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

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algorithm

Social Media Expert, Beth Becker, will make the Facebook Algorithm work for your cause

Thanks to all who attended our first spring webinar! With attendees from nonprofits all around the world, it’s clear that there’s a real desire for more Facebook skill trainings.

Now join us for the second installment in our web series “Unlocking the Value of Facebook” – led by the award-winning digital strategist Beth Becker:

Mastering Facebook’s NewsFeed Algorithm to boost your content”:

April 7th 8am PT/ 11am ET or April  8th 10am PT/ 1pm ET

In recent months we have seen widespread discussion about the tweaks Facebook has made to its News Feed algorithm. 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. We’ll discuss the practical ways you can use the algorithm to strengthen relationships with online supporters and get the most value out of your content.  

Note:The webinar will run approximately 1.5 hours.

RSVP while there is still room!

April 7th 8am PT/ 11am ET and April  8th 10am PT/ 1pm ET

We hope you can make it!

Meet Beth Becker:

beth becker

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. In her spare time, Beth contributes to Progressive Congress News, shops for shoes and  tweets from @spedwybabs.

 

Our Interview with Ladd Everitt: Fostering an Open Engaged Digital Community

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digital community

Ladd Everitt, Director of Communications for The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Ladd is responsible for developing and managing a wide range of communications activities in support of his organization€’s overall mission, including their Facebook presence. Running a Facebook Page on gun violence prevention is no easy task, as open conversation can feel unsafe when pro-gun rights folks chime in. Yet each and every day, Ladd and his team are working to maintain the safe and open public space they have painstakingly created from the ground up.

We got the chance to sit down with him to talk social strategy, how he keeps his digital community safe, and how to foster an engaged audience with two-way dialog.

Here’s what he has to say.

(ActionSprout): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

(Ladd Everitt): I started managing social media after coming to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in May 2006. When I first arrived, we had no Facebook Page, no Twitter account, and a very rudimentary website. I basically had to learn a lot of this stuff on the fly, but it was worth it, because new media tools give gun violence prevention advocates an asymmetrical advantage in our struggle against the gun lobby that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence?

(LE): The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is one of the oldest gun violence prevention organizations. We were founded in 1974, originally as a coalition of religious groups. We have since expanded to include many different types of national organizations—47 in total.

We are not the largest gun violence prevention (GVP) group. We have about 10 full-time staffers, who are incredibly dedicated to this issue, and we get a lot done. We pride ourselves on developing innovative strategies to move the movement forward despite legislative gridlock. We are also the only GVP group who welcomes conversation about the Constitution and the meaning of the Second Amendment. We have been the leaders in exposing the “Insurrectionist Idea” that is promoted by the National Rifle Association.

I wanted to work with the CSGV because gun violence prevention work became my passion after I graduated from college. In 1993, there was a terrible mass shooting on a Long Island Railroad rush hour train in the community where I grew up. It woke a lot of people up in that community to the fact that gun violence can touch anyone. I eventually ended up attending the Million Mom March in the National Mall in 2000 (I had moved to Washington, D.C. for graduate school), and then became involved as a volunteer in their D.C. Chapter. I eventually became the President of that Chapter and started working with a gentleman at the CSGV, who one day informed me that he was leaving for another job. I interviewed for his position and got it. I’ve been blessed now for nine years to work on a cause that I truly believe in.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about your organization?  

(LE): That we really care about the work that we are doing. We honestly want to save precious lives that are being squandered because of our weak gun laws. We are not doing this simply to collect a paycheck. This issue is personal to us. We have two people on our staff whose loved ones have been shot (Lori Haas and Christian Heyne), and we look at the larger community of victims and survivors of gun violence as family. If you support the CSGV, you can be confident that you will get maximum value out of your time (or money). We are in this for the long haul, and we will not stop until this country has sensible gun laws on the books that protect families.

(AS): The interest in gun regulation and the potential for violence seems to be growing, with many fighting on either side. Why do you think that is?

(LE): A lot of it has to do with the Sandy Hook tragedy. You see tremendous energy on both sides of the issue after that terrible event. On the NRA side, because of narcissism and fear (“You can bet they’re coming for your gun now!” and other propaganda). On our side, because there are a lot of fathers and mothers who now realize they cannot stand this anymore. They will not accept sending their son/daughter to school with a bulletproof backpack as “The New Normal”.

(AS): What do you think will change about The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence over the next five years?

(LE): That’s a good question. I think we’re currently settling into a model that we’re very comfortable with. We don’t want to be the biggest GVP group, but we do want to continue to expand our reach, both through our digital presence and on the ground in states where we are pursuing policy campaigns (e.g. we are currently promoting a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” policy across the country). We also want to continue to make headway in our effort to win the war of values with the NRA. Ultimately, we have to connect with Americans on a deeper level. That means sometimes turning away from statistics and talking to people about the democratic values that connect them to this issue. That will motivate them to truly become engaged.

(AS): How has your strategy/options about Facebook changed over time?

(LE): When we first launched our Page, I really had no idea what I was doing! It was just me and I was basically experimenting at that point. Today, our Page has multiple moderators (and designers), and we are much more sophisticated in the way we go about our work. There is much more attention to the metrics on any given post, and I’ve also learned (although I’m by no means perfect) that you have to engage your followers and not always talk at them. That means showing them the human side of your work and soliciting their opinion/experiences. It has to be a two-way dialog and we are very proud that we’ve built a Page where the conversation is robust.

One thing you have to understand about the gun issue is that there are very few “safe” spaces for gun violence prevention advocates to talk about this issue. So often, our supporters are actively harassed online by pro-gun activists who want to intimidate and silence them. It can get very depressing and disheartening to comment about this issue online and get spammed by 100 pro-gunners saying the ugliest things you can imagine. If there is any “genius” in our Facebook Page, it is that we have finally created a safe space for our people to voice their opinions and be heard. We do this by immediately and permanently banning anyone our Page who does not actually “like” our organization. It has worked, and beautifully. We are creating more confident, engaged activists. They are being empowered and emboldened.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy, how often do you post?)

