Spring for More Social Media Visibility

Spring is an important time for nonprofits! The excitement of the winter holidays has passed, and the hopes of the New Year are on their way to being fulfilled. Currently, a topic of interest for nonprofits this spring is social media.

Social media has been the growing curiosity in nonprofits for the past few years. One concern has been the recent Facebook change of the newsfeed algorithm so that “important” posts have precedence over recent posts in the newsfeed. Prior to this change, Facebook posts would appear in the user’s friends’ and followers’ newsfeeds according to the time which they were posted. Nonprofits were able to post information on their own Facebook timelines and have those posts appear in the newsfeeds of friends and followers instantly. Now, Facebook newsfeeds display posts based on importance. For example, a birth announcement will show up in a newsfeed for two days after the fact, while an inspirational quote may not show up at all. The Facebook algorithm now determines what they consider as important for Facebook users to see in their newsfeed. As a result, nonprofits are challenged with being recognized as important by this new system.

This Facebook change has potentially negative implications for nonprofits. Reduced visibility in Facebook newsfeeds limits a nonprofit’s visibility with its supporters. This is detrimental to the branding of the organization. The less visibility an organization has with its viewers, the less likely they are to interact with the organization’s social media. For more information please see the Nonprofit Quarterly: http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/23704-are-facebook-news-feed-changes-impacting-nonprofit-brands.html.

While this poses a new challenge to nonprofits, this is also a new opportunity. For nonprofits with social media budgets, it might be time to consider investing in ads on Facebook to gain more visibility with friends and followers. For nonprofits with a smaller social media budget, there are other options to maintain contact with supporters. This blog offers many suggestions for maintaining Facebook visibility: http://allfacebook.com/nonprofit-organizations-guide-movember_b113416. The major suggestion is using Facebook as a tool to tell a story. Friends and followers on Facebook will visit a Facebook page if there is a good story. Depending on the nonprofit, a good story might be one of a particular challenge or triumph. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end, and all supporters of a nonprofit want to be involved in a story which supports the mission of the nonprofit.

While you consider the implications of the seasonal changes, from the melting snow, blooming flowers, and Facebook newsfeed, take a moment to appreciate the story your favorite nonprofit is telling and how you are a part of it.

Julie Forest
CNM Resource Room Intern
Spring 2014