facebookLast year, Facebook changed its newsfeed algorithm. What has happened since is that many nonprofit organizations found themselves with plummeting “organic reach,” which is those posts seen on user newsfeeds that are not paid.

Those organizations that have used Facebook consistently through the years probably have noticed; however, nonprofits who are more relaxed with Facebook or are thinking of using Facebook as a core social media strategy may not be so aware of the significant changes that have transpired.

Facebook became a publicly traded company in 2012 and the most important thing it is entrusted to do is to make a profit. In the ensuing years, there have been countless discussions and debates about how Facebook can take the enormous global reach that it has – 1.35 individuals billion use it monthly – and monetize it for its shareholders.

That means that the days when nonprofits experienced 15 percent or more organic reach on their posts are over. Today, it is not unheard of for nonprofits to experience less than 5 percent or even 1 percent organic reach for those who have liked the organization’s Facebook page.

Of course, Facebook says that it is tweaking its algorithms because it is only trying to give its users what they want to see on their feed. And, yes, you could argue the point if a user liked a nonprofit page, then that individual has opted-in to seeing all of its posts. But, Facebook is a company that has not been entirely transparent through the years and so the fact of the matter is that if your organization’s followers like your page, chances are they are not going to be seeing your posts unless you pay to boost your page views.

We know nonprofits have limited resources and many organizations not only promote fundraising campaigns, but also seek to raise awareness about their organization. So, is there any way to work around the algorithms that prevent your organizational posts from appearing on the newsfeeds of the vast majority of those who have liked your page?

  • When using Facebook, make it a point to understand the data by using the Insights analytics page. Understand what may be working and what is not working so you are able to quickly discard messaging that is simply not getting through to your followers.
  • Content is king, but mobile provides the outreach. It’s all about mobile. Anything on your website linked to a Facebook post needs to be viewable on a mobile device. Last year a Flurry Analytics study found that 18 percent of the time individual Americans spend on Facebook is via their mobile device.
  • In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram, which suggests that Facebook is putting a premium on high quality visual content. Becoming effective in telling your organization’s story visually, which may just help boost your page views and attract new likes on this leading social media platform.
  • Most shares on Facebook occur during the weekend. This means that your organization should look to post content during that time.
  • Continue to grow your email list because there is definitely information that you may be providing via social media, Facebook in particular, that is simply not getting through to followers. Inform your supporters about this and let them know that by subscribing to your email list they have the opportunity to hear about initiatives and news that they could well miss if they only liked your Facebook page.

And finally, if you really believe in the power of Facebook, and there are some organizations whose whole outreach has been based on Facebook, then it might be necessary to consider paying to boost your posts. Consider it an investment as you would other forms of marketing (e.g. creating printed material or invitations for an event).

Facebook is currently the largest social media platform. Understanding the reality of the newsfeed algorithm changes and how it is impacting the nonprofit sector is important so you are not disappointed should you not get the likes or views you were hoping to achieve.


© 2015 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.