Why so many organ­i­sa­tions fail at Facebook

Written by
Beate Sørum
July 25, 2016

If you find Facebook is not really working for your organisation, I am willing to bet that it is not Facebook’s fault – it’s yours. Too many NGOs take their social media work too lightly – and get the results to match it. There is no such thing as a free lunch guys.

When I work with charities and businesses to improve their social media results there are some mistakes most of them make. Fix these things and I guarantee you will get more return for your efforts.

The 10 reasons your Facebook channel sucks

1. You don’t plan the work

If you post whenever you feel like it, with no plan for growing the stories over time, how can you expect an effect? Social media has to be meticulously worked with just like any other marketing method. You need a detailed publishing plan to make sure you have balance in content and frequency and that important information is published at the right time.

2. You post without a goal

Just posting for the sake of it does nothing for you. Every post should have a purpose and a goal. Only then can you write something that will fulfil your goals, measure whether you reach them and adjust accordingly.

3. You write like a bureaucratic press release

It’s no problem writing something that shows your personality when you post to your own accounts. You know who you are, what words you use, what your humour is and what angers you. Yet when writing on behalf of an organisation, you won’t know these things unless you’ve taken the time to write them down. Too often, we just put on our  ‘very official hats‘ and write in a way that makes people fall asleep at the third word. Making a good style and tone guide gives you a coherent personality.

4. Your posts are too long, also known as: you are giving me the blue ‘see more’ link of death

Facebook is not a blog. I understand that you have a lot to say, but sorry – I’m not going to press that ‘see more’ link, unless you’re saying something unbelievably interesting. But, see point two, if you can’t write it in under 200 characters it should probably not be in just one post. Tip: if you feel the need to use paragraphs write a blog post instead.

5. You’re posting the first draft

You would never send out the first draft of your direct mail appeal, right? So don’t do that on Facebook either. Your first draft is bound to be written the way it comes out of your head. Meaning that the most important things are probably last. Make sure you write a second time to restructure. Then a third time to shorten and sharpen. Then a fourth time to put in that personality. Then maybe even a fifth, when you think of a genius new way to say it.

6. You’re using the wrong format

Facebook’s changing algorithms have people chasing different types of posts to try and find the one with the most organic reach this week. Stop that. Example: links posted in photos are bound to deliver fewer clicks, even if you get lucky and it spreads to more people. Think about what you want the post to achieve and use the appropriate format for that. Want clicks? Use a link post. Want views and engagement? Use a photo. Want to just say something, or ask a question and get feedback? Use a text update.

7. You are not thinking about your audience

If you want people to respond to your stuff, you have to actually write it in a way that’s interesting to them.

8. Your post’s photo has nothing to do with the thing you’re saying

So you listened to a social media expert who said you should use eye-catching photos. Well, if the photo in question has nothing to do with your link or your message it’s not going to work no matter how eye-catching. The photo you use has to tell my eye very quickly what this message is, so that I may stop to read more. If the photo lies to me, I’m going to move on.

9. Your posts are devoid of emotion and stories

Please don’t bore people to death. Remember you show up in between their friends’ baby photos, last weekend’s parties and next weekend’s weddings. Tell stories. And if you will be making an appeal – make sure the problem is well known before you ask. Don’t be afraid to be personal. Use emotions.

10. You don’t ask

The number one reason organisations don’t raise money off Facebook is that they simply do not ask for it. It’s perhaps an idea that Facebook should be all ‘nice’ and not used for direct marketing. I vehemently disagree. Fundraising rules are equally important here folks: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

About the author: Beate Sørum

Beate is a well known international public speaker, and she runs digital fundraising consultancy b.bold. The B represents her name, bold is how she tries to live and being bold is what she tries to help her clients to be.

Beate has more than five years of digital fundraising expertise, particularly working at the Norwegian Cancer Society, where she doubled the digital fundraising return amongst other things. You can find lots of posts about how she did this in her blog.

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