Who sees what and why on Facebook

Nonprofits on Facebook have a mission. You want to reach and engage hundreds, if not thousands, of people every day. You’re also on a tight budget, and have real urgency behind your message.

You may think that Facebook is working against you achieving your goal. We’ve heard the complaints: suppressed reach, no free ad dollars, blocking posts unless you pay. Sound familiar?

This post will clear up these misunderstandings. Simply put, it’ll help you reach more people for free on Facebook.

Let’s get this learning started!

Page Likes and Page Follows

There’s a difference between page Likes and Follows. Your supporters can Like you or Follow you — or both. The difference is showing their public support (Liking) vs. receiving posts in their feeds (Following).

When you first Like a page, you will also be Following it by default. Following a page means you’ll receive their posts in your news feed.

In the example above, Steve’s support for ActionSprout is private for he hasn’t Liked the page. But he still receives our posts in his news feed because he is Following the page. Anyone can choose to both Like and Follow a page, or opt for just one or the other.

What happens to page posts

You’ve likely noticed that not all of your page followers see all of your posts. Facebook delivers your posts to the people who follow you first, but chooses a subgroup of your fans it thinks will enjoy the post the most. They’re the only people who see it.


There’s too much content for everyone to see everything anymore — those days are long gone! Facebook’s number one job is to protect every user’s news feed including your own. This means playing matchmaker between people and posts.

Facebook can show you 1,750 plus posts each time you login. Nobody has time for that!

So Facebook serves up a short list of posts you’re likely to enjoy. They stick these posts at the top of your news feed and let you discover the rest if you scroll through your feed long enough.

Your goal is to get your posts placed on the short list. It’s easier said than done, but practice makes perfect!

What low reach actually means

Low Facebook reach means your content isn’t picked to be at the top of supporters’ news feeds. Facebook’s algorithm determined that your content isn’t the first thing supporters want to see.


It could be that supporters stopped engaging with your page’s content. If supporters scroll past posts for long enough, it’s signals lack of interest. Facebook wants to make people happy, so these folks will see less from your page…or nothing at all.

When your reach goes down, you get to figure out what content matches your supporters’ interests. It could be you have the wrong audience of people who aren’t likely to be interested, or that your content strategy just needs a little TLC. This is a time to test new content!

Facebook reach: organic, paid or viral

We’ve described organic reach above. This is when Facebook chooses which of your page Followers to show a post to. To increase organic reach, focus on getting content at the top of your audience’s feeds. Think about your target audience (people most likely to care about your mission) and talk authentically to them.

You can also use Facebook ads to reach more people. And you guessed it, it’s called paid reach. Paying Facebook to reach more people captures more current page followers, and also gets you in front of new faces. It’s a powerful strategy for organizations that can budget $50 or more a month on Facebook ads.

It’s natural to look at your posts with low reach and want to boost them. Don’t do it! Facebook already figured out that they don’t move people. A bad avocado is still a bad avocado, even if it’s at the top of the pile.

Long story short: Save your ad dollars to promote the posts that work already. You’ll reach and engage more people and your money will go much, much further.

Now let’s talk viral reach: Reaching people outside of our current follower base. When a supporter engages with your content, it reaches their network of friends who may not know about your organization or cause. These new faces are much more likely to dig in to your cause because a trusted friend cares about it. To increase viral reach, post stuff that’s useful or gives people ways to change the world. They will be more likely to engage with and share this content with others.

Final thoughts: Facebook is social

The moral of the story? Work with Facebook, not against it. Facebook is a social network, so work with your followers.

Listen to them, serve them, build human relationships with them and talk with them, not at them. PSA style posts never perform as well as thoughtful, conversational content! Respond to their comments and questions and think of them as an extended part of your organization because they are! The rest will fall into place in time.

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Nonprofit Facebook page templates: What you need to know

If your organization’s Facebook page is categorized as a “non profit organization”, you may have received a message about the new nonprofit page template. On June 19 Facebook will automatically switch all nonprofit pages to the new template.

This has left folks with many, many questions:

  • “What does the new template look like?”
  • “How is it different from what I have now?”
  • “How can I opt out??”
  • “Where can I get more information?!”

