The Facebook Update and its Impact on Nonprofits

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Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the platform’s News Feed algorithm will be updated in order to limit the reach of “public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” and provide more space for genuine social interactions and connectedness. The move is predicted to cause a seismic shift in the digital marketing world, with social managers scrambling to assess their options and prepare for the upcoming change.

But aside from businesses and publishers, not for profits which utilize Facebook also look set to lose out. 

So what exactly does Facebook’s update mean for purpose-driven organizations like yours? Instead of getting nervous, consider this an opportunity to boost your digital marketing strategy for the new year.

Here’s how.

What You Need to Know

According to Facebook, posts which ignite conversations and meaningful interactions between friends will be given a boost of exposure. In the meantime, click-bait, false news, and hyperbolic headlines will be demoted – meaning less attention, and less visibility. Facebook’s News Feed chief Adam Mosseri basically described this latest shift as a “rebalancing” of how Facebook’s algorithm ranks items in the main feed.

Social media is the place to build and grow your relationships for maximum impact. Instead of feeling threatened by Facebook’s latest demands, think more strategically about crafting and sharing content which will attract more devoted, more engaged followers, thus boost your visibility in the long run.

Why Your Organization May Actually Benefit

If you’re a purpose-driven organization, then you know that your survival depends on your ability to demonstrate social impact. Before you get discouraged by the Facebook change and throw in the towel, consider the Saint Louis Social Media Club’s estimate claiming that almost half of all Americans learn about causes and non-profits through social media.

For organizations that want to remain visible, creating content that generates conversations is key. If you play your cards right, you can actually increase your donor base, without having to barrage followers with constant requests for money (an action that tends to repel people).

Now is the time to enhance your content marketing strategies to ensure that you’re producing the kind of stories that your audience will like, comment on, and share.

Where to Focus Your Resources

Filmmaker Frank Darabont once pointed out that “visual storytelling of one kind or another has been around since cavemen were drawing on the walls“. In other words, throw some energy into the fine arts of visual storytelling – tailored to your organization’s unique needs, of course. This particular resource won’t be going out of fashion any time soon.

In case you’re not convinced, consider the rise of Facebook-owned Instagram – the popularity of the visual storytelling platform is on the rise and is increasingly being used by non-profit organizations. Another more recent acquisition by Facebook is Branch, a service which aims to unite people around specific web content and strengthen the conversations around causes.

Its clear that content of this type is great for boost engagement, which is what will be of benefit in Facebook’s evolving feed.

Why increasing Engagement is Key

Hot off the press from their own newsroom, Facebook has made it clear that igniting meaningful engagement will be the key to getting your voice heard. The plan is to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

While Facebook will “continue to value publisher content“, the pressure will be on organizations to create content that encourages conversations if they want to improve their odds of being seen where it matters. Engagement will be the crucial factor that determines whether your content shows up on your audience’s News Feed.

As long as your organization is creating content that sparks conversation, your Facebook strategy is unlikely to be drastically affected. However, if your focus until now has been fostering awareness without promoting active engagement, you might need to reconsider your approach.

The Bottom Line and Key Tips

It’s time to hunker down and boost the quality of your content to better showcase the human side of your organization. In addition, figure out when, where, and how to post your content most effectively. Be prepared to innovate and your digital marketing strategy could greatly improve in the long run.

Here are a few key tips that can help you make sure that your Facebook marketing strategy will stay the course in the face of the coming algorithm change:

  • Start your own Facebook group about your organization. Create a community around your cause and get people excited about it.
  • Consider getting on board with live video. According to Facebook, “live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos“. 
  • You can still run paid advertising, but use analytics with extra care to ensure that your budget isn’t going to waste.
  • Since we’re on the topic of analytics, use data to figure out which of your content is already sparking the most engagement. Use that knowledge to focus in on what matters to your audience.
  • Build mutually beneficial relationships with top influencers who can help promote your content.
  • Create top-quality content on your blog or website, with a focus on making it shareable over an array of platforms.
  • Become an expert at storytelling. There’s nothing like a riveting story with an authentic voice to cut through the noise and grab people’s attention.
  • Speak directly to your followers. Reply to comments and questions. Show them that you care and your followers will be happy to champion your cause.

At the end of the day, Facebook’s about people who want to connect. Put in the extra effort to build relationships around dynamic engagement and you’ll be better equipped to weather the upcoming Facebook algorithm changes.

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