How NGOs can use Facebook for ensuring an Effective Presence


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  • By Mamata Pokharel

    Facebook for Your NGO

    Facebook is an important platform for non government organizations (NGOs), especially those in the developing world. As the developing world comes online, they do so through their mobile devices, and for them, the Internet is Facebook.

    For NGOs in the developing world, an effective presence on Facebook is becoming vital. It is a way to stay in touch with your supporters, to build a base of people committed to your mission, to spread the message about your organization, and even reach your beneficiaries with program interventions.

    Given that most people’s only introduction to the Internet is Facebook, you should prioritize this channel as much as your website, if not more so. A Facebook strategy should be a core part of your communication efforts, and needs to complement other communication tools.

    If you do not yet have a Facebook page, you can take a look at our guide on creating a Facebook page to help you get started.

    Your investment in Facebook will really pay off in the long term, giving you a large network of supporters who you can mobilize when needed to rally around campaigns, raise funds, and engage with, and on behalf of your NGO.

    Strategize

    It is important to engage in Facebook with a long term view. That means thinking about what kind of people you want to attract to your page, what kinds of conversation you want to ignite, and how you can open up new opportunities for your NGO through your engagement here.

    Do not think of it as just a broadcast channel. Think of it as an interactive platform that will allow you to engage with people in new ways. It is an opportunity to hear what others have to say about your work, and give them a meaningful way to participate. Do not waste this opportunity, or your followers’ time.

    For success on Facebook, as on other communication channels, the key is to understand your audience. This should be a part of your strategic communication exercise. Once you have a good understanding of who you want to reach, your tone, message, and other details will easily flow from there.

    You can also decide to use Facebook to reach a particular segment of your overall audience. For example, if you are an NGO working in higher education, you have donors, experts, and college students, all as your target audiences. You can decide that you will use your Facebook page primarily to reach college students, as they are already on the channel. You can then decide that you will engage with experts primarily via another channel (e.g. Twitter or blogs), and reach out to donors mostly via email.

    Although you will get a mix of audiences in all your channels, you will see more success if you use Facebook thoughtfully, by taking advantage of its particular strengths, which include a young audience, a casual tone, an emphasis on two-way communication, and high responsiveness.

    If you have a clear strategy and/or guidelines, it will be easier to say no to others within the organization, who might want to use the channel to promote their own work which might not be of interest to your Facebook audience.

    Assign Responsibility

    Now that you have a strategy, you need to put in place systems, processes, and personnel for Facebook. Engaging with a long term view requires you to make responsibility for Facebook appear in the work plan of at least one person at the organization. If nobody is explicitly responsible for Facebook, it won’t receive the attention it deserves. Communication results achieved on this channel should get rewarded, just like results achieved offline: say in street canvassing, or event management.

    Although this is less frequent nowadays, organizations have, in the past, made the intern or the only young person in the organization responsible for Facebook, and then decided they had taken care of it. However, this is not enough. For your work on Facebook to be successful, the person in charge needs to be able to play a coordinating role within your NGO, and feature the best stuff across the board.

    It is important for those at the highest level of the organization to show interest in success on Facebook. This will make sure everyone in the organization is contributing. If you are an NGO that has a standing morning meeting, you can ask people for ideas there, and make the best ideas a part of your content schedule.

    Engage in Professional Branding

    There are numerous Facebook pages out there that do not invest in something as basic as a good, non-pixelated image for the cover page and profile picture. Make no mistake. Your Facebook page is the first impression many people will get about your NGO. It is important to have clear messages, with crisp images on your page. In addition, with mobile traffic increasing, it is important to be sensitive to mobile users. Visit this Facebook page to understand the image sizes Facebook requires. Image sizes could vary, depending on whether a new layout has been implemented in your location.

    Another easy way to brand your page and promote it is to create a unique url for your page. Make it simple. If it is available, use the simplest url; i.e. https://facebook.com/yourorganizationname. Once you have it, use it everywhere. Make sure to include your Facebook url in your brochures, publications, visiting cards of all employees in the organization, and other offline content.

    You should also integrate Facebook with your other channels. Provide widgets for your Facebook page (the little Facebook icon that links to your Facebook page) on your website, and provide your website address on your Facebook page.

    Your tone on the social media platform is also a representation of your organization. Keep a conversational, yet professional tone. You want to make the viewer feel welcome, while still looking like a competent outfit.

    Create a Content Strategy and Calendar

    Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content. Managing your Facebook page will become much simpler once you have a content strategy in place. Facebook is a hungry channel. Even if you post once a day, the content you have lying around will soon be exhausted.

    The content strategy and plan should be created with…

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