We used to recommend that most nonprofit organizations maintain a presence on Facebook, with the caveat that every organization needs to flow towards their target audience.
Lately however, we're not quite as convinced. 2014 saw a huge plummet in organic reach for nonprofit pages on Facebook, though that began rebounding late summer. You have to work really hard to create a lot of content in the hopes that a small percentage of your audience will see your post. And while just $5 in "promoted post" advertising used to buy you a huge boost in visibility – beyond your fan base even – it gets you much less views than it used to.
So unless you have a substantial, highly engaged following, you'll want to set aside an advertising budget for Facebook to make sure your efforts are worthwhile.
So just like your mother’s favorite saying about jumping off bridges, you certainly don’t need to “get on Facebook” just because everyone else is. If you haven't yet created a Facebook page for your nonprofit, or you have a straggling page with just a few fans, you may want to hold off for now. It may not be worth the time and money you have to invest, and there may even be other platforms (like Pinterest) that are a better fit for your organization.
Whether it’s a good fit ultimately depends on your mission and your online strategy. Consider the following:
Is your goal to engage the community? Would your beneficiaries feel comfortable publicly associating themselves with your organization? Could they benefit from interacting with each other as well? Do you have an advertising budget to devote to reaching them? If so, you're a great match for Facebook.
However, if you’re just trying to network with other organizations, Twitter or LinkedIn may be better solutions.
Your strategy choices always come down to the resources you have available. If you only have a few hours a week to devote to social media, it’s better to choose the most strategic platform and do that well – rather than spreading yourself so thin that all of your media are a little rickety.
If you really want to grow your community and engage people on Facebook, you should dedicate at least 3-5 hours a week to your page (not to mention a front-loaded 10-15 hours a week to get started).
You will also need to set aside an advertising budget for Facebook to help you build your community quickly and ensure that what your posts actually get seen.
Though the optimal number of Facebook posts per week (between 7 and 10) seems like a modest load, these posts must be relevant, insightful, visual and shareable. And nailing that combination takes time.
In general Facebook is useful for:
- Sharing ideas, news and articles with your base of individual supporters
- Promoting community events
- Getting feedback from your supporters
- Learning about what people like and don’t like
- Advocacy campaigns
If Facebook looks like a good fit for your org and you want to get cracking, or if you're already on Facebook and want to review your strategy, take a look at How to Set Up Your Facebook Page and some basic Facebook Do's and Don'ts.