With approximately 11 million users in Australia in alone, Facebook is definitely one of the biggest and most active social networks on this side of the globe. And, with a commitment to supporting nonprofits, it’s a platform that’s worthy of any nonprofit or charity organisation’s time and attention.
So, if your nonprofit is still waiting to maximise Facebook for your organisation, here are some tips and resources to help you along.
So, should we start a Facebook Profile, a Facebook Page, or a Facebook Group?
Facebook Profiles are designed to be an individual's presence on Facebook. Here, people connect with others by adding them as Friends. At the time of writing this, you can only add up to 5,000 friends on your profile. Some people may opt to have a business profile instead of a personal profile, if they simply wish to manage Facebook Pages and ads. However, Facebook's Terms of Service (ToS) says that you can only manage a business profile if you don't have a personal profile. It's also important to note that as per Facebook ToS, you shouldn't have more than one personal and/or business acount, as you run the risk of having all your accounts terminated by Facebook.
Facebook Pages are designed to be the official way to have a presence on Facebook, especially for organisations, charities, and community groups. They are ideal for reaching out to a number of individuals and organisations. One advantage of Facebook Pages is the ability to get a "vanity URL", similar to your profile (eg, facebook.com/YOURNONPROFIT), so it's easier for branding. Pages also have the advantage of getting access to some useful statistics about your Facebook usage (called "Insights").
Facebook Groups are designed for smaller group communications. They are an ideal option if you have a very specific purpose in mind for communicating with a selected number of people. They are also good if you need a way to send mass messages to a small number of members. Some possible uses include: organising a small group of volunteers for your organisation or a small social group for your staff members. Groups may be private or public. At this time, there's also a limit of up to 5,000 members in a group.
So, which one should your organisation use? Each one would have different pros and cons, so it would all depend on what your strategy is for Facebook use. We shared our initial Facebook Page strategy here, if you're interested.
You can also read Facebook's Tips to learn more about the difference between Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups. Or, you can also read The Definitive Guide to Facebook Groups vs Pages.
For the rest of this resource, we will talk about setting up and managing Facebook Pages for nonprofits and charities.
Why start a Facebook Page for your nonprofit or charity organisation?
- Facebook is a great platform to reach a mass of people. Starting from your immediate networks, you can promote your organisation or cause, with the hope that they are able to pass it along to their own networks, and so on.
- Facebook has a number of applications that work well with nonprofits and charities. For example, the Causes app enables organisations to promote and raise funds for causes or organisations. And, it easily plugs in to Facebook. Organisations can also set up public or private groups, and even organise and promote events.
- Facebook is a good way to connect and communicate with your stakeholders. Depending on your strategy, this platform is an opportunity to share a variety of content – from text and links to videos and photos. It’s a great place to interact with your community who are already engaged in Facebook through their personal networks. It even has the added benefit of gauging your community's sentiments through "Likes", shares, and comments.
- To find out more, you can also read: How Facebook Updates Can Boost Your Cause.
How to Set Up a Facebook Page
- Choose a Facebook administrator from your organisation. You need to have someone from your organisation who already has a personal account on Facebook. They will be the one who would set up the Facebook page. Some people may also opt to start a Facebook account that's specific to their organisation instead of an individual personal account. This may be considered a Business Account that's only designed to administer Facebook Pages and ads. If you already have a personal account, you're meant to use your individual account to create and manage Pages. If you end up with multiple accounts, you may be in violation of Facebook terms of service. If you do not wish to have an individual account, go straight to creating a Facebook page section and you will be prompted to set up a business account from there.
- Even if you have an individual account set up the Facebook, the one who sets up your organisation’s Facebook page do not need to be the only one to manage it. In fact, it’s advisable to have at least 1 or 2 other admins to make sure that there will be more than 1 person who can look after your organisation’s Facebook page.
- Go to Facebook’s Create a Page section. Make sure you choose “Company, Organisation or Institution”. The “Community or Cause” section is only for creating pages that are generic and not targeted to a specific organisation.
- Follow simple steps to create the page. To see a simple five-step tutorial on how to set up a Facebook page for your nonprofit, check out Socialbrite’s Facebook set-up tutorial or you can visit Facebook’s Get Started section.
Some Simple Reminders on Setting Up a Facebook Page
- Fill out your details! Share some information about your organisation so that people can learn more. Add links to your website, if you have any. Maybe even photos of staff and other stakeholders. Give your Facebook page a 'human' feel. And yes, don't forget to post a proper profile photo that captures your organisation.
- Make sure you add some useful and interesting content even before you start inviting people. You don't want people to find an empty page when you invite them! So, add some relevant photos and videos if you can. Share some helpful links and write a few posts. Perhaps, even a section where people can interact with you immediately - an "introduce yourself" post or "tell us a story" post often work well.
- Adjust your Facebook Page's settings accordingly. When you edit your page's settings, you can choose how your Facebook supporters can engage with your organisation on your page. Here, you can choose what types of posts supporters can share, which pages they will be able to access, and other settings. For example, some organisations opt to choose to hide other posts on their Walls (this tends to be an unpopular choice, as it limits the way people can engage with your organisation). You can also choose what apps and plugins to use on your page.
Now That You've Got a Facebook Page, What's Next?
- Invite your contacts to 'Like' your page. Write a simple but effective invitation note that you can use to invite your friends and family members in your contact list to 'Like' your page. Give them a reason to 'Like' it - a brief background on your organisation and your cause, what sort of information will you be posting on your Facebook page, etc.
- Start 'Liking' other pages and interact with them, especially those that are similar to your organisation. This way, you can start networking with similar organisations and entities. Make sure, however, to avoid "spamming" their walls by inviting people to like your new page. If you contribute appropriately to the conversations, most people would find their way to you.
- Look at different ways of engaging with your stakeholders. For example, did you know that you can feature your organisation's image on a Facebook supporter's photo strip? You can also look in to running competitions, polls, and other discussions. There are different apps or plugins for these approaches.
- Consider creating custom tabs - If you create personalised landing pages for your Facebook Page, you can highlight the different things that your organisation does. To learn more about custom tabs, read Beth Kanter's note on Facebook custom tabs for nonprofit organisations.
- Start collecting data from Facebook Insights - One of the great things about Facebook Pages is that it offers administrators an insight in to their supporters through a built-in statistical tool. If you start collecting data from the start, you will have a good baseline of information that you can use to analyse later on if you wish to understand your demographics better.
- Also see The Ultimate Facebook Page Checklist - This is a good checklist that contains other tasks that you might wish to look in to for your organisation's Facebook page.
Let's talk Facebook some more!
- Ask a question about Facebook use! - If you have a pressing query about using Facebook for your nonprofit that is not answered in this guide, please feel free to ask away in our discussions section.
- Share a Facebook tip! - Do you have a special tip for other nonprofits about using Facebook? What about a great case study on how you used Facebook? Please share them with us!
Learn more about Facebook for Nonprofits
There's always plenty to learn about making the most out of Facebook for nonprofits. So, it's useful to follow blogs and other social media accounts who share such information. Here at Connecting Up, we often share the latest and most useful resources and tips on the use of social media especially for nonprofits and charities on our blog and Twitter account (@ConnectingUp), so we hope that you will consider following us and/or subscribing to our free newsletter. You might also want to 'Like' our Facebook Page: Connecting Up on Facebook.