Our October Cafe: benefits and strategies for charities using facebook

Update: Rik gave us a great cafe discussion on facebook on Thursday 18 October. If you would like to see the slides for the talk, you can access them here. For the people who came to the cafe, Rik is also offering a free 1 to 1 consultation to follow up on the approach discussed in the cafe.

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Are you currently using facebook to promote your charity or social enterprise? Do you talk to your beneficiaries via a facebook group? Have you attracted volunteers or employees through the content you’re sharing?

The topic for our October Third Sector Cafe is facebook. In the short interview below I asked our speaker, Rik Courtney of Be More Social, to give us a taster of what he’ll be discussing in the cafe, and explain why he thinks facebook is so important for non-profits.

I also put a couple questions to him, shared by two charities who’ve booked to come to the cafe: how can one charity make best use of volunteers who come with widely varying experience of facebook? And how can another deal with the volume of negative posts they can get in response to some of the content they post about their work?

Some of the points we cover

How much time do you need to invest to develop an effective use of facebook?

Rik suggests that it takes an investment of 30 minutes a day, or 2.5 to 3 hours each week, to maintain an active and useful facebook presence. He talks about the benefits of being organised about how you are going to spend that time by having an inbound and an outbound strategy so that you have an idea of what your organisation wants to post, and have also thought about how (and why) you want to engage with content posted by others.

Set specific goals for your time on facebook

If this time commitment sounds daunting, then it might help to set some goals to achieve through your facebook presence, so that your time is being invested for a purpose.

Facebook offers specific resources designed to help non-profits use it for strategies to:

It also offers a handy ‘basics’ guide. A good place to start!

We’ve also created a handy guide to help you create a simple facebook page strategy - access it here.

Rik (as a social media professional) is pretty convinced that all non-profit organisations can benefit from facebook - a free tool with the ability to send your messages to almost 8 out of 10 adults.

Helping volunteers to be effective

Articulating a purpose and a plan (or ‘strategy’) for using facebook puts you in a better position to be able to involve volunteers meaningfully.

Rik is also keen to make the point that volunteers don’t have to use their personal pages, so its still possible for people to help even if they don’t have their own facebook page, or if they would prefer to keep their private life separate from their volunteering.

Keeping on top of responses

Rik suggests using the ‘profanity blocker’ tool, and identifying and blocking ‘repeat offenders’ as two possible approaches you can use to reduce time needed to moderate comments - he’ll be exploring this topic more in the session.

Feel you need more help?

As well as our cafe session (book) Rik’s company Be More Social offer a monthly subscription to get expert help on an ongoing basis. Called Savvy Packages they are described on the website here.

The NCVO offers free help on facebook on their Knowhow hub.

Buffer is a good source of advice - for example, their guide to facebook ads

Platypus Digital have developed a free 10 part email course for charity leaders on how and why to use facebook - sign up here.

And there are lots of inspiring case studies on ways charities have used facebook with good results. Charity Digital News is a good source of these eg The Children’s Air Ambulance talk about how they use facebook advertising tools in this article.

Constant Contact have good know-how examples eg Gorilla Doctors case study on combining facebook with email marketing to raise $100,000 in a month long campaign.

And facebook itself publishes lots of non profit success stories.

Sophy Hallam