(LE): Currently, we are approaching 123,000 likes on Facebook. Our supporters are very engaged with our Page (likes, shares, comments). The majority of our fans are women (61%), the overwhelming majority are American, and many live in major cities. In terms of the content they most enjoy, the visual/design aspect of it is so important. To this day, our most successful content is political cartoons and fairly simple memes with powerful messages. In terms of how often we post, recent meta-analysis of Facebook data is showing it’s not as important as we previously thought, but that 1–3 hours between posts is best. I’m sad to say that at CSGV, we frequently violate that rule! There’s just so much important news to share and again, the engagement level on our Page is consistent and terrific.

(AS): What organizational goals do your Facebook efforts support?

(LE): Most of them, really. Facebook is a wonderful public education tool for starters. It helps us get out a host of information about the impact of gun violence, the weakness of our gun laws, and the campaigns we are working on. It’s also a terrific organizing tool and we frequently encourage our supporters to take actions, while taking full advantage of the ability to customize posts by targeting folks from a specific state/city. Social norming is also a huge aspect of this struggle to save lives (think of how views on smoking have changed over the years), and Facebook is a wonderful tool for that messaging. Probably the only thing we do where Facebook is a not a huge help is fundraising, although we do some of that on our Page as well.

(AS): What kind of social calls to action do you use?

(LE): They are pretty varied. Primarily, it would be action on legislation at the Federal and state level (i.e. asking people to email/call/meet with lawmakers). It might be asking people to contact a prosecutor to ask them to bring a case against a negligent parent whose child found their gun and hurt themselves or someone else. Sometimes we’ll ask folks to use a profile pic or cover pic we’ve designed to promote a campaign. And sadly, we frequently ask our supporters to join us in reporting threats we have received or become aware of. With all these requests, we try to make things as simple as possible by providing basic contact information and a talking point or two.

(AS): Tell us about a recent successful social campaign or series of posts.

(LE): Pro-gun activists constantly spread the false idea that even the most modest gun violence prevention measure is a step toward total confiscation of all privately-held firearms. Frequently, when they make this point, they conclude it with a threat (“Come and take them”, “Molon labe”, “From my cold dead hands”, etc.).

We’re long past tired of it and we decided to make a series of memes that drill down to the real reason behind their confiscation conspiracy theory and threats. So we took actual photos of pro-gun activists standing in their homes armed to the teeth (that they had posted publicly to FB) and paired them with the text, “You know why they fantasize about gun confiscation all the time? Because no one would want to visit them otherwise.”

This series of memes has been extremely well-received and is just one example of our efforts at social norming. Now, rather than feeling scared about such threats, our supporters can have a laugh about it, and feel more confident engaging in discussions with bullies who really are just desperately seeking attention and respect.

We try to strike a chord with our followers by saying things that they have been thinking for a long time, but have never seen voiced. The cliché would be “speaking truth to power” (of the NRA, and well-armed and angry pro-gun activists). Courage is infectious. So is honesty. We monitor comments on our Page very closely and one thing people know they are always going to get from us is straight talk. We are not afraid to say what needs to be said. We never want them to catch us playing politics.

(AS): How did you measure this success? What metrics do you focus on?

(LE): Certainly, the traditional ones (e.g. likes, shares, RTs, favorites, etc.), but we also pay close attention to the discussion on our posts. Our goal is always to embolden and empower our supporters. We look closely to see if our supporters are getting our message and putting it into action. We have been able to completely reframe the debate about “guns and democracy”, and that is something we are proud of.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your success?

(LE): It’s certainly going to be different depending on the issue you work on. Few issues are as contentious and vitriolic as gun regulation, and that fact really informs our strategies. My main piece of advice would be to level with people. Make them feel like there is an actual human being at the helm of your social media tools, and not someone who is just reading polls and metrics. And don’t try to come off as perfect. Own up to your mistakes. Given the frequency with which we post, we’re all going to make them. Sincerity (and even self-deprecation) can go a long way.

As one final example, not long ago we made a “Mean Tweets” video with our staffers reading actual tweets that had been directed at us by pro-gun activists. People loved it, both because it was funny, but also because it showed we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. Several pro-gun activists even commented on it and said how great they thought it was that we could have a laugh at our own expense. Stuff like that has a way of cutting through division and rhetoric. Never be afraid of letting a bit of your own personality leak into the work you’re doing in new media. Your supporters will appreciate it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Facebook is a great tool for social norming. Sometimes causes aren’t just about driving change and passing bills. They’re about changing social norms and the way people view a subject. Ladd put it perfectly when he referenced smoking. The way we view smoking today is completely different than how we viewed it just 20 years ago. Facebook is a great platform to drive this type of change.
  • Treat your fans as people and remember you’re a person too. It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day activities and start treating your fans as faceless masses of people. It’s also easy to forget you’re a human and start turning out content like a robot. It’s good to take a break now and again to remember these things.
  • “Discussion” is a metric. While fuzzier than post likes or the number of shares, the level and quality of discussion on your Page can be a very important metric. Along the same lines as engagement, discussion—and the sharing of ideas and feelings on your posts—is what drives your mission at the end of the day. Don’t post like for like, post for discussion.

13 Blogs You Have to Read!

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blogs

Work in the Nonprofit Sector? Here are 13 Blogs you should be reading


Amy Sample Ward’s Version Of NPTech

amy sample ward blogs

Amy is dedicated to supporting and educating organizations and change makers in the use of evolving technologies. She’s worked with groups of all kinds and sizes in the US, UK, and around the world to use social and mobile technologies. She firmly believes that that by creating strong communities we can change our world.

Amy is also a published author. In 2013, she and Allyson Kapin wrote Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage your Community.  In 2009, she co-authored Social by Social: A handbook in using social technologies for social impact.


