Times they are a changing. Well, at least Facebook’s EdgeRank is changing. As a result of the recent EdgeRank changes, you may have noticed a sharp drop in your Facebook Insights analytics in the past couple weeks. If so, you’re not alone. All signs point to Facebook making things more difficult for brands, nonprofits, and other organizations to get noticed if they aren’t willing to buy advertising for their pages from Facebook. Yay IPO. (For a quick break down of the good and bad behind Facebook’s recent changes, check out Heather Mansfield’s post here.)
Now for the good news: this is an EASY problem to fix. The solution lies in that oh-so-important group of online supporters of your organization, a.k.a. your online ambassadors. Instead of trying to broadcast your message to your audience via your organization’s Facebook page, build a strategy that is focused on sharing your message with a select group of online ambassadors and encouraging them to post that content to their Facebook profiles. That way, your page’s EdgeRank doesn’t matter, because you’ll be piggybacking off the popular EdgeRankings of your biggest supprters. The following are a few steps to make this happen…
Identify your online ambassadors: This is something you should be doing already, but if not, here’s how…
- Find your Twitter followers and Facebook fans who are highly active and have large followings of their own. Next, what type of activity do they share? Does it have any similarirites with your organization’s goals? Are they likely to share content about your organization? If the answer is “yes” to the above questions, you have identified a potential online ambassador for your organization! You can also use tools like Klout and Kred to identify Internet users with influence (but don’t rely solely on those tools).
- Build relationships with these ambassadors. When they ask a question on Twitter you know the answer to, respond …even if the question has nothing to do with your organization. Share content with them that is first and foremost in line with the content they share. The secondary concern is that the content you share is tied to your mission. Third, is that the content is about your organization. In that order, all the time. On social media, your goal should be making friends with your biggest supporters, not engaging in the Internet equivalent of selling them a used car.
- Help your ambassadors understand their role in helping you communicate your organization’s message and work with them to share your content. After a relationship is established, reach out via email, over the phone, or in person and ask the ambassadors if they’d be willing to share content via their social networks that your organization provides them. This is an especially effective technique to use during campaigns (just ask the annual giving team at FSU about how ambassadors drove their Great Give campaign), but also works to communicate day-to-day awareness building activity for your organization.
After you’d identified your online ambassadors and have a program in place to leverage their support, the next step is producing content your ambassadors will want to share. Much in the same way you want to avoid distributing overly-promotional content from your social media networks, your ambassadors will also want to avoid scaring their followers and friends away with content that reads like a TV ad. Leveraging your online ambassadors is not solely about asking for help communicating the message about a current fundraising campaign. The majority of the time you should be providing them with interesting, relevant, FUN content that is in some way tied in to your organization or your organization’s mission. For example, Baltimore’s Show Your Soft Side campaign posts news all animal lovers can appreciate far more than they post news specific to their campaign.
In some ways, the changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank is a blessing, because it forces us to focus more on what our biggest online supporters want from us as an organization. In social media, the focus shouldn’t necessarily be on your organization’s content – it should be on the content your most active, engaged, and influential followers are posting about your organization. Thanks to changes in EdgeRank and a number of other factors, you should be more concerned about what influential Internet users are sharing and posting about your org, than what your organization is distributing directly from your nonproft’s pages, accounts, and profiles.
Producing a social media strategy is crucially important for nonprofits that have any need whatsoever to communicate with their constituents. Thanks to items like the changes in Facebook’s EdgeRank, it’s becoming increasingly important for that strategy to be centered around connecting with your organization’s online ambassadors.