Webinar: Mastering Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm to boost your content

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Unlocking the Value of Facebook's Algorithm

Let’s dig into Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm!

 

At ActionSprout, we get asked all the time about how to make Facebook really work for nonprofits. So we’re going to try something new for 2015 and sponsor our very first public web series by the award-winning social media strategist Beth Becker on just that topic!

Be sure to RSVP as space is limited. Click here:

Monday the 26th 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT

Tues 27th at 7 PM ET / 4 PM PT.

Beth will be leading a three part webinar series called “Unlocking the Value of Facebook” starting in late January through February. Each webinar will answer the top questions we receive concerning Facebook and will give you tips you can immediately put to work for your cause. These webinars will focus on the taking advantage of the algorithm, creating engaging content, and running effective advertisements.

In our first webinar, “Mastering Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm to boost your content“, Beth will cover the recent widespread discussion around the tweaks Facebook has made to it’s News Feed algorithm and discuss the practical ways you can use the algorithm to strengthen relationships with online supporters and get the most value out of your content. Facebook’s changes are about giving their users content they want to see– but it’s also changing how your organization’s content is delivered!

Click here to RSVP:

Monday the 26th 1 PM ET/ 10 AM PT

Tues 27th at 7 PM ET / 4 PM PT.

 

We hope you can make it!

About Beth Becker

Beth Becker leads webinar on understanding Facebook algorithm Beth Becker brings 20+ years of communication and marketing background to her work in digital strategy. In addition to her work with a variety of political, nonprofit and labor clients, Beth often can be found conducting trainings about digital strategy for the New Organizing Institute, clients and conferences like PA Progressive Summit and Netroots Nation. As a contributing blogger at epolitics.com and social change enthusiast, Beth shares her knowledge to help organizations use digital with offline to make a difference. 

 

Introducing the Facebook Benchmark Survey for Nonprofits!

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nonprofit-Facebook-engagement-benchmark

Have you ever wondered how your Facebook efforts are stacking up?

What ‘good’ actually looks like?

So did we, which is why we’re doing something about it! But…in order for it to work, we need your help.

Introducing the Facebook Benchmark Survey

Rather than use traditional surveys where you key in your answers, we’re tapping directly into Facebook insights (with your permission of course) and aggregating data to get a real picture of what’s actually happening on your Facebook page.

The best part is that this survey takes almost no time to complete!

Just authorize the ActionSprout app and we do all the hard work of sorting through your data to find the important bits.

Some of the things we hope to include in the report after we gather enough Facebook page data includes:

  • How frequently are pages posting per day.
  • The average number of people who engage with posts.
  • How frequently Facebook advertising is used and to what effect.
  • What types of content is posted the most.
  • Which types of content are most effective at generating likes, comments, or shares.
  • How frequently people click-through to website content.
  • What topics get the most engagement and clicks-throughs.
  • How much inter-connected pages share each other’s content.
  • The correlation between posting frequency & engagement with reach.
  • How frequently and to what effect hashtags and calls to action are being used.
  • How many pages have inactive fans (fans that never engage or are fake).

Will you help us create this resource for the nonprofit community?

Take the survey

Nonprofits and Hashtags: The Year that was 2014

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hashtags

Thanks to millions of supporters on social media, a hashtag can cause profound global impact that involves millions of people in real-time!

The beauty of it is that anyone, anywhere, can create a heavy-hitting hashtag and see REAL worldwide change. When hashtags go viral, there’s action, revolution, laughter and tears, miracles, connection, innovation, and far-reaching societal declaration.

Whew! In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look and unearth some valuable insight into hashtags, especially for nonprofits. Then to cap it off, we’ll briefly dissect some stirring examples from 2014. Enjoy!

What Makes Hashtags So Special?

