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Facebook Page Managers, Your Board Can Support You Better

There is nothing worse than when you know how to do your job but your board won’t let you because they don’t understand. And because they don’t, you must not either. Of course, you can’t show your Facebook powers because your hands are tied.

Here’re 4 things that your board can do to help you rock Facebook and help you articulate your argument to get the support you need.

Get involved

Often the work you do on Facebook is not considered “real work.” Maybe because it is so nebulous and seems like goofing off. Likely they don’t know how to under it; they can post family photos, but that’s not the same as cultivating an active supporter base.

Ask them to get involved a little bit. Let them experience what it takes to do it right. A simple task ought to do the trick, a little social monitoring or community management. If you’re running ads, ask them to create, post, and monitor one of their own.

The Pilot Project**

Ask for a pilot project, 6 months or a year and reporting monthly. Your hypothesis being something like “we can get more likes by sharing content that gets people excited about the mission objective, regardless of the source of the content.” Of course, you know this is a solid strategy and frankly what Facebook is designed for, but they are skeptical and need to see data. So ask them to trust you, then give them the data.

Need data to make your case for curating content? Go here Or here Or just Google “curated vs. original content” you’ll find more data than you can shake a stick at.

Let You Work

This issue is really about trust. You know Facebook, and you know hoe to use it. And because they don’t, you don’t; this is an obvious logical felicity. Your board hired you to manage their social media because you have a unique skill set that they don’t possess, not to mention that they don’t have the time.

Use the pilot project to get the data you need to prove it and get them involved so they can see that your work is “real.”

Give You A Budget

First remind them that a good deal of money could be saved by not doing the typical print communications, which are often tossed right in the round file anyway.

Advertising on Facebook doesn’t cost much. You can set a budget, so you don’t spend any more than you have and there is no minimum. No need to make fancy ads, just boost posts!

ActionSprout ran a project to test the value of ad credits for nonprofits, and the results have been amazing. Many organizations have simply boosted content and tripled their page likes and quadrupled their reach or more. An animal shelter ran an ad and saved the life of a dog; the cost? $2.16. Pretty inexpensive way to save a dog. The point being, it doesn’t require a lot of money to see great results. It does take a bit os skill and a good deal of consistency.

Beyond that. ActionSprout is here to help. Our core mission is to change the world by helping nonprofits be successful on Facebook. If you need help, just reach out to us, and we’ll do everything we can.

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3 Facebook Policies YOU Need to Know About

I think it’s safe to say we have all broken one of Facebook’s policies whether small or large at some point. We have had to jump through Facebook’s hoops to unlock our page or profile and receive the good graces of Facebook once again.

The problem is we didn’t know about the policy in the first place. We’re just attempting to keep up with Facebook’s changes and are doing the best we can. We’re a nonprofit for gosh-sakes! We aren’t trying to hurt anyone.

The problem is Facebook is a huge company. They don’t have the time to tease out who’s who, good intentions and honest mistakes. Facebook will work with you to right wrongs and clear up misunderstandings but it can take a while and in the meantime you’re down for the count.

This piece will flush out the top three Facebook policies you need to know about to prevent unnecessary pain and frustration.

Fake Profiles

The policy:

Facebook does its best to shut down fake profiles according to section four of its terms of use:

“Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

  • You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission
  • You will not create more than one personal account.”
  • Common mistakes:

    Nonprofits most commonly break this rule when they create a special profile to access their organization’s page or ad account through. This profile and its login information are then shared with the rest of the team to give people access to the page.

    Results:

    If Facebook closes your fake profile, you can lose access to your organization’s Facebook page as well as well as any ad accounts tied to this profile. This is especially true if the fake profile was the only “user” on the page or ad account. This means you can lose access to any ad credits or ads data inside the account.

    Solution:

    Don’t create or use a shared profile to access your organization’s page(s) or ad account(s). Beyond the consequences above there are numerous security concerns with this method.

    Instead, simply add your teammate’s personal profiles to the page(s) and ad account(s). This is how Facebook wants you to give permission to different accounts and how the platform is designed to work.

    Do note: personal profiles that have access to a Facebook page are not publicly linked to the page in any way.

    How to add someone to a Facebook page.

    How to add someone to a Facebook ad account.

    Another option is to use Facebook Business Manager to manage your organization’s page and ad account. Again you will be giving access to individual users not shared profiles.

    Changing your Page Name

    The policy

    Facebook doesn’t freely allow page managers to change their page’s name once established.

    Facebook doesn’t want a page to gain a number of likes under one name and then change the name of the page to something else. This can lead to user confusion, situations of bait and switch and fraud.

    Once a page has over 200 likes all page name changes are by request only. You may only change the name of your page once. After that initial change, you will need to appeal directly to Facebook for any addition page name changes.

    facebook page change

    Common Mistakes

    Most commonly nonprofits run into this issue when making small changes to their organization’s page name for clarity. They’ll make these changes not realizing there are limits and request processes to change a page’s name.

    facebook page change bellingham

    Results

    Your page’s name can be locked down and inaccessible to you.

    Solution

    Knowledge is king! Know that changing your page’s name is no small matter and you only have one easy shot at it. Think it through and make it count!

    20% text rule

    The policy:

    Facebook only allows ad images to contain 20% text.

    “Ads that have more than 20% of text in their image won’t be approved to run on Facebook or Instagram. Too much text can look like spam and make people think that your ad is low quality. Make sure to use the headline and body of your ad to tell people more about why you’re advertising and what you want them to do.”

