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Facebook Business Tips for Nonprofits

Lori Halley 07 May 2010 3 comments

If your nonprofit is on Facebook (or plans to be) you’ll want to check a new blog post that’s out this week from Tamar Weinberg. She’s an internet marketing consultant who manages Community Support and Advertising at Mashable.com, as well as the author of The New Community Rules, and she knows more than a thing or two about doing social media right.

How to Use Facebook for Business and Marketing

tamar-facebookTamar has done a masterful job of laying out a raft of best practices for Facebook marketing. Yes, she’s talking to the business community, but much of her advice applies just as well to not-for-profit organizations.

Here’s just a taste, greatly condensed and paraphrased:

  • Don’t use a Facebook Group. Among other reasons, they don’t support Facebook Markup Language (FBML) or Facebook Apps so are not as interactive (or flexible).
  • Get a Fan Page. Pick a memorable name to begin with (short is often good), and when you’ve reached 25 fans, get a custom URL for your Facebook Page to make the address even more memorable.
  • Customize. If you want to get creative (and ideally, you will) use custom tabs and FBML to create eye-catching one-of-a-kind content.
  • Keep the content fresh.
  • Aggregate your other social media streams, but “offer different content to your different audiences. Don’t just broadcast the same messages to your Twitter and Facebook followers.”
  • Offer deals, run contests, open up a poll... be creative.
  • Encourage your fans to post on your Wall, give feedback, make comments, add and tag photos… always be looking for new opportunities to increase community interaction – and make it all about your fans.

Sure, you may be thinking you’ve come across some of this advice before, but probably not with the same level of detail that Tamar’s whopping 2211-word article provides, not to mention the how-to inspiration of the examples she gives as well.  And here’s one really important point that you might not have considered:

The more your fan base grows, the more you’re likely to find yourself wearing a customer service hat, whether that’s actually in your job description or not:

People don’t care who is running the social media presence online; if it’s the marketing department, they’ll still demand technical support. Help them where you can or redirect them to the phone number, email address, or contact link that gives them direct contact with your support representatives. Be on your best behavior — after all, good customer service is good social media marketing.

In the case of nonprofits, you might get questions ranging from accountability in fundraising, to membership renewal issues, to “Hey, I sent you an email three hours ago...” to deeply emotional pleas and other challenges. You’ll need to be prepared to respond – promptly and pleasantly –  if you have the answers at your fingertips and, of course, the authority to speak to that subject. Otherwise, as Tamar suggests, be ready to point them to someone else in your organization who does have the facts and is authorized to respond.

(The question of who speaks to what for your organization is something best worked out in your social media policy, early on, and especially so if your nonprofit works with contentious or complex issues.)

But I know you’ll want to go read Tamar’s post yourself, so I’ll just wrap up here with my three favorite tips from How to Use Facebook for Business and Marketing, paraphrased a bit to take a nonprofit viewpoint:

  • If you’re a [nonprofit], ask your [supporters] to follow you — don’t force it out of those people you are already connected with for other reasons.
  • You may find opportunities to host real life events.... This is especially true of [nonprofits] who have a brick and mortar location... Why not invite your Facebook fans to a special event at your venue? Let them connect with each other and build bonds.
  • You should still consider your blog or website as a viable way to build community and/or to drive sales and conversions. If nothing else... you have total control over the process there without risks or usability concerns.... Use Facebook, but use it wisely.

What tips of your own would you add to Tamar Weinberg’s Facebook marketing advice? What how-to-use-Facebook resources have helped your nonprofit to sort it all out?  As always, please share in the comments!

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

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Friday, 07 May 2010 at 7:37 AM


  • Mazarine said:

    Saturday, 08 May 2010 at 7:09 PM

    Here's my top tip.  Don't get on facebook.

    You don't need to connect with donors on there. You can connect in other ways. Facebook's privacy issues (failbook.com), copyright issues and sheer lack of interest in helping nonprofits succeed on there (see the recent Fans turning into Like discussion) leaves nonprofits with less and less of a reason to be on facebook.

    I ran a nonprofit facebook page for over a year and a half with no discernible increase in results from a donation standpoint or an events-increase in attendees standpoint.

    Connect with your supporters via Twitter, LinkedIn, RSS feeds, blogging, or other ways. Facebook is just one tool, and not a very useful one for mobilizing people, at that. LinkedIn really got us the attendees for our events. Facebook is too crowded and too loud and it's increasingly a zero-sum game.



  • Michele Cooper said:

    Friday, 17 September 2010 at 9:04 AM

    I have tried to set up a Facebook page twice for our nonprofit, and the promised e-mail to finish the process never arrived. I'd like some feedback on how long it took to hear back from Facebook, and if anyone else has had this "no response" experience.  I don't even think there is a Facebook customer service number to call and talk to a real person. Any suggestions?

  • Free Zone said:

    Monday, 31 October 2011 at 5:31 AM
    Nice and informative Post.Thank you so much for this list, it really helps me out!
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