The first thing, a non-profit needs to do, explains Annie Downs of MochaClub.org, is to make sure their page is set up correctly. Any business or organization, including non-profits need to have a fan page not a personal page.
When creating the fan page make sure to list the non-profit as a non-profit, it helps group the page with other similar organizations. Another thing non-profits should do is register a Facebook friendly URL, be sure to keep it short and to the point. This makes it easy for fans to find your page easily.
After your page is up, the next step is to get people to your page. Chad Norman, Manager of Marketing for Blackbaud, insists your Facebook information is just as important as other contact info. It should appear on your business cards, letterhead and advertising material.
Stacy Dyer, Product Marketing Manager for Sage Non-Profit Solutions reminds non-profits to use their current marketing methods, such as direct mail or an email campaign, to bring people to their Facebook page. Your goal is to get fans to “like” you, that way your posts show up in their feed, which keeps them involved in your organization. In addition, “likes” encourage other users to “like” you too.
It is possible to customize the look of your face book page, according to Chad, by using the FBML application to make unique tabs. For instance, a non-profit can make a welcome tab that includes information about the non-profit and a call to action or they could make a special campaign tab. You can adjust the settings to make the custom tab the default-landing page.
Also, take advantage of the profile image. Yes, it shows up small in the feed, but on the actual fan page, it is about 200 x 600 pixels. “It is important to take advantage of this large piece of real estate”, says Chad.
Tyler Bahl recommends maximizing the space by featuring a strong image that communicates your message and a clear logo. In addition, Stacy encourages non-profits to incorporate a widget that lets fans donation right from the non-profit’s Facebook page.
“Remember Facebook is all about conversation”, says Stacy, it is important that non-profits provide a rich variety of content that encourages people to comment. She stresses that non-profits should “post replies, you want to build a sense of community with two way conversations.”
Show a personality, but keep it consistent. Joshua Duvauchelle, Associate Editor for Focus on the Family Canada believes that “following your organization's voice is one of the most important things for a non-profit to do on their Facebook page.”
He goes on to explain that “Too often, the social media programs of a nonprofit feel, look and sound different than the organization's overall tone and focus. This can either alienate your current constituents, or attract constituents that are drawn by your social media voice but not attached to the overall organization, leading the fragmentation. “
It is a good idea to assign one or two people to monitor the stream and perform the postings. To facilitate maintaining voice, Stacy encourages non-profits to use a publishing calendar. In addition, Stacy advises using scheduling tools like HootSuite to schedule posts in advance of upcoming events. It can also be used to post items related to the event as it is happening.
While you need to provide content, it is important to not over post. Keep it to 1 or 2 a day or you risk having readers hide your feed. When you post can have a great effect on how many people share or like your post. Chad recommends posting a few things over the weekend, when people are most likely on Facebook.
Pull in other feeds such as, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter, you want to keep people on your page says Chad. Moreover, incorporating the other feeds gives a rich variety of posts. You don’t want all text posts.
Robert Stack, President & CEO of Community Options finds that contests really get users excited. According to Robert, “It doesn't have to be anything huge just something that keeps people engaged.” It can be something as simple as asking fans to upload photos, other fans can vote for their favorites.
Emma Moore, Interactive Director for Gofundamental.com, recommends offering gated content rewards. Which she explains is exclusive information available only to users who likes the page. The information could be sent to them via email and depending on how the interactive content is created, explains Emma; it could also be presented in a fun or novel way.
Maintaining a Facebook page does require a significant time commitment, but it is worth it in terms of staying connected to your donor base because the more engaged and involved donors feel the more likely they are to continue to support your mission.