    Common Mistakes:

    Submitting ad images that contain more than 20% text.

    The Results:

    The ad is not approved. (In some cases the ad will be approved for a short time and then pulled)

    The Solution:

    Use a grid tool checker to check all your ad images before your submit them for review. This extra step will save you time, effort and frustration over rejected ads.

    Learn more about the 20% text rule and how to stay within it.

    Links to relevant documents:

    We strongly suggestion that you bookmark the following links or keep them someplace handy. There are many more policies we did not cover in this piece you will need to know. Again knowledge is power. The more you know, the less likely you are to mistakenly violate one of Facebook’s policies.

    Community guidelines: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards

    Page guidelines: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

    Advertising policies: https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/

    Facebook terms upon sign up: https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

    architecture of facebook

    Understanding the architecture of your different Facebook accounts

    The goal of this piece is to define each of these accounts and how they relate to one another.

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    Your Personal Profile

    Your personal Facebook profile is your key to the kingdom. This is the account through which you will access all of the rest. You need your personal profile to log into Facebook, and to access your organization’s Facebook Page and Facebook ad account. You will also need this to authorize and use an ActionSprout account.

    Note: You can access your Facebook Page through the personal profile that you use every day. You will not need to create a separate profile used to log in and access your Page.

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    Your Organization’s Facebook Page

    This is your organization’s “real estate” on Facebook. This is where you’ll advocate for your cause as your organization and connect with supporters. For the most part, you cannot do certain things as your Page. You cannot join a Facebook group as your Page or use ActionSprout as your Page. Mostly, your organization’s Page is just for publishing and engaging with people through the content that you post.

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    Your Facebook Ad Account

    This is the account through which you will run your ads. Facebook ads are not created or managed through your Facebook Page. Likewise, having admin or advertising privileges to your organization’s Facebook Page does not mean that you have default access to the ad account. You must still be granted permission to the ad account.

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    Ad accounts are created and owned by individual users, not Pages. Once you have an ad account, you can name it and give it a primary payment method. This is what makes it “personal” or “professional.” Your “Page’s” ad account has simply been given the same name as your Page and is linked to your organization’s credit card.

    Think of it as your advertising bank account on Facebook. A bank account can be personal or professional. Until you name it and give it funds, it just is.

    Through this one ad account, you will be able to run ads for all the Pages on which you have advertising permissions. (When creating an ad, you will be prompted to choose on which Page you’d like to run the ad.)

    Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 1.06.13 PM

    Or, you can set up different ad accounts for each Page that you manage. This can be helpful if each Page has a separate team that will be helping you run the ads.

    How you set this up is entirely up to you.

    Please note: Whoever has access to the ad account in question has access to your ad credits. That means that your whole team can help create and manage your ads, not just the person who applied for or received the credits on behalf of your organization.

    Here are some helpful links:

    To access your Facebook ad account, follow these steps. To set up a new Facebook ad account, follow these steps.

    Your ActionSprout Account

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    ActionSprout is separate from Facebook. To access your ActionSprout account, you’ll visit the ActionSprout website at actionsprout.com and log in.

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    Even though ActionSprout is connected to your Facebook Page, you cannot access your ActionSprout tools through facebook.com or through your Facebook Page. Nor does ActionSprout exist inside your Facebook ad account.

    Think of ActionSprout as an addition or accessory to your organization’s Facebook Page. It allows you to do more through Facebook but does not replace your Facebook Page or Facebook ad account.

    Please note: You will access ActionSprout via your personal Facebook profile just like you access your organization’s Facebook Page through your personal profile. Once logged in, you will select the Facebook Page that you’d like to work on. This does not mean that ActionSprout will be connected or posting to your personal profile.

    Inside your ActionSprout account, you’ll find a tool called SmartAds. This tool does not replace your Facebook Ads Manager. It can, however, help you to automate some of the ads process and make things easier on you, especially if you are new to Facebook advertising.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 1.00.18 PM

    SmartAds is not required to use ActionSprout or your ad credits. It is not how you access your ad credits. It is simply an additional tool at your disposal that can help make the ads process a little bit easier.

    You can learn more about SmartAds here.

    ActionSprout goes far beyond just Facebook ads though. You can use this tool to collect donations on Facebook, run petitions, collect supporter names and email addresses, track the success of your Page, curate content and more.

    For an overview of ActionSprout.

    Hopefully, this piece has given you a better idea of the accounts that you’ll use to manage your ad credits.

    Facebook advertising

    How Facebook Advertising was used to find a lost dog’s family

    For some time, we had watched a surprisingly small number of nonprofits use Facebook advertising to effectively spread their message and build their community of supporters. This made us wonder what would happen if a broader community of nonprofits had access to these tools.

    Thanks to support from Facebook, ActionSprout launched a campaign to give 2,000 nonprofits the resources to experiment with Facebook advertising for three months.

    During the first month of the project, we saw many amazing stories, but one story really stood out and touched our hearts.

    Sally Baker Williams from the Humane Society of the Ozarksreceived a call from a nearby shelter about a found lost dog.

    “After receiving the call and an email with [the dog’s] photo from the nearby shelter, I searched for the dog/family in our data management software via the chip number, but was unsuccessful in locating him. The original microchip was from my organization, but it had not been registered and there were no adoption records due to some problems with record keeping a few years back. I was able to narrow down the time frame via the chip number, but still unable to locate any old records. That is when I decided to turn to social media.”

