How to Bring Facebook Fans to Your Nonprofit Blog - Part 2

Lori Halley 29 January 2010 9 comments

"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 small, but their challenge — how to make a nonprofit’s blog more attractive to social network users — certainly isn’t a small one!  This three-part series suggests one way to tackle it.

In How to Bring Facebook Fans to Your Nonprofit Blog - Part 1, we began by looking at WHY you’d want to center the activity on your nonprofit’s blog. (This question is key to your social media strategy. If you're still thinking that over, do read Jay Baer’s Should a Blog be Your Social Media Hub‌, and the comment by Wendy Harman of the American Red Cross, in particular, on Is Your Blog the Hub of Social Media Marketing at Debbie Weil's blog. Food for thought.)

Then, we talked a bit about HOW to bring Facebook fans over to your blog, leaving off with a quick introduction to the single most powerful approach to changing how (or where) people interact with your organization.

And we’ll pick up at that point today:

Reward the Behavior You Want to Encourage

Teachers, dog trainers, and anyone who’s stayed awake in Psychology 101 class will spot the principles of operant conditioning here. And in this case, the behavior we’re looking for is participation on your nonprofit’s blog by your Facebook fans — or, let’s be frank, active participation by any kind of blog visitors!

There are three ways to get a behavior to happen:

  1. Force it: for example, by making your blog the only place where fans can interact with your nonprofit — not recommended!
  2. Lure or Bribe; and
  3. Capture it.

Capturing, in this case, would be making it easy for people to visit and interact on your blog, then generously rewarding them when they choose to do so. It is easily the most effective method — but capturing may take a fair amount of time, and that can be a real problem when you’ve got board members breathing down your neck and looking for results. Exercising patience is hard work, and even more so when you can’t guarantee success on deadline.

Luring is faster. Offer something valuable for free — whether that’s one-of-a-kind content or a chance to win a prize — and more people are likely to be drawn in to get it. The down side is that, once you start luring, you may find you need to continue offering the goodies to keep your fans coming back. If you can aim for a balance between these two approaches, that may well serve you best.

Reward‌? What reward‌?

Once you’ve got people coming to your blog — and maybe they’re starting to leave a few comments, bookmark a page or two, read about your mission, tweet a few links? — that fan behavior needs to be rewarded if you want it to continue and grow. Think about your own life and you’ll notice that those actions that bring a reward (pleasure, peace of mind, a pay raise‌) are more likely to be repeated. You know all this from your fundraising and donor management activities, too.

Bear in mind — this is key — a reward is only a reward if it has value to the person who’s getting it. That’s why it helps to understand why your nonprofit’s fans (and prospective fans) are going online in the first place. When you know what they’re looking for, logically, you’ve got much better odds of delivering it!

So what are they looking for, these Facebook fans of yours?

A recent Ruder Finn study of online intentions reported that the bulk of people go online looking for education and entertainment:

  • Most people go online both to learn (88%) and have fun (83%);
  • More than twice as many people go online to socialize (82%) than to do business (39%) or shop (31%);
  • 72% of people go online just to become part of a community.

Hal Niedzviecki, author of The Peep Diaries, attributes the rise of social media and blogging to loneliness and a sense of isolation — the need to connect with other individuals — along with an urge for celebrity and, well, attention:

Nobody knows us and we don’t know anybody so we need to send outward signals about who we are that can be instantly understood, signals that are able to indicate both our specialness and our potential openness to alliances with similarly special people. These signals become more and more important. We live in an atomized society of single dwellings, lonely car commutes to work, and tenuous social connections we have to work harder and harder to maintain.

Does that ring true to you?

In November 2009, a Sysomos study of nearly 600,000 Facebook Pages found that content on FB falls into two broad categories (owner-generated and user-generated), and that the volume of simple wall posts by the Page owner does not relate to the popularity of a Page. The most popular blogs show the greatest amount of other kinds of owner-generated content — photos, videos, links, favorites pages, and so one — and of content generated by the fans themselves.

So there are a couple strong hints about what you could be doing to make your Facebook Page more engaging — and by extension, to make your organization’s blog more engaging, too!

How Facebook Rewards Your FB Page Fans‌

When members of Facebook become fans of your Page or interact with it in some way, by “liking” your content or posting their own, they automatically get a reward. Depending on the privacy settings each individual has chosen, it could be a note in their own Facebook feed or profile page, or content posted to other social networks. It could simply be a response from you or another Page fan… The point is, every action taken by your fans has the potential to bring them attention and connection. A very powerful reward, indeed!

In a extremely active Facebook community, the rewarding responses often happen in real time. Instant gratification cranks up the value and encourages the rewarded fan to participate even more frequently. The more people who are active and are seen to be active on your Page (this applies to blogs, too — remember “social proof”?‌), the more other people are likely to jump in and do the same. Fan activity grows exponentially.

Facebookers enjoy the sense of being part of an active community where something new is presenting itself for their attention almost constantly. Beyond just entertainment, the flow of fresh content feeds the need to know. It's one part driven by self-education and one part by that sense of being “in the loop” that most of us find irresistable.