 

Volunteer Month’s Engaging Volunteers

volunteer march blogs

Engageing Volunteers is a blog for those who recruit and partner with volunteers to reach their missions.

Volunteer recruitment and management is not a prominent topic on most nonprofit blogs – yet the majority of nonprofits rely on volunteers to survive. Volunteers are a key resource for cultivating financial support, since 2/3 of volunteers donate to the organization they serve, and on average they donate 10 times more than non-volunteers.


 

Care2’s Frogloop

frogloop blogs

Care2 is known as a petition powerhouse for cause large and small. They also maintain a lovely nonprofit marketing blog run by Allyson Kapin, co-author of Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage your Community.


 

Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog

Kivi Leroux Miller blogs

Kivi Leroux Miller is president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com and the award-winning author of two books, “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause” and “Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money.” She is also a certified executive coach.

Through training, coaching and consulting, Kivi helps nonprofit communications professionals both learn their jobs and love their jobs. She teaches webinars and workshops several times a month and writes a top-ranked blog on nonprofit communications at Nonprofit Marketing Guide.com. Thousands of nonprofits in all 50 U.S. states, across Canada, and in more than 30 countries have participated in Kivi’s trainings.


 

Know Your Own Bone

know your own bone blogsRun by Colleen Dilenschneider, Know Your Own Bone is a resource for creative engagement for nonprofit and cultural organizations that has been prominently featured in many national museum association publications, and is required reading for numerous museum studies programs and professional conferences. She is the Chief Market Engagement Officer for IMPACTS and is a global leader in predictive market intelligence and related technologies. Colleen oversees multiple audience engagement initiatives on behalf of clients in the nonprofit and cultural sectors from the Company’s London, UK offices.

In addition, Colleen has published numerous articles in both the nonprofit and general market media and is a frequent contributor to prominent webinars and conferences.

 


 

Nonprofit Hubnonprofit blogs

Nonprofit Hub is dedicated to empowering nonprofit organizations by creating the world’s best library of high-quality content. They are a part of the Nonprofit Hub Foundation, an organization with a mission to educate and empower nonprofits.

 


Nonprofit Tech for Good

nonprofit tech for good blogs

With 100,000 monthly visitors and more than one million followers on social networks, Nonprofit Tech for Good is a leading social and mobile media resource for nonprofit professionals. Created and managed by Heather Mansfield, Nonprofit Tech for Good focuses on providing valuable, easy-to-understand information, news, and resources related to nonprofit technology, online communications, and mobile and social fundraising.


 

NTENNTEN blogs

NTEN aspires to a world where all nonprofit organizations use technology skillfully and confidently to meet community needs and fulfill their missions.

They believe that technology allows nonprofits to work with greater social impact and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and information within the nonprofit community.


Network for Good’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog

network for good blogs

The Nonprofit Marketing Blog is managed by the nonprofit marketing and advisory teams at Network for Good. Their goal is to provide the best in nonprofit marketing trends, fundraising techniques, technology developments and amazing nonprofit examples to help, encourage and inspire the do-gooders of the world.


 

The Nonprofit Times

the nonprofit times blogs

The Nonprofit time is the leading business publication for nonprofit management. Geared to the executive suite, The Times delivers news, business information and original research on the daily operations of tax-exempt organizations.


 

Third Sector Today

third sector today blogs

Third Sector Today is a woman-owned business that features blogs, articles, and interviews. Its mission is to provide a place for busy nonprofit professionals to develop professionally each day, by getting a glimpse of what’s going on beyond their office walls to gain insight and inspiration from peers.

This isn’t your regular old website or an online version of a magazine. This is a community of nonprofit professionals leveraging the sharing power of the internet to gain insights, tips and best practices across organization disciplines and sizes.


 

Social Media Examinar

social media examinar blogs

The world’s largest online social media magazine, Social Media Examiner® helps millions discover how to best use social media, blogs and podcasts to connect with folks, drive traffic, generate awareness and increase sales.

Their mission is to help you navigate the constantly changing social media jungle with an editorial team that works with the world’s top social media pros. The site is filled with original and comprehensive articles, expert interviews, reviews of the latest industry research and news.


Social Media Today

social media today blogs

Social Media Today is an independent, online community for professionals in social media. They provide insight and host lively debate about the tools, platforms, companies and personalities that are revolutionizing the way we consume information.

 


 

Did we miss your favorite blog? Let us know in the comments!

Sarah Burris of Blue Nation Review, what’s your social strategy?

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blue nation review

Meet Sarah Burris, the Digital Editor at Blue Nation Review and—plot twist—a former ActionSprout staff member!

Over the last 10 years, Sarah has worked on campaigns for candidates across the country. During the intense 2008 Presidential election, she was named one of the five Rock the Vote Rock the Trail Reporters, and reported on the election from a youth perspective. She attended the conventions, debates, and interviewed elected officials on the impact of the youth vote.

She also knows her way around viral content. Sarah has managed many viral campaigns such as PaulRyanGossling, co-created Class War Kitteh, #HugAThug, #UnionHugs memes, and MotivationalBiden.com, which she calls “hacking pop-culture”.

Recently, we had the pleasure of reconnecting with Sarah and chatted about social strategy and audience engagement. Here’s what she had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications and where did you get your start?

Sarah Burris (SB): I started out as a fundraiser for campaigns and nonprofits, and social media ended up being a part of that. Believe it or not, Myspace was a way for me to raise low-dollar donations from activists. Oh, how times have changed!

(AS) How has your strategy / options about Facebook changed over time?

(SB): Facebook changes every year, it seems like. Profiles were the start, then Pages, then the power Pages have been diminished, making profiles more important again, so it’s been about being nimble and able to take what curveballs Facebook throws you and switch up your strategy quickly.

(AS): Tell us a bit about where you work. Why did you want to work with Blue Nation Review?

(SB): BNR was an amazing opportunity to build a site for a group of people that most ignore. Young people, people of color, folks that live outside the beltway—they’re too often ignored by the sites that are working to get more people involved in politics.