Oh boy, there’s so much to say here. They truly are one of the more useful and exciting creations to emerge from social media. At the end of the day, it’s all about connectivity. But, here are the big reasons:

  • Unity: To show solidarity with a group of people, somewhere in the world, who are dealing with great pain, undergoing great struggle, or celebrating a mighty victory.
  • Statements: They allow people to spread out across great distances ‒ to unify their voices under one umbrella notion, captured by the essence of the hashtag’s statement.
  • Pushback: Elected officials, bureaucracies, and multinational corporations have no choice but to take notice of this new form of social expression. THE PEOPLE can share their voices around particular geopolitical events, causes, or emergent philosophies outside the more highly-controlled channels.
  • Remembrance: When something horrible happens, hashtags allow people to pay homage and pay their respects.
  • Participation: Hashtags allow people to zero in on one specific cause and then share their own personal views, playing a part in strengthening its reach and impact.
  • Truth: Folks now use hashtags to check up on certain issues and events more often than mainstream news. No commercials, no nonsense; simply search for the hashtag and you’re instantly in the moment-to-moment action.
  • Media: Above and beyond voices, opinions, solidarity, awareness and all that stuff, a hashtag allows people to get instant access to all videos and photographs attached to it.

Social Media Viral Hashtags Example

While mainstream narratives tell us that the abyssal numbers from the 2014 holiday retail season are due to a floundering economy, let’s not forget how many people are tuning out of conventionality, consumerism, and unsustainable commercialism. Hashtags are playing a role…

Should Nonprofits Rally Around a Hashtag?

Obviously for nonprofits, political campaigns and causes, hashtags are especially powerful. But when’s a good time to hop into the conversation? This is a fabulous question. First of all:

Don’t Be Hasty!

Let’s say a relevant, earth-shattering event just popped off and you’re on Facebook or Twitter right when the news breaks. Within minutes, a powerful hashtag springs up, and within hours it has consolidated immense attention. Hold your horses. You have no clue what this hashtag is going to morph into.

Ferguson Hashtags 2014 Photo

The entire planet took part in the (still ongoing) Ferguson issue, which now represents the greater issues of:

  • Racial inequality
  • Economic disparity
  • The militarization of police forces
  • Loss of civil liberties
  • Constitutional degradation
  • Grievances with the American judicial system

Let’s say you hopped into the conversation, thereby attaching your nonprofit to the issue, early on when things were still calm. How were you supposed to know it would soon turn into this?

Screenshot Ferguson Hashtags

And here’s the other side of the coin: hashtags are often grouped together to cover more virtual ground. So what was just “#ferguson” became that, plus…

Mike Brown Hashtags 2014

And this…

Dont Shoot Hashtags

If this is your turf, and you represent a civil rights-related nonprofit or cause, join the conversation! These issues need a voice ‒ your voice! But if you represent something that’s, well, too sensitive for an issue like this, then don’t act too quickly. Hashtags are too important now. They turn into EXTREMELY serious business fast. #RespectTheHashtag folks. No kidding.

If this is a cosmically critical issue, for example a terrorist attack, you DO NOT want to get connected to a hashtag that gets derailed or hijacked into something really ugly. There could actually be legal ramifications at this point. We’ve all seen this happen. Ignore your impulse to hop on all that attention (in the attention economy), and wait until the dust clears a bit.

But on the other hand, if it’s a “safer” issue or something that’s safe to connect to your nonprofit’s brand (yes even nonprofits have those), then the sooner the better. And relax, there’s always so much going on in this crazy modern world of ours, that new things happen all the time and hashtags come and go. Or, over time, they turn into different things.

A good example in this case would be “#katrina”, because what it was right after Hurricane Katrina isn’t what it is now.

Katrina Search Results from Twitter

Obviously, this isn’t the case with something like #Dontshoot, but the point here is that hashtags are complicated. So in terms of attaching to other outside hashtags, it’s risky. But how about creating your own?

Should Nonprofits Create Their Own?

When it comes to your cause, initiative, campaign or nonprofit, by all means ‒ yes! But if you’re attempting to generate awareness by creating a hashtag for something else, then just be careful. It takes some finesse and this is all very situational.

What if you create a seemingly innocent and awesome hashtag, and it gains serious traction? If that’s never happened to you yet, remember this: “From the moment you start spreading a hashtag, you are essentially handing over control.”

Once it goes big, you’ve lost all control and it’s impossible to anticipate how a tiny little hashtag will be interpreted. That said, let’s take a look at some of the most highly circulated hashtags from 2014, and see what we can glean from them.

A Few Titan Hashtags from 2014

After the unbelievably tragic shooting in California, a robust and very intense debate sprang up around this hashtag.