Watch and Listen

Look at what content on your Facebook Page gets the most response from fans. Look at what your own Facebook friends are doing when they go online. What can you deduce about their motivations for using Facebook from the content they “like” and comment on and share?‌

And that’s a good start, but as web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik points out, the best way to get qualitative data — information about what your audience wants and needs — is simply to ask:

  • Set up a  Facebook Poll (yes, there’s an app for that) on your Page or Profile to get quick feedback from your fans.
  • Use one of the many  free tools for polls and surveys  to ask your readers what content they like best and what brings them back – Impressity.com, for example, is a new and very professional-looking (free) survey tool that you can embed right in your blog or website.
  • Got a membership event coming up? When you're chatting with members and guests over coffee, bring the talk round to their surfing habits. If Hal Niedzviecki's right, they'll be only too happy to share.
  • Put your questions to the people on your mailing list, too.

Yes, your email contacts are relevant to your blog and social media strategy! By opting in for your newsletter, by making a donation, or by whatever (legit) method they’ve been added to your nonprofit’s database, your existing contacts have shown an active interest in engaging with your organization. No question but that they’ll have some insights to offer you about what, exactly, motivates them to welcome your messages and support its mission.

The more you learn more about what brings your target audience online and how they’re using social networks, the better you’ll be able to figure out how your organization’s blog can begin to compete for attention. 

Part Three of this series has less Psych 101 in it, but more free tools and resouces to help your blog win over those Facebook fans.  (If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here.)

As always, feel free to weigh in on anything you read here, or to share what’s working (or not) for your nonprofit – I welcome your comments!

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

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 29 January 2010 at 1:44 PM

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Comments

  • Marion Conway said:

    Friday, 29 January 2010 at 6:51 AM

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for this informative post.  I have had a blog for quite a while and just started a facebook fan page with a feed from the blog.  It sounded like a great idea but I really want people to come directly to the blog not go to facebook instead and so I really have not promoted the facebook page.  Good idea?  I haven't decided yet. This post is very helpful.

  • Ashley Messick said:

    Friday, 29 January 2010 at 9:55 AM

    Great post Rebecca. One thing that popped in my mind too (although it's maybe a "duh") is to make it easy for your FB fans to connect with your blog. We have a tab that feeds our blog posts onto our FB page. We also post links when we have new posts. Some people just prefer to comment about the blog post on our FB page rather than on the blog post itself, and that is ok with us too. It would be awesome if our blog was in our fans RSS readers or bookmarked on their browser - but we get that for some the only way they will get to us is from our actively directing them there from where they already engage with us (i.e. Facebook).

    Excited to see the tools and resources from Part 3.

  • uberVU - social comments said:

    Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 2:22 AM

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by johnhaydon: How to Bring Facebook Fans to Your Nonprofit Blog - Part 2 http://bit.ly/a7OpGt by @rjleaman - RT!

  • Jay Baer said:

    Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 9:58 AM

    Thanks so much for the link within your incredibly interesting post Rebecca. Great stuff. You're absolutely right that Facebook is about action, not collecting fans like baseball cards. I wrote a post about that the other day (it's in my queue to be published next week). I also really like Dr. BJ Fogg's work in this area: regarding "hot triggers" on Facebook.

  • Kevin McQueen said:

    Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 10:06 AM

    What plug-in or app do you use to auto-post your blogs to your FB Fan Page?  I'm looking for one that does what yours does -- links back to the blog.  The FB "Import your external blog" app is no where to be found on my newer Fan Page "Focus Forward - Kevin McQueen".  Your input is appreciated!

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

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 6:41 PM

    Kevin, in the "HOW" section of Part One you'll find links to John Haydon's video tutorial called How to Automatically Feed Your Blog Posts into your Facebook Page and to Wong Ching Ya's terrific 13 Facebook Applications to Promote Your Blog. Those two resources should get you nicely started.

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

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 6:02 AM

    Marion, I do think a Facebook Page is a good idea; there are almost certain to be people in your target audience who simply prefer to connect that way - but you're wise to think carefully about how you want to use it. For example, you might want to be cautious about promoting the Facebook Page very heavily on your blog, if there's a risk of redirecting your existing readers away from the blog, but rather think of it as an entry point to help users of Facebook and other social networks to find their way to your "hub"?

    Ashley, this is right on: "we get that for some the only way they will get to us is from our actively directing them there from where they already engage with us (i.e. Facebook)."

    Jay, thanks for the pointer to Dr. BJ Fogg. I've been poking around his site at http://www.behaviormodel.org/ a bit this weekend, and it's fascinating stuff. Looking forward to your "action" post - seems there's a steady flow of great food for thought (and discussion) on your blog!  

  • Brian said:

    Monday, 01 February 2010 at 7:25 AM

    Kevin: The RSS Grafitti app does exactly what you're looking for. Beats the pants off Facebook's notes app.

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

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Monday, 01 February 2010 at 7:43 AM

    Thanks so much, Brian - I'd forgotten all about RSS Graffiti! :)

    Kevin, one great benefit is that it lets you send multiple RSS feeds to multiple Facebook pages: how cool is that? See https://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/archive/2009/09/25/multiple-rss-feeds-on-multiple-facebook-pages.aspx for a write-up on RSS Graffiti.

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