(AS): What do you find most challenging about your job and the missions you support?

(SB): We have so much that we want to do, so many issues we want to cover and we just don’t have the time or the staff to be able to handle it. I wish I could write more, but instead I have to help manage staff and coordinate outreach and navigate when Facebook decides to break. So, by the end of the day, I’m left with the option to keep working or go to bed. Sometimes that’s a tough choice.

(AS): What do you wish other people knew about BNR?

(SB): We are excited to do more in the next phase of our growth. We’re proud of our diversity of perspectives and ideas, and being able to talk to my generation—but we want to take it to the next level with more video, more humor, and hijinks!

(AS): What do you think will change about BNR over the next five years?

(SB): We’re going to be doing more video, but hopefully the biggest change will be in a redesign that can incorporate more content to the home page; so that as we grow in staff and with guest posters, we can ensure they are featured on the home page.

(AS): Tell us a bit about your Facebook Page (What’s the audience like, what kind of content do they enjoy the most, how often do you post?)

(SB): Any time we call out people who are bullies, our Facebook Page goes wild. There is an inherent need in our followers to both fight back and protect others. It’s something I really love about our fans. They fight back against injustices and they are invested in not just signing a petition, but actually doing something that matters. I really love and respect them for that.

(AS): How do you use social actions, from ActionSprout, compared to traditional form-based actions on your website?

(SB): We don’t do traditional form actions anymore. I’ve done them for places I’ve worked before, but when we started using ActionSprout, there was no reason for us to go back to the old way of doing things when our audience is on social media. Why should we make them leave social to weigh in on something?

(AS): How does ActionSprout fit into your larger social media strategies? 

(SB): We haven’t been able to do as much with AS as we want yet, but we are stepping up our game more with more and more petitions.

(AS): What are the top ActionSprout features you use most often?

(SB): We use the petition functionality more than anything. We’ve completely replaced the normal petition tool with AS and it works for us!

(AS): Tell us about a successful Action. Can you tell us what went into creating the Action?

(SB): The best ones are ones that are evergreen. When we can reuse an Action based on what is trending in the news and redo the headline a little or tailor it to the latest issue, it allows us to keep it going. One is our Boycott for Birth Control, another is our Citizens United petition.

(AS): What did you learn from this success more broadly? Is there anything you do differently now?

(SB): Testing is key. We do this with our articles too. We know our audience pretty well at this point, and we know what they like and don’t like. The trick is to know when to give them something they want—like a digital dessert. While other times they need to know about and take action on something they SHOULD care about, but maybe don’t know about yet. That’s like giving them vegetables. So many organizations just want to farm people for names and emails. We want to enact actual change. We want to help spread the word, get people involved, inform, educate, inspire and more. So we have a delicate balance of the two types of petitions. The other thing is we get our writers involved. We aren’t a huge operation; we only have a handful of staff, so if a writer has an idea, we let them try it. If it doesn’t work, we see how we can change it to learn from what we test and try it again.

(AS): What did you learn about your audience from this success?

(SB): We learned that our audience loves their pet issues and they respect us for pushing issues they don’t know about. It makes them appreciate us more and builds a stronger more dedicated relationship beyond just a random click or email address where they’re going to unsubscribe in droves. We treat our audience with a lot of respect and appreciation—sadly you don’t see that much from our competitors.

(AS): How did you measure the success of this action? What metrics did you focus on?

We don’t just look at an action signer, we look at the quality of the action signer. So, it’s about someone not only signing the action, but getting an email from us and staying involved. If someone signs an action and then unsubscribes and ignores the page and doesn’t care anymore, that’s not a success. A success is a new friend—a real friend—of BNR that appreciates us as much as we appreciate them.

(AS): Do you have any advice for other nonprofits based on your learning?

(SB): Be creative. Try everything. Don’t be so hardwired that you think the only way to do something is the way you’ve always done it. Try new things, try new formats, try new headlines and buttons and graphics. Test everything. Test it again. Wait a while and test it a third time. Be comfortable in evolving your strategy and perceptions about what works best. Things change so quickly in digital media, and if you don’t evolve with it, you’re dead!

The Takeaways:

What can other nonprofits learn from this success?

  • Never stop testing. We cannot stress how important it is to be testing new types of content and strategies on your Page. The reason for this is two-fold. First, every Page and its audience are unique. What works for one Page may not work for another. Second, Facebook’s algorithm is always changing. Not changing your strategy along with it is a death sentence for your page.
  • Success is about quality not quantity. This is true in all aspects of social media, whether it’s Page likes, engagers or signers. The folks who make up your audience are not of value to you and your cause unless they are deeply engaged in your cause. As Sarah put it, BNR knows their campaign was a success when they gain not just new petition signers, but new “friends” of BNR.
  • Respect and live for your audience. This is the one strategy that will work for any Page or cause. Supporters can tell when social media leaders are authentic or not. Having a genuine respect for your audience and caring about your relationship with them will show through the content you post and your public interactions.
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut. Social media isn’t static and it’s likely that it never will be. It’s your job to be nimble; don’t be afraid of change, and recognize that your way may not be the best way tomorrow.
  • Give your audience what they want first, then push them. Sarah states that BNR likes to push their audience outside of their interest zone when something important pops up that people need to know about. They can do so because 98% of the time they’re delivering the content their audience wants and craves.

Facebook can be your most Powerful Fundraising Tool: Unleash it!

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facebook fundraising

Increasingly, Organizations are Finding Success in Facebook Fundraising

 

Between 2012 and 2014, social donations rose by 32%.

90% of these social donations were made through Facebook. To really put that in perspective, the next highest platform, Twitter, sits at 3% of all social donations.

The obvious conclusion: Social donation is growing and Facebook is king.

These findings came from a study conducted by DonorDrive, and are really quite eye-opening.

Increasingly, users are growing more comfortable with giving on Facebook and nonprofits, are getting better at encouraging and asking for these donations.

