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 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!

Super Bowl 2017 advertisers spark controversy over equal pay and immigration

If you watched the Super Bowl this year, you may have noticed an increase in the number of political and cause-based ads coming from big brands. Now, we’re all familiar with Coca-Cola’s feel-good ads about bringing people together and teaching the world to sing. And you may remember that these ads received some blowback from audiences at the time. For example:

“One simply does NOT sing America the Beautiful in ANY language but English! Get on board or OUT!”

But those ads are nothing compared to the uproar in response to 2017’s Super Bowl ad lineup! If your nonprofit fights for equal pay or immigration and refugee rights, then these are stories that you may want to jump on. “Piggy-backing” on already-trending subjects related to your cause can lead to tons of new reach and support—no ad dollars needed!

  • Try spinning up a petition in support of these issues.
  • Create a “thank-you” campaign that acknowledges big brands for putting profit on the line in favor of important issues.
  • Create a poll asking your supporters how they feel about this year’s ads.
  • Use donation appeals to fight for these issues.

Using an ActionSprout social action, you can create all of the above ideas and more. All actions collect names and email addresses on completion, so you’ll also be increasing your supporter base!

Now, without further ado, let’s dive into the ads!

Audi USA

Cause: Equal pay for women

Hashtag: #driveprogress


Cause: Immigration and refugees

Hashtag: #WeAccept


Cause: Story of founder’s immigration to America from Germany

Hashtag: None

This ad may have caused the strongest reaction on social media. Many called for a boycott of Budweiser, and soon the hashtag was trending on Twitter.

84 Lumber

Cause: Immigration and souther border wall

Hashtag: None

If Budweiser caused the most buzz on Twitter, the 84 Lumber ad probably won overall for the most outrage caused. Before the Super Bowl even started, things weren’t going well for the brand:

“The company said it had been forced to change its plans for a commercial after Fox deemed its depiction of a Spanish-speaking mother and daughter confronting a border wall between the United States and Mexico to be “too controversial.” It aired an edited version without a wall, directing viewers to watch the whole spot on a website,”

Wrap Up

If your nonprofit fights for equal pay or immigration and refugee rights, then these are stories that you may want to jump on! Most recently, the ALCU has been taking advantage of trending news to raise millions in donations to fight for civil rights and liberties. Your nonprofit could find similar success and increased donations by following their example.

The Fundraising Best Practices We Learned from #GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is quickly becoming one of the biggest giving days of the year! It was created just five years ago by the #GivingTuesday organization in response to the popular shopping days that happen at this time of year—Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2016 was the campaign’s fifth official year and the biggest one yet. According to Blackbaud, online giving was up by 20% since 2015, and 33% more nonprofit organizations received an online donation on #GivingTuesday when compared to 2015.

Let’s look at one nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday Facebook ad campaign and how your organization might recreate their level of success next year.

The Organization

Bob Brown Foundation is an environmental organization that campaigns for the protection of wildlife, marine ecosystems and scenic environments in Tasmania, Australia and across the region.

Campaign Goals

The goals of the campaign:

  • Grow awareness and support to stop the logging and destruction of the Tarkine rainforest.
  • Raise as much money as possible to support the campaign.
  • Raise more in donations than is spent in ad.

The Impact

  • 1,213 new Facebook Page likes

  • Total donations raised: $14,897 over ~24 hours

  • Total spent on Facebook ads: $1,730

  • “Profit”: $13,117

  • Conversion rate: 5.8%

  • Total Facebook shares: 12,404

  • Relevance score: 10/10

  • Cost per engagement: $0.15

These metrics tell us a few things about the Bob Brown Foundation’s #GivingTuesday ad. First, this ad resonated well with supporters. The fact that more than 12,000 Facebook shared The Foundation’s content in 24 hours shows that supporters care deeply about the issue that was spotlighted in the campaign—in fact, they care enough to share it with their own friends and family on Facebook! What’s more, 1,213 of the supporters who engaged cared enough to go on to like The Foundation’s Facebook Page. This is a clear signal that they want to see more content and opportunities to help from the Bob Brown Foundation.

Second, the content had a relevance score of 10/10 and a cost per engagement of 15 cents! If you’re new to Facebook advertising, let me explain how amazing this is. A relevance score of 10 is hard to achieve. As a new Facebook marketer, it can take months of hard work to get to a score of 10. Others will never achieve a 10. In addition, any cost per engagement under $1 is good. At 15 cents, this ad is killing it! Both of these numbers are Facebook’s way of telling you that your ad is excellent for the target audience that you’re serving it to.

Lastly, due to the high quality of the ad, they spent less in ad money than they raised in donations. In other words, they made a “profit”!

Campaign Creative

So what made this donation ad so successful and compelling to the supporters of the Bob Brown Foundation? Here is the donation appeal as it appeared on Facebook on #GivingTuesday:


Notice the vivid image of forest destruction and the urgent call to action. Notice too that the ad is very clear and to the point. Skimming the ad, we immediately know what’s at stake and why we should click and learn more. This is especially important in the Facebook News Feed, as you only get one chance to grab your supporters’ attention and make them want to click!

Now let’s take a look at the donation landing page behind the ad.

First and foremost, the call to action and donation buttons are prominent at the top of the page.