The purpose of this guide is to answer all those questions and then some. By the end you will have all the information you need to be ready for the switch at the end of the month.

Previewing the new templates

Any Facebook page admin can preview what the new nonprofit template will look like right now.

To do so first navigate to your Facebook page and click the settings button in the top right corner.

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Then select edit page from the left hand menu:Nonprofit Facebook page templates

On the following page, click the edit button to open the templates menu:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Inside the templates menu you’ll find a view details button on each type of template. Locate the Nonprofit template and select this button:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

You’ll now be able to scroll through a summary of what this new template holds:Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Switching now

Page managers also have the option of switching to the new template now! If you’re interested, just select nonprofits from the list of templates and confirm the switch. Once done, Facebook will ask you if you’d like to start a tour of the new layout:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

This takes you back to your Facebook page and a guided tour:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Further page editing controls

Underneath the option to edit your page template, you’ll find the option to edit the tabs on your Facebook page. Clicking the settings button opens this option and also gives you a direct link to that tab. How cool is that?!

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Under the list of current tabs on your Facebook page you’ll also see the option to add tabs. Just click Add a Tab button:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Once you’re happy with your page’s tabs, you have the power to drag and drop them into any order you’d like:Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Opting out of the nonprofit page template

To opt out of the change, log into Facebook on or after June 19. Navigate to the edit page menu as laid out above. The nonprofit template will be your page’s new template. To switch back, click the edit button:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Scroll until you find Standard and click the View details button:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Scroll to the bottom and click the Apply Template button:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

It will then ask you to confirm. Click okay:

Nonprofit Facebook page templates

Now the new template is applied:

Wrap up While this may feel like a big switch for nonprofits on Facebook, we don’t believe it will be in the long run. It’s important to keep in mind that Facebook is still testing their page templates idea. This could be a new feature that sticks around, or it could quietly leave like other failed tested features on the platform.

It’s also important to remember that very few of your supporters ever visit your Facebook page, let alone spend time there. People engage with your posts in their news feed and use your Facebook page to find your website, addresses, phone number, etc. In short, page templates are a nice improvement but probably won’t make a huge difference to organizations.

automated rules Facebook

Facebook ad rules: Do More Good With Less Work

Don’t have time to check your ads, ad sets, and campaigns on a daily basis? Then you need to try Facebook’s new automated ad rules!

All you have to do is tell Facebook what to check, when to make changes, and what those changes should be… and voila! You have your own automated ad assistant. Or if you’d rather personally make adjustments on the fly, you can also request notifications to keep you in the loop if and when certain things occur.

Either way, Facebook just gave nonprofits like you a ton of new power on their ads platform!

But power is only good if you know how to use it, right? So let’s talk logistics. Here’s exactly how to set it up.

Creating New Ad Rules

To get started, open your Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor. (In this example, we’ll be using Ads Manager.)

On the first screen, right when you login, you should see a Create Rule button in the middle of the page under the Campaigns tab.

automated rules facebook

Choose which ads you want this rule to apply to. You can choose a particular campaign, ad set, or ad, or you can choose to apply the rule more broadly.

automated rules facebook

Next, choose what action you’d like to happen once the rule is triggered. This can range from sending you a notification to automatically adjusting the budget or bid amount for the ad in question.

automated rules facebook

Now you need to choose the condition under which your action will be triggered. Facebook gives us a ton of options here, so spend some time digging into this menu to discover your options.

automated rules facebook

You’ll also need to choose the time range and attribution window for this rule. The time range is the number of days’ worth of data you’d like the rule to apply to. The attribution window allows you to track actions taken during a particular span of time.

automated rules facebook

Lastly, choose how to receive notifications and name the new rule.

automated rules facebook

And look at that: You’ve created an ad rule!

automated rules facebook

Managing Existing Ad Rules

Rules can then be managed by clicking the down arrow and choosing Manage Rules. You’ll find this right next to the Create Rule button when you login to Ads Manager or Power Editor.

automated rules facebook

From there you’ll be taken to a new screen, where you can turn rules on or off, make changes, or even delete rules.

