A challenging social media question came in from a very small health-related nonprofit support group, recently: How can we move the active conversation on our Facebook fan Page over to our organization’s blog?
We’ve got a really active community at our nonprofit’s Facebook
Page, with lots of discussion going on between fans there. My question
is, how can we move those fans over to our own blog, to get the same
discussion going there instead? We’d like to have more of the
conversation take place at the blog instead of so much of it stuck on
Facebook… but is that even the right thing for us to want to do?
Sounds like a good kind of problem to have!
Many nonprofits would love to see more fan activity on their
Facebook Pages… but, yes, ideally your nonprofit’s online community
should be centered around your organization’s “home base,” which is
your blog or website, rather than all taking place on a third-party
WHY Bring Your Nonprofit’s Fans to Your Blog?
Four main reasons come to mind — and perhaps you can think of other
advantages to encouraging your nonprofit’s community to be more active
on your blog instead of hanging out exclusively on Facebook:
When an active conversation is taking place on your blog, it can provide valuable “social proof”
for your organization. Human nature means we’re likely to be attracted
to success; to stay longer at a well-attended party; to walk past the
empty restaurant… and to make a donation or volunteer for a nonprofit
that’s clearly well supported by friends and others with shared values.
Comments on a blog are open to anyone you want to let in, but
comments on a Facebook fan Page are open only to people who are members
of Facebook. For most organizations, a broader audience is one of their
social media goals. If that’s the case with you, an open-door community
makes good sense.
Comments on a blog are more enduring, in web terms, than those that
fly by on a Facebook news feed and soon disappear. Even on older blog
posts that have long since left your front page, the archives remain to
be discovered by readers through search engines, by way of your own
internal links, or using a site search tool if you have chosen to use one.
When your own content and that generated by your users is on a
website you control, rather than hosted on a social network or other
third-party service, it significantly reduces the risk of that content
disappearing if the service is discontinued or your account suddenly
cancelled. And if a user comes back to deletes a comment, after the
fact, it can leave a critical gap in a conversation. Especially if your
organization’s mission tends to touch on contentious issues that
generate heated debate, you may have good reason to want to preserve
the continuity of an online discussion as well as to ensure that a
third-party service can’t pull the plug on your message.
On the other hand, high on the list of many nonprofits’ objections to using social media
you’ll find a justifiable concern about the risk of users posting
inappropriate content on your Facebook Page — an especially keen
concern if your audience is conservative, sensitive to certain issues
or language, and/or includes youth and seniors. You may want to have
the ability to edit or moderate a specific contribution from one
specific users in the interests of your online community as a whole.
That’s simple to do this with comments on a blog, but somewhat trickier
on Facebook and other social networks without tipping the balance into
censorship or outright banning, neither of which is ideal.
But let’s get back to the main question…
HOW to Bring Facebook Fans to Your Nonprofit’s Blog
Here are a few suggestions:
Drip Feed the Blog Bait
Tempt your fans to become blog readers by offering good, useful,
unique content — and set it up to post automatically to your Facebook
Hook ‘em with Headlines
Good headlines that rouse your fans interest and curiosity encourage
them to click through to your blog, to read the full post rather than
just the snippet that Facebook shows:
Make It Mobile
Many people check Facebook more often than websites and blogs
because they tend to spend more time on their phones than on their
computers, and Facebook goes out of its way to be mobile-friendly.
Consider creating an iPhone app for your nonprofit, or even just offer
a link to a simplified mobile-friendly version of your website. Going
partway to meet your audience will often go a long way to bringing them
Make It Easy
If you want your fans to connect with your nonprofit through your
own communication tools — blog comments, forum, email list or
newsletter, whatever that might be — don’t forget to invite them! And
do provide tools to make it easy for fans to connect with you outside
the semi-walled garden of Facebook Pages:
Sure, much of this has become basic “best practice” for blogging in
a socially networked world, but sometimes we’re so busy keeping up with
the day-to-day demands of our organizations’ actual programs, it’s all
too easy for a few items to slip off our social media checklist so it
never hurts to have a reminder.
Assuming the technology is all set up with your Facebook application
and other blog connections in place, however, here’s what I believe is
the single most powerful approach to changing how (or where) people interact with your organization:
Reward the Behavior You Want to Encourage
The fact is, some people just love Facebook. They practically live
on Facebook, do very little else when they’re online, and go online for
the sole purpose of checking in with Facebook. It is a familiar place,
all their friends are there, and they have come to feel comfortable
with the interface…
So, if your fans have already got a lively little community going on
your Facebook Page — talking to each other in your Discussions tab,
clicking through to your blog posts but coming back to Facebook wall to
make their response on your wall, and so on — you’ve got to ask
yourself, What would make these people want to change their habits?
Here’s the meat of the matter:
- How does Facebook reward your Fans?
- How can your nonprofit do it better?
Realistically, you simply may not be able to shift focus of all the true-blue die-hard Facebook fans to your nonprofit’s blog. But
you may be able to convert a significant number — if you can find a way
to offer the same attention, community, social proof, instant
gratification and whatever else they’re finding rewarding about being
part of your nonprofit’s Facebook community.
We’ll be talking more about the specifics of how to reward your blog
visitors, readers, commenters and subscribers in Part Two and Part Three, coming up. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your responses to our
How would you go about getting your nonprofit’s fans to move their conversation over from the organization’s Facebook Page to its blog?