As we scroll down, we see more dramatic images of forest destruction and some easy-to-skim bullet points about what’s at stake. At the bottom of the page, we wrap up with a statement and image of what will happen to this rainforest if nothing is done. Talk about compelling!


As a bonus, the donation form is fully mobile-optimized and takes advantage of Stripe’s fast and painless payment form:


Lessons and Takeaways

  1. First, understand what resonates with your supporters. Using the language, images and stories that most connect with them will greatly increase the reach and success of your campaign. Furthermore, it will lower your advertising costs on Facebook. If you’re not yet sure what resonates with your supporters the most, start tracking your successes and what they have in common. Soon enough, you should have a working framework on how best to communicate important issues to supporters.

  2. Create urgency. I don’t have to tell you that Facebook is a fast-moving platform! The problem with this is that if you don’t capture someone’s intention to help on the first try, then you won’t get a second chance. Therefore, it’s paramount that you express the need for immediate action clearly and up front. This headline is a perfect example of that: “Only 8 weeks to stop Tarkine rainforest destruction.”

  3. Create a clear, concise call to action. Don’t ever make your supporters have to wonder how they can help or what exactly you’re asking them to do. If possible, summarize your call to action in one or two sentences. If you cannot be this concise, you may need to rethink what you’re asking folks to do; you might be asking too much, or the action is too vague and requires too much of an explanation.

  4. Paint a clear picture of what’s at stake. Why should potential donors care or consider giving? In our example, both language and images are used to communicate what’s at stake. We see images of what the forest will become and the consequences of this: “If we don’t act now, this will be the last summer the eagles, owls, freshwater crayfish and other creatures spend in this rainforest home.” Give your donors something tangible to hang on to.

  5. Be mobile-friendly! If your donation forms are not mobile-friendly, you could be missing out on as much as half of your potential donors. This is especially true if you’re promoting your donation appeal on Facebook, as these days, the majority of Facebook browsing happens on a mobile device.

What we learned from #GivingTuesday 2016

All too often, smaller to medium-sized nonprofits don’t feel that they can participate in GivingTuesday in a meaningful way. They feel underprepared and out-resourced next to the larger national and international organizations that put out flashy GivingTuesday ad campaigns. Today, we’ll challenge that perception!

GivingTuesday isn’t just a day for large-scale nonprofits. Nor does it need to be solely about raising donations. Nonprofits, especially smaller one, can also use the day to draw attention to their organization and reach and engage new supporters. In this article, we will take quick look at how one small nonprofit not only had a successful GivingTuesday Facebook ad campaign, but also grew their Facebook Page overall.

The Organization

Epilepsy Education Everywhere (EEE) is on a mission to help people with epilepsy. Their mission is to educate the public about epilepsy — including the proper procedures when a seizure occurs. They also promote the historic progress of people with epilepsy, and encourage people with epilepsy to persevere.

Campaign Goals

Their GivingTuesday goals:

  • Raise at least $1,000.
  • Grow their Facebook Page overall.
  • Increase engagement and awareness for epilepsy.

The Impact

$475 raised through Facebook alone.

So who says you can’t raise money on Facebook as a small or medium nonprofit? Myth busted! The total GivingTuesday donations raised by EEE amounted to around $600. In other words, 79% of their GivingTuesday donations were raised, in some way, through Facebook. Not bad!

Their campaign was shared 2,522 times on Facebook.

This was a huge success. It means that 2,522 people cared enough about EEE’s mission that they felt compelled to share it with their own friends and family. Think about your sharing habits on Facebook: what do you share and why? Chances are, you only share the stuff you care about or that you feel your friends and family should see.

The EEE Facebook Page gained 438 new Facebook likes over the ~24 hours of GivingTuesday.


This was another huge success. To put this in perspective, EEE’s page has received ~25 new Page likes since GivingTuesday. This is much closer to their usual volume of new Page likes. If we do the math, that’s a 1,752% increase in Facebook Page likes due to their GivingTuesday ad campaign.


Again, this shows very real interest and engagement from supporters. The fact that people liked EEE’s page tells us that they wish to start receiving more content about epilepsy and ways to support EEE in the future. When the dust settled, these were the results:


It’s interesting to note that EEE started using ActionSprout in December 2015. Looking at the graph above, we see a sharp increase in Page likes after this month.

Cost of $0.59 per ad result.

This is another big win! A dollar per ad result is a common goal for many Facebook advertisers, but though this is an achievable goal, it still takes some elbow grease and expertise. In this ad campaign, we see a cost per result that is ~40% lower than the norm.

Campaign Creative

So, how did EEE earn results like this? First, let’s take a look at their Facebook ad:


So, from the start, two things stand out right away:

  1. They used an image of a child making eye contact with us. Images of people and animals in which we can see their eyes make us pause and look. Our brains are wired this way!
  2. The headline is attention-grabbing and makes us want to click and learn more. (What do you mean my life could change in 4 minutes?)

Now lets look at the donation landing page:


Notice that the call to action and donation buttons are prominent at the top of the page. Also notice that they introduced to the child in the image and tell us a bit about her story. Storytelling is still the most powerful and effective way to communicate information to one another. We also remember the information shared through storytelling for a longer period of time when compared to other kinds of communications.

