Facebook’s News Feed Announcement: What does it mean for generating engagement?

Facebook has been under fire from several directions recently. Most prominently, the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election dragged Facebook into the mud through its dissemination of fake news and openness to advertising from all sorts of nefarious clients. Elsewhere, social media executives have been admitting that their services are designed to be addictive, and neither use them themselves nor allow their children to.

In response to this, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a widely-shared post stating how Facebook would be toning down the content from businesses and news organisations in favour of making personal and conversation-based content more visible. In other words, going back to what Facebook started out as – a social media platform.

This has raised some concerns in marketing circles. Will content reach and engagement be dragged down? Will businesses become more irrelevant on the platform? Where will all those deliciously high audience numbers go?

In many ways, however, the announcement just signifies more business-as-usual for Facebook.

  • Firstly, Facebook relies on its customers. Its value of over $500 billion is dependent on continuing to attract advertising revenue from marketers hungry to get a bite of the two billion plus users currently on the platform. There is no way that the platform will neglect its business clients.
  • Secondly, driving down reach rates for organisations’ organic posts is nothing new. Facebook has been doing it for years in an attempt to encourage businesses to spend more money on advertising.

What the announcement does reiterate, however, is that organisations need to be adaptable in the way they speak to customers. A few years ago Facebook was pushing video content as much as possible. Then came Live video. Now, it appears they want posts to encourage conversation. Therefore, adapting your marketing strategy to ensure you’re able to maximise Facebook’s focus is key to getting the best results.

Facebook’s new fundraising tools: What to consider when using the new non-profit features

For several years, Facebook has been steadily turning itself from an individual-oriented social media platform into a business-oriented marketing machine. In pushing down organic reach and pulling up paid reach, making its advertising features more powerful and introducing Business Manager, it has been trying to entice more businesses to spend more money through the platform.

This is no different for non-profits – the potential reach and impact per dollar through Facebook far exceeds any other kind of current marketing tools, online or otherwise. Facebook, therefore, has been busy introducing new features for non-profits to use in order to maximise results.

Donate, Donate, Donate

The most obvious ‘new’ feature for non-profits is the Donate function. This has been extended to three areas.

1. In-page donation: Facebook has for a long time had a Donate button available for non-profits to use on their page, but in the past this just acted as a redirect to an external website – the non-profit’s own donation page. Now, supporters can donate without leaving Facebook – the Donate button can be added to a page or a post, and the user journey from sentiment to transaction is as short and smooth as possible.

2. Adverts Donate button: Facebook has expanded the scope for calls to action in Adverts Manager or Power Editor. Now, if a page is set up as a Non-Profit Organisation, a wide array of options for a call to action button have been opened up. Prime among these is the Donate button. This still just redirects users to the non- profit’s own landing page, but it makes for a clearer and more engaging call to action than the old Learn More button.

3. Live video fundraisers: Facebook has been pushing its live video function for a couple of years now – boosting the viewing figures to extreme levels, well beyond what the standard of the content actually deserves. Now, when non-profits are using live video, they can add a Donate button to the stream. This has so far been much under-utilised, requiring the kind of large digital team, technical know-how and forward planning that few non-profits have. However, the potential reach that live video has makes this an enticing option.

Don’t Get Distracted

It would be easy to get distracted by the new fancy charitable tools that Facebook is offering, and to rely too heavily on them to bring in results. However, the new Donate buttons are only as good as the campaign around them – there still needs to be strong messaging, imagery and other marketing components.

What also needs to be taken into consideration is the user journey. With the new in- Facebook Donate function, do you actually want to keep users within Facebook, or would you rather direct them to your own landing pages, with your own branding and response mechanism?

The answer to this is not straightforward. It can be cheaper and quicker to recruit leads or capture donations directly in Facebook, but without the opportunity to give the supporter more information about your cause, it can mean that they don’t go on to support you on a longer term basis.

One example of this is a lead generation campaign that we ran recently for a US environmental non-profit. It produced a lower cost per lead when signing people up within Facebook rather than directing them to the non-profit’s landing page. However, there was a higher conversion rate to donations from those that signed up through the non-profit’s landing page than those who signed up in Facebook.

As with all marketing, we would recommend testing approaches when activity begins and analysing which approach produces the KPIs you want to achieve. This can be frustrating when Facebook offers such quick wins, but this doesn’t always necessarily correlate with the best results long-term.

Three key components to a strong fundraising campaign

At THINK Digital we believe that there are a number of key components to running successful campaigns if you’re a non-profit. We wanted to share three of them with you here.

  1. Creating a sense of urgency

When someone sees your campaign, you want them to act there and then. To feel that if they don’t act the opportunity will be missed. This is easy if you’re running an emergency campaign or one with a very short timeframe, but less easy in other circumstances.

The best opportunities, of course, are those with real deadlines to work towards. For example, Greenpeace’s effort to get supporters to sign a petition before Donald Trump backed out of the Paris Accord.

However, trying to create a sense of urgency for other campaigns is more difficult. Using a countdown when a campaign is running for three months, for example, makes people think that there is no urgency and no reason for them to take action now. Trying to enforce a sense of urgency can often have the opposite effect.

We have found that using ‘key moments’ within a long campaign provides the opportunity to ask supporters to act now. For example, for a recent campaign we helped deliver focusing on penguins, we used World Penguin Day as a key moment to ask supporters to donate.

  1. Audience targeting

Having a well thought out audience targeting strategy can be key in helping to achieve the campaign goals. An effective strategy will use those goals to determine who will most likely engage in the campaign, and ensure that marketing budget can be used as wisely as possible.

Using existing supporters as a basis to match potential supporters to is usually a good starting point, but some thought needs to be put into this. For example, supporters who have attended a non-profit’s events or signed a petition are not necessarily those who will donate to an online campaign.

As important as it is to have an audience targeting strategy in place before a campaign launches, you should also be open to testing it during the early stages of the campaign and then adapt it depending on performance.

  1. Consistency

We talk about joined-up, consistent approaches across a lot of our work, and it is no different when running campaigns.

When planning a digital campaign, think about how easily people can see all of your online platforms and content. Treating the campaign in isolation on one channel or page (for example the campaign landing page) doesn’t give it as good a chance of succeeding as if the content is consistent across other platforms and channels too.

The campaign should have high visibility on all channels and platforms. There should also be consistency of messaging across communications. If a key campaign message goes out on Facebook, it should be reflected on all other social media channels, and go out in a supporter email at the same time.