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What the latest Facebook algorithm changes mean for nonprofit marketers and fundraisers

Facebook has a direct impact on how the world communicates and receives information. The latest Facebook algorithm changes have been designed to prioritise personal posts, especially those that spark ongoing conversations and interactions between friends. In order to create an environment that fosters feedback and interaction, Facebook has designed new predictive code that highlights certain posts by showing them higher in the News Feed. While this could have a great impact on Facebook as a social platform, it creates a number of challenges for non-profit groups when it comes to fundraising and promotion.     

Posts from friends will now be prioritised over public content, with posts from not-for-profit (NFP) groups and other Pages pushed down as a result. While Facebook are always tweaking their platform, these latest changes are significant in how they threaten public content. While some of these changes will take months to filter down to individual products, Facebook users are likely to see changes to their News Feed almost straight away.

What this means for non-profit groups is simple – less likes and fewer followers unless you find a way to engage your community. Let’s take a look at 7 things that you need to embrace if you don’t want to see a decline in your reach and influence.

1. Post Engaging Content

Now more than ever, it’s important to create and post engaging content that promotes sharing, commenting and community reaction. In order to play the Facebook game, it’s important to focus more on relationships and less on exposure. While all Pages may see a decline in their numbers, video watch time and referral traffic, posts that people don’t react to or comment on are likely to see the biggest decreases in distribution.

2. Create Conversations

If content is the new king, then conversation is the new queen. Mastering Facebook and viral media is about creating the perfect conditions for feedback to take place. If you can push people’s buttons and make them want to interact with your cause, you’ve already won half the battle. Posts from public Pages that prompt comments and conversations between friends will see less of a decline in their reach, with Facebook marketers who can merge public and personal spheres likely to succeed where others fail. However, it’s important to avoid engagement baits, such as vote baiting, share baiting, tag baiting and comment baiting. Facebook will continue to discourage this type of engagement on the platform because it does not consider these interactions as ‘meaningful’.

3. Take Advantage of Sponsored Ads

If you have the budget for it, sponsored ads are a hassle-free way to bypass the new Facebook changes. While organic content still has an important place, and creating conversations around your content is critical, time-poor NFPs may get better results by placing more emphasis on the commercial side of Facebook. Some of the more jaded commentators out there have even suggested that this is the real motivation for these algorithm changes. 

4. Use Live Videos

Before you start freaking out, it’s important to note that Page content is not being eliminated from the News Feed. Instead, you just have to get better at promoting your cause in a way that respects the community-minded values of the Facebook juggernaut. Posts that generate ongoing conversations between people will be prioritised in the News Feed, with live videos one of the best ways to prompt discussion among viewers. According to Facebook, live videos get six times as many interactions as regular videos on average.

5. Ask Supporters to Change Preferences

Mark Zuckerberg and his team want to encourage meaningful interactions by focussing less on public content from businesses and brands. In order to hang on to as many supporters as possible, you will need to ask them to change their preferences. You can ask your followers to choose ‘See First’ in News Feed Preferences to make sure they’re always up to date with your organisation and all their other favourite Pages. You can reach out to your supporters via email and on your Facebook page. Most of your supporters will be unaware of these changes, so it’s up to you to be pro-active.

6. Create Engaging Groups

Facebook has always been about personal connections and community. You can improve your fundraising campaigns by setting up Facebook Groups for your supporters, volunteers and employees. Tailored conversations will make people feel included and engaged, with separate Groups giving you the ability to organise and manage campaigns in private. If you can create an organic and ongoing conversation based around a specific idea or campaign, the Facebook world will really open up. For example, you can use Groups to brainstorm specific ideas before they enter the public arena.

7. Focus on Different Metrics

Make no mistake, many non-profit groups are likely to see a reduction in their likes and followers as a result of these latest changes. While it’s possible to create smaller and more engaged communities, different metrics will be needed to measure your success. Instead of focusing entirely on followers and likes, you could be using additional metrics based on how many people react to, comment on, or share your posts. For some campaigns, it may make sense to use email as a catalyst for Facebook shares and comments. Instead of relying on a single medium, you should use every tool you have to build momentum.

* Image sourced from Pixabay.