But wait… it gets better. We even get a quote from the little girl’s mother—talk about an emotional connection! People are much more likely to take action when they feel something emotionally over strictly logical asks that require intense thought. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t back up your claims with logic and facts; just don’t forget to include the emotional connection as well.

Campaign Lessons & Takeaways

  1. First and foremost, understand what resonates with your supporters. Using the language, images and stories that most connect with them will greatly increase the reach and success of your campaign. Furthermore, it will lower your advertising costs on Facebook because people will share it with friends and help you reach people without spending a dime. If you’re not yet sure about what these things are, start tracking your successes and look for what they have in common. Soon enough, you will have a working framework for how best to communicate important issues to supporters.

  2. Leverage the power of storytelling to better connect with supporters and effectively communicate your mission. Storytelling is still one of the best vehicles to deliver information to people. Plus, they are more likely to remember information conveyed in this way for a longer period time.

  3. Make an emotional connection with supporters. Make them feel something. This will increase your likelihood of success.

  4. Paint a clear picture of what’s at stake. Why should potential donors care or consider giving? In this example, we know that giving will help others like Savannah: “Help us continue to help others like Savannah, along with educating the public about epilepsy with your support on #GivingTuesday.”

What We Learned from the Largest Women Technology Conference in the World

This year, our very own Andrea Frost had the pleasure of attending the Grace Hopper Conference in Houston, Texas. The following is her account of the this year’s conference, key takeaways for women in technology, and why you should attend the 2017 Grace Hopper Conference in Orlando, Florida.

What is the Grace Hopper conference?

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) is the largest gathering of female technologists in the world! It all started when Anita Borg and a small handful of women crossed paths in a bathroom at a systems conference back in the ‘90s. There were so few women in attendance that the women thought perhaps they should meet and talk more after the conference. This led to the creation of the Systers Mail List of women in tech, which today has more than 6,000 members worldwide.

Anita Borg, sadly, died some years ago from cancer, so her best friend Telle Whitney created the Anita Borg Institute, named after her beloved friend. These women were the first drops of water in a waterfall that now carries oceans of women through their careers in tech. This year, the ABI brought 15,000 women technologists (and a few men) together under one roof in Houston.

The panel on caching

“Cache Me If You Can” panel. Speakers: Ashley Jin, Distributed Computing Engineer, Paxata Anna Povzner, Software Engineer, Confluent Alice Yeh, Software Engineer, Eventbrite Vartika Agarwal, Technical Program Manager, Google

Why did you attend this year’s conference?

Last week was my third time attending GHC! Three years ago, Kelly Lyon and I both attended as GHC Scholars back when the conference had only 5,000 attendees. Last year there were 12,000 attendees, this year there were 15,000, and next year they expect 18,000+ in Orlando, Florida!

When I went the first time, I was only a year or so into my computer science major at school and was having a rough time. I wasn’t sure if I belonged or how I would fit into the tech world. I hadn’t met any female role models at my school, and I didn’t yet know about the many cool women in industry in my town and around the globe. There is something very tantalizing about being under the same roof as thousands of other intelligent women technologists. While that might sound intimidating at first, it is quickly understood that the group is incredibly inviting, open, personable, silly, and fiercely dedicated to the cause.

Years later, I too am a fierce warrior for the cause. Kelly and I were the first students from Western Washington University (WWU) to ever attend, and we knew we had to get more people from our school to this incredible conference. By selling t-shirts, I founded a scholarship that has since brought seven students from the WWU Association for Women in Computing (AWC), to GHC. We have also had the pleasure of helping bring awareness to the national scholarships that made it possible for eight more to attend. In total, this year there were 23 students, faculty, and alumni from WWU at GHC!

WWU group photo

WWU group photo

I attended this year so that I could officially pass the torch on to this new group of students, and so that I could meet other female technologists who, like me, are in their early careers in tech. At GHC it doesn’t matter what level you are at, be it student, early-mid-late career, industry or academia, entrepreneur, CEO, researcher, recruiter, or a simple observer. There is truly something for everyone. Where other than GHC could a software engineer from a tiny startup in Bellingham, WA walk and talk casually with the CTO of the United States government?!

Megan Smith and Andrea Frost

Megan Smith and Andrea Frost

What happened this year at Grace Hopper 2016?

Watching the excitement and camaraderie of women from my school at GHC was such a stark contrast to my experience three years ago! I felt proud to have helped create opportunities for such a large group of us to be there together, and it was fun to laugh together and see them encourage one another to apply for jobs, attend talks, introduce themselves to new friends, and explore new areas of technology. (Spoiler: three of them got job offers at the conference!)

The keynotes were fabulous and insightful. Latanya Sweeney, the first black woman to earn a PhD in Computer Science, now professor of government and technology in residence at Harvard University, spoke about bias in software and how data science is saving the world.

Ginni Rometty, President and CEO at IBM, reminded us that “comfort and growth never coexist” and to work on something bigger than yourself.

ABIE Award winner Anna Patterson showed us that women can rise up to all kinds of challenges while being a great leader all along the way.

