My latest contribution to the Stanford Social Innovation Review is now up – you can read it and join the conversation on the SSIR blog, or read the full post below.


Whether your organization has had a presence on Facebook for years or just days—or you’re considering starting now—trying to follow along with all the changes to functionality, options, and analytics is incredibly overwhelming. Just when you think you have it all figured out, a new button appears or you can’t find the same options you had before—there’s always something changing!

The good news is that the nonprofit technology community is rich in sharing, and there are lots of online tutorials about this latest wave of updates on Facebook. I’ve pulled a few of them together here. (Note: You can find resources about Facebook on Facebook using its resource center.)

Remember Strategy First

In the midst of all this change, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and why you are using Facebook for your organization in the first place—instead, we focus on the particulars of how to use new tabs, plugins, or applications. The fact that so much is changing—and will continue to change—should reinforce the idea that our use of Facebook (or any other platform, for that matter) should be guided by a larger strategy with goals that further our missions. Beth Kanter compiled examples of the way organizations are using Facebook for specific purposes. Whether you’re using it for community building, marketing, communications, or anything else, you should have a strategy that extends beyond the “Like” button.

Calls to Action

Most organizations have a call to action, a campaign, or a fundraising push to promote on Facebook and other social media. You may already be using Facebook’s Causes application, which helps you spread messages and fundraise; it also empowers community members to do so on your behalf. If you are using it, then things just got easier; if you aren’t, you may want to try it. Facebook has just made changes that will let you do even more with the Causes application, such as promoting actions directly from a tab on your page. To learn more about it, I suggest going to the source: Causes has a post that walks you through the steps of promoting actions via a dedicated tab. If you’re looking to explore the dynamics of social sharing influencing online fundraising, read Debra Askanase’s recent overview.

Subscribers and Fans

One of the biggest changes shaking up Facebook users is the introduction of the Subscribe option. Much like Google+, Facebook now allows users to subscribe to pages and individuals without being directly connected (as a fan or friend). This means users can share content publicly with subscribers (and privately with their direct contacts). Organizations that have community managers, program managers, or other public-facing staff can now enable individuals to be organizational ambassadors who share news and information about programs, services, events and campaigns publicly. This increased activity in a public channel is increasing search results on Google too. Ted Fickes’s guest post on the Care2 Frogloop blog explains how this new feature impacts the way nonprofits are sharing news and updates.

Metrics that Matter

When it comes to using a third-party platform for community engagement, communications, marketing, and fundraising, organizations often find that they have trouble tracking the data they really want to, or they find it too difficult to get to the numbers that they stop trying all together. One of the new changes to Facebook is the expansion of Insights, the Facebook analytics tool. You can now see beyond the Likes and comments on your page. You can look at the demographics of those engaging with your content, measure your reach (the network of your fans), and get feedback on how well every each of your posts is received by the community. John Haydon has an in-depth video tutorial that will walk you through every report now available. John also outlines 39 questions your organization can now answer with Insights, including where your fans come from and which days your page sees the most activity. Understanding the options now available in Insights to help you track and analyze the way you and your community engage on the Page will dramatically increase your ability to be strategic with your efforts on Facebook. Strategy? Well, that takes us back up to the top…

Other Top Resources:

Here are a few other great compilations to check out:

New on SSIR: What the New Facebook Changes Mean for Nonprofits
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