Except for a short test in 2009, your nonprofit’s Facebook Fans have never seen all your posts and as most of us have by now have realized, the percentage that do has gotten significantly smaller over time. The most recent changes to Facebook’s Edgerank has decreased the percentage to 6-9% on the Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page. Personally, I am not surprised or annoyed much by the changes. I am a firm believer that Era of Free! on the Social Web must come to an end – that until we start paying for premium services (and staff time), nonprofits will continue to be at the mercy of for-profit revenue models and non-existent customer service, but that’s another blog post.
All that said, a lot of nonprofits are upset by the recent changes and responding by asking their fans to add their nonprofit to an Interest Lists with the meme floating around that if you add a Facebook Page to an Interest List all their Facebook Posts will be seen in both the main News Feed and the Interest List Feed, but that’s not true. According to Facebook Help:
When you create a list, you’ll see the best posts from that list in your main News Feed. Your lists will also appear in the Interests section of your bookmarks. Simply click the list’s name to see all the recent posts and activity from the pages and people featured in the list, without overwhelming your main News Feed.
Translation: EdgeRank will still determine if your nonprofit’s posts will show up in the main News Feed once added to an Interest List. In my experience, the vast majority of posts from the five nonprofits that I have added to my “Animal Nonprofits” List are rarely seen in the main News Feed despite having a lot of activity and being very popular nonprofits. In fact, adding them to an Interest List seemed to significantly decrease their exposure in my main News Feed. This, of course, is problematic for the nonprofits because I rarely check my “Animal Nonprofits” List and my assumption is that most Facebook users are the same. Interest Lists are not widely used. Thus, all the frantic requests from Page Admins requesting that fans add their page to an Interest List are for the most part counterproductive.
Page Notifications Launched to Ensure Fans See All Your Posts
There is one way to ensure that all your posts are seen by your fans and it’s a new functionality launched clearly in response to the frustration voiced by Page Admins over the recent changes to Edgerank. Fans can now opt-in to receive notifications of new posts by pages:
Notification of Posts on Desktop:
Notification of Posts on Mobile:
Now, of course, opting-in to receive notifications when your nonprofit shares a new post on Facebook will not absolutely guarantee that all your posts will be seen by your fan(s) since fan(s) must click on the notification to view your nonprofit’s post(s), but the new functionality does help balance out the loss of main News Feed exposure and significantly increases the likelihood of all your posts being seen.
The question then becomes should you attempt to alert your fans that they now can opt-in to receive notifications of your posts? Sure. Once or twice, but not urgently(!!). This still doesn’t take away from the fact that nonprofits should have realistic expectations of Facebook ROI and that most nonprofits should only be posting 4-7 status updates a week. This becomes even more true if your fans opt-in to receive notifications. Being constantly notified of posts will get annoying much sooner than later.
[Free!] Facebook has a limit on how powerful it can be for nonprofits no matter what the EdgeRank score is. On the flip side, if every post by every page was shared in the main News Feed, it would become too cluttered to be useful and people would most likely “Unlike” many pages or “Like” pages much less often. As all good social media managers know, diversify your brand and time spent across multiple social networks. If your nonprofit is only building a community on Facebook, that’s a mistake that could come back to haunt you in 2013.