    With the help of her Facebook ad credits and some funding from a local full-service sign company, Williams used her ads account to spin up a boosted post in the hopes of reaching the dog’s family.

    She set up a targeted audience that ranged in age from 18‒65, with an overlapping distance radius to cover the four-county area that they served.

    She set a budget of $175.00 over a seven-day span for the ad, and hit go.

    “Within just a few hours, the post had reached over 5,000 people and we had located the owner! We only spent $2.81 of the budget.”

    Let’s reflect on that for a moment.

    Williams was able to use Facebook ads and find a lost dog’s family in just a matter of hours. For as little as $2.81, she had reached over 5,000 people and reunited a dog with his family.

    Everyone involved got to go home that day with a happy ending.

    What makes this even more amazing is the fact that Williams and the Humane Society of the Ozarks had very little past experience with Facebook advertising prior to this:

    “We did our first trial Facebook ad in November 2014 for an event. I think it garnered some interest, but it was very much a beginner’s first effort. I [had] made a couple of attempts at running Facebook ads around four years ago, but quickly felt overwhelmed in trying to figure out how to successfully do it.”* The Facebook ad credits have given Williams and the Humane Society of the Ozarks the opportunity and resources to revisit Facebook advertising in a powerful way:

    “Our experience [with the Facebook ad credits] has been overwhelmingly positive! The ad I ran for year-end giving had good responses [and] an ad for an elderly dog looking for a home was widely shared and he was adopted. Some other dogs were promoted and found homes swiftly. We also have a membership drive ad running right now that is doing excellent and we have new memberships coming in! I would like to sincerely express my gratitude for this program. I am learning with each ad I create, the ads are effective, and I am obtaining statistics I can present to my board of directors in order to adjust our budget to accommodate future ads.” Overall, ActionSprout has been humbled by the experience of this project. We’re only a month and a half into the ad credits project, and look forward to receiving more success stories like this.

    20% text rule

    Living with the 20% text rule and what you can do about it

    We are all quite familiar with the 20% text rule at this point. It isn’t perfect, it’s sometimes inconsistent and it isn’t going away. So how do we live with it? What is and isn’t allowed? How do we use it to make our ad images more impactful?

    We will touch on design theory a little bit here, but not too much to weigh you down. You do not need a dedicated design team or Photoshop. As we will see, the 20% text rule is a good thing. Constraints, oddly enough, will make your ad more powerful because you are forced to get to the most refined version of your ideas.

    Why is it Inconsistent?

    Facebook assesses images using a combination of algorithm and manpower. The algorithm assesses the image using a grid system, and a few images that confuse the system for one reason or another get assessed by an actual person. Thus the inconsistency.

    The Rules

    1. The 20% text rule applies to everything that is included in the ad. It applies regardless of whether it’s a plain ad, boosted post or cover image.

    2. Your text will be assessed to ensure that there is no offensive or debasing language. Keep it honest and respectful, and you’ll do just fine.

    3. If the actual product in a photograph has text on it, then that text is allowed because it is not a part of the ad but rather a part of the image. However, the system sometimes doesn’t recognize it as separate from other text.

    4. Text in logos counts as text. For nonprofits, including a logo sometimes reduces the engagement with the ad because it feels “produced” or “commercial.”

    5. Keep your text simple and short… very short. Or, even better, just don’t use text at all. Your image is probably going to be seen on a small device by someone who doesn’t have all the time in the world. So if your text is small and/or long, it will get scrolled over as if it never existed.

    Text vs. Image

    The image is by far the most important part of the ad itself. It is the hook and it needs to be sharp. The text just reinforces the message conveyed by the image. This implies three things:

    1. The image needs to be of high quality, relevant and impactful.
    2. The text must bolster the image.
    3. You need to have your message worked out ahead of time. Your message defines the copy and the image.

    This means that the image must convey your message, so you need to have that worked out first. Because of the way that the News Feed is designed, the image is much bigger and more prominent than the text. The fact that more than 90% of content is viewed on mobile devices further bolsters the prominence of images.

    The 20% text rule emphasizes the importance of imagery and forces nonprofits to be better storytellers, which is a good thing—and the subject of a future post.

    What is this Grid Thing?

    The grid is the easiest way for a computer/human team to review the thousands upon thousands of ad images submitted on a daily basis. It is actually quite simple: if your text or part of your text falls into a box of the grid, then that box counts toward that 20% limit. (5 boxes containing text = 20% text.)

    Let’s illustrate this with an ad for a fictional nonprofit: Zer0-G. We encourage inner city youth to explore space and astro science. For this example, I will use Photoshop (but, again, you do not have to use Photoshop). Facebook offers a great grid tool that anyone can use here.

    Message: You can achieve amazing things with hard work and wise decision-making. Even if you come from an impoverished neighborhood.

    Copy: YES YOU CAN (Note that the copy is very short, embodies the idea of our message and mission, and has no punctuation because no punctuation feels more sincere.)

    Image:

    Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.42.35 AM

    Put the grid on it.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.42.43 AM

    Remember: only five boxes or less (in any direction or combination) may contain text. We also don’t want to obscure our spaceman (or woman).

    Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.44.00 AM

    Let’s lay out our text in a clear and impactful format.