Social media (Facebook in particular) is the new frontier of giving. If your nonprofit isn’t fundraising on Facebook, you could be losing thousands in donations every year.

Here are some pro fundraising tips that will lead to more donations and passionate, engaged supporters:

Be Audience-centric

The most important part of creating a donation action is putting your audience first. Get to know them—look for patterns and clues. What actions and issues have done well previously? Past performance is a great predictor of future success. Look at past fundraising efforts and see what worked and what didn’t. You can also use Insights or the Page Analyzer to look at your posts and find what’s working. This will give you some clues on what your audience will engage with and support.

Be Solvable

Your audience has to believe that their donation will lead to positive change; can you express that? Let potential donors know how and where their money will be used. Make them believe their money will have an impact. The better you paint this story, the more donations your cause will receive, so spend some time here.

Practice the Right Content Strategies

Whether writing in the Facebook post or on the donation landing page, these tips work in all formats:

  1. Donate for change: Your supporters, no matter how loyal they are to your organization, are really donating to effect change on an issue they care about. That should be your ask.
  2. Chip in: It’s been shown in some nonprofits tests that using the word ‘donate’ actually reduces donations. Try something like ‘chip in’ or ‘pitch in’.
  3. Motivation: Using a motivational format can help catalyze activity. Try this simple format (whether in a few sentences or few paragraphs—depending on what’s appropriate): state the problem, share the solution, and tell people how they can take action to make that solution a reality.
  4. Emotion: Can you evoke an emotional reaction that will compel your audience to donate?
  5. Urgent: You only have your supporters’ attention for a few seconds. Is there a way to convey that this donation needs to be taken right away?
  6. Looking Good: Facebook is a social space. Your action should be something they want to be seen supporting. Will taking this action make your audience look good to their friends and family?
  7. Clear: Is it relatively simple to understand this donation action?
  8. Directed: It helps if the action is directed at a specific goal, e.g. keeping open a children’s hospital, saving a local park, passing legislation, etc.
  9. Goals: Set targets for donations and outcomes achieved. Targets put perspective on your campaign. No matter how much or little someone gives, they know they are chipping away at the set goal. They can easily see that their donation had an impact.

Top Tip: Issue not organization: Keep the fundraising appeal tied to supporting an issue, not the organization. Even your most dedicated supporters ultimately care more about the issues than the organization that works on them.

Pick The Right Image

Make sure that the image is powerful and attention-grabbing, but also relates directly to your action.

  1. Consistency: Your image should be the same for both the post and the landing page.
  2. Link Post: The link post format for images is optimal because when clicked, it will take your supporters directly to the landing page. Make sure that it is 1200×627.
  3. Text: If you have the ability, add your donation ask on the image text. If you decide to run ads as well, keep the text to no more than 20% of the image.

Upsell

Some organizations have found that they can raise almost as much from using an upsell strategy as from doing direct fundraising appeals. If you haven’t heard of it, an upsell is a secondary action. In other words, if you have a non-fundraising action such as pledging, the next page that the action-taker will see will be a fundraising appeal.

This upsell strategy can work well because many of your supporters who took the initial action will be the same type of people who are motivated to take a fundraising action. In fact, they might already be more committed because of the initial action.

Relevant: Relate the upsell fundraising appeal as much as possible to the action or issue that the action-taker is supporting. For example, if your supporter is pledging to stop bullying, ask them to fund the effort to launch an anti-bullying campaign.

Clean Transition: Make sure that the transition from the action to the fundraiser isn’t jarring. Think about elements like consistent voice, style and web address.

Don’t forget to Repost!

If you are finding a fundraising action that works, keep posting it until it’s not doing as well. Jewish Voice for Peace created 11 different posts to promote their one fundraising action, whereas the Bob Brown Foundation did three posts.

Make it Simple for Supporters to Give

38% of social donations happen from a smartphone. That means the simpler and more straightforward your donation ask is, the more likely supporters are to give. Eliminating unnecessary steps and being upfront with your ask will increase the number of mobile users who complete the donation process.

Do you have the Necessary Engagement?

There is one caveat to the strategies above. Outside of the rare exception of a serious viral moment, direct Facebook fundraising first requires a sizeable engaged community. Peter Deitz puts it like this: Raise Meaning Before Money.

Consider engagement like an open rate. According to M+R, .07% of people who receive NGO fundraising emails donate. That means, on average, you need 10K people on your email list to receive seven donations.

Let’s look at a successful donation action that illustrates the importance of this.

2,800 people engaged with the action

53 people donated

The average donation was $25

Bob Brown raised $1,300 total

This kind of response requires some serious engagement.

The lesson: You’ll need a lot of regularly engaged people in order to accomplish meaningful outcomes from social fundraising.

So if you don’t have at least a few hundred people engaging with your posts, consider putting a little more time into building your engaged audience first.

At the end of the day, it’s important to be flexible and not afraid to fail. Every supporter base is as different as the causes they support. It can take a little time to figure out what your audience responds to and how they like to give.

Be patient, learn as you go, and the pieces should fall into place.

Thoughts? Questions? Let us know in the comments!

Webinar: Create Content Your Supporters on Facebook Will Love!

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content

Boost your Content Game with Social Media Expert Beth Becker

Our winter webinar series with Beth Becker was such a success we brought it back by popular demand! Throughout the spring quarter you’ll have the opportunity to attend three webinars that will teach you how to unlock the potential of Facebook for your cause. Each time you’ll walk away with actionable tips and strategies that will make a big difference to your mission. You won’t want to miss it!

Our first webinar will take place the end of March and will cover sourcing engaging content your supporters will love. The next two will take place over the course of April and will cover the Facebook algorithm and ads. You won’t want to miss these as Facebook is always updating the algorithm and the way ads are optimized. Be sure to watch your inbox for these upcoming events!

Our first webinar will take place March 31st at 10amPT/ 1pm ET

“Create Content Your Supporters on Facebook Will Love!”

Click here to RSVP:

Note:The webinar will run approximately 1.5 hours.

