Friday, June 17, 2011

Is Facebook a #FAIL for Nonprofits?


 "Nonprofits are increasingly told that they need to be on Facebook, and countless gurus and experts offer them advice for maximizing their Facebook presence to get the most return.  But are nonprofits actually seeing results, or is Facebook just a bandwagon that's not going anywhere?"
This is the introduction to a new study from Idealware, called Using Facebook to Meet Your Mission: Results of a Survey.  If you're wondering how much time and energy you should invest in Facebook and how other nonprofits are and aren't finding success with The Social Network, check it out.

Based on a survey of 505 nonprofits already on Facebook, the study shows that Facebook is NOT a silver bullet but it's not a total "FAIL" either.  Here are some key results.
  • Over 70% of respondents saw the most success in attracting new event attendees.
  • Over 70% saw a significant increase in traffic to their websites because of their Facebook presence.
  • Only 36 percent of respondents had set organizational goals for using Facebook.  Yikes!
  • Just 29% of respondents saw an increase in donations from using Facebook. 

I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of Facebook.  The site seems incredibly cluttered to me and I find it very difficult to keep track of the people --let alone the causes-- I care about, via my stream.  On the other hand, I am not an authority on the site.

Here is what I do know.  
  1. Regardless of the tools you use, it's impossible to determine the value of a new channel unless you set goals for success.  Set goals!  Analyze progress!  Rinse and repeat!
  2. There is an Opportunity Cost to using one tool over another.  Choice your tools wisely or you will waste a lot of time and money. 
  3. Facebook is not FREE!  (This is a corollary to the point above.)  Your time may be your most valuable asset and it's worth a lot.  Use it wisely.
Are you communicating, marketing or fundraising on Facebook?  What are your results to date? 

Cheers!

jocelyn

4 comments:

Dana Zichlin said...

Though it is only a small percentage of our overall traffic to our website (3.88%) we had 130 visits in May alone to our website as referrals from Facebook.

That seems worthwhile enough for the little effort it takes to post our events on facebook.

Thanks for the article!

Beth said...

Great post. I read the study was struck by measurement malaise ...
http://www.bethkanter.org/measurement-malaise/

Petri said...

We have seen a 904% increase in referral traffic from Facebook since applying a more varied and strategic content approach. Facebook has risen from the number 7 referral spot to number 2 or 3 depending on the month - tens of thousands of visits. But we know that the trend among social visitors is to consume that particular piece of content, and bounce back to Facebook. Now we are testing giving those visitors small, simple ways to take a next step in their relationship with us, through specific calls-to-action in the content well on those arrival pages.

Jocelyn said...

Petri,

Congratulations! That doesn't sound like a #fail to me!

Keep up the great work.

J