Facebook’s recent announcement about a change in algorithms could spell trouble for organizations relying on Facebook to share content. Sheela Namikavi writes in Nonprofit Quarterly, “What this means is that users will see a decrease in exposure to public content from businesses (e.g., organization pages) and an increase in exposure to posts from friends…With less exposure to Facebook users who may be potential donors, nonprofits are facing a tough year ahead.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg titled the announcement “Bringing People Closer Together,” stating that “public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.” Does anyone think they’ll see fewer paid ads to bring us together? Rhetorical question.

“Organic content is going to underperform” as Facebook pushes users into paid media, said Makis Livadas, a digital acquisition strategist for Kellen. Livadis was one of several presenters at the seventh annual Issues of the Day workshop hosted by the National Capital Chapter of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America).

So, absent greater funding for paid ads, associations, along with charities, are going to need to look for workarounds to successfully push their content to members and the public (which could include prospective members). My takeaways from the workshop sessions are not exactly sexy but here goes:  Creative thinking, relationships and planning ahead make a difference, as does using multiple channels (events, email, social media, etc…).

One example of this: ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) wanted to take advantage of Giving Tuesday to encourage donations to its research foundation. Facing fierce competition, its first attempt didn’t go so well (12 donations) so they tried another approach.

Starting earlier in the year, the foundation’s new chairman talked up why its mission was important and staff enlisted the help of ASAE’s Young Professionals, tapping into relationships with active members. Firms offered to match a certain level of donations, which motivated people to give (the requested pledge was $20.17) and to tweet followers to spread the word. Relationships with other association leaders also paid off.

The result? A whopping 120 donations in one day, according to ASAE social communications and strategy manager Lauren Precker, who said they relied on members to spread the word and did not pitch media. They did use paid Twitter and Facebook ads that targeted their members but did not spend much money on them.

Smaller tactical moves, such as adjusting the timing of posts and vetting a hashtag, can also help.  Kellen analyst Nick Sutter pointed out that “your hashtag may be linked to something not so great.” LoginRadius offers some great examples of hashtags not well thought out, like Burger King’s WTFF (meant to be Want the French Fry). Minimizing loading times for websites is also critical now that more readers are using their phones to access social media…no one is going to wait more than a second or two to see what you have to say.

Staying current on what works best and refining your strategies and tactics accordingly doesn’t have to be costly. For example, the Emarketing Institute offers free classes on topics such as SEO and social media marketing, which I am curious to check out myself.

About the author:  Ann Marie Maloney, president of AMSquared LLC, helps organizations say the right thing in the right way. Contact Ann Marie for a free consultation on how she can help you with content creation, research or advocacy campaigns.

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