    Note:

    1. The word “YOU” is in color to make it stand out among all the others.
    2. All the text is in uppercase so that it is easier to line up in blocks and so that the lower part of a lowercase “y” will not hang below a line (which would count as another box).
    3. There’s a stark contrast in color.
    4. The text looks “left-heavy.” Having a balanced image would be great, but in this case it is deliberately jarring.

    space-TEXT

    Final image sans the grid:

    space-done

    Also note that I have not discussed the ad copy itself. The character constraints in the ad also force the same refinement of ideas and force you, the creator of the ad, to get to the point and make your point sharp. This makes your ad stronger, hooks more users, and the user has a better experience.

    Constraints can be good!

    To get you started here are some helpful tutorial videos on using Canva and photoshop. These are both powerful image tools that can make a big difference in your content.

    Photoshop:

    Canva:


    Key takeaways:

    1. The Facebook 20% text rule is here to stay because it makes the user experience better.
    2. Too much text is hard to read and distracting from your awesome image, especially on mobile—where it is most likely to be seen anyway.
    3. Not every image needs text.
    4. If you do decide to include text, keep it short, keep it simple and make it pair well with the message and image.
    5. All your images must conform to the rule.
    6. Use the Facebook grid tool to verify that your image makes the cut.
    7. And, once again, remember that constraints can be good.
    curate content

    Curate content while growing your supporter email list

    At Facebook’s core is the need to curate content. In the past content has served a somewhat singular purpose, inform or entertain readers with the intent to convert them to fans and supporters. In other words, your content is a unitasker.

    With a Sproutlet you can add an action to nearly any article, blog post, or web page in seconds. Easily poll your readers. Quickly collect signatures. Newsjack the latest trending topics in less time than it take to order a latte. Newsjacking has never been faster. Your content is now working for you, collecting data, engaging your base, and increasing your reach. Basically, Sproutlets transform your content into a multitasker.

    Why use Sproutlets?

    They are Super Easy, Super Fast

    Sproutlets are designed to be the easiest and fastest way to add an action. On the most basic level, you only need to copy and paste a URL, click “save and continue”, on the next page, you’ll click “share and post”.

    That’s it.

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    Once posted, the Sproutlet appears at the footer of the page you added it to. From there, a user can weigh in on and share the topic with a single click.

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    Powerful Newsjacking

    This is not a new idea. PR firms have been newsjacking for decades. Now, with a 24-hour news cycle, it’s more important than ever to be responsive and fast.

    When a news event aligns with your mission or a topic that might engage your audience emerges, turn it into a Sproutlet. You are riding the wave, taking advantage of the attention to the topic and compelling your supporters to act by engaging them in a conversation.

    Keep Your Traffic

    When a user clicks on an article you share they are taken away from Facebook and away from you. This creates a barrier for them to return. Once they have left, that’s it, they are gone until next time. A Sproutlet keeps the user engaged with you and your cause. When using Sproutlets, they never leave your side on their journey through your news feed.

    No Time to Compose a Post?

    Your content strategy should be an 80/20 mixture of curated and original content. Sproutlets make the curated 80% that much more powerful. Unlike a normal ActionSprout Action, there is no need to gussy up titles and descriptions. Just paste the link, decide on buttons, or leave the defaults, and go.

    Sproutlet or Traditional Action

    There are some key differences between Sproutlets and Traditional ActionSprout Actions actions.

    1. The action title, image and description only appear on Facebook. Unlike normal actions, your title, image, and description are only seen in the Facebook News Feed. Once a supporter clicks on your link, they will see your call to action and action button(s).

    2. You cannot ask for additional data. When creating a typical ActionSprout Action you can pop into your data tab and chose what additional data you’d like to collect. This feature is not available when creating a Sproutlet.

    3. You cannot ask for or collect donations with Sproutlets.

    4. Sproutlets do not support Facebook comments.

    5. Sproutlets cannot be your default action.

    Pro tip

    Make your message short, impactful, and keep the button simple. Sproutlets are all about being fast, impactful, and pointed. The easier you make it for supporters to participate, the more they will participate.

    cecil_the_lion trending story

    Why sharing trending stories is a must for your nonprofit

    On July 28th the story of Cecil the Lion started to trend on social media. It wasn’t long before the hash tag #CecilTheLion had topped the list on Twitter trends.

    In case you missed the story, Cecil was a protected lion killed for sport by a now hated American dentist, Dr. Walter Palmer, who is believed to have paid about $55,000 for the privilege. Cecil the lion was one of the most beloved and famous animals in Zimbabwe’s national parks.

    Quickly Dr. Palmer was wanted by Zimbabwe officials and became the most hated man on the internet. The people were demanding justice.

    Daily Kos saw the story and quickly spun up an ActionSprout call to action demanding the justice supporters so desperately desired.

    The results were amazing. 

    Within five hours of posting the action on Facebook they were nearing 16,000 actions completed.

    When the dust settled two days later Daily Kos had earned over 70,000 signatures.

    daily kos metrics

    Daily Kos’ Engagement rates were through the roof!

    • 41% of viewers completed the action
    • 90% of folks who engaged with the post (liked, commented or shared) went on to complete it
    • 6.2% of all impressions lead to action completions
    • 63.5% of their reach was viral

    At one point, 857 people were on at once signing the petition!

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    What made this action about Cecil the Lion so successful?

    It was based on a trending topic. 

    Trending topics and breaking news always perform well as actions. It’s a good idea to keep your eye open for stories that apply to your cause.

    It was a trending topic people were passionate about. 

    Passionate is an understatement when it comes to Cecil the lion. A group of supporters on Twitter were asking for blood at one point. People were fired up about Cecil.