Automated rules Facebook

Select the Activity tab at the top to see a list of all rules and details about each one. Automated rules Facebook

And that’s all there is to it. So go log into your Facebook ads account and give this new feature a spin. You can also find more info and resources here or email us if you have any questions: info@actionsprout.com

facebook town hall

Facebook Town Hall features now available to nonprofits

Please note: This feature is currently only available to US users of Facebook.

Earlier this year, Facebook quietly released a new feature called Town Hall that they hoped would encourage US users to become more involved in elections.

“The feature is available to all U.S. users on desktop and mobile, and will now include News Feed integration….Facebook also announced it’s launching local election reminders for the first time, to encourage users to vote in state, county, and municipal elections.”

For the most part, this hasn’t been a very visible feature so far. Most users of the site probably didn’t even notice the new “Town Hall” icon in their left hand menu:

facebook town hall

But, that may be about to change. Facebook pages with the category of “non profit organization” now have the option to include a call to action, to contact a representative, in their Facebook posts.

That’s right. Your nonprofit Facebook page can add a Contact button to your posts that points to a representative supporters can start a conversation with.

Let’s look at all the bells and whistles of this exciting new feature, shall we?

Getting started

As the screenshot below shows, nonprofits now have a “Town Hall” icon they can select to add the call to action:

facebook town hall

Start typing a name and Facebook will suggest matching representatives on Facebook:

facebook town hall

Once you’ve selected your representative you’ll have the opportunity to fill out the rest of the post. This is a great place to include your theory of change! State the issue at hand, layout a reasonable solution and give supporters an easy way forward to help make a meaningful difference. Like contacting their local Reps!

facebook town hall

Here’s an example of what the post will look like once published.

A couple of things make this post really unique. First, we see a cute phone icon and “Contacting Senator Maria Cantwell” at the top of the post. Next we can see how many people have already contacted this representative. Lastly we find a call to action button embedded right on the post: facebook town hall

When supporters click the Contact button, they will be shown a screen with some options to do so. Do note: there is an option to start a conversation using Facebook Messenger!

facebook town hall

When a supporter selects the Share button, they are able to create their own call to action post encouraging their friends to reach out to this representative as well.

facebook town hall

Now you’re probably wondering, “But what happens if the person I select isn’t one of my supporters’ representatives?” The answer is, Facebook has your back!

In the example below we’re looking at a call to action to contact a state representative from Texas. Because I don’t live in Texas, Facebook doesn’t give me the contact button like before. Instead that button prompts me to find my Reps.

facebook town hall

Doing so takes me to the Town Hall page inside of Facebook. At the top of the screen Facebook has found 10 of my representatives on Facebook. I have options to follow these people or start a conversation. I’ll also see how many of my Facebook friends have connected with a representative in the past. In this case I have 52 Facebook friends who have.

facebook town hall

Wrap up

It’s not hard to see that this is one of Facebook’s many responses to the 2016 and 2017 elections in the US and European Union. It will be very interesting to see how this succeeds, or not, in getting more people involved in their country’s elections.

More interesting though, will be how nonprofit Facebook pages step up and leverage this powerful feature! Unlike Facebook the company, you and your organization probably have a much closer relationship with your audience of supporters. This puts you in a very unique, and powerful position, to drive and influence behaviors in your supporters. So take your newfound knowledge and go make the world a better place, you nonprofit hero you!

fake profiles

Nonprofits: Stop using “fake” profiles to access a Facebook page

Does your nonprofit uses “fake” or dummy Facebook logins to access your organization’s Facebook page? If so, you’ll need to switch to your team’s real Facebook profiles… TODAY.

Why so urgent?

Facebook is cracking down hard on fake accounts. Following the 2016 US presidential election and subsequent elections across the European Union, Facebook is under increasing pressure to go after anyone using its platform to perpetuate false information.

What’s their plan of attack? Well, first on their list is cracking down on fake profiles. Even though most fake logins aren’t created nefariously, if your nonprofit uses one, you will be caught in this sweep.

As Reuters reports,

“Facebook said it would go after amplifier accounts based on behavioral analysis that shows signs of inauthenticity.”