It can be a challenge to create great social media content day in and day out to grow and engage your audience. This webinar will address some straightforward best practices for developing content that your community will love to connect and engage with. You will walk away with actionable strategies that you can put to work right away. Now only will these tips increase the engagement and reach of your cause, they might also save you time!

The success of any organization’s Facebook efforts depends on the content and value it provides its supporters. If your organization maintains a Facebook page, you can’t afford to miss this one.

RSVP now while there is still space:

March 31st at 10amPT/ 1pm ET

We hope you can make it!

Meet our host Beth Becker:

beth content

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 enthusaist, Beth shares her knowledge to help organizations use digital with offline to make a difference. In her spare time, Beth contributes to Progressive Congress News, shops for shoes and  tweets from @spedwybabs.

 

Our Interview with Beth Becker

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beth becker

Beth Becker’s take on social media strategy, engaging your audience and the metrics that matter

In a nutshell, Beth Becker is a social change enthusiast. She spends most of her time sharing her knowledge and experience by helping organizations link their digital and offline efforts to make a difference and meet their missions. She can often be found conducting trainings on digital strategy for the New Organizing Institute, clients and conferences like PA Progressive Summit, Netroots Nation, and is a contributing blogger at epolitics.com.

She brings over 20 years of communication and marketing background to her work, in addition to her experience with political, nonprofit and labor clients. Recently, we had the chance to sit down with her and dive deep into social media strategy. Here’s what she had to say.

ActionSprout (AS): How long have you managed social media communications? Where did you get your start?

Beth Becker (BB): I’ve been doing social media consulting in the political space for a little over five years now. Before that I had done a little social media for the restaurant I co-owned with a friend, but I will admit I wasn’t super strategic at the time because there were always so many other things that I needed to.

I got my start when I noticed that candidates for office were only using social media to broadcast information instead of having actual conversations to build relationships and communities.

(AS): How has your strategy / options on Facebook changed over time?

(BB): I can think of many changes… I mean let’s face it, Facebook (and social media in general) evolves over time so our strategy needs to as well. But it all boils down to coming to terms with the Facebook algorithm. If you look closely at what the algorithm does and the changes they make in relation to Facebook’s need to make money, it becomes clear that the way they make their money is to provide the users with the best experience possible. The decisions they make in order to do this are based on hard data and lots of it. When we follow suit with our strategies, we are able to build strong, engaged communities.

So every time they make a change, it forces us to make strategic changes, but the end result for both us and Facebook is the same: a better user experience that keeps our community coming back to us over and over again.

beth becker and phred

Phred, the Facebook Content Concierge

(AS): How does ActionSprout fit into your larger social media strategies? 

(BB): ActionSprout does so many things that it’s hard to narrow it down to one or two. Being able to consistently run actions that engage the community is important, but one of the things I love most about ActionSprout is the data on the back-end. Being able to look at those who are engaging with content and identify who the most engaged members of the community are is important and necessary. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it has a mechanism as a Facebook app that makes it possible to migrate your Facebook community to your email list as well. Cross-channel relationships are the key to a successful digital strategy.

(AS): What are the top ActionSprout features you use most often?

(BB): The data contained in the People tab, without a doubt. I do use the Inspire tool when needing a creativity boost and as a way to see what’s working for others.

(AS): What’s a unique way that you use ActionSprout?

(BB): I think the key way I use ActionSprout is that it isn’t a standalone content stream… it is integrated into the overall content strategy seamlessly. It’s not like, “Oh we should run an ActionSprout Action today”; it’s: “We’re doing X and we could do an Action to complement it in this way.”

(AS): How do you measure success on Facebook? What metrics do you focus on?

(BB): “It’s all about the bass, errrr engagement.” Vanity metrics like audience size? Pretty meaningless to me. Who is talking to us, do we talk with our community—not at them.

(AS): Do you have any other nonprofits Facebook Pages you follow and learn from?

(BB): Too many to name. I’m a consultant so I work in a lot of different segments of the progressive movement, so there’s no Facebook Pages that don’t have something I could learn from.

(AS): How do you experiment with content on your Page? What’s your method?

(BB): Try, fail, try again. If it’s really important content I may “test” it by posting it as a targeted post on my personal Facebook wall to a segment of my friends to see how they react, but by and large what we do is based on data; yet we recognize that audiences evolve as they grow so we are constantly trying new things while integrating lessons learned into what we are doing.

(AS): What have you learned from experimentation?

(BB): What’s currently working and what isn’t.

(AS): What’s your advice to other Page managers?

(BB): Three things:

  1. Experiment, experiment, experiment. What works on ONE Page may or may not work on yours, so make informed guesses and experiment.
  2. Be a part of the community not apart from the community—it’s a long, ongoing conversation.
  3. The algorithm is your friend. Stop wasting time complaining about it… put it to work for you.

(AS): Anything else you’d like to add/talk about?

(BB): Thanks for inviting me to be part of this and I can’t wait to see what new features y’all have up your sleeves!

The Takeaways:

What can other nonprofits learn from this success?

  • Strategies that follow Facebook’s algorithm are successful. It’s a very good idea to keep up with changes that Facebook makes to its algorithm and how they’re affecting content reach and delivery. Social strategies that work in parallel with the algorithm instead of against it will prove much more effective.
  • Don’t get caught in the vanity metric trap. Fan count feels and looks good. Not many Page managers wouldn’t like having a million likes on their Page. The problem is that’s all fan count is—something that feels and looks good. Outside of the warm and fuzzies, fan count means almost nothing. The engagement on your Page, as measured in likes, shares, comments and clicks, is what you want to focus your time and energy on. At the end of the day, increasing your engagement will accomplish your goals much, much faster than fan count.
  • Experiment. Lots of folks, including ourselves, will tell you what you should and should not be doing on Facebook. While this advice is valuable, it’s really only a starting place. Every Page and its audience are vastly different. The strategy that works wonders for one Page may fall flat on yours. That’s why it’s so important to experiment and learn what works for your unique Page.
  • Facebook is about community and relationships. When you join Facebook, you’re joining a community. This being the case, you should minimize the time you spend talking at people and increase the time you spend talking with them.
  • No piece of your strategy could work in isolation. Beth uses ActionSprout and other social tools in conjunction with each other as a part of her larger social strategy. Having an intertwined strategy like hers will boost your success and increase the value of each of your tools.

