How to Bring Facebook Fans to Your Nonprofit Blog: Part 1

Lori Halley 21 January 2010 8 comments

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 social network.

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:

Social Proof

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.

Open Doors

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.

Web Exposure

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.

Content Control

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 Page.:

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 to you!

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 reader’s challenge: 

How would you go about getting your nonprofit’s fans to move their conversation over from the organization’s Facebook Page to its blog?

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 11:59 AM

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Comments

  • Twitter Trackbacks for Wild Apricot Blog : How to Bring Facebook Fans to Your Nonprofit Blog: Part 1 [wildapricot.com] on Topsy.com  said:

    Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 3:50 AM
  • Chris Bailey said:

    Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 4:17 AM

    Rebecca, I'm not sure I completely agree with the notion that a community should exist primarily on a nonprofit's home site. That's like us hosting a party and herding people having great conversations into certain rooms of the house WE want them to be in. Yes, we can always encourage the movement, but we do need to ask about the real costs of this action. Are we trying to exert too much control? And how will this be received by individuals already comfortable with their current surroundings? Communities - no matter how established - remain fragile constructs, particularly those composed online. If you're trying to get people to leave one platform for another, it better be just as easy to communicate on your blog as it is on Facebook.

    In an era of increasingly fragmented media, we have to be more open to going where our audience already is. Allow that home base hub to allow people to find the off-site communities that make most sense for them...rather than trying to consolidate all conversation under the organization's control.

  • Ashley Messick said:

    Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 4:38 AM

    Great post Rebecca. We've found ourselves asking this a lot at Blood Centers of the Pacific. We have a great Facebook fan base but have had trouble getting people engaged in the same ways through our blog. Facebook comments work well for us to hear brief feedback or answer basic questions but we'd really like to get people involved on our blog commentary because it's a much better forum (for us) for addressing customer service question, listening to one another's stories, and talking about more specific themes (that we may wish to provide some lead in info for through a blog post). We're still working on it - thanks for all your great suggestions!

  • uberVU - social comments said:

    Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 5:07 AM

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by rjleaman: Wild Apricot Blog : How to Bring Facebook Fans to Your Nonprofit Blog: Part 1 http://bit.ly/73pR3A

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 6:14 PM

    Chris, you make solid points here. I think the key is to gently encourage - to "lure" if you will - rather than get behind and push. Some people will leave rather than let themselves be herded into another room, and far better to maintain those "outposts" than to let a significant number of people drop off because they're not chatting in the room we want them to be in.

    Ashley, sounds like you've got the same basic challenges as the reader who asked this question. Facebook has its place in your communications strategy, but it also has its limitations that can be truly frustrating. For instance, I'd love to see a way for people to be able to interact in some way with organizations on their Facebook Pages - which are, after all, public - without them having to be Facebook members themselves. Groups, too, for that matter. As long as there are closed doors, there is *artificial* fragmentation of the conversation. But your website/blog offers opportunities for a greater depth of engagement, as you point out, and one key task is to make motivated fans aware of the "perks" that are available over at your place. Again, I'd think of it as creating incentives for people to interact on the blog... and offering options to them rather than making it a Facebook-vs-Blog either/or kind of proposition, don't you think?

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 6:19 AM

    "How can our nonprofit move the active conversation from our Facebook fan Page to our organization’s own blog‌?" The nonprofit that asked this question might be a small one, but their challenge certainly isn’t! Here's one way to tackle it.

  • Mr Ulster said:

    Wednesday, 03 February 2010 at 1:04 AM

    I do believe that those of us who are responsible for managing websites and related social networks need to be open-minded about whichever channels attract. I don't mind whether someone discovers my organistion via its WA site, Facebook Page, or Blogger blog.

    To manage user comments, I am impressed with the service by Disqus:

    http://disqus.com/comments/

    And I would like to know if WA would support this. Specifically, would Disqus custom code be supported in a WA site.

    At the end of the day, I pay WA for its website content management and membership and event management features: my WA sites are my home bases, as it were, and it would be great to be able to display activity happening elsewhere.

    Open for any suggestions!

  • Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 03 February 2010 at 2:18 AM

    @ Mr Ulster - I would suggest posting your question in more detail on Wild Apricot software forums: http://community.wildapricot.com/default.aspx?GroupID=10

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.