In other words, if their systems finds any fake profiles, they will shut them down. No questions asked. And if those profiles were your only way to access your nonprofit’s Facebook page? You’re fresh out of luck. Granted, you could try to work with them to regain access, but that often takes weeks or even months. What if you have events, fundraising efforts, or stories to promote in the meantime? Trust us. You don’t want to find yourself in this situation. We’ve seen it happen to way too many nonprofits, and it’s not pretty.

That’s why we created this article. We’re here to walk you through everything you need to know to help protect your nonprofit from losing access to its Facebook page.

Make the time, make the change, and save yourself the headache.

Facebook Pages and Personal Profiles

According to Facebook’s Terms of Service, you’re only suppose to operate a Facebook nonprofit page via a real Facebook profile. A lot of people think they can (or even should) set up a separate personal profile to avoid a presumed public connection with a page, but Facebook specifically does not want you to do that. If you do, it makes it that much harder for them to determine who’s being sketchy and who’s not.

Your one real, personal profile is suppose to be your key to all of your other activity on Facebook. The platform was specifically designed to work this way, with your personal data kept completely safe and separate from any public groups and affiliations you operate. Your profile isn’t publicly tied to those other pages in any way.

As a matter of fact, using real profiles is actually more secure for your organization overall. For instance, let’s look at the six different types of page roles you can assign a teammate:

facebook page roles

As you can see, you can limit access to different portions of your Facebook page depending on how much access that teammate needs. This is especially important for new employees, interns, volunteers, and other helpers..

One of the major problems with fake profiles is that they’re often given full administrative access without regard to these important distinctions. This can quickly become a nightmare if someone leaves the organization, is unhappy for some reason, or would like to otherwise put your Facebook page at risk, from the inside out.

By using your teammates’ real names and assigning them appropriate roles, you can also help keep track of who did what. For example, if something gets deleted that shouldn’t have, and it was done using a fake profile, it’s impossible to know who really performed that activity.

Why put your organization through an internal witch hunt when simply using real profiles could’ve cleared up that confusion in the first place? Again, we’ve heard too many horror stories…

Making the Fix

Fixing this issue will take you less than five minutes. Seriously.

First of all, there is no limit to the number of profiles you can give page access to. That said, only admins on the page may give those permissions to others.

If you’re an admin for the page, simply follow these instructions to start granting access to the appropriate parties:

Click Settings at the top of your Facebook page.

Click Page Roles in the left column.

facebook page roles menu

Type a name or email in the box. a. If the person is your Facebook friend, begin typing their name and select them from the list that appears. b. If the person isn’t your Facebook friend, type the email address associated with their Facebook account.

add a page role

Click Editor to select a role from the dropdown menu.

Click Save and enter your password to confirm.

That’s it!

This teammate will now receive a notification letting them know they have been given permission to access the page. Now, when they log into Facebook using their normal personal profile, they will be able to easily access and navigate to that page, like this:

pages menu

Once you’re finished adding everyone who should have access (with their real personal profiles), make sure to remove any fake profiles that still have access to the page. If you leave those profiles up, they could cause unnecessary risk to your organization. Be safe, not sorry.

And remember, when you need to add someone in the future, use their real profiles and follow the steps above. You can even bookmark this guide to help.

Wrap up

The days of using fake Facebook profiles are quickly coming to an end. While nonprofits often don’t mean any harm by creating them, they are against Facebook’s Terms of Service and how they’ve specifically designed their platform. With the sheer number of pages on Facebook (40-million to be exact!), Facebook simply doesn’t time to sort through which fake profiles are being used for good or ill.

Your best bet is to simply follow the Terms of Service, and it’s too your benefit, too.. Don’t put yourself and your nonprofit at serious risk of losing page access, not mention getting on a Facebook list of people who are truly up to no good.

If you ever have questions or concerns please reach out to us at info@actionsprout.com

fundraising goals

Blow Your Fundraising Goals Out of the Water!

4/26 Update: 8,635 backers pledged $353,461 to help bring this project to life.

Reaching 100 percent of your fundraising goal is a pretty good feeling. But how would you feel if your organization reached 25 times that?