I have a particular interest in cyber security, so I was excited to attend relevant talks in that arena. From panels on defense against the dark arts to presentations on policy and surveillance (Jennifer Stisa Granick) and new paradigm in cyber tactics (Andrea Limbago), we have much work to do in the cyber space. Women must be involved in these efforts, so be sure to also put the Women in Cyber Security (WiCYS) conference on your radar!

Cyber security panel: Defense Against the Dark Arts -- Protecting Your Product From Bad Actors.  Speakers:  Clara Liu, Software Engineer, Pinterest Jenelle Bray, Team Lead, LinkedIn Ava Zhang, Software Engineer, Twitter, Inc. Jackie Bow, Software Engineer, Facebook, Inc. Angelina Huang, Software Engineer, Airbnb

Cyber security panel: Defense Against the Dark Arts — Protecting Your Product From Bad Actors. Speakers:
Clara Liu, Software Engineer, Pinterest, Jenelle Bray, Team Lead, LinkedIn, Ava Zhang, Software, Engineer, Twitter, Inc., Jackie Bow, Software Engineer, Facebook, Inc., Angelina Huang, Software Engineer, Airbnb

Passing in the hallways offered many opportunities to walk and talk with well-known, important people. At GHC, people take time to get to know one another rather than brushing off time with strangers. Some of my favorite encounters include:

Lisa Seacat DeLuca

Lisa Seacat DeLuca

  • Jamie Chappell at Red Hat – Created the Women in Open Source Award to help bring more recognition to women contributors.

  • Heather Ricciuto and Diane Delaney at IBM – Fabulous women I cross paths with at every conference who inspire all those around them while making important connections.

  • Ambareen Siraj from Tennessee Tech University – Founder of WiCYS who always encourages me to reach beyond.

  • Carol Willing – Director of the Python Software Foundation who also happens to run an OpenHatch table at the GHC Open Source Day each year.

  • Megan Smith – United States Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in the Office of Science and Technology Policy and closing keynote speaker. She works with President Obama and I got to meet her!

And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper GHC without closing keynotes and a stellar after party! Closing keynotes included: Megan Smith who brought important attention to the upcoming film Hidden Figures, the silly MC, Nora Denzel, Marc Benioff from Salesforce, and a panel of amazing women from NASA.

Megan Smith with panel of women from NASA

Megan Smith with panel of women from NASA

At the after party, we danced all night with a live DJ and a silent DJ party on the opposite end of the room, spinning gyrospheres, Ms. Pacman, a giant LightBright, Skee Ball, and some pretty awesome photo booths!

Silent DJ at GHC after party

Silent DJ at GHC after party

Favorite piece of swag?

My new custom emoji from Made with Code of course!


What are your top 5 take aways for women in tech?

It’s so hard to narrow it down to just five things! The following is my best effort to do so:

  1. You belong and the world needs you! We must have diverse minds at the table making decisions about the future direction of technology.
  2. Don’t be afraid to explore! There is so much more out there beyond what we can see and imagine, but you have to do the work to put yourself in a position to gain exposure to other ideas and people.
  3. Let connections run deeper. When you meet other women, keep in touch with them via LinkedIn, Facebook, email, user groups, or whatever tools suit your needs. I am still friends today with people from every conference I have been to, and I look forward to following all of our careers as we progress. Those contacts are your lifeline both to share in the good times and in the struggles.
  4. Look for the light. There will probably always be frustrations for women in tech, at least in my lifetime. No matter what you are going through, there is always a lesson to be learned and light at the end of the tunnel. Make sure you are looking for the light.
  5. Say thank you to those who have helped you along your journey. Almost every woman at the Systers luncheon raised their hands to say they would like more recognition for their work and for their accomplishments. It takes a village, and I believe we should acknowledge each other for the work we do. Women have been written out of the history books; it is up to us to make sure we have proper representation in the future.


The winning company and results, from the Top Companies for Women Technologists program was also shared during the conference. This is a national program that recognizes companies committed to building workplaces where women technologists can thrive. This year, an unprecedented 60 organizations across multiple industries participated! That’s a 71 percent increase from 2015.

This graph shows in red how far ahead the winning company was this year.

This graph shows in red, how far ahead the winning company was this year.

Why should you attend GHC next year?

There are so many reasons to attend GHC! Off the top of my head:

  1. If you want to be inspired, go to GHC
  2. If you want to connect with awesome women in tech, go to GHC
  3. If you want to learn about emerging technologies, go to GHC
  4. If you need to find talented women to join your team, go to GHC
  5. If you aren’t quite sure where you fit or what your next job should be, go to GHC
  6. If you want to participate in inclusive open source workshops, go to GHC
  7. If you want to know how to help in this mission, go to GHC

About Andrea Frost:

Andrea is passionate about using technology to make the world a better place. With many years of non-profit experience, she is incredibly excited to build ActionSprout tools that make life easier for non-profits. When not officially at work Andrea volunteers with the Creators & Innovators Club for Girls, Whatcom Hospice, and WWU Association for Women in Computing. She loves getting out in the mountains with her dog from Alaska. She is currently an engineer at ActionSprout.

Facebook FAQs

Do YOU know the answers to these top Facebook FAQs?

ActionSprout works with nonprofits of all sizes and causes across the globe. Here are the questions they most frequently asked about Facebook. Chances are they asked some of the same questions you’re dying to know the answer to, too!

