly, people who interact with your posts are more likely to see content from your nonprofit’s page in the future.

 

Interested in reading more about Facebook digital strategy? Check out Media Cause Community Manager Michelle Thai’s post on how to grow your nonprofit’s Facebook reach by 130% .

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