The discussion about the recent changes on Facebook has focused mostly around what it means for individuals, particularly the tension between openness and privacy. Many people are wondering what it means for nonprofit brands using Facebook as one of their marketing channels. So are people like me who do coaching and training on how to use Facebook effectively. It makes no sense to freak out.
When I create training, I always take a “principles” approach. While the specific tactics and techniques for a tool may change, the concepts generally hold constant. Over the years, as I have watched Facebook roll out features and changes, it seems takes a predictable pattern: the big announcement, hype, backlash, more tweaks to the platform, experiments by users/organizations, and learning what works.
One of the principles is to listen, learn, and adapt and stay informed. That is what a lot of us are doing. We’re trying to understand what continues work and what doesn’t and evolve practice. You need to be nimble and not blindly follow a template because it worked in the past. Measurement and learning are now more important than ever for success.
Focus on Engagement That Leads To Action
The Facebook “Like” button will morph and include more actions. According to this post from All Facebook, these actions might include: Want, Buy, Own, Listen, Read, Eat, Watch, Work Out – whatever developers create. Each of these verbs would describe a type of relationship between things that exist in what Facebook has up until today called the Social Graph (our connections) or now what is being called the “Open Graph.”
For nonprofits, some app developers, like Causes, are already envisioning types of nonprofit supporter actions on Facebook, such as Give and Pledge, which will allow them to prominently feature higher-value actions amidst the sea activity posted to Facebook everyday.
It is important to have a good understanding your target audiences’ decision-journey or ladder of engagement. Don’t just stop at reach or awareness and don’t just focus on the number of likes which will become meaningless. Organizations need to think about what motivates supporters to do something that moves the needle on their outcomes.
Gloria Huang from Red Cross said in a comment, “These changes are an opportunity to use our org’s Facebook presence to inspire actual action, rather than just “liking” posts. This puts even more pressure on us to figure out how to bridge the gap between digital and real life. For example, if someone cares enough to add an app from the Red Cross that publishes an update whenever they give blood, it’s that much more important for us to thank and reward that donor once they actually show up at the blood center.” The Red Cross uses a ladder of engagement to move people beyond the likes on Facebook from awareness all the way to volunteering.
Brands have the opportunity to use apps to tell their story. According to David Armano, Executive Vice President, Global Innovation & Integration:
“Facebook’s latest moves add up to three things: personalization, mobilization and amplification. For users, Facebook will allow users to further personalize how they want to share their lives to friends and connections. It also means doubling down on a better mobile experience. To brands and businesses, the revisions mean their interactions can be more effectively amplified IF they work really hard at high quality content and/or leverage paid options such as sponsored stories. From a business perspective Facebook is seeking to become the social layer that is woven throughout the Web.
The changes stress the increasing importance a “brand’s voice” in that it will need to be even more meaningful and add value to Facebook users. Companies who broadcast irrelevant information will be easier to tune out vs. those who genuinely connect with customers etc. who in turn reward them with engagement and amplification. In Facebook’s latest iteration, it becomes more about quality over quantity.”
Integrated Marketing and Communications Campaigns
Last month, I shared a case study called “Facebook Likes Are Not A Victory” that told the story of how Momsrising uses an integrated communications strategy and measures success. Momsrising goes beyond the “like” and uses deep engagement to inspire results – actions that take place offline as well as online. And, that is how they measure success. This advice still holds true. Momsrising does not look at the number of fans as an end point – and neither should your nonprofit.
Another example comes from a presentation that Carie Lewis from HSUS did in June, “Beyond the Facebook Like. They do not focus getting as many fans a possible, they’re focused on engaging with their network and inspiring them to take some form of action.
Relationship Building Is Even More Important
The news ticker, that streams all updates by all your friends will be important for brands, but not in the way you think. It won’t be able getting your brand’s Facebook page wall updates into the ticker, but the actions your fans take on your page that end up on the ticker. (The ticker is a box on the side of the interface that provides a scrolling list of everything that is happening inside your social network. Coupled with this is some smart technology that figures out which stories are “top” and puts those (and only those) inside the main news feed.) ClickZ has called this feature a way that Facebook will be friendlier for brands, and it’s easy to see why. According to a post from ClickZ:
A lot of the content from brands that consumers like will end up in here as well. Most likely, a consumer does not want to see daily information from a brand on Facebook. What would end up happening, then, is that content would be hidden from view, unless you clicked over to the “most recent” tab on the screen. Which is to say that a lot of the posts that brands were putting up were never getting seen.
Also, given that the new openness of Facebook and serendipity of being able to see everything our friends are doing (and their friends), using multiple channels for engagement of our networks is even more critical. But not to just share your message, but to truly engagement people by sharing stories – your networks stories, shining a light on those who are making a difference, saying thank you in person and creative ways — all the good principles nonprofits have been using to build relationships with stakeholders.
The new skills are learning how to be a good community manager – and focus on relationships with people, not tactics on specific platforms.
As this all evolves, I suspect that the number of fans will be truly meaningless. It will be harder to cut through the clutter if you are simply contributing to the clutter. A Facebook strategy isn’t just about recruiting fans, but deeply engaging people, building relationships, and leading them to action – but doing this through different channels.
Another change, is that people will be able to interact with your Facebook wall content without having to like your page. This means that engaging content will win.
I posted this link on my Facebook Page and it prompted some great discussion about how some nonprofits are going to start rethinking what they’re doing. Instead, keep calm and take a listen, learn, and adapt approach.
Some things to consider:
- Ask your team, what are the results that you want to achieve? How can Facebook support your organizational communications, marketing or program objectives?
- Facebooking for, and engaging with, a nonprofit organization is now about meaning and resolving issues. How can your nonprofit improve the quality of posts, tone and managing the creativity of the your organization’s image and its engagement style?
- Read what analysts and pundits are saying about the changes and how brands are responding. I like to follow what Mari Smith has to say – for example – here is her post about the privacy implications.
- Watch what other nonprofits are doing and emulate – but be sure to test new ideas in a way that you can learn and improve.
What is your organization doing to learn and adapt its strategy to the new changes?