It seems that everyone and their monkey are on Facebook these days. Recent stats show that Facebook is growing at a rate of 600,000 new users each day, swelling the network to over 140 million active users.
For nonprofits, these numbers represent an increasingly huge opportunity to get the word out about your cause. If your organization doesn’t already have a Facebook presence, you can’t afford not to. Go and create a Facebook page, which will be your organization’s home on the popular social network. (The Wild Apricot blog has a handy guide that will get you started.)
Once you have a Facebook page, people won’t come knocking on your door without a little work. Here are thirteen tips to promote your page, help you increase your number of “fans”, and use Facebook to get the word out about your work.
- Invite your posse
You’ve got your own friends on Facebook, and odds are some of them are interested in the work you do. Send them a personal message inviting them to check out your page. Don’t ask everyone. Just your pals who may truly be interested.
- Keep your page fresh and tasty
Once your page is up, don’t make the mistake of neglecting it. Keep the content fresh. Don’t forget the viral nature of Facebook. When someone interacts on your page it may appear on that person’s Facebook feed, promoting your page to their friends.
- Suck in content from other social media
Add Facebook applications that draw your content from sites like Flickr, YouTube and Twitter. This will bring new content on your page without needing to add it manually, while promoting your presence on other sites at the same time.
- Create an incentive to join
There are a lot of Facebook pages out there, so give people a reason to become a fan of yours. Have a monthly prize draw just for your fans, offer a discount to an upcoming event, or make special announcements on your page before you do elsewhere.
- Bribe your mailing list
Email folks on your mailing list and invite them to check out your Facebook page. Again, offering an incentive of some sort can help. Don’t shy away from adding a few words to your newsletter about what is happening on your Facebook page. And if you don’t already have a email newsletter, get one. There are many free or cheap services that make newsletters quick, simple and fun. (I highly recommend Mad Mimi.)
- Pop a button on your website
This might seem obvious, but most organizations don’t do it. Grab a button and flaunt it on your website, your blog, or anywhere else you have available pixels.
- Use Facebook ads
Facebook’s advertising program allows you to promote your page to a very targeted audience. (21- to 24-year-old hairless cat lovers in Idaho? Check!) And since you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, it’s actually quite inexpensive. Create different ads targeting different chunks of your target audience — or several for the same audience — and track them to see which ones are most effective.
- Play with your fans
Don’t leave your fans hanging. Respond to comments on your page. Ask them questions in the discussion board. When someone new becomes a fan of your page, sent them a message to say hello. Do they use Twitter? Follow them, or send a direct message. Remind them that there are flesh and blood people behind the organization’s page, and that you’re interested in them, not just your stats.
- Rock your own domain name
URL’s for Facebook pages are long and ugly. Register a separate domain name for your page and forward it to your Facebook page. If you already have a website for your organization, you can use a subdomain instead (ex. facebook.mynonprofit.com).
- Pimp out your business card
Include the shortened address of your Facebook page on your business card. If you don’t have one, get one. If you don’t like the idea of a traditional business card, get a funky personal calling card, like Moo’s MiniCards, to promote your page.
- Delegate and spread the love
If you have other staff, volunteers, or trusted community members who are on Facebook, consider adding them as an admin. You’ll spread out the responsibility of keeping the page fresh, and will hopefully create passionate pilgrims who will promote your page, and your organization, to their friends.
- Send updates (just not boring ones)
Facebook allows you to send updates to your fans, and by all means you should. Just make sure they’re interesting to your fans, not just to yourself. You can even target your update to fans in a certain city, region, or age range. But whatever you do…
- Don’t spam
Sure, this is actually one way not to promote your Facebook page, but just don’t do it. No one likes to receive Facebook updates every other day from anyone, so don’t abuse the privilege. I’ve ditched many pages and groups because they sent out too many updates, so unless you want your numbers to shrink, treat your updates like you drink your scotch — in moderation.