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Three Recent Facebook Upgrades That Nonprofits Need to Know About

October 14, 2012

One of the most important lessons that all good social media managers learn is that social media is constantly in flux. Once you get accustomed to a tool, it changes in an attempt to reinvent itself. Rather than lamenting this new reality, a skilled social media manager will adapt quickly. That said, Facebook has made some recent upgrades – and more are coming – that nonprofit admins should be aware of.

If you find the upgrades confusing, my upcoming webinars on Facebook and Facebook Apps will discuss and demonstrate click-by-click these changes as well many others. As someone who observes thousands of nonprofits on the Social Web each year, let me just say it’s better to spend 90-minutes on a webinar than hours upon hours to trying to figure it out yourself, or worse not knowing about the changes and their effect, and thus wasting your time executing a poor, ROI-less strategy on Facebook.

1) Facebook has decreased Pages’ Reach… again.

The last week of September I noticed that the Reach on that status updates that I posted on the Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page had dropped significantly. As far as I can guess, on average only about 6-9% of my fans now get my status updates posted to their News Feed which is about half the 16% that Facebook announced in March. And with the exception of buying advertising, there’s very little you can do to expand your Reach organically more than 3-5%. Facebook has confirmed this change, but as usual the specifics are shrouded in mystery so deciphering any absolutes about how the change effects all pages is impossible. That said, here’s some recent data from the Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page:

September 8 Reach:

October 8 Reach:

October 4 Weekly Facebook Insights Report:

The majority of nonprofits that I’ve polled in my webinars and trainings have no understanding of the Facebook Algorithm or Reach. They assume that if they have 1,000 fans, then every time they post a status updates those 1,000 fans see it. But that’s just not the case and hasn’t been for years and as of late September, it’s more like 60-90 of those 1,000 fans.

As far as getting angry at Facebook, there’s really no point. Facebook is a free service and as most us have learned, you get what you pay for. I can also see Facebook’s reasoning for a strict algorithm – endless and often boring marketing pitches posted by brands makes for a very cluttered, spammish News Feed. Prioritizing the most engaging content makes the most sense, but a 6-9% Reach is very low.

Personally, the guessing game that revolves around the Facebook Algorithm is my greatest frustration with Facebook. My preference would be that Facebook launch an affordable, monthly paid service for brands that takes the guessing out of the algorithm and provides a healthy Reach that both sides can be happy with, but that seems unlikely with their entire revenue model being based on pay-per-status update. On the flip side, since so few of my fans now actually see my status updates, I plan on spending less time on Facebook and thus now have more time to experiment with Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. As all good social social media managers know, it’s wise to diversify your brand across multiple channels.

2) Facebook Status Updates are no longer being sent to Twitter.

And this is a good thing! It doesn’t appear to be site wide yet, but my hope is that Facebook will drop the feature entirely. Many nonprofits have been using Facebook automation to post their status updates to Twitter, but in most cases it only results in truncated and poorly formatted tweets, such as:

Such poorly formatted tweets rarely get retweeted and the “…” is an obvious indicator to your followers that your Twitter account is managed by a bot. Many nonprofits will say that this automation functionality was the only way they could be on Twitter due to time and staff constraints, but I’m a firm believer that it’s better to not be active on Twitter (or Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.) if it’s going to be done poorly. You get out of social media what you put into it. There’s no cutting corners or automation tools out there that take the place of a part-time or full-time social media manager.

3. Facebook launches Facebook Gifts.

Announced on September 27, Facebook Gifts will allow Facebook users to purchase gifts and have those gifts delivered directly to the gift recipient’s front door. My guess is the initial partners will be a small select group of retailers, but it wouldn’t hurt for your nonprofit – if you offer gifts – to contact Facebook about having your product listed on Facebook Gifts. Facebook would be wise to build their brand credibility by including some gifts that benefit nonprofits in their initial launch.

Related Links:
Webinar: How Nonprofits Can Successfully Use Facebook and Facebook Apps
Promoted Facebook Posts for Nonprofits: The ROI of $30 Spent in Advertising

39 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2012 2:13 pm

    As always — helpful information here! Thank you.

  2. October 14, 2012 9:10 pm

    THANK YOU for this post! I have been going out of my mind for the past two days trying to figure out why my FB updates were not getting tweeted to the relevant Twitter streams. I wish they had warned us about this ahead of time! I do not agree with your perspective on it — for me it was an important time saver, and people did use the links — but at least now I can stop wasting time trying to make it work again.

  3. October 15, 2012 4:06 am

    Thanks for sharing this information. I am definitely interested in a webinar but none of the times or dates work for me (sadly). Do you keep recorded versions somewhere?

    I’m also curious about how Reach works. I know you are busy but if you could explain in plain language (or at least direct me to a good resource) that would be great!!

    Thanks again!


    Sunny and Take Back Teal

  4. October 15, 2012 5:04 am

    Thank you! I saw this precipitous drop off in FB Reach and thought I’d broken Facebook somehow. Really freaked me out.