    Daily Kos used a mobile optimized action.

    Daily Kos used a mobile optimized action. As you can see the majority of action takers were doing so from a mobile device. More and more supporters are accessing Facebook content and petitions from their mobile devices.

    What does this mean at the end of the day?

    You may be thinking “Sure this is interesting, but how can this help my nonprofit?”

    When supporters completed Daily Kos’s action they opted into their mailing list. In five hours time Daily Kos had added almost 20,000 supporter email address to their mailing list. These supporters knowingly opted into their mailing list in support of Cecil and Daily Kos at large.

    So what could a trending action do for your nonprofit? A lot- potentially thousands of new email address.

    Want to take advantage of trending actions for your cause? Learn more about ActionSprout and get started for free. 

    big-data

    Understanding Facebook’s Algorithm: The Key to Engagement and Reach!

    If you manage a Page on Facebook, you’ve probably read different strategies that promise to increase the reach of your content. Some are rock-solid, some are bogus, but few of them explain why you should be doing this or that.

    You wish you could just pull back Facebook’s curtain and take a look at what really matters. How does Facebook decide how many of your supporters receive your killer article in their News Feed?

    Well today, we’re going to pull back the curtain for you! We’ll cover Facebook’s algorithm and the means by which it chooses who sees what on Facebook, and how many people your content will reach.

    Let’s get started!

    First of all, Facebook’s goal is to have its users keep coming back to Facebook and spend more and more time on the site. It’s quite similar to yours, in that you want supporters to keep coming back to your content and spend increasingly more time with it.

    In order to do that, Facebook needs to give their users the best content possible. (And so do you!) Giving users the best content is the algorithm’s job, and understanding how it works is key to getting the most out of Facebook for your organization and reaching your goals.

    Why and How Does Facebook Filter the News Feed?

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    Facebook’s News Feed is the stream of content that users see when they log into Facebook. It is made up of posts including photos, links, videos and status messages, shared by users, friends and the Pages in their network.

    This stream would be overwhelming if Facebook didn’t filter through the content. The site uses an algorithm, or set of rules, that measures how relevant a post is and which users it should be shown to in the News Feed.

    Here’s what that means in practice: Facebook shows users around 300 posts on their daily News Feed—out of the possible 1,500. That means the average post is only seen by 6.51% or less of that Page’s fan base.

    Many organizations have noticed changes in the algorithm, in terms of who and how many people see their posts. Maybe you’ve heard some of the rumors that Facebook has been reducing organic reach or trying to get everyone to pay for ads.

    However, the algorithm is only trying to show your supporters content that they will like and will keep them coming back for more—which is pretty helpful. And when you understand the algorithm, you can stand above the crowd and get the algorithm to significantly increase the reach of your posts.

    The algorithm has roughly 100,000 highly personalized factors that it uses, but you only need to understand 5 concepts to understand the algorithm: user interest, post popularity, creator popularity, type of post, and recency of post.

    Below we’ll discuss what each one of those components mean and give you some straightforward tips on how to take advantage of them so that Facebook’s algorithm is going to work for your organization.

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    Previous Interest

    The algorithm measures previous interest by paying attention to the user’s past engagement: likes, comments, posts and shares. In making decisions on what to show, Facebook wants to know whether this user historically engaged with posts that are similar to this new post. Past behavior is a strong indicator of future behavior!

    If you want to see this concept of previous interest in action, you can. Go to your personal News Feed and start engaging with the posts from a particular organization—it doesn’t even have to be one that you have followed in the past. The more you start engaging, the more of their posts will show up on your News Feed over time. This is the cycle that builds real relationships with your audience.

    Facebook makes these previous interest calculations for each individual user based on each post that they have engaged with historically. So our own content strategies must take the individual into account as well. Why would anyone in your Facebook community want to engage with this content?

    The simple answer: They engage with content they want their friends and family to see them engaging with.

    Read more about this concept.

    To generate engagement over time, a Facebook post must first and foremost be about helping our supporters. Here are some strategies to do so:

    Identity: Make sure your post, its tone and issues, fit with the identity of your audience. Motivation: What does ‘liking’ my organization’s post say to your audience’s friends? Does it show that they are smart, helpful, caring, intelligent, hip, humorous? Can they provide some inspiration or give their friends an opportunity to make a difference in way they’ll appreciate? Conversational: Creating a space for discussions is another way to boost engagement. Ask questions in some of your posts, encourage users to participate in conversations, and respond to comments. This ongoing engagement will demonstrate interest.

    Post Performance

    Post performance boils down to one maxim:

    The more users that like and engage with a particular post, the more likely other users will do the same.

    Thus, when you post something that gets good initial engagement, Facebook then becomes more likely to share it with even more of your audience’s News Feeds.

    In fact, current performance of a post might be the best prediction of whether other users will want to see and interact with your content. There are some easy lessons from this:

    • Images are really great for quick engagement. They naturally attract our attention and because they are quicker to grasp than video or text, images can drive quick initial engagement.

    • Seed your posts. Share it yourself, ask coworkers and allies to like, share and comment. Make sure to ask judiciously when it’s really important content—people won’t do that for you every day.

    • Share successful posts from other Pages and organizations that share your values and mission. Shared posts typically perform well on similar Pages, but sharing also breeds reciprocity, so they might do the same for your posts next time!

    Your Page

    If other users have generally engaged with your past posts, Facebook will be more likely to show users your current post. That’s right, Facebook is always judging your Page and the more your audience likes your stuff over time, the more likely Facebook will share all of your content more broadly.

