beth becker

Unlock the potential of Facebook for your nonprofit

In a nutshell, Beth Becker is a social change enthusiast. She spends most of her time sharing her knowledge and experience by helping organizations link their digital and offline efforts to make a difference and meet their missions. She can often be found conducting trainings on digital strategy for the New Organizing Institute, clients and conferences like PA Progressive Summit, Netroots Nation, and is a contributing blogger at epolitics.com.

She brings over 20 years of communication and marketing background to her work, in addition to her experience with political, nonprofit and labor clients. Recently, we had the chance to sit down with her and dive deep into social media strategy. Here’s what she had to say.

How has your strategy / options on Facebook changed over time?

I can think of many changes… I mean let’s face it, Facebook (and social media in general) evolves over time so our strategy needs to as well. But it all boils down to coming to terms with the Facebook algorithm. If you look closely at what the algorithm does and the changes they make in relation to Facebook’s need to make money, it becomes clear that the way they make their money is to provide the users with the best experience possible. The decisions they make in order to do this are based on hard data and lots of it. When we follow suit with our strategies, we are able to build strong, engaged communities.

So every time they make a change, it forces us to make strategic changes, but the end result for both us and Facebook is the same: a better user experience that keeps our community coming back to us over and over again.

How does ActionSprout fit into your larger social media strategies?

ActionSprout does so many things that it’s hard to narrow it down to one or two. Being able to consistently run actions that engage the community is important, but one of the things I love most about ActionSprout is the data on the back-end. Being able to look at those who are engaging with content and identify who the most engaged members of the community are is important and necessary. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it has a mechanism as a Facebook app that makes it possible to migrate your Facebook community to your email list as well. Cross-channel relationships are the key to a successful digital strategy.

What are the top ActionSprout features you use most often?

The data contained in the People tab, without a doubt. I do use the Inspire tool when needing a creativity boost and as a way to see what’s working for others.

What’s a unique way that you use ActionSprout?

I think the key way I use ActionSprout is that it isn’t a standalone content stream… it is integrated into the overall content strategy seamlessly. It’s not like, “Oh we should run an ActionSprout Action today”; it’s: “We’re doing X and we could do an Action to complement it in this way.”

How do you measure success on Facebook? What metrics do you focus on?

It’s all about the engagement. Vanity metrics like audience size? Pretty meaningless to me. Who is talking to us, do we talk with our community—not at them.

How do you experiment with content on your Page? What’s your method?

Try, fail, try again. If it’s really important content I may “test” it by posting it as a targeted post on my personal Facebook wall to a segment of my friends to see how they react, but by and large what we do is based on data; yet we recognize that audiences evolve as they grow so we are constantly trying new things while integrating lessons learned into what we are doing.

What’s your advice to other Page managers?

Three things:

  1. Experiment, experiment, experiment. What works on ONE Page may or may not work on yours, so make informed guesses and experiment.
  2. Be a part of the community not apart from the community—it’s a long, ongoing conversation.
  3. The algorithm is your friend. Stop wasting time complaining about it… put it to work for you.

What can other nonprofits learn from this success?

  1. Strategies that follow Facebook’s algorithm are successful. It’s a very good idea to keep up with changes that Facebook makes to its algorithm and how they’re affecting content reach and delivery. Social strategies that work in parallel with the algorithm instead of against it will prove much more effective.
  2. Don’t get caught in the vanity metric trap. Fan count feels and looks good. Not many Page managers wouldn’t like having a million likes on their Page. The problem is that’s all fan count is—something that feels and looks good. Outside of the warm and fuzzies, fan count means almost nothing. The engagement on your Page, as measured in likes, shares, comments and clicks, is what you want to focus your time and energy on. At the end of the day, increasing your engagement will accomplish your goals much, much faster than fan count.
  3. Experiment. Lots of folks, including ourselves, will tell you what you should and should not be doing on Facebook. While this advice is valuable, it’s really only a starting place. Every 4. Page and its audience are vastly different. The strategy that works wonders for one Page may fall flat on yours. That’s why it’s so important to experiment and learn what works for your unique Page.
  4. Facebook is about community and relationships. When you join Facebook, you’re joining a community. This being the case, you should minimize the time you spend talking at people and increase the time you spend talking with them.
  5. No piece of your strategy could work in isolation. Beth uses ActionSprout and other social tools in conjunction with each other as a part of her larger social strategy. Having an intertwined strategy like hers will boost your success and increase the value of each of your tools.