Nonprofits have a problem on their hands when it comes to organic posts on Facebook. Many nonprofits spend hours each month planning, writing, organizing, posting, and tracking the performance of social media posts. HOURS. But those that have done this for the past few years know this is not a new problem.
According to the 2020 M+R Benchmark Report, organic posts from nonprofits reached just 4% their page’s followers (Page Likes). To flip that stat, 96% of a nonprofit’s Facebook followers will NOT see its organic posts. If you work for a nonprofit and are involved with Facebook organic posts or paid ads, then you’re likely familiar with Facebook Boost advertising option. A Boost is designed to do just that, boost (i.e. increase) the amount of people that can see your post. This type of advertising is becoming especially more important for nonprofits as less and less of its organic audience is seeing the regular posts that a nonprofit makes on its Facebook page.
In speaking with various nonprofits, I hear few strategies and more tactics when it comes to boosting Facebook posts. Some throw $5 on every post, others may spend $10 on a particular post, and the list goes on. My hope is that nonprofits will start to think more intently on WHY they want to boost a post in the first place. In other words, what’s the business reason to boost a post?
Why Not To Boost Posts
To start, let me tell you the #1 reason to NOT spend money on Facebook boosts. Do not boost a post on Facebook because Facebook told you to do so. Though Facebook has some great tools for nonprofits, its advertising platform is not looking out for the best interests of nonprofits. You’ve probably seen the following note from Facebook under some of your organic content:
“Boost it get more results,” they say. What if the post was recognizing the birthday of an employee? Maybe the comments and likes were from co-workers. Now, Facebook thinks this is a post that should be boosted. Bah, I say! Nobody external to the organization cares about the employee’s birthday. I’d say the same if the post was about my birthday. Your donors care about the mission and the impact your organization is having toward that mission, not employee birthdays. I’m not saying not to post about birthdays, I’m just saying it’s probably not smart to boost it because Facebook said you should. There’s no business reason to boost a post solely because it’s someone’s birthday. Unless it’s tied to fundraising for that birthday.
With that said, let’s look at 5 reasons your nonprofit should boost a post on Facebook:
If you’re going to spend money, your initial goal should be to gain a return on that investment. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 or $500, every dollar counts for a nonprofit. “Death by $5 Facebook boosts” is a quick way to kill your budget. Spending money to make money makes sense. Spending money because Facebook told you to makes no sense.
If you put a call out on Facebook to acquire new volunteers for your organization, then it makes sense to boost that post. Think about it like this…your Facebook followers are a high quality pool of advocates and donors compared to the general public. If you can increase your volunteer base anywhere, this is a great place to start. However, if only 4% of your followers will see your post, then that’s a bit of a problem. Boosting a post to gain more volunteers is a wise investment because it saves money on employee overhead, it engages more volunteers that become stronger advocates for your nonprofit, which may lead to increasing brand affinity and fundraising revenue.
Many nonprofits host fundraising events throughout the year. Whether it’s a one-time event, or something that happens every month, Facebook posts are a great way to get your message out about the event(s). Boosting a post about your event breaks through that 96% of your followers that may not see your post. These are people that can either attend in person or make a gift online. You’ll want to invest in boosts to expand the awareness of your event to your followers.
The value of an email has increased tremendously over the years for nonprofits. Not only can you use an email to send updates to a subscribers’ inbox, you can also use that email to target that individual with online ads. Using organic posts that drive people to an email subscribe page should be included in every nonprofit’s monthly editorial calendar. Investing in email growth can bring significant value to the organization, so yes, it’s a solid reason to boost posts.
Over the years, I’ve been asked many times…”how do you create viral content?” The answer is, you can’t, it’s just something that happens. By definition, viral content is content that spreads rapidly and becomes extremely popular within a short period of time. You can only control the creation and initial distribution of it. It’s up to your audience to make it viral, not your nonprofit. With that said, there are things you can do to improve your chances of going viral. If you have a great piece of content, usually in video form, you can boost it through Facebook. Before you invest any money in an attempt to go viral, still ask “why do I want it to go viral?” Will it result in more donations? Maybe positive PR? Have a goal in mind that ties back to business goals.
Your turn: What kind of success have you had with boosting posts on Facebook? Any tips you can lend to the community?
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