The #yesallwomen Hashtags

Women began sharing their own stories, men’s rights groups joined in, and a national conversation ensued that shined light on serious issues. If you represent a nonprofit or cause connected to feminism, did you use this hashtag to drive more awareness to your organization?

Some cause-based hashtags were so big that they took the world by storm! Take for example:

#IceBucketChallenge

Mark and Bill accecpt the ice bucket challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge, or ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, went viral between July and August of 2014. Seemingly everyone on Facebook and Twitter were dumping buckets of freezing cold water over their heads in the name of charity. Even celebrities and world leaders got nominated and took up the challenge!

Since the summer, the ALS Association has received $115 million in donations, thanks to the hashtag and its viral reach. This proves hashtags and viral trends do have the power to make a sizable difference for nonprofits and the folks they serve.

But what happens if your nonprofit doesn’t fit the subject matter? A few nonprofits tried to recreate the success of the #IceBucketChallenge with varying degrees of success.

Take #TacoBeerChallenge for example. Eat a taco or drink a beer, then donate to any abortion rights fund, whether that’s Planned Parenthood or a local organization. What started as an ironic joke on Twitter by Andrea Grimes actually took off and started raising money for abortion rights. It wasn’t as much money as the ALS Association received, but money is money and it certainly helped the abortion rights cause.

So when should your nonprofit piggyback on a trending hashtag with your own? Before you do anything, make sure you really understand what the original hashtag stood for. So do your homework! You don’t want to wade into something, thinking it is one thing, and then have something very different suddenly linked to your cause.

If everything checks out, feel free to build on the trend with your own hashtag. As we said earlier, hashtags change and develop over time. It’s perfectly okay to build on one yourself.

#BringBackOurGirls

MichelleObamaBringBackOurGirls

Photo Courtesy of Mashable.com

On April 15th, 273 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was launched to raise awareness, rescue the girls, and announce a zero-tolerance standard: schools will not be places of violence.

The hashtag exploded on social media, with world leaders joining the conversation.

Malala-Yousafzai bring back our girls

This hashtag shows off the ability to bring the world together, around an issue or times of heartache, and combine that into a single, meaningful conversation. Social media can have a serious impact by expanding awareness and influencing people to take action.

To cap things off, something else to keep in mind is that once a hashtag goes global, or it’s connected to something that’s just too huge to really worry about being singled out or targeted in a really negative way, it’s relatively safe to give props, and let people know that your cause exists and is trying to help.

Umbrella Revolution 2014

We hope this has been helpful for you, and also helped you gain a little more respect for hashtags, so that when the time is right, you can use the right one for your nonprofit without too much risk.

Now go change the world!

Final Thoughts

Has your organization used hashtags? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!

Facebook Video is Expanding in Functionality and Design

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Facebook-video

Is Facebook Challenging the Video Leader, YouTube, with new Facebook Video Features for Pages?

Facebook is expanding its video offerings with three new video features for Pages:

  • Featured Video
  • Video Playlists
  • A reimaged video tab

These new features can be accessed through the Videos tab at the top of your Facebook page, under the cover photo.

This is one of the many changes to Pages that Facebook has made, to make amends for the decrease in organic reach and perceived loss of value in Pages that many page managers have felt. As TechCrunch states, “Facebook is trying to turn Pages into destinations that businesses link to and people voluntarily visit.” Facebook may just have their work cut out for them!

So what do the new Facebook video features look like? And how can they be used by nonprofits?

Featured Video

Featured videos are larger videos that live in the About section on the left-hand side of your Facebook page. (They are also found under the ‘Videos’ tab at the top of your page.) Featured videos must be directly uploaded to Facebook, not linked to from YouTube or other video hosting sites. Follow these directions to set up a featured video on your page.

Ideas for Nonprofits

How can nonprofits take advantage of featured video?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Upload a video about your current campaign.
  • Introduce your organization and your cause.
  • Upload a “thank you” video, thanking your supporters for a recent victory.
  • Use it to explain an issue that relates to your organization.
  • Ask people to support you in your current campaigns and projects.
  • Thank your supporters for being so awesome!

Video Playlists

Playlists are found under the Videos tab on your Facebook page, and appear much like the playlists do in YouTube.

To create a video playlist, follow these directions.