Let’s dive in, shall we?

How can I increase the organic reach and engagement of my Facebook Page?

The key to increasing your organic reach and engagement is content curation. This is the practice of finding and sharing the top stories and news related to your mission on your Facebook Page—not just your own content, but also content from others that is getting lots of likes, shares and clicks. The Facebook algorithm promotes content that people engage with, and so by sharing highly engaging content, you will grow your organic reach and engagement. You can learn more about why and how to curate Facebook content here.

What is the difference between reach and engagement?

“Reach” is the number of people that saw your post in their News Feed. (Not all of your supporters see all of your posts—over 1,500 pieces of content are competing for 200–300 News Feed slots for each person each day!) They may have stopped and read your post, interacted with it by liking, sharing, clicking or commenting, or they might have scrolled right past it.

“Engagement” is when a person interacts with your post by liking, reacting, commenting, sharing, clicking or watching a video. It will always be a subset of the people that the post has “reached,” because not everyone chooses to interact with every post they see.

How can I get more people to view my nonprofit’s Facebook Page?

People do not typically visit Facebook Pages. (When was the last time you visited a Page other than your own?) Instead, people will see and engage with your content when it appears in their News Feed. Trying to get people to view your content on your Page instead of in their News Feed is fighting an uphill battle against how they naturally use Facebook. Our advice: don’t worry about your Page too much—focus instead on creating great posts that people want to engage with!

What defines a “fan,” and how exactly does Facebook calculate this?

Your Page fans are anyone who has clicked the “Like Page” button on your Facebook Page, an ad or post. Your current fan count is the number of people who have clicked this button minus those who subsequently unliked your Page by clicking it again.

Can people who haven’t liked my nonprofit’s Facebook Page (non-fans) still see our posts?

Yes! All the posts that you publish to your Facebook Page are public and viewable by anyone, regardless of whether they have liked your Page or not. The number one way that non-fans see your content is when their friends share your posts. They can also sometimes see your posts when their friends like or comment on the post, or if you used a hashtag.

Is there any way to send messages to people who have liked my Page?

Not at this time. Facebook does not allow Page managers to bulk message the people who like their Page. Alternatives include: messaging key people who like your Page individually, engaging them in conversation in the comments, or running social actions to collect the contact information of your supporters on Facebook so that you can send them emails.

How do you build relationships with people who like and comment on your posts?

Message them back, reply to their comments and like their comments on your posts! One of the best ways to build deeper relationships with your supporters on Facebook is to engage in conversation with them! Don’t leave their questions unanswered, thank them for their support, or share additional resources that they would enjoy. Liking their comments on your post shows them that you care. You can learn more about replying to comments and building relationships here.

Should I verify my nonprofit’s Facebook Page?

Yes! There is no reason not to verify your nonprofit’s Facebook Page. Verification signals trust and security to your supporters, and clears up any questions about whether the Facebook Page belongs to your organization. This verification follows your Page all over Facebook as well, including in search and comments. Here’s how to get started.

Why don’t I have a “donate now” button on my nonprofit’s Facebook Page?

To unlock this feature, your Facebook Page must be classified as a nonprofit. Here’s how to check what your current Page category is and how to change it. Once you have categorized your Page as a nonprofit, follow these instructions to set up your new donation button.

I started my nonprofit as a personal profile on Facebook. Should I switch to a Page?

Yes! Personal profiles are designed to represent real individuals and not organizations. Facebook says:

“Personal profiles are for non-commercial use and represent individual people. Pages look similar to personal profiles, but they offer unique tools for businesses, brands and organizations. Pages are managed by people who have personal profiles.”

Using a personal profile for anything else is against Facebook’s terms of use:

“It’s against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (ex: your business). If you’re using your account to represent something other than yourself, you could permanently lose access to your account if you don’t convert it to a Page.”

Worse, personal profiles are limited to 5,000 friends, which many nonprofits will quickly exceed. Learn how to convert your personal account to a Page.

What makes a “good” post? Should I always include an image? Should my text be a certain length? How about videos? How long should they be? Are text-only posts okay?

There are no fixed rules that define a “good” post. Ultimately, you will need to experiment and pay attention to what works on your own Page with your fans.

Here are a few loose rules of thumb to get you started:

  • Try to post the most engaging image or video that you can. Photos of people and animals tend to be highly engaging, especially if they’re looking right at you.
  • If you’re including a lot of text in your post, make sure that your most important message comes first. Otherwise, people will have to click “read more” to see it and most will miss it.
  • If think you might spend money to boost a post with an image, make sure that the image contains less than 20% text. You can check this with Facebook’s text tool.
  • When creating and uploading videos, make sure that your video grabs people’s attention in the first two seconds. Videos auto-play as they come into view, so you have just a moment to catch someone’s attention enough make them stop scrolling and watch your video. Put the most important part first to grab attention, and then work backward from there once you have it.
  • 80% of Facebook users watch videos with the sound off. This means that your video must have text or captions, or be otherwise be understandable without sound.

How does the Facebook algorithm determine which of your fans receives each post?

There are three main ways that Facebook decides which of your fans they will show your post to.

