August 10, 2011

Nonprofits: Are your Facebook fans engaged?



Participation is the key for getting value out of your Facebook Pages

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, brands, businesses, Web publishers, individuals.

Debra AskanaseI‘ve been digging deep into research about Facebook fan activity lately, in preparation for a few upcoming presentations about social media return on engagement and Facebook engagement. I was delighted to find recent research about Facebook fan engagement from Michael Wu at Lithium and from comScore. Placed together, this research offers three very practical takeaways for nonprofits and brands managing Facebook fan Pages: relevant benchmarks of how deeply fans engage with Pages, the effect of fans on website visits, and how likely fans are to engage with your organization’s services or purchase items.

Basic benchmarks for measuring fan activity

1Michael Wu posits that “fan count is only the most superficial characterization of engagement, because it says nothing about the fans’ subsequent action and their interactions.” To measure the real engagement of a fan Page, Michael looked at different levels of fan engagement: active fans (who comment or post a message on a page), what fraction of posts have comments, amount of interaction among fans on a Page, and number of unique fans per conversation. From his research, he found these Page engagement benchmarks:

  • The number of active fans per day (i.e. actively engaging) is about 3.45% of total page fans.
  • About two-thirds of all posts do receive some activity, but it is normal to expect that around one-third will never receive comments and disappear quickly from a person’s newsfeed.
  • Most Facebook fans are not very loyal to the fan Pages. Only about 30% of the active fans re-engage with the fan Page more than once (i.e. through posting).
  • The probability of a fan returning to the same conversation on the fan Page is low, only about 9.6%.

If a fan never interacts with your Page’s content, then the reach of the Page will never grow, either. The more interactions, the more friends of fans will see your content. This correlates to the comScore research, next.

The role of the newsfeed

2Facebook users primarily interact with a fan Page in the newsfeed. What this means is that most fans don’t ever visit the actual fan Page. How often a fan or a friend of a fan will see your Page content within the newsfeed is determined by how often the actual post is shared, interacted with, and Liked. (See J.D. Lasica’s article for an in-depth look at how EdgeRank works.)

The new comScore report “The Power of Like” offers solid data on why fan activity with a Page is so important: reach. This report is focused on how people interact with the top 100 brands, with deeper analysis of a few large brands.

  • Facebook users spend 25% of their time on Facebook interacting with their newsfeed. In May, 27 percent of engagement on occurred on the homepage and newsfeed, followed by profile viewing (21 percent), photo viewing (17 percent) and usage of apps and tools (10 percent).
  • Facebook users are 40 to 150 times more likely to see branded content in the newsfeed than to visit the fan Page itself.
  • Friends of fans is an important potential segment for organizations to reach. Friends of fans typically represent a much larger set of consumers (34 times larger, on average, for the top 100 brand pages) and may receive social media brand impressions through their Facebook friends. In the graph below, you can see that for every fan that visits Starbucks’ Facebook fan Page, 156 others see the brand Page’s updates through the newsfeed.
  • Continue reading

March 23, 2011

New report: Nonprofit numbers for social media, advocacy, fundraising

Email outreach still dwarfs social media and mobile.

Benchmarks study: How does your nonprofit stack up?

JD LasicaAt the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington D.C. the other day, I was one of 50 attendees who got a sneak preview of the fascinating 2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, the big annual study that shows how nonprofits are using social media, email and much more.

You can download the free 36-page report from M+R Strategic Services and NTEN. The study — the fifth Benchmarks report — collected data about email messaging, email list size, fundraising, online advocacy, Facebook, Twitter and text messaging from 40 U.S.-based national nonprofit organizations for the calendar year of 2010. The study’s authors analyzed the results of 672 million email messages sent to over 17 million list subscribers; more than $114 million in online donations and 2.9 million advocacy actions.

Key fIndIngs of the report

  • Online fundraising showed steady growth for participating groups in 2010 despite the current economic climate. Most groups saw a 10% increase in dollars raised online from 2009 to 2010.
  • The 2010 advocacy response rate was 3.3%. From 2009 to 2010, advocacy response rates declined 7% on average.
  • Not surprisingly, advocacy emails had the highest open, click-through and response rates while fundraising emails had the lowest click-through rate.
  • Annual email list churn was 18%.
  • Online fundraising revenue grew overall by 14% between 2009 and 2010. This rebound was led by an enormous 163% increase in the International sector due to emergencies like the earthquake in Haiti and flooding in Pakistan. However, all sectors saw an increase of some size in overall revenue from 2009, driven by an increase in the number of online gifts.
  • On average, nonprofit Facebook Pages had 15,053 users, defined as people who “Like” a Page (but this includes large nonprofits).
  • Facebook users were much more engaged with nonprofits in the Wildlife / Animal Welfare sector than in any other sector.
  • On average, an organization’s text messaging list size was 1.9% of its email list size.
  • Annual mobile list churn was 14% in 2010.

The graphic at the top of this article conveys, at a glance, why no one is suggesting that nonprofits abandon email marketing in favor of social media or mobile. For every 1,000 email subscribers for your nonprofit, you’ll have, on average, 110 Facebook fans, 19 Twitter followers and 19 mobile text subscribers. What those numbers don’t show, however, is that engaged fans on social networks, and connected fans on mobile devices, tend to be more loyal, to respond at higher rates to advocacy campaigns and to donate at higher rates than the average user. Continue reading

February 7, 2011

Why you want to create a Facebook Page, not a Profile, for your nonprofit

John HaydonI’ve been chatting with Will Coley lately about nonprofits that violate Facebook’s Terms of Service, sometimes knowingly, by using a Profile to market their cause rather than a Page.

Using a Facebook Profile to market your nonprofit on Facebook is not smart, for at least three reasons:

You have no way of knowing what people want

1Facebook gives marketers a powerful tool called Insights that allows you to see – on a post level – how your fans engage with your content. Profiles don’t have this tool, only Pages do.

Facebook users don’t analyze how their friends react to their status updates. But marketers care very much about this – and so should you.

People don’t want to be your friend

2A friend request is very different from asking someone to like your Page. If you’re sending friend requests as a Profile, you’re asking the user to allow you to see their photos, their friends list, their address, their phone number and perhaps their relationship status.


Facebook users don’t want to share this info with your organization. Asking a user to like your Page, on the other hand, doesn’t cross any personal boundary. Continue reading