Rachael Zoe Miller is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean. For the past year, she’s been focusing their communication strategy squarely on Facebook. Now their page has become the primary and most frequent way they connect with supporters, share information about the cause, and inspire action to help protect the world’s oceans.

On March 28, Miller launched the group’s first Kickstarter campaign in support of its new Cora Ball, which captures microfibers shed off our clothing while in the washer.

Fundraising Goals

They primarily advertised the campaign through the project’s active Facebook page. But Miller had no idea just how active it really was.

The initial goal was $10,000. She thought maybe they’d reach in a couple weeks or so. Imagine her surprise when it took only three hours later to reach that amount! At the time of this publication, more than 6,000 people have pledged over $250,000, and counting…

Why was this campaign so successful? Facebook. And we can prove it.

The Perfect Kickstarter Jumpstart

With an already active Facebook community, this Kickstarter not only got off the ground easily—it rocketed off.

“Our awesome and enthusiastic community jumped in right at the launch! Because of their amazing and immediate response, we managed to get on Kickstarter’s popular page on that first day. From there, things started snowballing, mostly via Facebook!”

Nonprofits know that change comes from reaching the right people at the right time and with the right message. Today Facebook gives organizations an incredible opportunity to do just that, and on a huge scale.

The project’s Facebook page accounted for 30 percent of the project Kickstarter traffic and monetary support.

“Facebook has been our single biggest source for pledges. I am sure it is the ease with which people could share our story that made Facebook the fastest vehicle for spreading the word about our Kickstarter.”

The fact that this fast support led to a feature on the Kickstarter page was likely the tipping point into “mainstream” awareness for the cause. As a result, NowThis featured them in a video, Martha Stewart featured the Cora Ball on her sites, and Kickstarter itself choose to feature the Cora Ball under Projects We Love and Project of the Day.

None of this would have been possible without the initial support from their Facebook community.

How Did She Do It?

Fundraising Goals

A year before Cora Ball was launched on Kickstarter, Miller recognized the potential of Facebook. She knew that, to be truly successful online in the way she envisioned, her organization would need a strong Facebook presence and community. That’s why she threw herself into learning as much as she could about Facebook best practices and strategies.

We asked her what helped her the most and what what she’d recommend to others. Here are her top tips:

Post content your audience loves to engage with.

If a post falls flat, learn from it! Ask yourself: Why didn’t this post take off like others?

“Our breakthrough moment came from an ActionSprout webinar when I learned that you can’t force an underperforming post to go big by boosting it,” Miller explained. “Pay attention to the analytics on Facebook and ActionSprout and use any dollars to boost posts proven to be engaging. I am sure that saved us a lot of money and helped me zero in on what our audience likes.”

Post content consistently.

“I think consistent posting really helps build an audience and keep their engagement,” Miller told us.

We agree. Posting at least once a day is a must, and even two to three times per day is ideal. Not everyone will see every post, so this helps ensure your message gets through.

Post when your audience is on Facebook.

Scheduling posts for times when you know a lot of your followers will be on Facebook can lead to greater organic reach and engagement. Miller used both Facebook and ActionSprout to get this information… and you can, too!

Post related content proven to resonate with your audience.

Miller used ActionSprout’s Inspiration feature to find and share trending content about our oceans.

“ActionSprout’s data is so valuable. Being able to easily know when to post, see what’s resonating with our audience and find stories from other sources that are likely to connect with our audience has saved us so much time. It also keeps us from having to guess,” said Miller.

Sharing other’s trending articles, images, or videos can greatly increase the reach of your Facebook page.

clean ocean inspiration

How Can YOU Do It?

Give yourself plenty of time to invest in Facebook and and grow your community before your next big project. You’ll need at least six months or so. Whether you have a Kickstarter coming up or a more traditional fundraising effort, having a solid Facebook community can make all the difference in getting the word out and raising those necessary funds.

As Miller says, Facebook is just so easy to share links with family and friends. And given Facebook’s nature, these links can quickly spread like wildfire to reach a lot of people.