Ideas for Nonprofits

How can nonprofits take advantage of video playlists?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Create playlists around campaigns.
  • Create playlists of your team hard at work petitioning, rallying and furthering your cause. Did your team attend the People’s Climate March? Upload the video!
  • Create informational playlists around issues related to your organization.
  • Create a playlist celebrating victories.

The New Video Section

This new section isn’t perfect, but looks similar to YouTube’s video section, so you and your supporters shouldn’t have any trouble navigating it. To give the new feature a quick spin, check out ABC News’s video section. They’ve been playing around with the new video features for a while now.

Ideas for Nonprofits

How can nonprofits take advantage of the redesigned video section?

If your organization is big on videos, upload them to Facebook and fill up your Videos tab! When supporters engage with your videos on Facebook, they are more likely to receive your posts in their news feeds according to Facebook’s algorithm.

Put simply, the more that folks engage with your Videos tab, the greater your reach on Facebook will be!

Final Thoughts

Has your organization used the new videos features yet? How do you take advantage of video on Facebook? Let us know in the comments!

Jewish Voices for Peace Shows the Way to Fundraising on Facebook

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Jewish-Voices-for-Peace-Fundraising-compressor

By Drew Bernard, CEO ActionSprout

The things is, while ActionSprout has had a donation tool for over a year now, we just weren’t seeing signs that Facebook users were ready to pull out their credit card while checking their newsfeed. And the fact that the vast majority of Facebook users are accessing the platform from their mobile devices has made donating on the social network even more of a hassle for most users. Have you ever tried filling out a mobile form on the L train? – yikes!

That’s not to say Facebook hasn’t been playing an important role in many NGO’s fundraising efforts, it has. NGOs have found Facebook to be a powerful channel for acquiring new email supporters. They have also found that those Facebook acquired supporters have a high propensity to donate via email which is why this has been our recommended strategy for quite some time.

Continue Reading…

How to Create an Effective Social Action Infographic

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ActionSprout effective Social Action infographic

Wondering what it takes to create an effective social action?

Curious why some actions engage and reach thousands of people while others fall short?

We decided to dive in and found out! After getting our hands dirty, we found five ingredients that consistently lead to effective social actions. While not every effective action possessed all five, the more you include the better your action will be! Let’s wade into these best practices. Now, enjoy the social action infographic!

Effective Social Action Infographic
Did our super social action infographic miss anything? Did we leave a rock unturned? If so, let us know in the comment section below!

Thanks for reading, and we look forward to hearing back from you!

Introducing the New Facebook Call to Action Buttons

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Facebook's New Call to Action Buttons

Facebook page managers can now include a call to action button on their page…but it is worth the hype?

After all the woes due to decreasing organic reach, Facebook is finally making amends. But here’s the deal, Facebook wants us to start perceiving pages as legitimate virtual destinations, cornerstones of our organization’s identity, instead of nothing but a publishing platform.

Call to action (CTA) buttons are a step in the right direction to support this new social media perspective.

Your 7 CTA Choices…for now.

The new feature will be available worldwide by sometime in 2015. During the introductory phase there are seven CTA’s to chose from:

  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Use App
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch Video

The buttons themselves can link to any destination on or off Facebook according to a Facebook statement. To chose your destination, all you have to do is click the call to action button to open the drop-down editing screen.

We suggest playing around with different CTA’s to see which resonates best for your page. According to Venture Beat, only one call to action button may be placed on your page at a time, so you’ll have to switch out different CTAs using the single button.

  • Edit your cover photo in a way that attracts attention to the new feature. Some users may not be aware of the new button and could easily be missing it.
  • Pay attention to the colors and shades of your cover photo, are they making the button especially hard to see?
  • Is the overall design disguising the call to action button?

The Potential Value to Nonprofits

While most of these focus on commercial pages, a few CTAs like “Contact Us” or “Sign Up” have the most potential for nonprofits and cause-based pages. For example, the Judge Rotenberg Center School’s page, ran by Gurukarm Khalsa, uses the “Sign Up” CTA to add people to their newsletter:

facebook call to action button

 

Gurukarm Khalsa shared that she is just beginning to notice people signing up for the news letter through the new Sign-Up button. She was a bit surprised by the engagement, stating:

“It’s well known/documented that most FB users never or nearly never go to an organization’s actual Facebook page after they’ve “liked” it the first time, and since that button is embedded on the cover photo, our page is the only place users are going to notice it. It’s possible these are new fans who noticed and clicked at the same time they liked our page.” 

