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Facebook isn’t just a place for engagement photos and political arguments. It can be a powerful marketing tool for brands and individuals alike.

According to a study by social@Olgivy, the top reason why a social media user shares content is to “promote a cause.” This gives nonprofits an almost unfair advantage to get their content seen and shared.

Unfortunately, nonprofits can fall into the habit of creating and sharing unappealing content, even with the best intentions at heart.

Here are 11 Facebook status updates (in no particular order) that nonprofits should stop posting:

1. Posts Written in the First Person

This is always a bit jarring. If you’re a one-person operation or a small shop with one Facebook admin (perhaps the founder or ED) it can be tempting to write your posts in the first person. However, since the post is coming from your brand name and a logo, it looks kind of weird. Some people may not know who is behind the curtain.

2. Fan Milestone Requests

“We only need 34 new followers to get to 500! Can you help?”

Don’t chase the vanity metric of fan count. Instead, focus on creating engaging content that your current fans love. As they like, comment and share that content, new fans will come naturally.

Besides, it is better to have a small quantity of highly-engaged fans than a lot of fans who don’t interact with you.

Adding social media calls-to-action on your website and emails can help generate new fans and followers. Donation acknowledgement emails are a great place for these CTAs! Why? 78% of fans use a brand before they like its page.

“Thanks for donating! Be sure to like us on Facebook to keep the conversation going.”

3. Text Slang, All Caps, Over-Punctuation or Jargon

Your posts should have a conversational tone. You can be a little edgy with punctuation and grammar, but basic style guidelines are still applicable. This is Facebook, not a text message.

SRSLY!!!!!!!!

While you’re at it, avoid nonprofit industry buzzwords like capacity-building, stakeholder, self-sufficiency, accountable and transparent, value proposition, upstream and downstream, shareholders, management by outcomes, accountability frameworks, etc. This is Facebook, not a grant application.

4. Self-Congratulation

Celebrating your successes is okay (completion of a new building project, reaching a campaign goal, a successful event, etc.) but make sure you’re patting the right person(s) on the back: your donors and volunteers. They make everything you do possible.

When touting the quality your services, follow the “BOY Rule” – because of you.

“Because of you we were able to deliver 1,000 meals this month.” (photo)

“Because of you we were able to send 30 dogs and cats to loving homes.” (photo)

Make the donor the hero of the story.

5. Clickbait

“Like if you’re ready for the weekend!”

Stop.

6. Bad Automation

Take care when using a third-party scheduling or automation tool. Make sure you don’t post about an event on Saturday after it’s already happened.

If breaking news happens, like a natural disaster or large-scale incident, disable your scheduled posts immediately. There are many, many examples of brands posting something that would ordinarily have been innocuous but was perceived as insensitive because of a breaking current event.

7. Vague Appeals

“Your donation would mean so much. Visit our website to donate today.”

Who would it help? How? How much should I donate? Why?

Social media appeals should be two things: 1) Specific and 2) Urgent.

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I know just what they need right now and how to get it to them!

Specificity gives you the freedom to make frequent appeals, and urgency moves people to act.

8. Begging

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This seems desperate.

9. Exhibit Table / Trade Show Booth Photo

“We’re hanging out at the Health Expo – come see us!”

I’m guilty of this myself, and I regret posting it every time. In 10 years as a professional marketer I have never talked to someone at a trade show who saw us post about it on social media and just had to come look at our brochures.

If someone sees this – and they aren’t already at the event – do you really think they are going to stop what they are doing, buy a ticket to that event and travel to that event? If they are already there, won’t they see your booth anyway?

So what can you do? How about posting after the fact, in a fun and engaging way?

“We had so much fun at the Health Expo!” and include a photo of the team.

10. Content Native To Other Channels

Facebook isn’t just another place post a flyer, a physical mailer or an email newsletter. A majority of your Facebook content should be native to Facebook. It’s not just another bullhorn. Let email do its work. Let your traditional advertising do its work. And let Facebook do its work.

11. Tweets

Tweets are for Twitter, so don’t syndicate them to Facebook.

The reverse is also true. Tweets with Facebook links are 47% less likely to be retweeted.

Disclaimer

If you’re doing any of these, and they’re working (as in, you’re getting lots of engagement, website visits and conversions) keep doing them! If your fans like your inspirational quotes or weird cat pictures, and they donate because of it, keep at it.

But don’t keep doing things that don’t work.

Did I miss any in my list? Disagree with any of them? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks to members of the Nonprofit Communication Professionals Facebook group for inspiration.

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Steven Shattuck

Steven Shattuck

Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang
Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member, and sits on the faculty of the Institute for Charitable Giving. He is the author of Robots Make Bad Fundraisers - How Nonprofits Can Maintain the Heart in the Digital Age, published by Bold and Bright Media.
Steven Shattuck