Even the largest of organizations had to start their Facebook communities from scratch. The scramble to gain followers can cause many an online community manager to turn into an obsessive ball of anxiety. Before you start your online presence, I charge you to think for a second and ask yourself WHY you are starting an online community in the first place.
PLEASE NOTE: If you answer to this question is “To raise more money” then stop right now, close your computer and go home. Online communities are NOT about asking for donations. They are about interacting and communicating with people interested in your cause. Any goals around soliciting donations and list building come secondary and should never be the main goal of any page. Now, you may continue reading…
Here are three ways to grow your online community from zero while keeping your sanity and remaining true to your mission:
- Use your staff and volunteers as “seed” likes:
Once you have created your page and populated it with a cover photo, logo and a few pictures, send an email to your staff and volunteers. Tell them that you are now on Facebook and ask them to “like” your page. Once you have 25 likes you are eligible to have a vanity Facebook url – www.Facebook.com/YourOrganizationName.
- Add Facebook buttons to your website and emails:
Not only can you add a Facebook button to your page so your supporters can interact with you, you can also add it to specific pieces of content on your website. Services like “Share This” and other website plugins are great solutions.Just as every page should show where you live online, so should your email. Every email to your constituents should have social share options included. Even basic templates have social share button options.Ask your staff to include your organizational Facebook page on their email signatures alongside desk phone numbers and website url.
- Post things people want to share and like:
Think about that moment when your supporter is hovering over the “like” button. Why don’t they click? Why don’t they share? Maybe it’s how you’ve worded your content. Example: If your organization helps dying children, do not post the following:
“Millions of children die from lack of access to clean water.”
Do they really want to “like” dying children? No. They don’t. In fact, it will make them feel horrible to click “like”. Rewriting the post will get the message across and get that engagement up.
“Millions of children die from lack of clean water. Don’t you think they deserve better?”
Sounds simple, but writing “short form” for social is actually a real skill. It takes practice. Don’t fret, just think about it from the Facebook user’s perspective. Be conversational and you will see better results in the “like” department.
All early adopter social media giants started at zero. Every single one. I am not trying to minimize their hard work (I’ve been there), but let’s be honest, there was much less competition back then. You, my nonprofit friends, are competing with other charities, cat videos and Buzz Feed quizzes, so be realistic on your follower goals. Concentrate on measuring the impact of your message and not your number of page likes. While you are at it, ask any community manager on the street if they would rather have a 100 million fans or 100% engagement on their pages. Social media nerds across the globe will agree – measuring engagement on a page is the real way to show impact. If no one is commenting or sharing then is it really social media?