Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Facebook As Your Small Nonprofit's Dance Partner

Here's an interesting thing to think about. As you must remember that your donors are not numbers, so someone else must remember the same about you and your small nonprofit brand and network.

When you're focused on your mission, some things will slip your peripheral vision. Like the fact that you - and your social media community - are a commodity.

com • mod • ity

Something useful that can be turned to advantage or profit

A lot of folks are PO'd at Facebook for ringing in the changes on their accounts with small warning. The charge of fogeyism has been leveled at some of the protesters - "It's a free service; what do you want for nothing?" being the usual question with the implication that those made inflexible by age and infirmity are the ones being the noisiest complainers.

As usual, I think both sides have a point.

Remember That Story About the Free Lunch?

Facebook is free. Underneath their logo, they say so and assert that it will always be that way. Taking the irritating with the pleasing is part of the exchange. You get to hang out with your family and friends and Facebook gets to organize their space how they please. But just because you don't pay Facebook to use Facebook doesn't mean that the service is really free, does it? It's only free for you in the sense that "Ladies get in Free on Wednesday" is free. We all know this, and yet, unless FB does something that stirs people up, most of us prefer to forgeddaboudit.

Every day you and your social network are being marketed to advertisers and salespeople. And most of the changes that FB is making are driven by that. You need a fun place to hang out, so they improve your ability to have fun and share. Yes, it's all about the sharing. Removing the discussion tab from a business/nonprofit page means that the sharing will now be done on the Wall. Why? Because the Wall is where the Edgerank analytics are, and would-be advertisers will base their FB content on the information contained in those analytics. Facebook sells advertising and they will try to get the most data for their advertisers as they can without making people so mad they'll leave in the kind of rush Netflix recently experienced.

There is a danger that FB users will end up sharing more than they want to, especially since many don't understand how FB works, they just use it the way they just drive their cars. This also means that Edgerankings will mean even more as businesses and nonprofits must work harder to derive authority (being seen as a leader through how many people engage with you) and content that drives engagement in order to get into the Top Story rather than fall into the Recent Stories category, since FB (and Google and Bing) use authority as part of their ranking criteria. Some parts of FB's 'frictionless sharing' will stay, others will go, but changes will continue in social media, where the marketing life is still evolving.

It's All a Dance

And dancing alone in social media just isn't done. FB can't afford to forget you and your network are more than just numbers. That's why some of the recent changes reflect features in Google+ that people found useful (like being able to share with some, rather than all in the network).

Balance remains important. Your small nonprofit needs to stay up on the latest moves, petition the bandleader when the tune isn't right, and always remember to dance with the one that brung ya.

Please leave a contribution in the Comments.

Update - Resource of the Week: BigDuck

A very good guest blog and a gaggle of useful information posts from Big Duck this week!

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