Gurukarm plans to continue using the button and implementing it on other pages she runs as it becomes more available stating: “It’s not hurting anything, and can conceivably help as I’ve found for our JRC page.”

Another nonprofit, Kennedy-Donovan Center, is also test driving the new CTA button. Their link takes users to the contact page on their home website.

example of facebook call to action button

 

The nonprofit, Everytown for Gun Safety, took a creative approach to the new button.

example call to action button

 

They opted for the “Shop Now” option which they linked to their online retail store.

cta button leads to online store

 

We’ll be watching to see if Facebook rolls out additional CTA’s in the coming months that prove more relevant to causes.

Will it Work?

In our experience folks spend most of their time on Facebook inside their News Feeds, not visiting individual pages. In other words, when people engage with your content they do so from their News Feed, not your page. Therefore, we wonder how often folks would really click a call to action button on a organization’s page. Would the button really lead to the objectives and goals Facebook hopes it will?

“Designed to bring a business’s most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence, call-to-action buttons link to any destination on or off Facebook that aligns with a business’s goals.”

Maybe developing a call to action button embedded in content would lead to more results as it would be pushed to users News Feeds where they prefer to engage with content…

Our philosophy is to shape CTA’s and content as close as possible to a user’s natural preferences, habits, and behavior because it leads to increased engagement. The one CTA we think has the most potential is Contact Us, as seeking contact information is one of the biggest reasons folks visit an organization’s page. Contact Us plays to natural habits. Other than that we don’t see the other CTA’s of being much value.

Potential for Malicious Attacks

These call to action buttons can link to anywhere on the internet leading to the potential for malicious links to be used, especially if a page were to be hacked. In response to this threat Facebook stated

“We use the same system as we use for tracking everything else on the site – with our Site Integrity efforts. Additionally, people can report the Page where we will monitor by the same channels.”

Even though Facebook will track buttons for malicious activity, it would be wise not to click a call to action button if you believe a page has been hacked. If your page has been hacked, please refer to Facebook’s help resources for Hacked Pages.

Share Your Thoughts!

  • How are they working out for you so far?
  • Are they proving useful in driving engagement for your organization?
  • How are you using them to support your nonprofit’s cause?
  • If you use other CTA apps, how does Facebook stack up?

We welcome your feedback in the comments section below!

How Nonprofits Dramatically Improve Facebook Reach (and What Facebook’s Really Good For!)

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improving-reach-on-Facebook

Something odd happens when you transition from an “in the streets” activist to working behind the computer screen and spreading a message…

or supporting a nonprofit cause through social media.

For some inexplicable reason, that completely organic on-the-pavement righteous solidarity seems to fade to a degree, and this ‘salesy’ pre-Web 2.0 thing takes over.

Well, we’re going to fix all of that right now!

Here’s The Issue

You want to do X on Facebook, but the culture wants Y. Your goal is to bridge the gap, to jump through the digital curtain and forge real (emotional) connections.

This means translating your nonprofit material into what your particular tribe vibes and engages with. Before you transformed into someone who manages and runs social media, you understood that people connect with and share:

  • What makes them look good to their own friends, family, and News Feed followers.
  • Helps portray them as an expert source of knowledge on a particular subject.
  • Reinforces the identity they’re building online, whether they know it or not.

Let’s talk about how to do that and see real impact, real results, real brag-worthy activity, and engagement on Facebook!

Clearly Defined Objectives

Oh darn, yep, back to the whiteboard. It’s not as simple as declaring in the shared space: “We’re using Facebook as a source of drumming up fundraising and promotion!” Clearly-Defined-Objectives-Facebook-Objectives--compressor

Cool ‒ sounds good on paper! The problem is on Facebook, users are typically there:

  • To connect with close friends and family, and people whom they know share common interests (big-data shyness).
  • To gather quick bite-sized information (headline scanners) about the goings-on of the world at large; geopolitical, national, etc. (conversation fodder).
  • To be entertained!

In fact, when you think about it, human beings are being trained to expect entertainment whenever we confront any kind of screen, whether we’re talking smartphone, desktop, tablet, or TV.