    With 1 or 2 posts daily, we were seeing a Reach around 25% of our followers and getting some really good engagement, but then the reconfiguring has dropped it to around 9%-10%.

    I think FB is doing this to force us to use their Promote feature, to pay to increase Reach.

    • October 15, 2012 6:15 am

      Yehp… it was inevitable… especially since their stock is flopping. I really think the pay-per-post strategy is flawed though… it angers the very people that help build Facebook. I would be willing to pay a monthly fee… of $25 or so to ensure reach. They have to let go of trying to control the feed!

  5. October 15, 2012 5:10 am

    Thank you so much for posting this information. Just this past week I had noticed both a dramatic drop in our page reach, and the cessation of our Facebook posts to Twitter, and wondered if it was a sitewide or permanent change. This answers my questions and confirms my suspicions that Facebook was tweaking their algorithms and applications for Pages yet again.

  6. October 15, 2012 5:23 am

    Thanks for the info, Heather! I am so grateful to you for staying on top of this and keeping all of us informed.

  7. October 15, 2012 6:05 am

    Great post, Beth! I am also frustrated with Facebook regarding the drop in reach for status updates. I noticed my Page updates weren’t being posted to Twitter anymore. At first, I thought it was a snafu, but I guess not. A shame.

  8. October 15, 2012 6:06 am

    Opps. I meant to say, “Great post, Heather!” (not Beth). I read both your newsletters.

  9. Kyleenwalker permalink
    October 15, 2012 7:26 am

    Very, very helpful information. I had no idea about the algorithms and limited reach on Facebook.

  10. October 15, 2012 1:15 pm

    Thanks for this post Heather! I am disappointed in the downward spiral of visibility in feeds, but am hopeful that Facebook Gifts could be an interesting new way for nonprofits to connect with supporters in Facebook. Nonprofits that already have nice concrete asks could set up some amazing opportunities to share their message and raise money. I think of orgs like Heifer International or chrity:water in particular. I’m very curious to see what happens next here, and I’m sure I’ll hear it from you first!

    • October 15, 2012 1:26 pm

      Thanks. Gifts could be great for nonprofits and now that nonprofits are increasingly irritated with Facebook, it’d be a good timing. We’ll see.

  11. October 15, 2012 5:54 pm

    I thought the reach of our page had gone down. I was curious as to whether it was just a blip or maybe it was related to the kind of content we were posting. It’s somewhat frustrating because as our fans grow, our actual audience decreases! Our posts are now being seen by about 1/2 the people they were a month ago.

  12. October 16, 2012 7:57 am

    Do you have any data on the reach of Facebook Groups if we wanted to consider switching to those?

  13. October 16, 2012 9:37 am

    Thank you for the wonderful info.

  14. October 16, 2012 7:21 pm

    This wouldn’t have anything to do with Facebook’s recent IPO would it ? As a major user of Facebook for my nonprofit, I have been puzzled by the numbers stats, and returns. Thanks for the excellent reporting.

  15. October 16, 2012 11:24 pm

    for me, upgrade #2 is actually not an upgrade… i have been using this feature to save myself time when posting from fb page directly to twitter and reaching a greater audience for my site , so if that feature is removed, then i need to double the time i spend to post updates in both social media. i surely hope they change their mind!

  16. October 17, 2012 9:37 am

    I thought the reach of our page had gone down.

  17. October 18, 2012 1:41 am

    wow, great post. been wondering why our insights has drop dramatically. now time to work on other social media outreach

  18. October 18, 2012 12:32 pm

    Some organizations have been encouraging people to list the organization in their “interest” list. Is that worth while?

  19. October 19, 2012 8:17 am

    Great post as always. Keeping up with all the updates on Social Media can often be very time consuming, so it’s great to find it all in one place. My question would be, working in a small charity with only a few hours spent each week on Social Media, we would find diversifying quite difficult as we just don’t have the time or staff to do this. Are there other ways of getting round this from a brand awareness point of view?. Our main focus is FB, Twitter in combi with Flickr and YouTube.

  20. October 20, 2012 12:07 am

    Reblogged this on Activate Fundraising and commented:
    An excellent posts from Non-Profits about recent Facebook changes – also a few social media tips that I thought was worth sharing…

  21. Rose permalink
    October 23, 2012 9:45 pm

    I noticed our FB reach has dropped considerably too and had wondered why. I don’t use FB personally now because it just got far too annoying on so many levels.

  22. November 7, 2012 8:24 am

    Thanks very much for this information. I’d been wondering why our reach had dropped. Also, one day I was on my personal Facebook page and saw only about 6 or 7 posts on my wall. It said that was the end of recent posts and I couldn’t click anything to see anymore. I thought this highly unlikely since I have thousands of “Friends”. The only way I could see more posts was to switch from Most Recent to Most Popular. I wish Facebook would stop “helping”. Seems like the help is never really helpful to us.


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