Why your charity should think twice before abandoning Facebook

I’m sick of people complaining about reach on Facebook. But what’s more worrying is that charities seem to be buying into this guff.

At a recent Institute of Fundraising event someone told me reach on Facebook posts was down at 10%. I’ve seen big studies of US corporates who say it’s just 2%. Then, recently, I saw this

Really? Death!? It’s a good headline I suppose but it’s not based on the facts.

Taking the headlines at face value could cost you dear. Why? Because, missed opportunities cost.

So here are a few things to ponder before you decide “organic reach on Facebook is dead”

Facebook reach is (potentially) huge

If your posts don’t get seen as much as you like, chances are your content strategy is to blame. Because a quick scoot around Facebook shows NGOs are getting decent reach.

It’s easy to blame the big corporate and their nasty algorithm, but that doesn’t make it correct. Just this week a Dignity in Dying post on Facebook had reach of well over almost 500,000 – we had fewer than 60,000 fans at the time. This isn’t a one-off either. Reach on Facebook is constituently good and frequently huge.


Phwoar! check out the reach on this!

All your fans, is not 100 percent

The idea that you should reach all your fans with a single post is a nonsense – it implies all your fans are on Facebook all the time. They are not. 

Measuring this over a week would be more meaningful but comparing fan numbers with reach tells you nothing useful and ignores the fact that “post reach is not fan reach.”

Facebook hasn’t divorced email

The pew research which suggested reach was just 2% started off lots of “email isn’t dead” reactions (who said it was?) and some commentators suggested you should abandon Facebook for email marketing:

If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to you email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time.

But life isn’t that simple and that is not a decision you’re going to be presented with. Email is an excellent way to fundraise/market stuff, but it does not live in isolation from Facebook.

Facebook is a great way to get people’s email addresses from them, ask the Tories.

Don’t forget your mobile

If your charity isn’t thinking mobile it.s missing a trick. Push notifications and the home screen are the prime real estate on the smartphone.

What’s the easiest way to get yourselves in that space on a daily bases? (Say it with me) FACEBOOK!

This isn’t just because lots (and lots and lots)  of people use Facebook, its because they use it very regularly: 70% of Facebook users visit daily

Everyone is on Facebook

Well,  most of them. As many as a third every day. Yes a third of all people in the UK

It has the most penetration of other social networks and even teens who declare “Facebook is dead” still use it for groups, messaging and finding people.

By all means use Instagram to reach younger people but know, most of those people (94%) are also on Facebook:

Facebook wins!

Facebook wins!

Reach isn’t that important anyway

Reach just means one person saw it. I can’t think of another marketing channel where reach is so scrutinised, no one seems to mention it about Twitter for example.

A good return on investment is more important than huge reach. You are investing your time in Facebook so your charity can drive action. Measure the actions taken. Focus on that. Reach is a distraction from what really matters – results.

Look at your own data

Don’t trust big American researchers, there findings have little bearing on a small UK charity.

And don’t trust me. I’m just some loud mouth on Twitter.

Trust your data.

My data tells me Facebook is a great tool and should be in the mix. But don’t expect Facebook to help you game their algorithm, it won’t make your posts any more interesting. That’s your job.


About medavep
I work in the UK charity sector and sometimes I blog about fundraising, digital and consumer experience. Sometimes I just moan.

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