    This will keep coming up, but make sure to regularly share highly engaging content with your audience. Some organizations have trouble doing more than press release-style posts, and that will hold them back the one time they have a great post to share.

    Be sure to build off successes. Repost high-performing content, unleash that killer meme you’ve been waiting to finish and most importantly, post opportunities for fans to deeply engage with your organization, like a petition, or volunteer opportunity.

    Type of Content

    There are several categories of Facebook content: status updates (simply text), links, photos and videos. The algorithm makes a note of the kinds of content an individual regularly engages with and then shows them similar content.

    For example, if you have engaged with a lot of baby photo posts from your friends, you will likely see a lot more photos (and probably baby photos) in your News Feed in the future. If you get a lot of your news by clicking on link posts and going to the articles, Facebook will show you more link posts.

    This really translates to one clear practice: Post a variety of content types. You want to engage all of your fans, no matter what type of content they prefer, so don’t be afraid to use all of the content types available.

    Recency

    Some people think this refers to how recently the post was posted, but that’s not exactly the case.

    What the algorithm takes note of is the recency of post engagement.

    For example, a post may not get a lot of engagement right away, but as people start to engage with it more, the algorithm notices this and the self-fulfilling prophecy of the engagement cycle takes over.

    One thing to note is that no one can tell you how often to post or even how many times a day you should post. Generally more is better, but it really takes some experimenting.

    The best way to determine this is to take advantage of the data Facebook provides in your Page Insights, and use that to guide your posting behavior.

    Staying Ahead

    Once you understand the basic indicators, there are two more features of Facebook’s filtering system you need to understand:

    Constant updates. Facebook is constantly tweaking the News Feed algorithm. For example, Facebook recently decreased the reach of content that directly asks people to like or share the Page. If you understand the basics, you’ll be able to better adapt to changes.

    Embrace the randomness and experiment. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm uses tens of thousands of indicators to choose who it shows posts to. Quite frankly, with the 100,000 factors in the algorithm customized for each individual, even the folks at Facebook can’t always predict what will happen with any given post or Page.

    Here Are the Key Takeaways:

    1. Facebook uses an algorithm, a series of calculations, to select which posts to place in a user’s News Feed. The algorithm’s bottom line is to keep Facebook’s users happy and coming back for more. Think about how your posts can help meet those goals and more of your supporters will start seeing your posts.
    2. Facebook really makes calculations for each individual user. So our content strategies must take into account why any individual would engage with any particular content. Why would any user want to be seen liking your posts?
    3. Post various types of content; the algorithm will be more likely to share certain types of posts to people who have shown an affinity for one.
    4. Repost highly engaging content. Posts with a lot engagement tend to get more News Feed visibility.

    As always, experiment! There are around 100,000 factors for how Facebook filters posts on the News Feed. Try some different strategies and use what works for you! Don’t be afraid to break these guidelines! Every Page and audience is different.

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    Facebook Is a Very Visual Communication Channel

    You don’t have to spend much time on Facebook to know that images dominate the News Feed.

    Whether they appear on their own or are linked to other content, images are everywhere. But as more images find their way into the News Feed, it becomes harder for your images to stand out and receive the reach and engagement you hope for.

    Image posts really do drive more engagement!

    1. Images catch attention on a cluttered News Feed.
    2. Images quickly present information in a compelling and an even emotional way.
    3. They tell the story and successes of an organization.
    4. They are easy to share and therefore expand your cause.

    Images also support your mission:

    • They generate Facebook traffic by getting more likes, comments and shares on Facebook to grow and cultivate relationships with your audience.
    • They generate link traffic by driving people to an organization’s website, off-site web forms such as Convio or Salsa, or an action within Facebook such as an ActionSprout social action (quick note: link posts often do a better job in driving clicks).

    So what’s a Page manager to do? Don’t sweat it!

    Here are 10 best practices to boost the power of your images:

    1. Think about What Your Audience Wants

    When you post, think to yourself: “Why would someone else share this image?” Typically, things that do well on Facebook include cute animals, scenes of nature and cultural icons.

    These do well because when your supporter likes or shares an image, it’s not just about what they like personally. They are liking it because of how it will make them appear to their friends and what they think their friends like.

    Does it make them look smart, compassionate and funny to their friends? Do they think people will appreciate it? Is it an important issue so they want to inform others about it?

    To find images like these, check out Pages doing great work on Facebook. For example: OurTime.org and the Snow Leopard Trust. You can use the Inspire tool or our standalone free Page Analyzer to surface the best of the best from these Pages. When reusing others’ work, be sure to properly attribute.

    2. Take Note of the Emotional Content of Photos

    Are the people truly smiling with their eyes? Do their emotions match what you are trying to share in the photo? Do they fit with your organization’s voice and audience? How will people feel looking at them?

    Upworthy describes a shareable post as being “awesome, meaningful, and visual”. What might those qualities look like and feel like for your organization and for your supporters?

    3. Be Timely

    See if you can have a photo ready to go when there is breaking news in your world.

    4. Use Text to Give Images Context, or a Twist

    This can include adding text to the photo itself, and/or describing the image in the header. Often images can’t stand completely by themselves. However, you should be careful to not cover up what makes the image attractive in the first place. (There are free tools that add text to images.)

    If you are planning on boosting the post with a Facebook ad, keep in mind that the text can’t take up more than 20% of the image. You can check the percentage of text in an image by using this handy tool.

