2014 has been off to a good start for Facebook so far. Last week, it was announced that founder Mark Zuckerberg was the top philanthropist in 2013, having donated almost $1 billion. Their fourth-quarter earnings beat expectations, with revenue increasing from $1.59 billion to $2.59 billion. They even shook off a Princeton study that estimated usage would drop by 80% by 2017.
However, users (specifically brand marketers) are becoming increasingly vocal about the frustration they’re experiencing. Report after report shows that organic post visibility is dropping precipitously, forcing marketers to invest in paid advertisements and promoted posts. This is problematic for nonprofits and associations, whose budgets are already tight.
Now it seems that even those promoted posts may not be reaching the intended audience. A post from video blogger Derek Muller of Veritasium is making the rounds on social media with a damning study on Facebook’s advertising model. It’s well worth the 9 minute playtime:
In short, Muller concludes that the fans generated by legitimate Facebook advertising result in little-to-no-engagement, while cannibalizing his legitimate fans.
What This Means for Nonprofits
Administering Facebook Ads is Not To Be Taken Lightly
In an excellent blog post, Jon Loomer describes the dangers of not properly targeting ads. Loomer posits that Muller’s results may have been the result of poor execution on the campaigns. This is why it’s so important for nonprofits to engage with an expert or an agency like Media Cause when administering any paid ad campaigns.
As with any communication channel, it’s important not to place all of your eggs in one basket. A diversified approach to social media – utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and/or Pinterest – that taps into different userbases and demographics may pay dividends in the form of higher engagement and conversions.
If you’re sinking a lot of time and money into Facebook and not generating the returns you’d hope, consider experimenting with other networks and forms of content.
Steven Shattuck served as the chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang for 10 years. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven contributed to “Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition.” He also supports the Association of Fundraising Professional's Fundraising Effectiveness Project, serves as 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 (2020).
You can find Steven Shattuck on LinkedIn