Here’s What Facebook’s Good For

In terms of marketing, the Facebook sphere is an ideal breeding ground, as it’s not yet saturated and new things are being added all the time.

  • Facebook rocks when it comes to building relationships with supporters, gaining awareness and support for your cause, and expanding digital reach.
  • Facebook is a great place to attract like-minded (local/national) supporters that can become moderators, volunteers, ambassadors, champions, and cheerleaders.
  • Facebook is the place to go if you wish to broadcast to the world the impacts your organization has on people’s lives; opening up networks and sharing the mission.

Authenticity IS The New Digital Currency!

Right? Authenticity-IS-The-New-Digital-Currency

Think about it: whenever YOU share something, cry over something, laugh hysterically, really read something, tell your friends about this or that… it’s because of authenticity.

Only authenticity can snap us out of the modern daze and get us to pay attention and focus our minds on the ‘content’ being shared.

It’s the most valuable thing on the Internet, yet one of the hardest things to find; and, for your nonprofit, being authentic is as easy as apple pie, is it not?

However in a post on Social Media Today, entitled “How Nonprofits Continue to Get Facebook Marketing All Wrong”, Julia Campbell points out:

Despite all the evidence that the broadcast approach [think virtual bull-horn] isn’t working, nonprofits continue to use Facebook as a megaphone, posting boring information with complete disregard for what their fans really want.

Or supporters and passionate people, for that matter, that are completely aligned with your organization’s vision. Being authentic doesn’t mean being annoying, and it doesn’t mean being aggravating by:

  • Trying to push something that no one asked for or showed even the slightest bit of interest in.
  • Attempting to push someone into your petition without any real context or background.
  • Resorting to flagrant spam or duplicate ad nonsense just to increase superficial bot-engagement.

It takes finesse, sure, but consider what Matt Southern said back in 2012, in his article “Get Your Facebook Posts Seen By More People By Increasing Your Reach”. It’s just as true today:

“When people go on Facebook they go there to relax, unwind and be entertained. Funny, light-hearted posts tend to go over extremely well. Knowing what you know now about the effectiveness of image posts you can imagine the kind of engagement numbers you’ll draw with funny graphics, comics or memes. Go try it, it’s fun.”

On Nonprofits Understanding the Difference…

Your Facebook page isn’t something to take lightly. It’s not just a place to publish internet flotsam for basic engagement (likes, shares, follows, etc.).

Listen, you know it and I know it: social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are playing significant roles in how the human species responds to the 21st century!

Facebook is being used to build and topple empires; cripple and crown regimes; construct and conquer causes from Bangkok to Boston…

Whether your nonprofit is just getting off the ground, or you’re in the process of only now tapping into what Facebook really means in a “real-world impact” sense, it all comes down to quality content, with strategic production value, and the right team in your corner.

How is your Nonprofit Doing?

Analyze your page’s reach and engagement with our Free Page Analyzer. Find out what content is working and what’s not to learn how well you understand your supporters on Facebook.

Final Thoughts?

What do you think ‒ did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!

How Nonprofits Can Create their Own ‘Dunk in the Dark’ Moment

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superbowl_opportunities-for-nonprofits-on-Facebook

Your Nonprofit Can Tap into Super Bowl Time by Being Quick to Act

According to Hollywood Reporter, 112.2 million viewers tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLVIII, making it the most watched Super Bowl and the most watched program in U.S. television history.  Moreover, Variety reports that there were 25.32 million Twitter messages sent by armchair quarterbacks during the telecast. Wow! But how can your nonprofit tap into this potential?

Forget about paying millions for a commercial spot when you can get the same amount of exposure via social media for free. This is a strategy that NewCastle Brown Ale used very well last year, scoring more attention via its social strategy than if it had advertised in the Super Bowl itself. With a goal to hijack the Super Bowl conversation, NewCastle created a campaign with a series of silly content – from a YouTube video featuring Anna McKendrick to brilliantly self-mocking native ad on Gawker as well as bogus focus-group videos.

