5 min read

You’re probably working on improving your organization’s presence on social media and better engaging your donors. Here’s the first in a three-part series about how to boost your social media engagement.

The social media game can be a tough one to win. Competing with memes, “influencers,” and ever-changing algorithms is tough for any organization—but especially for nonprofits, whose missions often don’t translate easily into quippy, viral posts.

That’s why we’re kicking off a series of articles about improving engagement on social media. There are, of course, many different platforms, but we’re going to focus on the big three: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

As we dive into the first on the list, Facebook, keep in mind this cardinal rule:

Remember what people go on the platform to do.

On Facebook, users tend to scroll through their newsfeed, pausing to look (and click) on posts of interest. People on Facebook are more likely than people on Instagram or YouTube to click on a link that takes them off-platform to another page. 

Users are likely to see your posts in one of two places: in their newsfeed (if they follow you), or if they search for and click on your profile. The latter happens very infrequently, and the former is only true for about 2-5% of your followers. That means it is hard to get in front of people on Facebook.

So here’s our animating question: If even people who have intentionally followed your page are rarely seeing your posts, what the heck can you do? How can you get your organization seen on Facebook?

SIX TOP TIPS

Here are a few ways to increase engagement, get more eyes on your posts, and show up in your followers’ newsfeeds more frequently.

ONE: Optimize for mobile.

Your social media manager might be posting from their desktop, but most of your followers will be viewing your content on their phones. As such, posts that take this into account often fare much better by:

  • Use square (1:1) or vertical (4:5 or 9:16) aspect ratios for every single image and video that you post. These take up far more “real estate” in a Facebook user’s feed, which leads to longer “dwell times” and higher engagement.
  • Keep videos short. Shoot for one or two minutes, tops. Your audience’s attention span is short—plus, people generally don’t go oto Facebook to watch videos. (YouTube is a different story entirely—we’ll get to that in part three of this series.)
  • Keep copy brief . . . well, unless it’s LONG. This sounds contradictory, but hear me out. Facebook is a platform where two forms of content thrive: short, snappy sentences, and in-depth “rants.” The latter is something to do sparingly, and ideally only for issues that are pressing, time-sensitive, and tell a compelling story that just can’t be contained to about 50 characters.

TWO: Encourage shares.

You can do this directly, by adding a simple line of copy like “Share with your friends” at the end of a post.

A tactic that’s perhaps more likely to work, however, is creating content that people will instinctively want to share. For example, you could share:

  • Insightful quotes
  • Moving stories or testimonies about your organization’s mission and impact
  • Compelling statistics

Here’s an example of “shareable” statistics in a post from Pew Research Center. Users find content like this and want to engage, want to share with their friends.

THREE: Go visual.

You may have seen posts like this go viral lately:

Yes, this is a screenshot of a tweet that’s been posted to Facebook. Why is this better to post than merely typing out a status update?

It’s simple: a screenshot takes up more space.

Users are more likely to actually see this while they’re scrolling. It’ll grab their eye, capture their attention—and then they stop . . . and dwell on it. They might even tap on it to view it more closely, which helps your engagement rate go up.

And that brings me to my next point . . .

FOUR: Repurpose content.

If you have news or articles, post them. If you send out an annual report or donor magazine, create short articles highlighting successes and share them. If you’ve sent an email blast you’re proud of, pull some of the copy and create a Facebook post.

Any blog posts, quizzes, surveys, eBooks, or other educational materials are perfect for posting on social.

Bottom line: if you’ve already created something, it’s simple to draft a few lines of copy and post a link onto Facebook. It keeps your audience in the loop and keeps your page active.

Worried your audience will get fatigued, or see you putting the same content on different channels? You’re not alone in worry about that—trust me—but don’t be concerned.

There’s an age-old marketing maxim known as the “Rule of 7” that says people generally need to be told a message at least (you guessed it) seven times before it sticks. It’s okay if people see the same content more than once. In fact, it might even be better that way. (Remember what I said above about short attention spans?)

FIVE: Check out your audience & page insights.

One of Facebook’s most helpful tools, Audience Insights allows page managers to dive deep into their audiences. Use this tool to find out:

  • Age breakdown
  • Gender breakdown
  • Top cities
  • Top countries

You can access Page Insights by going to your Facebook page and navigating to Creator Studio and/or the Insights section. There you can get data on your audience, seeing what types of post they tend to engage with, as well as what times of day they tend to be online. Schedule your posts for those days and times to maximize engagement.

You can even find out the other pages that your most engaged viewers like. Every data point available helps to paint a clearer picture of your audience, see what creative resonates with them, and adjust your strategies accordingly!

SIX: Engage with your audience.

“Do unto others” really applies in all aspects of life, doesn’t it? The more actively you reply to comments and messages, the more likely you are to show up in your followers’ newsfeeds.

You’re also improving your relationship with your constituents in the process. Even something as simple as reacting to a person’s comment with a like or a heart can go a long way. Facebook has made this so easy — it takes just the tap of a finger to respond to someone. My advice? Do it. It helps people remember that your organization is run by real humans. And it might just be the encouragement they need to become a more active supporter!


This is the first in a three-part series on improving engagement on social media. Tune in tomorrow for the next platform in our line-up: Instagram. Any additional tips? Drop them in the comments below! Any questions? Shoot me an e-mail!

You can find part two of this series here.


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