    5. Consider the Specs on Facebook

    If you are uploading an image to Facebook, it should be 472×394 pixels. If you are picking a photo to illustrate a link, the optimal size is 1200×628 pixels. You can resize images using various image editing software.

    6. Pay Attention to the Visual Elements of Your Photo

    Images should be attractive and of high quality to encourage people to share them. Images should also have vibrant colors and bold contrast, which you can also adjust for using a photo editing tool.

    Make sure the image is simple and not crowded—it will help draw the eye and stand out in a cluttered News Feed. And finally, try original-looking imagery as much as possible. If it looks like a stock photo from a catalog, you’ll want to keep looking!

    7. Be Mobile-Friendly

    Remember that 78% of US Facebook users are mobile, and that percentage is still rising. You should pick images that will look good on both mobile and a desktop. This tool can help you see how your image will look on mobile if you need to check. Just put the link to your Facebook post into “Website to Emulate” to see how it will look.

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    8. Image or Infographic?

    Decide if you can capture what you want to share in an image or an infographic. If you are trying to get a simple idea across, a photo is probably enough and you can add some overlaid text to hit it home.

    If you have a whole series of data that tells a more complex story, an infographic is a good way to do that.

    9. Find Your Community

    To find imagery that will perform well on your page, like Facebook pages of organizations who do a good job in your field, explore the Page Analyzer or use Crowdtangle lists.

    These tools will show you what types of images are performing well that you could reshare or pull inspiration from. If you have an in-house photographer and/or designer, this could be a good use of their talents.

    10. Be Experimental

    Try different things and use Facebook Insights and the Page Analyzer to see what succeeds by tracking likes, comments and shares. This will help you see who is really engaging with your content.

    When posting, use the 80/20 Rule. 80% of images should be proven to be engaging. Repost your own best material, craft images that look similar to other ones that have done well with your audience, or simply reshare posts that have done well for other pages with similar audiences. The last 20% of images you should try something new.

    Now That You Know the Best Practices, Should You Share or Upload the Image?

    If you are just trying to get Facebook traffic (likes, comments and shares), sharing others’ posts is a great option. Facebook likes it when people share and so will reward you.

    Consider uploading your own photo when you are trying to drive traffic to your own link, or if you have a different spin on the image. Make sure you credit the source of the page by tagging them.

    Your Key Takeaways:

    1. Share worthy images that typically have some of these elements: bold, vibrant, simple, contrasting colors, relevant/ timely, and uplifting or emotionally evocative.
    2. Adding text to images can be a great way to underscore a point and really makes it more meaningful to your supporters.
    3. Share other people’s content, find photos elsewhere online, or create your images, and it’s good to do a mix of all three.
    4. Consider your goals and optimize the post accordingly: are you trying to create engagement for your Facebook Page, or do you want to drive traffic somewhere else such as a website or petition?
    5. Share images that your audience will want to share with their friends (because they provide humor or important information, make your audience look caring or intelligent, etc.). And if you aren’t sure what your audience wants to share, experiment until you find a pattern of success.

    Have fun, experiment with different images, and listen to your audience. The rest will fall into place!

    Facebook ads for Nonprofits

    How to Run Facebook ads for Nonprofits

    Like it or not (pun intended!), thanks to Facebook ads we’re entering a new and somewhat intimidating era of online advertising. Facebook only released mobile ads and social graph in 2012, but boy has the world of digital ads changed!

    Sure, you may be an expert at driving content and engagement for your nonprofit, but truly leveraging ads is a completely different animal. The vast majority of nonprofits in your position are just beginning to take advantage of the true power of ads.

    More recently, Facebook has performed some serious tech-magic in the advertising department, including:

    • Integration of the Lookalike Audience features.
    • Advanced targeting and retargeting methods.
    • Ability to create unpublished or dark posts that appear selectively…

    That said, let’s begin this guide with a few steps that’ll ensure your nonprofit gets the best return on your investment; then we’ll get into audiences, website retargeting, targeting options and ad imagery.

    Understand Your Investment

    As of right now, there are three ways for you to invest time and/or money in Facebook ads:

    1. CPC/PPC: This method is the easiest to control. It’s exactly like the Pay-Per-Click advertising that’s been around a long time via Google. If someone clicks on your ad, then boom—you’re going to pay the price you bid. Getting people to click is the difficult part.
    2. CPM/PPM: Instead of clicks, you pay a certain amount for 1,000 impressions or views. Do keep in mind that CPM ads never sleep and can run around the clock, so your costs could get out of control if you’re not careful. Be sure to hit the pause button…
    3. CPA: This is where you pay for specific actions: Page likes, app installs, clicking links, etc.

    CPC is typically used to generate donations while CPM is more about getting your nonprofit brand out there. Think of CPM as paying for digital billboard space along the Facebook superhighway. Don’t expect as many clicks with CPM, but your visibility will rise with the more views you purchase.

    So, for example, if you’re selling a product or service to generate funds for your cause, then CPC is a better option. If you’re simply trying to bring direct awareness of something to certain targeted people, then paying $1.32 per 1,000 views isn’t such a bad idea.

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    The Budgeting & Bidding War

    This is the tricky part with CPC and in all honesty, takes time and experience to get the hang of.

    It’s a double-edged knife. You want to set a small budget and bid low to save money, but Facebook encourages you to bid higher in order to win the ad auctions and see greater results.