Now is a time to focus on building relationships with your followers. Get to know what interests them, what resonates with them, and what motivates them. This will shape every piece of your Facebook strategy, from what types of content to share (image, videos, or articles), where that content comes from (Pew, Huffington Post, NOAA, etc.), the tone of your content (optimistic, angry, sad, etc.), the length of your content, and more.

It will take some time to figure out, but once you have it, you’ll be pleased with the results.

With two-billion people on Facebook, you can find your tribe of supporters. Just put in the time, research, and effort to figure out what will resonate with them. Once you provide it, they’ll be there ready to chime in and lend their support.

About The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.43.21 AM

The Rozalia Project’s mission is straightforward: to fight to protect our oceans and keep them clean. Their ultimate goal is thriving, healthy waters for all of us to enjoy. They accomplish this mission through education, innovation, research, hands-on work, and much more. You can learn all about the project and their good work here.

About the Cora Ball

Fundraising Goals

The Cora Ball is a easy-to-use laundry ball that catches microfibers that shed off our clothes in the washer. It’s inspired by the natural design of ocean coral and its ability to effectively filter water. Cora Balls are reusable, easy to clean, and take no extra time to use. You can learn about about them here.

easter profile picture frames

“Steal” these Spring and Easter Profile Picture Frames

Can you believe Spring is already here and Easter is just around the corner?!

To celebrate, our team created some Profile Picture Frames your organization can “steal” and make your own! To get started just download the images from this blog post. Then when you’re creating your new Profile Picture Frame action, simply upload the overlay image you’d like to share with your followers.

Facebook Profile Picture Frames are a powerful way to spread support while collecting name and email from folks who change their image. If you haven’t given this tool a try yet, check out our getting started guide.

You can download our Spring pack here.

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Facebook profile picture frame

New-and-Improved Profile Picture Frame Tool!

Why it’s even better than Profile Campaign Builder and how to benefit from it, step by step.

Our Profile Campaign Builder has been, by far, one of our most beloved tools. And yet we’re getting rid of it. Why? Because we have something you’re going to love even more!

Since this is such an important tool for our customers, we wanted to walk you through what you can expect from this new tool and how easy it is to set up a new picture campaign. So, let’s jump in, shall we?

Fun Fact

Would you believe our popular Profile Campaign Builder was created as an experiment? We built it in the course of our early ActionSprout Labs work. We were trying to figure out ways to help nonprofits on Facebook, and this seemed like a good place to start. From the communities overwhelming use of the tool, we were definitely on to something helpful!

Using what we learned from that experiment (thanks in large part to the feedback of nonprofit customers like you), we’re thrilled to give our community more of what they need… only better.

FREE New Features

You’re not here for a history lesson though. You’re here to get things done! So without further ado, let’s check out the new features you’ll be able to enjoy (for free!) that the old tool lacked.

  • See metrics on views, clicks, and completion rate.

facebook profile picture frame

  • Track Facebook engagement on your Profile Picture Frame Facebook post. View total reactions, comments, and shares for the post.

Facebook profile frame

  • Any Profile Picture Frames you create are now connected to your Facebook page rather than your personal account. So when someone views your social action, it will be in the context of your organization’s Facebook page and hard-linked back to it. People will also see how many of their friends and family have already liked page right there, no clicks necessary.

honey bee connected page example

  • Keep supporters who’ve already changed their profile image in the loop with action updates.

Bonus Features for Silver Customers

With our Silver subscription (just $29 per month), now you can also have access to these long-awaited features:

  • Collect names and email addresses from everyone who changes their Facebook profile image using your overlay!

  • Integrate supporter info for your profile picture campaign directly into MailChimp, so your mailing list stays current and comprehensive.

How to get started

  1. Login or sign up for ActionSprout
  2. Select the Facebook page you’d like to create a Profile Picture Frame for, from the accounts screen.
  3. Navigate to your social actions tab and click the green Create action button at the top
  4. Select Profile Picture Frame from the menu that opens
  5. Use our getting started guide and guide on creating awesome overlay images. to create your frame.
  6. Once finished, use our Smart Scheduler to post your new social action at the best time to reach and engage as many people as possible on Facebook.

