“Are you on Facebook?” It’s a question I’m asked often by people visiting or calling our facility and I’m happy to let them know that, yes, we are on Facebook and our page is quite active and informative.
A well-utilized Facebook page can be a tremendous marketing tool, taking “word of mouth” to a whole new level within and sometimes far outside of your local community. Nonprofits in particular have the ability to broaden their reach, raise awareness, meet or exceed fundraising goals, communicate with supporters and become a trusted voice in your community.
Here are five easy strategies you can start implementing today to make your page noticeably more effective and grow your audience.
- Update your profile photo, cover photo and your “About” section. These should be the first things you do when creating a Facebook page and they should be updated as needed to reflect changes within your organization.
- Your profile photo acts as the face of your page, so this is a good place for your logo or an easily recognizable image relevant to your organization.
- Your cover photo is a large, wide image that you can use to highlight your facility, an upcoming event or a graphic that portrays your mission.
- The “About” section is where you let your fans know who you are, where you are and why they should care. Select your business category, display your hours, contact information, a link to your website and your address with a map. There is space to fill in information about your organization including an overview, a longer description, your mission, products and services you offer and even awards you have received.
- Be consistent. Think of your Facebook “voice” as a person. Is this person all-business and strictly professional, or is this person more casual and humorous? Pick what works for your organization and stick with it to establish a stronger connection with your audience. It helps to have one person or a few like-minded people managing your page. Be sure to keep your page current by posting at least a few times per week, daily if you are able, even if it’s just a “look who just got adopted” photo or a shared post from a reputable source.
- Share photos often. Speaking of photos, use them, use lots of them. You’ve likely heard the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” On social media, a photo can be worth a thousand “likes” which lead to shares, which then lead to more supporters and more people seeing your message.
- Link to more information. Unlike Twitter and Instagram, Facebook doesn’t limit the number of characters you can use in a post. However, users are more likely to read shorter posts than invest time in reading a longer story, even if it’s accompanied by an engaging image. Keep your posts brief and provide links to more information like event pages, adoption listings or a page on your website. Directing someone to your website for specific information can lead them to viewing other, relevant information while they’re there, like an event calendar, a page full of adoptable pet photos or a donation form.
- Don’t just post. Listen, too. Posting consistent and engaging content will put you well on your way to growing a network of fans, but it’s important to remember that each of these fans is an individual and an opportunity to establish a relationship with a potential advocate, volunteer or donor.
- Check your page often for notifications that need attention. Respond to comments, messages, questions and reviews with the same level of service that you would if a person called you on the phone or walked through your front doors. Most Facebook users know not to expect an instant reply to their questions, but the faster you can get back to them, the more likely they are to remain engaged.
- Consider an automatic reply for your Facebook message inbox. A short greeting acknowledging the receipt of a sent message stating times that the page is monitored can be helpful for fans so they know when they can expect a reply.
- Always thank people for positive reviews, and make it personal whenever you can. Make your reply genuine — use their pet’s name or reference the specific interaction or experience they referred to.
- Don’t ignore negative reviews! Other users are going to read the review and assume that your organization simply did not care enough to correct a bad experience or at least clarify the story. Be sincere in your reply and not defensive. Offer an apology if it’s warranted, and ask what you can do to make it right. You may win back their support (or not) but at least other readers will see that you cared enough to try.
Don’t forget — in the animal welfare industry, we already have the strong marketing advantage of cuddly kittens and cute puppies. People love animals and they want to help the ones in need, even if helping means simply sharing a post or writing a comment.
Start using these simple strategies today so you can attract and engage even more of your audience. With the help of Facebook, you’ll see improvements in your page performance, get more people excited about your organization, keep your community informed and ultimately reach your goals even faster than before.
Facebook also provides a handy how-to guide specifically for nonprofits as well as an effective and very economical advertising platform with the ability to customize your message, target your audience, set an advertising budget and view ad insights. When used effectively, these tools will help engage your audience so that they want to be part of your efforts by participating in your posts and sharing your message.
The opinions and advice expressed within this article are the opinions of the author, and not of SAWA or its affiliates.