  • Their relationship with your Page. If they commonly engage with your posts, they are likely to see more of them in their Feed. If they usually don’t engage when they have the chance, they will see fewer of your posts over time, and may stop seeing them altogether.
  • Have they historically shown Facebook that they are interested in the subject matter that you just posted about? If they commonly engage with posts about polar bears, and you posted a polar bear post, they are likely to receive it in their Feed.
  • Have they historically shown Facebook that they prefer the content type that you just posted? If they commonly engage with videos over other types of media, and you posted a video, they are likely to receive it in their Feed.

How often should I post to Facebook?

This will depend on when your particular audience is on Facebook. Facebook gives this data to every page manager under the Insights tab, then Posts.

I am concerned about “communications fatigue” with our audience if we post 2–3 times per day.

First of all, not all your Page fans see each of your posts. Instead, each time you post to Facebook, the algorithm decides which of your fans would most likely enjoy and engage with the post. Thus, if you post multiple times a day, you are reaching a new sub-group of your fans each time. In this way, you are increasing your overall Page reach for that day. It is safe to say that if you posted to Facebook five times in one day, no single fan would see all five posts in their Feed. Facebook is very good at protecting its users against spam like this.

How many posts per day is too many?

That will depend on your particular Page fans, your content and your issue. Many successful Pages post 10 or more times per day! Most nonprofits, however, do not have the time or resources to post that often, and that’s okay. Post as much as you can; it’s extremely unlikely that you will ever post enough to cause a problem.

What’s the difference between a mention and a hashtag?

A mention links to a person or Page. Once mentioned in a post, they will receive a notification on Facebook. Mentions are used to get someone’s attention, invite them to engage with your post, or ask for a response. Anyone who clicks on the mention will be taken to that person’s profile or Page. Learn more about mentions here.

Hashtags are used to organize large conversations on Facebook and social media at large. When someone clicks on a hashtag in a post, they see a feed of all the people and Pages talking about that subject. It’s a way to tell everyone, “I’m joining this conversation and I want this post to be a part of it.” Learn more about hashtags here.


November: Giving Tuesday Strategy

This guide is the last part of a series of guides designed to get your nonprofit ready for #GivingTuesday.

GivingTuesday is just 29 days away! Between now and then we’ll recap the most important points from the previous months. This will be a quick refresher to make sure you’re on your A-game all this month.

Let’s go!

Content curation

When we first got started all the way back in June, we introduced you to the strategy of content curation. We learned that organically increasing your reach and engagement on Facebook relies on two things:

  • Posting more. Two-to-three times a day, to be exact
  • Posting awesome, high-performing content

Content curation delivers on both of these. The strategy hinges on sharing the top content from similar pages on Facebook. This content is both relevant to your cause and something your audience would be interested in.

We showed you how to practice curation through both ActionSprout and Facebook, so hopefully you now have a curation system that works for you!

Analyzing and learning from your posts

Next, we taught you how to measure the success of your new content strategy. We showed you how to isolate your top performing posts by engagement and look for patterns of success. This strategy showed you what was working and thus what types of posts your supporters were interested in. By discovering these and posting more of them, you increased your chances of reaching and engaging supporters organically.

Remember to keep an eye on what’s working, as it can change over time. Keep looking for changing patterns in post content, format (videos, images, links) tone (negative, optimistic) and overall approach.

How to boost your best posts

At the end of the summer, we taught you that putting a little money behind your top performing posts would pay huge dividends!

  • Only boost what’s already receiving above average engagement on your page
  • A $5 to $10 daily budget is enough to see awesome results on your page
  • Use SmartAds to automate the process

This helped further boost the organic reach and engagement you started to foster through content curation.

Social actions

In the fall, we dived into social actions. Social actions are how we move passive Facebook likes into engaged, contactable, supporters. Remember to follow the STEP UP best practices when creating social actions:

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 6.24.24 PM

Learning from our social actions

The following month we learned how to analyze our social actions for weak points, and how to fix them. Remember to compare post engagement, form views and completions against each other to find the weak points in your flow.

Post engagement is higher than form views

  • Double-check that your Facebook post includes a strong, clear, call to action
  • Make sure your call to action is urgent and triggers an emotional response to act right away. – If they feel like they can come back later you’ve lost them.
  • Is your call to action convincing? Plausible? Does it inspire?

Post engagement and views are about equal, but conversion rate is low

  • Is your form mobile optimized? Are you losing supporters who want to take action but cannot from their device?
  • Was the form confusing? Was it clear what they were being asked to do and how?
  • Did the form fail to move them to act? Could your language be stronger?

Conversion rate is high, but post engagement is low

Remember, this may not be an issue. Simply double-check the following:

Does your post have a strong call to action?

  • Looking at your post, would you know you needed to click and complete the form?
  • Is it clear what is being asked and why?
  • Is your call to action urgent and reasonable?

Is your image attention-grabbing?

  • Would your image make you stop scrolling through Facebook?
  • Does it grab attention and make you want to engage?
  • Have you tried testing different images?

Fundraising best practices

Lastly, we took our new insights and lessons from our social actions and combined them with fundraising best practices to create a killer #GivingTuesday call to action. Donate for change

Your supporters, no matter how loyal they are to your organization, are really donating to effect change on an issue they care about. Ask them to donate to the cause, not your particular organization.