St. Patrick’s Day: A Time for Nonprofits to Create their own Luck

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St. Patrick's day

Taking Advantage of Trending Hashtags and the Holidays

Spreading your message has always meant doing more with less for nonprofits. But this isn’t always a bad thing! Having less to spend on out reach focuses us to be more creative than we would have been before. In a cluttered world of social media and consistent messaging, creativity is one of the best assets to have. Creativity will enable your messages to stand out in supporter’s news feeds leading to more engagement and your messaging going further.

A great secret weapon that doesn’t cost a thing is taking advantage of trending content. This comes in many different forms:

  • Holidays. These can come with their own hashtags or trending images.
  • Current events. Usually always come with a trending hashtag or three.
  • Live events. There will usually be a official hashtag and a few created by users.
  • General trending hashtags. These can be found in the right hand column on Facebook and on the left on Twitter.

Get More luck by Including a Call to Action

With the potential for your post to reach more supporters than usual it’s a good idea to include a call to action with your trending content. Now you’re not only spreading your cause but are including a way for folks to get involved. Even better, you now have the opportunity to gain their permission for further out reach and build a deeper, long term relationship.

Here are a few examples of nonprofits using St. Patrick’s Day to spread their cause

St. Patricks day
 St. Patricks day
St. Patricks day

Facebook Page Management Tips to Keep you Effective and Sane

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facebook page management

Social media management is now an officially recognized profession. From startup culture to Fortune 500 boardrooms, this is a full-time occupation!

But you don’t need us to tell you that! You’re in the trenches day in and day out—on the front lines of the global attention economy. And while it’s more or less an even playing field, it still takes preparation, strategy and creativity if you want to be successful.

Don’t just wing it and run in thinking: “We’ll just learn as we go!” because all those mistakes add up along the way. It’s better to avoid proverbial landmines by being strategic.

Here are the top things you should prioritize to be the most effective, sane and successful page manager you can be.

Design a Strategy (Content Calendar)

By spending a day or two creating a content calendar, generating ideas beforehand and planning things out, you’ll save yourself EPIC amounts of time and headaches over the long run. You can do this at the beginning of each month, and as time goes by it’ll get easier and easier.

  • What EXACTLY are you working towards and how do you define success? Specificity can only lighten your load, not increase it. Are you after the accumulation of vanity metrics (Page Likes), or something else that involves more direct engagement (shares, comments and actions taken)?
  • Create a rough activity plan (more on this in a moment).
  • Find ways to get the most bang for your social media marketing budget!
  • Include CTAs strategically in your content.
  • Refine the voice of your page, or the page persona if you will, to create a consistent identity.

Consistency is the Key to Social Media Success

Activity is the name of the game and while it’s the most time-consuming, it’s also the easiest part of the job. Now, regular activity doesn’t just mean posting content a couple times a day or week.

Once you’ve planned accordingly, set the tone for your page, and have an activity schedule. It’s about using your time effectively without driving yourself insane…

Because social media is a bottomless pit of immense amounts of content and competition, it’s a cakewalk to completely lose touch with your audience.

Avoid Self-Promotion

For some unexplainable reason, it’s easier to promote other people, especially when we’re interested in the content. Let’s say you run a Facebook page for a non-profit that focuses on protecting civil rights.

Wow!

There are so many amazing things happening that you can shed light on and share with people on a daily basis. As a general rule of thumb, you should promote other people and pages three times for every time you post self-promotion or ASK for something.

Break Down Management Time

Here’s a neat little tip from Andrea Vahl that we cherry-picked from Ravi Shukle’s impressive article, “27 Social Media Experts give you their #1 practical tip for managing a Facebook community”:

“Managing a Facebook page happens best when you participate both on your Page and on the Pages of others. Make sure you are replying to comments or at least acknowledging comments with a Like. Then also watching the Pages of your community members. Tag them in a post, post a comment on their posts, or participate on Pages where they are participating.”

That said, an easy way to break down your Facebook page management time is like so:

  • 50% Posting Content: There’s a gargantuan list of savvy social media tools online that help you curate  polish and schedule content quickly and easily. ActionSprout is one of them!
  • 30% Participation: Get in there and spend real time adding value to other people’s pages that are relevant to yours. Learn to quickly pick out great content from others you can contribute to through commenting, liking and sharing. It means strategic liking as well, so your own timeline has plenty of fabulous content to mingle with.
  • 20% Studying Analytics: Don’t neglect your data! Track your analytics and use them to reach specific goals like outreach, volunteer recruitment, donations, collecting signatures, etc. Whatever your angle, find a way to track what you’re doing so that you or someone else can find ways to optimize.

Following Up is of Supreme Importance

If you represent a Facebook page that’s new and only has five people that consistently engage with your content, then treat those 5 fans like rock stars! The better you treat people, the more followers you’ll organically accumulate who essentially do your job for you.

  • Don’t just like comments. Get in there and REPLY to as many as possible without getting trapped in drawn-out conversation.
  • If you allow people to send you messages, be sure to get back to them promptly. This is serious business folks.
  • Be gracious for any and all authentic engagement.
  • Take every opportunity to put the limelight on the efforts of other people in your community.
  • Consistently keep people in-the-know, and updated on where you are and where you’re going.

Over time, this type of honest and genuine behavior is going to pay off. It builds momentum, which at a certain point makes Facebook page management more about maintenance than a huge weekly production event. Speaking of which…

Face the Realities of Facebook Page Management Success!

