Activate Volunteers Online to Boost Facebook Reach

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By Ritu Sharma, Executive Director, Social Media for Nonprofits

Two years ago, pages would organically reach around 16% of fans. Today, you’ll be lucky to reach 6%. Organic reach is on the decline, with posts’ reach now being determined by EdgeRank, an algorithm based on post interaction and activity.

This can put you in a difficult position. If few people are interacting with your posts, Facebook won’t show them as often, which further decreases your chances of getting your fans to interact. The best solution for nonprofits? Activating online volunteers. Here’s how:

Create a social media committee

Supporters are always looking for ways to help and many of them are active online already, so it’s time to form a social media committee.

Here’s why:

  • They’re passionate about your cause
  • They’ll help dispel any myths
  • Their activity is the best online advertising available. Praise and testimonials mean more when they come from the public, and Facebook comments and likes will show up in your volunteers’ feeds as well as your page’s feed — and, even better, it’s free.

Just be sure their comments are meaningful. Like these, from the Red Cross Facebook page:

You could even create a comment checklist for your social media committee, including:

  • Is your comment informative?
  • Is your comment anecdotal and inspiring?
  • Do you back up your praise? (“This is great” vs “This is fantastic because…”)
  • Does your comment further the discussion? (Responding to other commenters, asking them questions or answering them)

Of course, every comment doesn’t need to tick ALL of these boxes, but it really must hit at least one.

And asking is easy. Folks wanting to volunteer are likely talking about your nonprofit already, so you’re really just trying to capture that activity and passion and use it to advance and continue the conversation on your page. So here’s a template you can use to reach out:

“We know many of you are active online and talking about us already, so we have the perfect volunteer opportunity for you: help us advance the conversation around our cause on Facebook!”

Show them how to get notifications each time a new post goes up:

And then task them with the following:

  • Commenting meaningfully (and regularly) on your posts to encourage conversation.
  • Sharing their knowledge with new page fans asking questions
  • Gently correcting misinformed commenters (if your page is a gathering-spot for trolls, you might want to leave this out and deal with trouble yourself)
  • Submitting content to the page — whether it’s tales of offline volunteering, pictures from fundraisers, or relevant links and images – it all helps attract your target audience to your page.

Call to (inter)action

Many of your posts will direct fans to your website, encourage them to subscribe to your mailing list, or to attend offline events. This is all good, but occasionally, your call to action should simply be to interact.

Invite fans (beyond your current social media committee) to share their stories and share their images. For you, this is free content and boosted reach — for them, it’s a chance to be included and recognized. And, if you make fans feel like they’re part of something, you’ll have better luck converting them into volunteers in the future.

How are you working with Facebook’s new algorithm?

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