“Chip in”

It’s been shown in some nonprofits tests that using the word ‘donate’ actually reduces donations. Try something like ‘chip in’ or ‘pitch in’.

Set a goal

Set targets for donations and outcomes achieved. Targets put perspective on your campaign. No matter how much or little someone gives, they know they are chipping away at the set goal. They can easily see that their donation had an impact.


It helps if the donation appeal is directed at a specific goal, e.g. keeping open a children’s hospital, saving a local park, passing legislation, etc.

Wrap up

Wow! We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last six months. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back!

Take the time this month to go back over what we’ve covered and strengthen any weak spots you may have. All these pieces will influence the success of your #GivingTuesday campaign come November 29th.

Best of luck!

3 Tips for Masterful Facebook Videos (Plus a Little More!)

If you’ve noticed lately, video has become a bigger and bigger feature on Facebook. That’s because video grabs your attention better than images and certainly better than text. Your Facebook videos don’t need to be long and expensive productions; in fact, they often do better when they aren’t.

So what makes a video great? Or shareable? It’s pretty simple really… there are three things you need to do:

1. Inspire Viewers

This is a great place to get your viewers excited about the great work that you do or about the need for the organization/campaign. Video is the greatest way to tell a story and create the emotional involvement needed to engage people in a real way. This is also a great opportunity to give some advice or to challenge people to do what they can in their lives and their communities.

Even better is if you can challenge them through the message itself, like Will Smith does in this short clip. (But you don’t need celebrity status to be successful at it.)

2. Educate Your Audience

People love to learn new things, especially when it’s something fun, interesting and there isn’t a quiz at the end. What matters is that the user is learning something in a simple and relatable way. Surely you’ve seen the recipe videos floating around on Facebook; if not, you should—they are awesome! These videos are a great example of educational content that nonprofits should be creating and posting.

Watch this and think about a few things as we drool over this tasty video. Even though there’s sound in the video, there’s no need for it, as most people don’t listen to the sound because they watch the auto-play on Facebook. It’s quick, easy to follow and entertaining, with great subject matter (and nonprofits have truckloads of great subject matter).

3. Be Entertaining


First, the first two seconds of the video need to capture the viewer’s attention.

Second, you need to upload it to Facebook, not drop in a link from YouTube. Why? Because of auto-play. A video uploaded to Facebook will auto-play so that the viewer doesn’t need to do anything.

Third, and we can’t stress this enough, tell a story. Stories are the most powerful way to connect with people. Just check out this video from BuzzFeed. They just showed up at an event (probably asked permission first) and started shooting. It tells a story; it’s entertaining and inspiring; and it teaches us a simple lesson: “Don’t stand up your grandpa.”

That’s it. Just keep it simple: inspire your audience, educate them and don’t be boring. Most of all, have fun.

Bonus Tips

Create a playlist

Playlists are an easy way to group videos that have a theme. Viewers will often binge on playlists until they get bored or run out of videos. Once you’ve created a few great videos, string them together with a playlist.

Boost it

Boosting a video is an awesome and often cheap way to make a splash on Facebook. Keep your goals in mind though. Boosting a video is great for awareness, reach and engagement, not conversions. Image posts are better if you want people to click through.

Use 360 video


Two things we can say for sure. Nearly 90% of all videos on Facebook are viewed on mobile, and fans love being a part of the action. 360 video covers both. It gives the viewer an immersive experience and is strictly for mobile devices. For this one, you’ll need to buy a special camera (they’re as low as $400 and coming down). The uploads are often very easy with little to no processing required. Imagine taking your fans on a walk through the community that you serve, through the forest that you protect, or to visit the animals that you’ve saved. Now that’s awesome.

Watch the data


Facebook allows you to see when people stop watching the video. There will always be a drop at the beginning because people are just scrolling by. But pay attention to big drops later in the video. If viewers drop off in the first few seconds, then the video wasn’t catchy enough. If they drop later, they may have gotten bored, gotten the point of the video, or seen the ending to the story and didn’t feel the need to continue. One more reason to learn how to tell great stories.

9 Legendary Free Sources of Stunning Stock Photography

If your nonprofit wants to get noticed on Facebook, you’ll need the best images you can get your hands on. The all mighty image, is after all, still the king of Facebook.

In today’s Facebook environment, your posts only have a few seconds to grab your supporters’ attention and make them stop scrolling. Unforunately this means the different between a successful campaign and failure, could hinge on your use of imagery on Facebook.

Using sharp, high-resolution, beautiful images, can be one of the easiest, most powerful ways to accomplishing your goals on and off Facebook. Images of peoples’ faces are proven to be particularly effective 🙂

Below are nine of our favorite sources for free creative commons stock photography that you can use to win on Facebook.

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons website allows you to search for free, creative commons images, from 12+ different sources, all in one place! Search Flickr, Google images, Wikipedia and more.

Free Stock Photography


This source is great for unusual photos!

Free Stock Photography


One of our favorite sources. Great if you want high impact, artsy photos for featured images, backgrounds, quotes etc.

Free Stock Photography

Barn Images

Another one of our favorites! Has a few less options than UnSlpash, but will provide you with beautiful, clear, high res images every time.

