How To Use Facebook

Question: I KNOW our nonprofit needs to use our Facebook page more than it does, but we haven’t had much luck getting “likes” or with being seen on peoples’ news feeds.  Any tips on how to be seen on Facebook?


Answer: I’m glad you asked! Because this is one of the questions I get asked most often in my job. Facebook is a really important tool for nonprofits worldwide, but there are a few tricks to it.  The reason for this is that Facebook is seen by a lot of people, but the "news feed"—basically the page you see when you first log in to Facebook—is where most people will see your posts.  But like the front page of the newspaper, the news feed is prime real estate-- there’s only so much space, and your audience might be missing your information if you’re material isn’t getting on it.

And here’s another layer: every person’s news feed is different. Though Facebook works on ranking algorithms which are more or less the same, how an individual has interacted with your Facebook postings in the past will dictate whether or not your news will show up on their feed.

So, here’s Facebook’s algorithm, simplified:
•    Affinity: Your information has a higher likelihood of showing up in a feed if your organization and an individual have a history of interaction: commenting, liking, mentioning each other in posts, etc.
•    Weight: Specific information has a higher likelihood of showing up on their feed if they’ve interacted with that specific KIND of information in the past.  For instance, if you’ve put up a link to your newsletter, and they’ve “liked” it before.
•    Recency: One of your posts has a higher likelihood of being seen if you’ve posted it really recently.  You might have noticed from your own Facebook page that the content of your news feed changes pretty rapidly.  As a result, information might pop up and then disappear into the vacuum of Facebook’s outerspace.

So, how do we use this information?

•     “Like” Facebook’s Non-Profit Resource Center: It seems Facebook changes things up every few months or so, and the non-Profit Resource Center is sure to notify you if something has changed. Plus, they regularly post good tips for getting your information seen.
•    A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words: Photos and video with 150-200 characters of text get you posted to people’s Facebook Feed a lot more than a lot of straight text with no visuals.  And since Facebook now owns the social media photo-sharing site Instagram, your posts will be weighted more heavily if your posts come in the form of pictures shared from the Instagram platform.  Also, Facebook is more likely to promote a video that was uploaded directly to Facebook, rather than linked to via an article or another video sharing site like YouTube.
•    Timing is Everything: Your posts will have a higher likelihood of showing up on your followers’ News Feeds if you post them at the following times: on Saturdays (with Sunday being second best day), or at 8 AM (or 6 PM, a close second).  Your info will also show up in Feeds more often if you post every other day, as opposed to once a week or several times a day.
•    Get to Know Your Audience: Do some experiments: see what kinds of posts your audience responds to.  In general, research has found that, because people use Facebook for recreation,  fun stuff gets likes, sad stuff doesn’t.  So, your challenge will be spinning your story!

There is, of course, a lot more to getting your stuff seen on Facebook, but these tips should get you off to a good start!  Good luck!