Facebook is rolling out a new feature called Facebook Questions – similar to what’s offered by LinkedIn, Yahoo Questions, and other Q&A sites. Ask questions, answer them, and rate (or be rated) for best answers.
What does this mean for nonprofits?
A new way to reach potential supporters, and to spread the word about your cause!
Asking Facebook Questions has the potential help you to better understand your current and prospective supporters, what interests them, what concerns them, where the roadblocks are that might prevent them from wholeheartedly supporting your cause, and what touches their hearts – much as you might use a survey or poll on your website or blog.
To ask a question to the community, just click the "Ask Question" button at the top of the homepage. [If you don’t see the button yet, be patient – this feature is being rolled out gradually and is not yet available to all Facebook users.] You can also ask questions about your friends from their profiles, similarly to how you would post on their Walls.
... Keep in mind that all questions and answers posted using the Questions application are public and visible to everyone on the Internet.
After you ask a question, you have the option of adding a photo or a poll – and you can also tag your questions with a specific topic. Tagged questions will be shown to those people who have expressed an interest in that topic, as well as to your Facebook friends and their friends.
Answering Facebook Questions on topics where your organization has special interest or expertise can help to increase visibility for your nonprofit, and to establish it as a source of reliable information related to your cause.
Answering questions lets you to reach beyond your organization’s Page and immediate network to get in front of other Facebook users – and bear in mind, this is a targeted audience: if someone has asked a question related to your organization’s area of expertise, or is browsing answers on the topic, the odds are that they have pre-existing interest in or engagement with your cause.
If there’s a “down side” here, it’s that Facebook Questions (and answers) are not available for index by search engines – and CNET reports that Facebook has no plans to make them searchable – so Questions won’t help you to draw new “friends” into your sphere from elsewhere on the wide Web, if they’re not already users of Facebook. But, as we’ve discussed before, ideally you want to center your online activities around your own blog or website in any case – at your own “home base,” rather than on a third-party network that could change the rules at any time – so that’s not a deal breaker. And with the current count at close to 500 million Facebook users, globally, the pool of potential supporters there should be plenty to make your Q&A outreach worthwhile.
On balance, Facebook Questions could very well turn out to be a useful tool for nonprofit outreach. Asking and answering questions on Facebook is one more way to establish your nonprofit as an authority in your field of mission, to clear up public misconceptions around your cause, and to connect not only with “your people” but with many new people – who may (with the right engagement, education, and encouragement) go on to become your people.
What do you think?
How might your nonprofit use Facebook Questions?