And, who could forget the now infamous Oreo tweet heard around the world”? While not non-profits, NewCastle and Oreo highlight a few key strategies that any social media marketer can use to their advantage during a big event like the Super Bowl.

social-media-marketing-oreo

 

Be perfectly timed
Millions of people aren’t just watching the Super Bowl on TV, they’re experiencing it through social media simultaneously. There’s huge potential to post highly relevant and engaging content in real time for free and reach tons of supporters. By paying attention to what’s going on in the game, the ads as well as what’s going on in social media (fan reactions), the Oreo team pulled off some legendary marketing. And you can, too.

Being timely and relevant doesn’t have to mean 30 people in a control room. For nonprofits, designating a person or few to fill this role can work just as well. And make no mistake, nonprofits have successfully taken advantage of opportunities and been quite successful. For example, the American History Museum had their own commentary on the Super Bowl power outage:

 

Nonprofits Super Bowl Social Media

fact, this strategy can be used throughout the year; it’s all about being relevant and responsive to what’s going on in your environment.

Actively Watch What’s Trending
While there is definitely a lot going on during a big event like the Super Bowl, don’t forget to pay close attention to trending and relevant hashtags because they play a substantial role. To facilitate speed in responding to a trending topic, have a list of brainstormed topics prepared ahead of time that you can use as a starting block to help shortcut part of the process.

And, if you do see an opportunity to post on what’s trending, consider pairing it with a social action, such as signing a petition or joining a newsletter.  Actions like these tend to perform really well, reaching and engaging a greater number of people. If you notice a trending topic that relates to your cause, be sure to create an appropriate action around it as you don’t want to miss the opportunity to transfer that engagement into an action.

Take Advantage of Pre-Show Buzz
NewCastle found a way to smartly tie into the pre-Super Bowl buzz. Nonprofits can do this too. After all, social media is an open playing field.  When doing so, make sure 
that your message stays intact and that you make it easy and desirable to share. For your content to be shared, focus on creating content that your fans want to be personally connected with as it becomes part of their online personal narrative.

NewCastle tapped into humor as a way to do this, but there are many approaches – from being inspirational to running a contest or by becoming a trusted source of information. Don your creativity cap and draw on the connections your brand mission has with the Super Bowl watching audience. Plan ahead, have fun and be prepared.  After all, this strategy isn’t just for big brands and corporations with massive budgets. 

Has your organization tapped into the power of the Super Bowl? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

The Importance of Following Up with Facebook Action Takers and Donators!

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The importance of following up with supporters

What does your donation cycle look like? Does it end when folks donate? Or do you follow-up and begin to build a long-term donor relationship?

Following-up isn’t the end of a Donor Cultivation Cycle…but perhaps the true beginning.

That said, in this article we’re focusing on nothing else but the follow-up, and how nonprofit social media masters and page managers can leverage the full power of their Facebook action takers and donators.

The 5 Truths of Following Up

  1. Follow-ups are as important as the ask itself and call-to-action, so give them due respect.
  2. Folks followed-up with are more likely to continue supporting your cause turning them into long time supporters.
  3. Donations and support actions aren’t one-off things.
  4. Showcase support and the progress made thanks to contributions.
  5. Even a smidgen of personalization goes a looong ways! Include their name!

It’s too easy to let the digital divide hide our true humanity throughout this whole process.

The people on the other side of the screen are part of your team, and without them your mission wouldn’t have the same reach.

The issue is that in the real world we can walk up to action takers and donators, put our hands on their shoulders, look them square in the eyes and thank them. Online, it’s a different story.

In her groundbreaking article, 10 Ways to Address the Most Commonly Overlooked Element of “The Ask”, Denise McMahan spells it out this way:

Many fundraisers don’t realize that the preparation for and conducting the Ask is 25 percent of the process and follow-up is 75 percent!

Some of the modern follow-up is ultra-personalization, while on the other hand automation must play a role.

Action takers and donators have already given, so asking for more without first giving them something in return is pushing the envelope…and rude.

No one likes that.

The Art of Ask-Curation

However you decide to follow-up with supporters make sure to hand-tailor it!

Your follow-up should do these things is a positive, upbeat, and jovial way:

  • Genuinely and authentically thank the person for their act of generosity.
  • Put their choice and the ongoing (in-play) results on a pedestal.
  • Send additional value-heavy info, or requested data about your cause.

