Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's All About Facebook This Week

You aren't surprised, are you?

Everyone and her sister is talking about - or complaining about - FB and the changes there. Many people, uncomfortable with change, are irritated, while businesses and nonprofits scramble to get a bead on how the changes will affect what they do.

There's so much information out there that I don't feel it's sensible for me to act as a third-party interpreter, so I'll just give you a round-up of the opinions I think are worth taking a look at.

John Haydon (aka The Nonprofit Facebook Guy) often has good information about what's happening on FB and how you can make use of it for your small nonprofit. For obvious reasons, he's created a recent flurry of posts and here are a couple about the Subscribe feature that I found useful:
At Nonprofit Tech 2.0, Heather Mansfield gives you the rundown on the changes, how they affect Places and Community pages and how you can deal with them in 10 Recent Upgrades to Facebook Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About.

What Else is Happening?

Well, over at The Online Community Guide where Richard Millington of Feverbee blogs, the word is that Facebook is useless as a platform for community building: "As a community platform, Facebook lies somewhere between awful and redundant."

Richard thinks interaction is limited by nature on branded pages and that people don't interact with each other on them. He's right. But he's also talking about large communities. No online community starts out large - they start out small and put a lot of work into growing the community. A lot of hours. In a post from last month, Richard says, "The biggest cost of a community shouldn't be the platform (...) The biggest cost is the manpower. You need someone working full-time on the community."

And manpower is the thing your small nonprofit probably has as its most scarce resource (besides money). Which is why I have said that starting out on Facebook (FB says, "It's free and always will be.") is a good way to go for a tiny nonprofit. It is, after all, where you can find community and if your community gets huge, you may be able to use that growth to get a grant for a full-time community manager. In the meantime, you have a social media presence in addition to your website and a chance to learn at a little slower pace about what it means to engage people and build community. So, if and when you are ready to hire a full-time person, you'll know what you're looking for.

In a Nutshell

Amongst all of the news about the FB changes, what they are and how to deal with them, I continually saw one thing repeated: content. Nothing in the changes is going to improve or degrade what you post. It doesn't matter whether it's called an update or a story, it's still going to be content and it's still what is going to make your page someplace people want to be. Or not. Yes, you need to stay informed about the changes and that will be a little tricky because FB seems to like to make them. (At least this time, they gave people some warning.) But your community is dealing with those changes at the same time. Maybe it couldn't hurt talk about them on your page. Who knows? It might be the start of a beautiful subscription.

If this post has made you think, please leave a contribution in the Comment box.

Resource of the week: The Nonprofit Facebook Guy  (website) and The Nonprofit Facebook Guy (on FB)


Rochelle said...

I can't quite keep up with all the changes. I'm not a fan of the latest newsfeed changes either.

Robyn McIntyre said...

Yes, @Rochelle - the changes are coming fast and furious these days. But we got a break on the rollout of the Timeline due to an injunction hearing in federal court in Chicago. Not a long one, though, since the rollout is due to start today.