One of the most important lessons that all good social media managers learn is that social media is constantly in flux. Once you get accustomed to a tool, it changes in an attempt to reinvent itself. Rather than lamenting this new reality, a skilled social media manager will adapt quickly. That said, Facebook has made some recent upgrades – and more are coming – that nonprofit admins should be aware of.

If you find the upgrades confusing, my upcoming webinars on Facebook and Facebook Apps will discuss and demonstrate click-by-click these changes as well many others. As someone who observes thousands of nonprofits on the Social Web each year, let me just say it’s better to spend 90-minutes on a webinar than hours upon hours to trying to figure it out yourself, or worse not knowing about the changes and their effect, and thus wasting your time executing a poor, ROI-less strategy on Facebook.

1) Facebook has decreased Pages’ Reach… again.

The last week of September I noticed that the Reach on that status updates that I posted on the Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page had dropped significantly. As far as I can guess, on average only about 6-9% of my fans now get my status updates posted to their News Feed which is about half the 16% that Facebook announced in March. And with the exception of buying advertising, there’s very little you can do to expand your Reach organically more than 3-5%. Facebook has confirmed this change, but as usual the specifics are shrouded in mystery so deciphering any absolutes about how the change effects all pages is impossible. That said, here’s some recent data from the Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page:

September 8 Reach:

October 8 Reach:

October 4 Weekly Facebook Insights Report:

The majority of nonprofits that I’ve polled in my webinars and trainings have no understanding of the Facebook Algorithm or Reach. They assume that if they have 1,000 fans, then every time they post a status updates those 1,000 fans see it. But that’s just not the case and hasn’t been for years and as of late September, it’s more like 60-90 of those 1,000 fans.

As far as getting angry at Facebook, there’s really no point. Facebook is a free service and as most us have learned, you get what you pay for. I can also see Facebook’s reasoning for a strict algorithm – endless and often boring marketing pitches posted by brands makes for a very cluttered, spammish News Feed. Prioritizing the most engaging content makes the most sense, but a 6-9% Reach is very low.

Personally, the guessing game that revolves around the Facebook Algorithm is my greatest frustration with Facebook. My preference would be that Facebook launch an affordable, monthly paid service for brands that takes the guessing out of the algorithm and provides a healthy Reach that both sides can be happy with, but that seems unlikely with their entire revenue model being based on pay-per-status update. On the flip side, since so few of my fans now actually see my status updates, I plan on spending less time on Facebook and thus now have more time to experiment with Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. As all good social social media managers know, it’s wise to diversify your brand across multiple channels.

2) Facebook Status Updates are no longer being sent to Twitter.

And this is a good thing! It doesn’t appear to be site wide yet, but my hope is that Facebook will drop the feature entirely. Many nonprofits have been using Facebook automation to post their status updates to Twitter, but in most cases it only results in truncated and poorly formatted tweets, such as:

Such poorly formatted tweets rarely get retweeted and the “…” is an obvious indicator to your followers that your Twitter account is managed by a bot. Many nonprofits will say that this automation functionality was the only way they could be on Twitter due to time and staff constraints, but I’m a firm believer that it’s better to not be active on Twitter (or Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.) if it’s going to be done poorly. You get out of social media what you put into it. There’s no cutting corners or automation tools out there that take the place of a part-time or full-time social media manager.

3. Facebook launches Facebook Gifts.

Announced on September 27, Facebook Gifts will allow Facebook users to purchase gifts and have those gifts delivered directly to the gift recipient’s front door. My guess is the initial partners will be a small select group of retailers, but it wouldn’t hurt for your nonprofit – if you offer gifts – to contact Facebook about having your product listed on Facebook Gifts. Facebook would be wise to build their brand credibility by including some gifts that benefit nonprofits in their initial launch.

Related Links:
Webinar: How Nonprofits Can Successfully Use Facebook and Facebook Apps
Promoted Facebook Posts for Nonprofits: The ROI of $30 Spent in Advertising