Online Ambassadors and the “Death of Organic Reach” on Facebook

Facebook_LogoFacebook’s ever changing algorithm now means that, unless you have a paid ad strategy driving content, the vast majority of your followers will never see the posts you share from your organization’s Facebook page(s).

The “Death of Organic Reach,” as some call it, is detailed in this post from SocialToaster’s Brian Razzaque. In the post, Razzaque highlights just how low your Facebook reach can go, while also offering some tips on how to combat the decline in eyeballs on your posts.

So is Facebook worth the effort if you’re not laying down enormous ad buys every month? Yes, but it depends on your strategy.

First, there are the basics of good content marketing – be valuable to your audience, not overly promotional, and connect with current events and other issues the Internet is talking about at the point in time when you’re publishing. That approach still helps, but truth be told, good content isn’t enough for Facebook anymore. Just take a look at your page’s posts over the past two years. On average, Bentz Whaley Flessner’s page sees roughly 10 percent the organic reach of content shared just one year ago.

But there is one other option if you still want to avoid Facebook Ads — and it will help drive reach and engagement on all your digital and social media channels, not just on Facebook alone. When people like, comment on, and/or share your posts, Facebook rewards those posts with a higher ranking value on your followers’ Newsfeeds. In other words, more of your fans will see the content you post when you post it if some of your fans are sharing that content. Which means, online ambassadors are the option B for anyone who wants to avoid Ad spends.

If you want to beat Facebook’s tightening Newsfeed algorithms without big ad spends, find ambassadors and work with them to share your content. That requires more than simply asking your online ambassadors to like and share content. For the best results, find out what your ambassadors want from you and what they like to share. Always be analyzing this data to inform your content marketing strategy. If you ask ambassadors to share content that matters to them, they will share enthusiastically and your organization will enjoy much greater reach on Facebook. (Plus, you’ll have more effective content for email and other social networks like Twitter and Instagram)

As effective as ambassadors can be at driving content, laying ads on top of the content ambassadors share does significantly increase reach and engagement. BWF_social client Santa Clara University began social media marketing with ambassadors in late 2012. They quickly discovered ambassador-led Facebook posts typically brought in about three times the engagement as those posts in which ambassadors were not leveraged. However, when Facebook Ads + ambassadors were deployed to share content, the reach was often as much as 40 times higher than average and engagement was 10 times higher than average. Staggering numbers that might be even more severe in 2015 as they were in 2014 when those numbers were recorded.

So yes, Facebook is still valuable. There are simply too many active users on the network to ignore Facebook if you’re truly interested in a multi-channel communication strategy (and you should be). To make your investment in Facebook and Facebook Ads worthwhile, be sure you have a healthy group of online ambassadors ready to help your content reach the masses like it did in 2012.

Justin Ware is the director of interactive communication at BWF_social where he helps nonprofit clients produce online and social media communication and fundraising strategies.

Facebook Ads Strategy for 2014

Facebook Ads LogoOnline communicators tend to harbor love/hate relationships with Facebook Ads. On one hand, no other form of online advertising – quite possibly no other form of advertising, period – allows a marketer to hyper target their message to the precise audience they’re looking to reach for such a small investment. In other words, Facebook Ads are efficient.

On the other hand, Facebook has changed its News Feed algorithm so that posts you make from your page that aren’t “promoted” (read: Ads you pay for) have very little chance of being seen by your fans. In other words, if you don’t have cash to spend, Facebook may no longer be a worthwhile investment of resources.

The latter, more negative, “hate” view of Facebook brought about by its recent focus on selling Ads is a gut reaction by many of us. But to ignore Facebook and its more than 1 billion users is a recipe for disaster. If you want to grow your nonprofit base while staying connected with your current supporters, Facebook is a must. So, knowing that, here are two things you can do in 2014 to make the most of the world’s leading social network:

Unlike this Facebook News Feed Ad, your Ads should be image driven and look like content a person's friend would ordinarily share.

Unlike this Facebook News Feed Ad, your Ads should be image driven and look like content a person’s friend would ordinarily share.