Free Stock Photography

Death to Stock Photo

This image source is subscription based. Sign up for free on their homepage to start receiving Free photo packs each month in your inbox. The monthly packs always follow a theme and always include beautiful, very high-resolution images.

Free Stock Photography


Pablo, from Buffer, makes it super easy to add text and quotes to any image. They provide ready to use stock photography, or allow you to upload your own image.

Free Stock Photography


Formerly known as StockExchange, this source can be a little corporate at times, but does have some great images to choose from.

Free Stock Photography

Visual Hunt

Visual Hunt is our newest favorite source for killer, engaging images! They have tons of free images on just about every subject you can imagine.


Facebook posting

Why your nonprofit needs a daily Facebook posting goal

Do you have a daily Facebook posting goal? If not, you should. Keeping a daily posting goal is one of the easiest ways to maintain consistent levels of organic reach and engagement on your Facebook page. It can also keep your supporters engaged with you and receiving your content in their news feeds!

Still, coming up with ideas for what to post can be difficult. Here, we’ll cover the best ways to keep a daily posting goal that can help you to maintain a healthy Facebook page and to accomplish your larger organizational goals.

Posting inconsistently can cause dramatic spikes and drops in your organic reach and engagement.

One of the things we hear the most often from nonprofits is the desire to maintain a consistent level of organic reach and engagement on Facebook. Many are tired of the extreme spikes and drops in their metrics and wish Facebook could be normalized when it comes to the reach and engagement earned each time they post. At the moment, it can feel like the roll of the dice which is the last thing anyone wants before posting a large, important campaign post!

To make matters worse, organic reach has been dropping for many Facebook page managers. Not only do they desire consistent reach and engagement, they want it to increase!

The good news is that keeping a daily posting goal can help normalize and improve the organic reach and engagement you earn on Facebook. Posting the same number of times each day (including on the weekends) gives you the same number of opportunities to earn organic reach and engagement each day. This helps to smooth out the spikes and drops experienced when posting inconsistently or missing days all together.

Consistent posting each day can also increase your organic reach and engagement over time as you’re giving your supporters more opportunities to see and engage with your content. The truth is that if you post on Facebook but your supporters are not online to see it, they likely will miss your post and will never get the chance to engage with it. Facebook moves so quickly that it’s likely to get buried – even more so if the last time you posted to your Facebook page was a number of days ago!

Therefore, posting consistently a few times a day opens up the number of opportunities you’ve given your supporters to engage with your cause. This, in turn, can increase and normalize your organic reach and engagement.

Posting inconsistently can decrease your number of active, engaged supporters.

Not only can we increase and maintain our organic reach and engagement by posting consistently, we can also retain our most active, engaged supporters on Facebook. Building on the first point we covered, you can begin to lose active supporters on Facebook if you don’t give them enough opportunities to see your content and engage with it.

With the way the Facebook algorithm currently works, a supporter who hasn’t engaged with your page’s content in some time will slowly stop receiving your posts all together. Why is this the case? Facebook uses a number of behavioral triggers to decide which of your supporters receives which of your posts in their news feed. One of the behavioral triggers is post engagement. If they haven’t engaged with your page in a long time, Facebook takes this as a sign that they are no longer interested in your page and it’s content.

The problem is, posting inconsistently can falsely cause this to happen. Your supporters aren’t necessarily any less interested in your cause, they just haven’t received any of your content because the few times a week your page posted, they missed it.

Therefore, posting consistently a few times a day increases the likelihood of your supporters receiving at least one of your posts and engaging with it. This keeps them engaged each day and receiving your content on their news feed.

Posting consistently can increase the success of your top campaigns!

Too many organizations make the mistake of only posting when they have a campaign to share on Facebook. The problem is, as we saw above, this leaves too much time for your supporters to become disengaged and stop receiving your posts, especially if a number of days or weeks has gone by without a single new post on your Facebook page!

The way Facebook currently works, it’s really important to keep posting consistently and keeping people engaged in between your larger campaigns. Doing this ensures that there are still engaged supporters left when you share your donation appeal or petition asking for signatures.

There is also a second principle at play here. Supporters who follow you on Facebook expect to receive valuable content in their news feeds. That’s the number one reason they are following you! If you fail to give them this assumed value, they may not be very forth coming when you ask for help with your next campaign. Think about it, if an organization only asked you for help or money while never giving you any value in return, you’d start to feel less positive about that organization.

We call the mix of this content “The Cheese and Broccoli Rule.” While kids don’t want to eat broccoli by itself, if you add cheese, they start to like it a lot more. Similarly, if you’re not posting fun content of value, in other words, the cheese, your supporters are much less likely to take the broccoli, which is your important campaigns.

Wrap up

As you can see, posting consistently each day on Facebook can have a huge impact on the health and success of your Facebook page overall. Simply setting a daily posting goal can ensure that your supporters are engaged and ready when you have an important campaign to share. It can also retain and further grow your relationships with already engaged, passionate supporters in your cause.

While you don’t need any special tools to set a daily posting goal, ActionSprout does include a built in daily goal tracker. This can be an easy way to stay on top of your goal if your organization has an ActionSprout account.