Is your not-for-profit boring on Facebook?

By Prashan Paramanathan

10th January '14

The setup: I was sitting down with a friend who runs a $10m not-for-profit the other day talking Facebook. He knew they needed to be on Facebook, he said, but what exactly was he meant to do when he got there.

“Is it just about pushing out our content? How do we get above the noise of all the other stuff online? And is it an awareness tool or a fundraising tool?”

The challenge: Review 400 Australian not-for-profit and community fundraising pages and figure out what the good ones (and the crap ones) did.

The answer: So first we had to figure out what our definition of “good” vs “crap” was (hint: it’s not number of likes). We decided to go for an engagement-driven metric, what we called “The Facebook Engagement Ratio (FER)” which is:

(Head down to the bottom of this post if you want to see if your Facebook page FER is any good)

And then we looked at the top 10% and the bottom 10%. Here’s what we found out:

1. Entertainment and news trump information

Pages with content that’s entertaining and news(y) kill pages that are full of information. If I’m going to find out what first aid I need if I have a snake bite, or how to improve my cardiovascular health, I’m not going to go to your Facebook page. Sorry, but Google works fine for that.

If I want to find out the latest about a detained Greenpeace protester, or get cuteoverloaded with pictures of endangered orangutans, Facebook’s the perfect medium.

2. It’s not about you, it’s about them (and what they care about)

Pages that served up content about the issue people cared about, rather than about their own organization won every time. The truth is people care more about the issue than they do about you, so stop serving them up stuff about you.

The guys at The Animal Welfare League of Queensland get this (// . They get that their audience cares about animals finding new homes – so they post up stories about …. animals finding new homes:

3. From a person, not an organisation

Pages that had posts that sounded like they were from a person, rather than sounding like they had been filtered through “corporate communications” speak worked much better.

Like this:

Not this:

And finally, how good is your FER?

If you’ve calculated your FER, and want to know if it’s good or bad, here are the stats:

  • Average FER: 6.5%
  • Range: 0% – 57%
  • To be in the top 10%, you needed an FER higher than: 13.5%
  • To be in the bottom 10%, you needed an FER lower than: 0.76%

And just in case you’re wondering, higher likes correlates with lower engagement:

Quick note: ‘people talking about this’ moves pretty frequently, so maintaining a high FER takes ongoing effort i.e. you can’t like-farm your way to an engaging Facebook page

And that’s a wrap on our first blog post and we’d love to know what you think. Please leave your comments below.