    In the end, you’ll need to find a balance. Bid a bit higher and try to stay close to Facebook’s suggested bid range, but don’t break the bank or spend more than you’re comfortable with. It will take time to find the right balance for you.

    One thing to make sure you’re doing immediately is manually controlling bidding. To do so, click on Advanced Options under Budget. This will help you better control costs.

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    Remember, the cost is based on demand. So the more advertisers there are trying to reach the same people as you, the higher the costs. These will change over time, so you can’t just set a budget and max bid, then forget about it.

    The Two Best Options for Your Ads

    We’re going to make this really simple so that your ads stay focused. While there are other options and plenty more that are likely to come about over the next year, stick with these at first to get the best results for your nonprofit:

    1. Boost your posts
    2. Send people to your website

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    What we just covered doesn’t come close to all there is to learn about bidding. This is a great place to start though. Once you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll want to dive into the following guides. Keep them bookmarked for now:

    1. Budgeting
    2. Bidding
    3. CPA

    Tackling Your Audience

    If you don’t want to throw away money or ad reach, then you’ve got to get really good at targeting the right people. Facebook allows you to create three types of audiences and you need to experiment!

    1. Custom Audience: This allows you to create ads that focus on your supporter base by integrating with your current CRM. Simply import any existing contact and target them!
    2. Lookalike Audience: This lets you ask Facebook to create an audience that’s similar to any custom audience that you’ve set up. You choose either a 1% (very close to your supporter base) or 5% specificity (gives higher reach with less specific targeting).
    3. Website Custom Audience: This is a really new addition and available to any nonprofit with between 100 and 10,000 fans. To learn more, check out the website custom audience FAQs page and prepare to be dazzled. You can use your nonprofit website or any landing page. Do you see how powerful custom audiences are? These are existing supporters that are already in your funnel and connected to your Facebook presence.

    So if you’re setting up either CPC or CPM, you can really cut down on showing your ads to people who aren’t interested or relevant.

    From there, you expand out and create lookalike audiences of people with similar jobs, similar Facebook behavior, geographic location, etc. Once you dig in and see how many different targeting options you have at your disposal, you can begin creating other customer / lookalike audiences based on the insights you gain.

    Website Retargeting

    If you have a website outside Facebook, then you’re really going to love this part…

    Facebook allows you to target people that visit it after you install a pixel every page (which means that if all you have is a landing page, it’s very quick). If you don’t yet have any CRM set up, then this is a great way to gain insight on who your ideal custom audience is.

    • You can choose to target people that have visited certain pages on your website.
    • Folks who have made purchases on your site or web store.
    • Supporters who’ve converted in some other way.
    • You can also use keywords to make things even more refined.

    After your audience builds up to hundreds of people, you’re ready to begin serious testing. Learn more about custom website audiences and all the many different things you can do to get more traction with your supporters and those who are interested in your cause.

    Properly Layering Your Targeting Options

    Tons of people get overwhelmed when it comes to super-fine targeting. It’s normal to be confused but targeting is more than worth figuring out.

    An extreme example of the power of targeting is the story that went semi-viral about a guy that used Facebook ads to target his roommate! Here’s an interesting quote from the AdWeek article that shines a light on how he pulled it off:

    “On Facebook, he uses Custom Audiences, the program for marketers to upload their contacts and find them on the social network. When Swichkow started his one-to-one marketing campaigns, he was allowed to just input one target. But Facebook has since made it so that you need at least 20 people on your marketing list. Still, he’s found loopholes, like if you’re targeting a man, include 19 women in your list and then set the campaign to reach only males.”

    Pretty cool, right? The point here is that Facebook is allowing people to target with their ads in ways no one has ever dreamed of before… to the point where a guy scared his roommate to death, who began believing that Big Brother really had come too close. (Which may be he did…)

    As you get more and more focused, and as your custom audiences grow and evolve, you’ll be able to produce better ads at cheaper rates that get seen by more quality supporters who are ready (and look to) take action.

    Notes on Ad Imagery

    You should understand that we’re moving into a visually dominated era in online media, and ads are NO different. Before you get hung up on the words and text, realize that the image you use in an ad is far more important… that’s no joke.

    The image is the first impression and no, you do not know what images will produce the best click-through rates. Only experimentation can tell you this…

    Just because an image performs well as a status update, cover photo or in a blog post, doesn’t mean it’ll draw attention or get clicks in the context of a Facebook ad, whether it appears in the timeline or sidebar.

    Ad = context. That’s different from information, entertainment or sharing.

    • Split-Test Images: Collect 10–20 images with a good track record in terms of generating likes, comments and shares, and then test them out!
    • Limit Ad Length: Don’t let ads run any longer than they should, which is determined ultimately through performance.
    • Experimentation: The image might be great, but you’re targeting the wrong people. Or perhaps the image is a great one; it just needs to be tweaked?

    Don’t Forget the 20% Text Rule!

    Facebook’s got a tool you can use to streamline how much tweaking you have to do to make sure your images have the right amount of text. And you should know that it works for cover images and sponsored story images as well.

    Recap

    That was a lot of information to throw at you all at once. Let’s recap the most important parts:

    • Be sure to control your bidding with manual bidding.
    • Use “Boost your posts”; “Send people to your website”; and “Raise attendance at your event” ads for the best results.
    • Spend time on targeting. This will save you money and get you better results.
    • Test images and text. Learn what works best.
    • Skip the drama. Make sure your ads meet the 20% rule.