November 9, 2011

Facebook’s page for nonprofits offers helpful resources

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Nonprofits on Facebook

Learn best practices from other nonprofits successfully using Facebook

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, social enterprises, social media managers, marketing professionals, businesses, brands, Web publishers, individuals.

This is the second part of a two-part series on Facebook apps and resources available to nonprofits. Also see:

5 essential Facebook applications for nonprofits

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstWith more than 100,000 nonprofit Facebook pages out there, it’s clear that many nonprofits already know that the social networking site can be a game changer. Since we often spend more hours on Facebook than with our best friends, we might as well also be using this time for good, right?

If you look around Facebook, many of the existing nonprofit pages don’t come close to reaching their full potential. They were created and then left alone, or are used in ways that don’t work on Facebook. Of course, if you’ve had to create or manage a page, you know how confusing it can be.

What page owners need is a resource to help them figure out what works and to give them new ideas when they feel as if they don’t have endless amounts of time or money to dedicate to social media. One such resource is the Non-profits on Facebook page, a community that shares information and best practices for social good organizations.

Whether you’re new to Facebook, would like to know how to use the site better or are already a Facebook success story, the Facebook nonprofits page is certainly worth “liking” and using if you work to bring positive change to the world.

But once you like it, how else should you use this tool?

First steps for Facebook newbies

(People already using Facebook for their nonprofit might want to skip to the next section.)

The nonprofit page has a tab for nonprofits that are new to Facebook marketing; it’s called “Get Started” and contains several downloadable PDF documents:

  • A quick-start guide, along with a pages manual, to help you understand the basics of a Facebook page and how to create one.
  • A guide for nonprofits with tips for promoting your page and quick pointers about what types of content you should be posting.

Once you create your page and get the word out to your network about it, you should begin thinking about how you can make your nonprofit Facebook page a success story.

Resources and best practices for nonprofits

A mouse click over to the resources tab on the Non-Profits on Facebook page will show a list of products and tools used to grow and promote a page. Check each of these out and consider their usefulness for upcoming campaigns.

    • Groups, which can be used to organize niche communities within an organization. To learn more about ways to use this tool including examples, see Socialbrite’s guide to making the most of Facebook groups.
    • Targeted ads to increase awareness and grow subscribers;
    • Applications for additional content, which are created to be social and encourage participation. The most-used application by nonprofits is Causes, a platform that mobilizes a user’s network of friends to grow movements;

  • Claimed places so that people can check-in and spread awareness to their own networks;
  • Social plug-ins to use on your organization’s website;
  • and the ability for users to login on your website through Facebook, which enables people to interact with their friends.

Use the Wall for more resources

If you’re looking for more information about these tools or working on a new campaign, one place to look for examples is the wall of the Non-profits on Facebook page. These are solid examples of how Facebook can work for nonprofits.

This is the kind of information you’ll see on the wall:

  • Facebook pages can be updated from your mobile. Updating your page on your phone could come in handy for events and if you need to monitor comments and aren’t in front of your computer.
  • Facebook’s Digital Citizenship Research Grant. These grants are not currently open but might reopen in the future.
  • Nonprofits are successfully partnering with brands. For example, the page admins posted about how Valspar Paint partnered with Habitat for Humanity to launch a celebrity fundraiser on their page.
  • The Facebook Questions feature is good for learning more about your supporters. You can use these feature to set up multiple choice questions to crowdsource answers from your community. These questions are easy for people to respond to, so pages using them generally see good engagement.

The “Success Stories” tab on the Facebook page is also a good place to find examples.  It contains featured stories about ways social good organizations are having success using Facebook. And it has a way to submit your organization’s stories to further promote your goals. Your submitted stories might end up on the wall where each post on the page gets at least a hundred likes and comments as well. You do not, however, have to submit something for your nonprofit to show up on the wall. Several people at nonprofits I spoke to said they didn’t tell anyone at the site about their success.

The people I spoke to from The Monarch School and Charm City Animal Rescue both pointed out that if you’re finding success using Facebook, it’s a good idea to share your story with them if you want more exposure. Of course, what nonprofit doesn’t want more exposure?

3 reasons to use the Non-profits on Facebook page

  • It’s updated weekly with good examples and resources.
  • Facebook adds new features regularly.
  • You’re probably already on Facebook during the day, so it’s easy to click over to the page.

However, as with any new tool or resource, there are some drawbacks. You should be aware that the Non-profits on Facebook page is not heavily moderated and many comments are irrelevant or merely self-promotional. Also, you don’t have the ability to search on the page, so finding the information you need can be difficult.

Overall, it’s all about how you use the tool and make it work for you. If you like the page, have you learned anything from it, or had success using it?Lindsay Oberst is a freelance writer who writes about art, culture and topics that relate to social and environmental good. Follow her on Twitter at @LindsayOSocial for social good discussions or at @LindsayOWrite to chat about writing.

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