And that’s it! We truly think you’re going to love it. But if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please drop us a line at info@actionsprout.com. We always love to hear from our customers.

profile picture frame

NEW! Build Your Supporter Database With Profile Picture Campaigns

Why is it so important for nonprofits to have a presence on Facebook?

  • To raise awareness for a cause
  • To give their community the opportunity to show the world what they stand for
  • To find more supporters to help organizations do more good

And what’s the easiest, most effective way to do all three? By giving people the chance to show their support right on the their Facebook profile pictures.

Not only does it help spread the word about your organization, but now (thanks to a new feature in the ActionSprout tool) you also gain a database of supporters’ names and emails in return, for future outreach and engagement!

Word of mouth > marketing

If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve likely seen friends and family alter their profile pictures in such a way. It’s a small change that has the opportunity for big reach and memorable impact. And since it’s coming from someone known, rather than an organization, it makes people stop, pay attention, and join in.

Real outreach for real supporters

If you’ve launch you profile picture campaign via ActionSprout, everyone who changes their image for your cause goes into a database that you can later reference and contact. Add them to your mailing list, send them follow-up information, or even send them a future donation appeal.

Since they’ve given you a profile pic stamp of approval, you help avoid the dreaded spam stigma. These are already supporters of your cause, and they’ve proven they’re not afraid to show it!

It truly is one of the most powerful, authentic ways nonprofits can get their message out there to those who want to hear it.

How it works

You’ll find this newest feature inside your ActionSprout account, under the Social Actions tab. By and large you’ll build the Profile Picture Frame just like you would any other social action. The big difference here is uploading the image overlay.

Then you can share it as a Facebook newsfeed post, promote it as a Facebook ad, share it on Twitter, post it on Instagram, sent it via email, embedded on a website, and more.

All it takes is four quick clicks for supporters to add your graphic to their picture, which in turn, records their name and email address into a handy database for you.

Plus, everywhere that person’s profile picture shows up on Facebook, their friends and family will see it, encouraging those people in turn to change their profile image as well. If they do, you get their info, their friends and family see their picture, and so on and so on. It’s pretty easy to see how such a little action can quickly add up to big results.

profile picture frame

Getting started

As complex as this all sounds, ActionSprout performs much of the heavy lifting for you. The whole process takes maybe 20 minutes of your time… while your organization gets a TON of word-of-mouth value in return.

This live webinar by ActionSprout’s Sarah Francis will walk you through every step of the process. She shares tips and tricks and answers questions, too. Click here to reserve your virtual seat now.

Video not your thing? No problem! We also have a detailed written guide here walking you through all the same steps.

Ready to make a splash?

Go dive in and give it a try! Help your community demonstrate solidarity, gather, resist, or simply show support. No matter how you choose to use it, your supporters will be sharing the good work of your cause on your behalf, while helping you build a database of supporters ready to communicate and engage.

internet troll

How to Protect Your Facebook Page from Internet Troll Disease

A new study shows that, while some people are born trolls, others contract it. Researchers at Stanford and Cornell found that ordinary people started engaging in troll-like behavior by simply encountering negativity in their online communities. So if negativity creates more trolling, which creates more negativity, could trolling be spreading online like a disease?

According to the report:

“The proportion of flagged posts and proportion of users with flagged posts are rising over time. These upward trends suggest that trolling behavior is becoming more common, and that a growing fraction of users are engaging in such behavior…There may be several explanations for this….but our findings, together with prior work showing that negative norms can be reinforced and that downvoted users go on to downvote others, suggest that negative behavior can persist in and permeate a community when left unchecked.”

The good news is, by understanding what causes and influences trolling behavior, we can work to decrease it over time.

The following are the two key issues they found that increased trolling. Let’s take a look at both and discuss ways we can proactively protect our newsfeeds.

You can read the study in its entirety here.


First, the researchers hypothesized that negative feelings would more likely cause trolling behavior. To test this, they designed activities to put one group in a negative mood, while the other group was encouraged to think positively. Then they had them comment on a CNN.com post to measure the resulting online behavior.

