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Five Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Fan Base

June 27, 2011

A Few Words of Caution: Small to medium-sized nonprofits should take Facebook case studies and best practices based on the success of large nationally and internationally well-known nonprofits (with huge email lists and multiple communications and development staff) with a heavy dose of skepticism. 99.9% of nonprofits just can not duplicate their success, and such case studies and best practices set up many nonprofits for failure and disappointment. Large nonprofits with well-known brands simply have a different experience on Facebook. They can post more often with less risk of getting hidden or unliked, their fan base grows faster, and they often have great content to share in status updates that easily inspire comments and likes. Great for them (they were small once too), but most nonprofits will have to make a concerted effort to grow their fan base and find their Facebook voice. It takes time, patience, great content, and a commitment to integrated online communications. That said, here are five ways to grow your nonprofit’s Facebook fan base:

1. Like other Facebook Pages as your nonprofit, and then participate in their status updates.

Facebook will likely disable or limit this functionality once the spammers and overzealous marketers get hip to it, but for now, get in while the getting is still good. First, select “Use Facebook as [the name of your page]:”

Next, “Like” the page you’d like to participate on:

Finally, participate in their status updates in the News Feed, authentically of course. Their fans will see your activity in their News Feeds and some will become fans of your page as well as a result. That said, don’t go overboard. Limit your activity on their page(s) to once a day or less, or risk being interpreted as a spammer. Pick 5-10 pages relevant to your mission and programs, and become engaged in those pages:

2. Tag other Facebook Pages to post on their wall.

Don’t put a lot of hope into “tagging” as a means to gain new Facebook Fans, but some Facebook users do spend time browsing the walls of Facebook Pages.When appropriate and with authenticity, tag other pages (HOW TO)  in your status updates so that your status updates are also posted on the page that you are tagging:

3. Add a Facebook icon to your blog and website.

Seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many nonprofits do not have social media icons on their website and blog (see five nonprofits that do).

4. Add a Facebook icon to your e-newsletter and email signature.

The vast majority of online donations come from a click in an e-newsletter, as do most new Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers, and text alert subscribers. Nonprofits that do not publish e-newsletters are definitely at a disadvantage. That said, I am big believer in the upper right-hand corner (see four examples):

5. Add a “Like Us on Facebook” pitch to your “Thank You” landing pages and emails.

Your donors are your most committed supporters, and it’s highly probable that they will want to “Like” you on Facebook and follow your organization’s progress through your status updates. Make it easy for them for by adding a Facebook pitch to your “Thank You” landing pages and emails:

Related Links:
Webinar: How Nonprofits Can Successfully Use Facebook and Facebook Apps
Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits

21 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2011 5:41 am

    Excellent pointers 😉 Just tweeted this out and have been practicing a few of these steps myself! (nonprofit and otherwise!)

  2. June 27, 2011 10:46 am

    Thank you so much! This was very helpful.

  3. June 27, 2011 11:01 am

    Great article, exactly what we are planning for next. Will report results when shown.

  4. June 27, 2011 12:26 pm

    so helpful, thanks….

  5. June 28, 2011 12:13 pm

    Another way to grow your non-profit’s Facebook fan base, and one that, coincidentally, relates to your words of caution, is through Facebook advertising in which you target people who have already “liked” a similar organization. If your NPO benefits pets, for example, you can target your ads to the 817,000+ people who like The Humane Society’s Facebook page. By liking that page, they have self-identified as members of your NPO’s target audience, and the exceptional targeting parameters of Facebook advertising provide a way to reach those people. Plus, with results seen from as little as $5 (sometimes even less) per day, Facebook advertising is a cost-efficient tool for organizations with teeny marketing budgets.

    In the past I’ve worked on an account for a NPO who came to us with no Facebook page. In less than a year, we well-surpassed 10,000 fans, in part due to Facebook ads. If anyone’s interested, there’s a detailed case of exactly how this was done in this white paper:

  6. June 28, 2011 12:54 pm

    #6 – Empower Your Ambassadors to spread the message further!!!

  7. June 28, 2011 1:12 pm

    very helpful, thank you

  8. June 28, 2011 5:13 pm

    Thanks for this, great. A question: many in the industry are telling me that we should be making posts on a business FB account using a photo of the person as the avatar – to help humanise the organisation and give it a personal touch. Almost all I’ve seen though just use a business logo?

  9. July 1, 2011 5:30 am

    I’ll add one too.

    #7 – provide VALUE. Too often I see nonprofits not being engaging at all, and then wondering why no one likes their page or participates in their conversations. Provide valuable content, people will participate through likes, or comments. And then their friends will see that activity and come and like the page. Facebook growth breeds more growth.

    For us, we were adding less than 100 fans a day through about the first 50,000. Then, the larger we grew, the more fans a day (more engagement means more growth). Today we average about 250 new fans a day.

  10. July 1, 2011 5:49 am

    Very good and useful information. Will put them into practice!

  11. July 1, 2011 8:00 am

    Good post. Engagement (with fans or other organizations) is one of the most important keys when it comes to social media marketing.

  12. July 2, 2011 6:14 am

    Thank you very much for helping me to walk the journey of my NGO confidently. You helping me reach new level every time and again.Be blessed Team.

  13. July 4, 2011 8:21 am

    Thanks! I’ll share this will my LinkedIn and nonprofit associates.

  14. July 6, 2011 5:51 am

    Thank you so much, this was very informative, as I was just put in charge of our Facebook page for our non-profit.

  15. July 19, 2011 4:53 pm

    Thanks for the post – very helpful. We’re not a non-profit, but have a very small marketing budget so using many of the same tactics

  16. July 19, 2011 5:46 pm

    Great stuff. Some excellent comments too. Will keep all of this in mind going forward.

  17. August 15, 2011 6:39 am

    Great tips! I will definitely try some of these tips out – thanks for the post!

  18. August 17, 2011 9:09 am

    Just created a Facebook page and working on Twitter connection–this is very helpful.


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