Is Facebook Right for your Nonprofit Organization?

Think of one person you know who is not on Facebook. Think of an organization or company that is not on Facebook. It’s hard, right? Nearly every single person I interact with daily is connected on this social site – even my grandma. I can literally search any company or organization on Facebook and something will come up. Why are so many people choosing to engage? There are various reasons to hop on the social media bandwagon, but to actually benefit from joining, it must to be done right.

With hundreds of thousands of nonprofit organizations in existence, it is vital to focus on brand recognition and work on getting your name out into the public in order to stand out. Facebook can effectively help not only because it reaches more than 500 million users but also because it allows for creative ways to engage your audience. For nonprofit organizations, using Facebook optimally can be hard to do. However, if done well, this social networking site can greatly benefit your organization.

Zachary Sniderman outlines the “Golden Rules” of Facebook for Nonprofits and discusses the major “do’s” and “don’ts” of “going social.” Sniderman mentions three successful organizations that are productively using Facebook: the National Wildlife Federation, Non-Profit Technology Network, and Livestrong. Although these organizations may differ in their media strategies, they have all proven themselves to be successful Facebook users.

A Nonprofit “Doing it Right”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or “PETA,” is a nonprofit organization that focuses on suffering animals and is the largest animal rights organization in the world. It also happens to boast more than one million likes on Facebook.

PETA posts relevant information and links at least twice a day. The organization changes up the content of its posts, which keeps its fans interested. Here are a few good ideas they have posted in the past:

  • Examples of cruelty-free products

  • Great Vegan Recipes

  • Competition announcements for prizes

I support PETA on Facebook because its information is interesting and informative. Although it may seem like a task that a for-profit company would do, I believe that nonprofits will see benefits in extensively researching their core audience in order to effectively utilize Facebook. This will help the organization understand its audience and allow it to cultivate a relationship with its Facebook fans. This will in turn create productive conversation that will actually reach people.

Tips for Effective Use

I have personally seen organizations and companies fail to use Facebook effectively, and they simply become dead weight on my “likes” page. I found these three tips to be the most crucial in helping an organization avoid the dead zone.

  • Make sure that your purpose is clear and you are not choosing to use Facebook simply because “everyone else is.”
    • Facebook is not “hip” if you do not know how to use it.
  • Designate someone who will spend time updating the Facebook page regularly.
    • Due to my interest in nonprofit public relations, I will often search various organizations on Facebook and, to my dismay, discover that their last post is from months ago.
  • Respond to your audience and engage them insightfully.
    • Your fans do not want to see constant posts that look like news releases. They will likely not read a wordy abstract report that you may find interesting because you know everything that went into it.

Danielle Brigida, the digital media manager at the National Wildlife Federation, reminds us that “Facebook was not made for nonprofits” because it is difficult to foster personal relationships. However, if a nonprofit keeps these vital tips in mind, Facebook has the potential to take the organization to the next level. Consider the benefits and your resources, then choose what is right for your organization.

More Resources for Nonprofits Considering Facebook

Best Facebook Practices For Nonprofits:

http://www.diosacommunications.com/facebookbestpractices.htm

10 Innovative Ways Nonprofits Can Use Facebook:

http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/archive/2007/11/16/ten-ways-nonprofits-can-use-facebook-.aspx

Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page:

http://www.facebook.com/nonprofitorgs

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