Content is (still) King: Facebook Ads are most effective when they’re set up to appear in a user’s News Feed. To optimize clicks and impressions, you should create content that looks like it belongs in the News Feed…

  • Images and/or video are a must.
  • Something that hooks into pop culture and the news of the day is very helpful.
  • Donor-centric is always best.

Really, all the rules that apply to good content also apply to Facebook Ads, because Facebook Ads are set up to look like content people share on a daily basis.

Leverage Online Ambassadors: As we’ve written about in the past, there is a way around Facebook’s increasingly restrictive algorithms – don’t rely solely on your page to share content about your organization. Instead, work with your online ambassadors to deliver content to their networks. Content means more when it comes from a trusted peer …which online ambassadors are to a large number of people. More importantly, Facebook’s page algorithms don’t apply to individuals. So, when online ambassadors share your content, far more people will see it. Use ambassadors to either directly post content from their profiles or share content posted on your org’s page.

Facebook is too intertwined in the daily lives of your donors to be ignored and Facebook Ads too effective to forego. Be sure when you’re making the investment in Ads, you’re doing so in a strategic, content-driven fashion to help ensure your dollars are well spent.

Justin Ware helps nonprofits develop online and social media strategies for fundraising. To connect with Justin, click here.

3 Tips for Targeting Donors Through Facebook Ads

A very common and great question social media philanthropists are often asked is “how do we raise money using Facebook?” Short answer? “Very creatively.” But a more serious and useful answer is “through a smart Facebook ad strategy.”

If you know your donors’ email addresses, then you can send an ad directly to their Facebook News Feeds, even if those donors haven’t “liked” page. This allows for incredibly targeted messaging via the world’s most popular social network and provides an excellent opportunity for reaching current and lapsed donors. Interested in learning more? Check out the video below from John Haydon that goes into detail about how to set up Facebook ads to reach your donors or just go to his blog post by clicking here. (Then continue reading below the video for tips on what your ads should be asking of donors)

So now you know how to get your nonprofit in front of your donors through a Facebook ad. But how do you get them to click on the ad? For this, I would suggest the same rules apply to Facebook ads that apply to all content on social networks – stay appropriate for the space. In other words, produce ads that are in line with what your donors expect to see when they log in to Facebook. So what do they expect to see or what would they consider appropriate on Facebook? Are they planning on looking at pictures? Checking up on their friends or kids? “Liking” things? Probably all of the above. The key is creating an ad that fits in seamlessly with that activity. For example, your Facebook ad might:

  • Alert donors to a new photo album from a big event that was recently uploaded. You control what your Facebook ad says and what it asks users to do. So after that big donor recognition event, or football game, or disaster your organization responded to, make a Facebook photo album and post it to your organization’s Facebook page. Then, link to that album via a custom Facebook ad. Next, share that ad with your donors by including their email addresses in the audience for the ad. Boom. Your awesome photo album is now shared with all your donors who have Facebook accounts connected to valid email addresses.
  • Tell donors which of their Facebook friends have given an online gift to your organization. You do have a custom Facebook giving app, right? Because if you do, you could write really clever code that would send a Facebook ad to your donors that tells them which of their friends have given an online gift. The ad could go on to ask the donor if they’d like to join their friend and make a gift, as well.
  • SaveShelterPetsAsk them to “like” your page. “Liking” your organization’s page is a simple action, but again, it’s very appropriate for the space. People are comfortable with “liking” things on Facebook, so it’s not too much of a stretch that they would see the opportunity to like something in an ad and take that action. And it’s not a trivial action either. When a lapsed donor who throws away mail, doesn’t have a landline, or is unresponsive to any other attempt communication attempt on your part – but is active on Facebook – “likes” your page, you now have a new way of consistently stewarding them and eventually asking them for their support.

So there you have it… One of many ways in which Facebook can be leveraged to raise money for your organization.

To learn about how BWF can help your organization raise money using social media networks, contact BWF’s Director of Interactive Communication Justin Ware by clicking here.