6 keys to leveraging Facebook for non-profits

Yesterday morning I joined a lovely bunch of non-profit social media practitioners for an online marketing workshop on “Leveraging Facebook for Non-profits.” Nothing quite says 4:30 am (12:30 pm EST) like 60-minutes of a live-streamed video presentation complete with 27 slides. (What I do well in cutting blog content down to 400 words or less, I make up for with Powerpoint slides.)

As promised, I’m posting portions of my preparation notes for the workshop here (with some new thoughts as I rewrite it for this post), starting with the second to last slide: Key takeaways.

Thanks heaps to Instant e-Training for inviting me, and especially to workshop participants for bearing with me when my ability to find my words succumbed to my lack of sleep on more than one occasion in the workshop. And even more thanks for all your kind feedback.

6 keys to leveraging Facebook for non-profits | Lindsey Talerico-Hedren

6 key takeaways for leveraging Facebook for non-profits

You’re a non-profit worker, a social media enthusiast, some mixture of a communicator and marketer, maybe a public relations officer or writer. One thing’s definite — you know your non-profit’s message better than anyone else. But bringing supporter value to that message can be a difficult task. A technologically connected world now dominated by a Google generation makes vying for public interest and attention (and even more so, brand support and financial investment) that much more difficult.

So the pressure on you? Juggle multiple priorities and demands with the ability to constantly mix and match the best of your company’s communications methods to produce the best possible public facing message, all in real time.

No big deal, right?

Kidding ourselves into thinking it’s easy was never part of the picture. And so we let our doubts, insecurities, fear of the unknown and failure, and hesitancy get the best of us. But leveraging Facebook, using social media to tell your non-profit’s story… it requires you to:

6. Travel light.

The idea of an unfiltered message out in cyberspace seas where it can be misunderstood or mis-traced or (worse) blown by the wayside without your control… sure, it’s a little risky. Makes you feel like you’re on the bow of a ship deciding whether or not to take the plunge with everyone else. Or maybe like the waves are about to come crashing down on you, swallow you up.

Facebook, social media… I assure you, is not like that. Why? Because the waters have been tested and you now have the tools and case studies that can act as your snorkel guide. And that makes Facebook less like a mysterious ocean and a lot more like a giant pool party.

But you can’t bring all that non-profit/acquisition-based “baggage” thinking with you. You need to travel light — with flexibility, an apt for learning, heightened observation, and a real sense of humor through which you can see your work. Throw your apprehension, your skepticism, your fear and your doubts about leveraging Facebook overboard. Because they’ll only weigh you down. Travel light, where you’re going doesn’t need your current baggage anyway.

5. Take it seriously, give it your best.

It’s not really about Facebook… it’s about leveraging your message. It’s about gaining support. It’s about telling a story. And all of those things — your message, your supporters, your story — they deserve your absolute best effort no matter the demographic, the number of “likes”, or your Board’s opinion. If you believe in the power of your message and believe Facebook can bring exponential value to your organization, stand by it. This means creating a strategy, encouraging a welcome community of practice and dialogue, conversing daily with your foot soldiers, and thinking past the tip of the iceberg into your replies, your comments, and yes, even those status updates. Leveraging Facebook for maximum exposure and results is like college or P.E.– the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out.

4. Never lose sight of your message.

One of the biggest misconceptions about “social media marketing” is that it may force you to tone down the urgency or the need or the spastic excitement of what your organization is doing in order to please or relate to your audience better (actually, this is just a major misconception of “marketing” in general), perhaps to cover you from risk or reputation issues or negative opinion or etc. etc. — all things that make you compromise, in some way or another, your non-profit’s message.

Now I have a really strong opinion about this (probably due to my fanaticism for quality content and transparency) but never, ever lose sight of your message. It’s the single responsibility that we cannot and should not compromise for anything. Our message is what is what separates us from the for-profit world (that and a Christmas bonus). It’s also what drives us, motivates us and connects with our supporters.

We are the keepers of our message. And we have a responsibility to shout it from the rooftops (or Twitter, the new rooftop) and tell it well.

3. Prioritize.

We have a huge task, gigantic. We have pressure and requests and expectations (even sometimes that we might fail) coming from up and down and left and right. The best way to set yourself (and your non-profit) up for success when it comes to social media and leveraging Facebook is to prioritize: Set now the expectations and philosophy you have for your work. Guaranteed, it will bring you focus, clarity, and protection for when the waters rise in the future (which they definitely will as long as this is still the “new” way to meet our supporters).

(Real life example) One of the characteristics of our social media strategy that I’ve always been adamant about is a content philosophy. Given the plethora of content opportunities, styles, and options we have, following a self-declared content philosophy is key as we prioritize what (campaign) messages we will run with and what we won’t. Saying no is just as important as saying yes since saying yes too often can actually confuse or blur or water down the points you’re really trying to make with your content. Our (and my personal) content philosophy is to lead with quality, compelling and informative content that will keep people coming back for more. And by that, we stand, we prioritize and we manage our content accordingly.

2. Maximize and integrate.

Facebook, no matter how many other companies they buy,  how many times they change their design and look, or how many people join… is just Facebook. The real crux of your Facebook (and social media) strategy should always, always be integration. Marry your Facebook Page (and strategy) to the efforts at large in your non-profit that seek to reach your audience. Work together with those strategies and individuals by integrating the concept of social media into everything else in your org. Every effort can be optimized and maximized. Don’t sell the potential value and return of your efforts short by limiting it to just the Facebook.com platform.

Also integrate by ensuring your website and other public facing messaging channels (email, P/R, marketing, etc) are saying the same thing (after all, you are all the same organization). Integrate by making use of social plugins like Facebook connect, Share functionality, and widgets. Utilize the amazing qualitative data you get from Facebook and communicating one-one with supporters and skeptics to influence other communication and marketing decisions. Don’t just post a status update, maximize it’s visibility — get it seen, heard, liked, and followed. Get people coming back for more.

1. (Above all else…) Follow the non-profit Facebook imperative.

That is… To tell our story with truth, transparency and invitation for supporters to join our journey.

6 keys to leveraging Facebook for nonprofits | Lindsey Talerico-Hedren

Because that’s why we do what we do, and that’s why people are going to support what we do, join our efforts and work towards a greater good. And leveraging Facebook in this way means we live and breath a journey alongside the world’s most passionate. I can’t think of a better job than that.

“Leveraging Facebook for Non-profits” was one of 20 live online sessions in a Facebook Intensive Program focused on sharing discussion, advice, and case studies with experienced Facebook marketers.

I’ll be posting more of my preparation notes in the next several posts including Facebook Geography 101, non-profit tendencies to leave at the door, must haves vs. nice to haves, and best practices. Stay tuned.

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  • Awesome blog Linds! Great reminders and tips for regular users and newbs alike. Quality content is key and many forget about this little yet significant factor. It’s not just about being on Facebook but actually publishing quality stuff. BTW, you had me at integration. Need I say more? Social Media isn’t your marketing strategy nor should it ever be. It’s a part of it….key word is part. Sum of all parts equal the whole. 🙂 Great stuff… Excited to see more of your presentation slides. 

  • Where are the days when we could work together? (sigh). Miss you heaps. Thanks for being my social-media-mate lifesaver on more than a million occasions.

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