Treat them as you would treat the team member sitting beside you. They’re now a part of the fold; the tribe; the clan…

Follow-ups aren’t marketing letters. They’re not brochures. They’re not sales-speak. They’re not an opportunity to get more, and more, and more from superficial vapid ‘profiles’ on the internet.

In her blog, The Most Effective Follow Ups for Nonprofit Events and Campaigns, Allison Gauss paints a clear picture:

“Thanking donors isn’t just the polite thing to do, it’s the smart thing. One of the top reasons donors gave when asked why they stopped donating was that they were never thanked for their previous gift. At the very least, every donor should receive a thank you email, which can be easily automated and segmented.”

Let that sink in for a minute. One of the top reasons donors stopping donating was because they were never thanked for their support. Not following up with folks, and simply thanking, them is literally costing you money in lost donations.

That’s why it’s so important to follow-up and thank folks! Make sure it’s genuine, authentic and personal!

Think Inbound for Follow-Ups

When you ask for something, ask for feedback! Ask for opinions, input, and insight. GIVE people an opportunity to demonstrate their passion, their authority, and their involvement.

Why is it truly mind-blowing that they decided to act now instead of sometime down the road?

The real art of it all happens when you ask people to get more involved in ways that make them feel like it was their idea the whole time. So remember these three cardinal rules:

  1. Most of us jump at the opportunity to share things that make us look good to our own inner-circles.
  2. Most humans take delight in being appreciated. In fact, the feeling of appreciation is quite similar to love.
  3. We come running with our best interests in mind, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Our minds have basically turned off the traditional advertising and tuned out the conventional norms of marketing that bombarded us over the last 30’ish years.

Don’t turn people away, or switch them off, by suddenly becoming a “taker” instead of a “giver” in your follow-up. Allison goes on to say:

As stressful and time-consuming as a fundraiser can be, it can be tempting to simply move on when the deadline arrives. But if you’re not connecting with your community and learning from your results, you are missing out.”

Amen sister!

By all means be systematic, strategic, and coordinated with your donor and supporter cultivation efforts. But, don’t lose that sincere human aptitude to show appreciate and follow through with people who have done you and your nonprofit cause a pure good.

How does your organization follow-up with donors? Is it successful? Let us know in the comments!

The 5 Best Times for Facebook Posting…To Ensure Your Social Actions Reach More Supporters!

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five best times to post on Facebook

When you post something, especially a social action on Facebook, timing really does matter!

Remember, most people see your page posts on their own feed, not by visiting your page.

So timing your posts when people are likely to engage is important if you want to maximize impact.

Here at ActionSprout, we see a ton of data related to how people engage with nonprofit and political organizations. Especially around social calls to action like signing petitions.

We use this data to help our customers maximize their Facebook efforts, and this is what the data’s telling us.

Here’s When People View Social Actions

Facebook Posting Viewing Times Graph

As you can see, there’s a steady increase in views during midweek, increasing from Tuesday through a peak on Thursday and then declining on Friday.

The Power-Hours for Facebook Posting are 11am to 6pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays!

 

But hey, check out the little blip on Sunday where views increase briefly around noon. Usage also tapers fairly dramatically before 8am and after 9pm.

Here’s When People Complete Social Actions

Best Times for Facebook Posting Social Actions

 

Most of the time-exposure simply isn’t enough for our social actions. We really want them to have impact which means making sure our supporters are completing the actions.

Meaning they’re actually signing the petition not just reading about it. Here’s where the data gets really interesting.

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm shows an increase in conversions as does Wednesday mid-day from 11am  to 3pm!

What the…hello! Again we see that blip on Sunday at 10am and noon.

Facebook Posting Traffic from Mobile Devices

The Mobile Influence

Mobile has a huge influence on when people are both viewing and completing social actions.

In fact 66% of the ActionSprout social petition activity happens on mobile devices. So, look for parts of the day where people kill time on their smart phones and flip through their Facebook feeds.

Which as we see tends to cluster towards the end of the workday, except for Thursday where it appears people are always on their phones ;)

The 5 Best Times for Facebook Posting

Based on our analysis we recommend the following times (in order of priority) to post social actions you want your supporters to participate with.

  1. Sunday 10am – 12pm
  2. Monday at 4pm to 6pm
  3. Tuesday at 3pm
  4. Wednesday at 11am to 6pm
  5. Thursday at 11am to 6pm