An active and successful Facebook page, with a thriving community, can take a ton of upkeep in most respects. As the community grows, their voracious appetite for content increases, as will their comments, messages, questions, issues, etc.

On the flip side, many pages typically give in to the desire to cater to this huge audience, and optimize for more engagement and conversions to fuel this growth.

That’s fine. Just be sure that there’s enough staff around to cope! There will come a time when one person managing a page simply isn’t going to cut it. To avoid this route, refer to the first tip we discussed and stick with your content/activity schedule from day one!

  • If you built a platform on posting content 3 times a week, stick to that.
  • If you built a successful page on 20 hours a week, stick to that.
  • The line between growth being a friend or foe is very thin, so tread carefully.

It’s much better to refine and optimize your strategy around what you’ve got, rather than simply throwing gasoline on the fire.

The Spirit in the Machine

When a social media manager or Facebook page manager is stressed out, drowning in tiny tasks, facing creative hurdles, trying to balance their time… it becomes noticeable.

Content created by a happier, more invigorated person dramatically outperforms content put together by someone stressed out and in a rush. It’s truly stunning when we step back and look at how much genuine human interaction and intuition takes place in the digital realm.

So, we’ll leave it at that. This is more than enough to hopefully calm the nerves of more experienced page managers looking to regain their sanity, and relatively newer ones that would like to retain it.

 

What are your tips and strategies for managing a Facebook page?

4 Inspiring TEDTalks: Social Media is empowering nonprofits to change the world

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Social media is changing how the world functions, including how we change it for the better.

The spread of social media throughout the world has brought on permanent, drastic change. Leaders and movements now rise and fall at the hands of social media and the collective power of active, global citizens. The world’s poorest increasingly have access to the Internet and handheld devices, making those who were once invisible seen and heard on a global level.

The way our organizations serve those in need and facilitate change is also transforming. For the first time in history, we have the power to affect widespread change in a very short amount of time. Here are four Ted Talks by thought leaders who are on the cusp of the changing digital landscape. We’ll also tell you what this means for you and your cause.

Clay Shirky: “How social media can make history”

While news from Iran streams to the world, Clay Shirky shows how Facebook, Twitter and text messages help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news and bypass censors (however briefly). The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.

Key Lessons:

Social media and citizens are producing the news faster than traditional media can. In 2008, the BBC first heard of the massive earthquake that struck China through Twitter. Twitter users were announcing the earthquake several minutes before the US Geological Survey had any information up online. To put the change in perspective, the last time China had an earthquake of that magnitude, it took the government three months to admit that it had happened!

The news and information we consume will never be exclusively produced by professionals ever again. As recently at the last decade, most of the media that was available for public consumption was produced by professionals. Those days are over, never to return.

Officials and those in power are listening to everyday citizens. The Obama campaign famously created MyBarackObama.com and myBO.com, and millions of citizens rushed in to participate, help and join the conversation. In the example shared, President Obama released a press release to respond to those on myBO.com, proving that he listened to the conversations online.

Zeynep Tufekci: “Online social change: easy to organize, hard to win”

Today, a single email can launch a worldwide movement. But as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci suggests, even though online activism is easy to grow, it often doesn’t last. Why? She compares modern movements—Gezi, Ukraine, Hong Kong—to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and uncovers a surprising benefit of organizing protest movements the way it happened before Twitter.

Key Lessons:

One story can be enough to break through censorship. When military jets had bombed and killed 34 Kurdish smugglers near the border region, the Turkish media censored it. One frustrated journalist went to the scene as it unfolded. He took out his phone and snapped a picture of a line of coffins,carried by relatives, coming down a hillside. He tweeted the image and voilà, that picture went viral, broke the censorship and forced mass media to cover the story.

People now have the power to find the truth and break through censored news. Now citizens know to turn to the Internet and social media to find the truth when governments are practicing censorship.

Easier to mobilize does not always mean easier to achieve gains. The work we’re doing through the Internet is powerful, but it’s not replacing the benefits of the slower groundwork we’ve seen in past centuries. People, rightfully so, want to take the fastest routes to change, and they despair when change doesn’t happen.

The work that went into the old kind of organizing—all those daunting, tedious, logistical tasks—did not just take care of those tasks, it also created the kind of organization in which people could think collectively and make hard decisions together; create consensus and innovate; and maybe, even more importantly, stick together through differences and hardships.

Paul Conneally: “Digital humanitarianism”

The disastrous earthquake in Haiti taught humanitarian groups an unexpected lesson: the power of mobile devices to coordinate, inform and guide relief efforts. At TEDxRC2, Paul Conneally shows extraordinary examples of how social media and other new technologies are becoming central to humanitarian aid.

Key Lessons:

Those directly affected in a disaster situation can shape the aid effort they and their community receives. In Conneally’s example, 80% of the people affected by the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti had mobile devices. They were using text messages to organize themselves, find loved ones, and ask aid workers for help and assistance. They were ready for 21st century aid, but the ones delivering it were not.

We can develop digital systems and apps that fuel real change and progress. The TERA system was developed from Haiti and helps communities prepare for disaster. In an evaluation program of the system, of the people who were supposed to receive a message, 74% did receive it. 96% of the receivers found the system useful. 83% of them took action. And 73% of them shared the information with others.

The invisible are made visible and given a voice. Those who live in the world’s slums can now publish information and voice their opinions with simple handheld devices—literally putting them on the map for the first time.

Kevin Allocca: “Why videos go viral”

Kevin Allocca is YouTube’s Trends Manager, and he has deep thoughts about silly web videos. In this talk from TEDYouth, he shares the four reasons why a video goes viral.

Key Lessons:

Tastemakers, communities of participation and unexpectedness, are what make videos (and other forms of media) go viral. Tastemakers share the piece of content with their audience and followers, giving it a boost of power. Online communities then engage with the piece and make it their own. The pieces of content that are unpredictable and delightfully surprising are then shared and enjoyed millions upon billions of times, making it viral.

Have a favorite Ted Talk that we missed? Let us know in the comments!