Nonprofits on Facebook: How to Keep Reaching People after the New Algorithm

March 22, 2018

Nonprofits love social media for the affordable exposure, particularly Facebook, with more than 200 million U.S. users.

But non-profits on Facebook just got thrown a major curveball. Facebook has altered its algorithm, or the formula that decides what users see. The algorithm change means Facebook is now giving priority to posts from users’ friends and family, while decreasing the visibility of posts published by companies and organizations – including nonprofits.

What does this mean for nonprofits, and how can they get their messages to the biggest audience possible?

Going Person to Person

Here are some ways non-profits can emphasize the person-to-person aspects of Facebook posts to get more social exposure (and positive public relations).

  • Encourage employees and visitors to share social posts from your events and meetings. Ask people to tag each other, creatively referring to the event. For instance, ask people to tag friends who have rescued a dog or already purchased their Girl Scout cookies. Studies show such requests are highly effective.
  • Make sure that anyone encountering your organization sees which hashtags and social media handles they should use. (Hashtags are the keywords preceded by the “#” symbol that users rely on to identify discussions on a topic – like #SuperBowl. Social media handles are the IDs given to a social user, and often have an “@” symbol before them, like @AARP.)
  • Ask visitors to “check in” on Facebook and select your organization’s location – then respond to them from your non-profit’s account.
  • See how your social channels reach out to niche groups and offer targeted content they’re more likely to share with friends and family on Facebook. Is a large part of your potential audience women? Spanish speakers? Science lovers? Give them content tailored just to them. You can do this through social polls and questionnaires, and by looking at the reactions to your posts.
  • Video tools like Facebook Live give followers a live look at events they’re missing, or behind the scenes of operations.
  • Nonprofits on Facebook must engage consistently. The algorithm notices your posting habits and negatively reacts to sudden changes like a drop-off in the number of posts made each week.

Look Past Facebook

Don’t rely on just one social channel – especially since they can all make a big change at any time. For example:

  • Hashtags are even more important on Twitter and Instagram – and both have their own live video services.
  • Examine ways to make your website content more visible to search engines so people can find you easily on their own using their search engine of choice.
  • Leverage the value of email marketing to directly target supporters

Summary: Nonprofits on Facebook

Facebook remains a great way for non-profits to reach existing supporters and gain new exposure.

But all the big social networks make changes regularly – and fewer people are now seeing posts from organizations of all types, including nonprofits.

Try different approaches, have fun seeing what works best for your group – and stay active to keep your audience engaged and willing to help.

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