I bet you can guess what happened. Those in a negative mood were more likely to leave a comment that would be flagged for trolling. However, if they had time to calm down, for even as little as 10 minutes, their likelihood to leave a second trolling post decreased. Meanwhile, among the positive group, trolling comments were far less common.

Thus you can see how the seed of trolling can be planted in a negative environment. It’s also easier to understand why sometimes trolling behavior arises when it seems otherwise unrelated or unprovoked.

“Trolling in a past discussion, as well as participating in a discussion where trolling occurred, can affect whether a user trolls in the future discussion. These results suggest that negative mood can persist and transmit trolling norms and behavior across multiple discussions, where there is no similar context to draw on.”

Context of Discussions

Exposure to trolling can cause that behavior in people who otherwise wouldn’t react in such a way. That’s not too surprising. Humans pay close attention to environment cues to tell us what’s acceptable behavior in different contexts.

“Participants may have an initial negative reaction to reading the article, but are unlikely to bluntly externalize them because of self control or environmental cues. Negative surrounding context provides evidence that others had similar reactions, making it more acceptable to also express them.”

The researches go on to say:

“This suggests that while some users are inherently more likely to troll, the context of a discussion plays a greater role in whether trolling actually occurs…That people can be influenced by environmental factors suggests that trolling could be contagious–a single user’s outburst might lead to multiple users participating in a flame war.”

You may not be able to change the behaviors of a natural troll, but you can direct the context of your posts in a less troll-inducing direction. If you allow trolling behavior to happen on your page, it will keep happening and, as the study shows, risk growing out of control.

Like most diseases, it’s best to catch it early on. It will only become more difficult to treat with time.

How Mood and Context Work Together

The following table shows how mood and context affect community reaction, both as separate influences and when those influences are combined. As you may have guessed, when the commenter has both a negative mood and negative context, the likelihood of trolling behavior doubles.


While it’s hard to control for someone’s mood, you can make it a point to create positive context in your online communities. Unfortunately, positivity typically isn’t as contagious as negativity, but at least you’re moving the ball in the right direction.

This idea is often referred to as the “Broken Windows” hypothesis:

“Untended behavior can lead to the breakdown of a community. As an unfixed broken window may create a perception of unruliness, comments made in poor taste may invite worse comments. If antisocial behavior becomes the norm, this can lead a community to further perpetuate it despite its undesirability.”

Therefore, cleaning your Facebook page of trolls and their posts—and keeping it clean—will lead to a healthier, more productive community over time.

As we explored above, environmental factors clearly affect people’s behavior. By building and maintaining the desired environment, you create a space more immune to the spread of troll disease.

Tips for Troll Protection

As G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.” Now that you have a better understanding of what creates trolling behavior, it’s time to use that knowledge toward the good of your page.

The following are three key ways you can put these findings into practice, starting today.

  • Set the tone. Quickly hide comments that seem troll-y. As this study shows, previous trolling behavior on the post will encourage additional trolling behavior. Don’t let that snowball get on a roll.

  • Outline your standards ahead of time. Without community rules to guide you, moderating such posts can quickly feel overwhelming. You’ll likely end up hiding comments that simply challenge your position, but are otherwise healthy, constructive comments. Don’t be that Facebook page either. Instead, decide as a team where you draw the line. This will help you act calmly in the moment, not based on hurt feelings.

  • When in doubt, go with your gut. Yes, the last point just said not to be lead by your emotions, but also keep in mind that, though it’s hard to define trolling, we know it when we see it. For certain types of trolls, community rules will never be enough. Trolls can be creative and spin their comments “as following the rules.” Don’t be fooled. If the comment includes flaming, griefing, swearing, personal attacks, or some other intentional attempt to disrupt the conversation, it’s trolling. Sadly, people take pleasure from upsetting others more often than we care to think. No matter how “polite” and “logical” they may want to seem, hurting others for the sake of enjoyment is never okay.

Let’s be honest. There’s no magic cure for trolling, or the internet would’ve taken it already. It’s unpleasant, but it exists and shows no signs of going away. Your best line of defense is understanding how it spreads and creating an environment that makes your community less vulnerable.

Now, get on your page and cultivate some protective positivity!