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I have to start by telling you this story – a few days ago, I decided I was going to make banana ice cream from scratch. Not just blending up bananas as flavoring into vanilla ice cream, but actually making frozen bananas into ice cream. I’ve heard of people doing this on the internet, but I didn’t have a recipe, so naturally, I turned to the mecca of ideas – Pinterest. I searched one time for “banana ice cream recipes,” saved two of the recipes that looked good and went to my kitchen to cut up bananas for my ice cream.
I made the ice cream, it was delicious – like CRAZY delicious.
A few days later, I got on Pinterest for the first time since the banana ice cream search, and suddenly, all of the things showing up in my feed – all of the pins that Pinterest thought I would be interested in seeing – were about banana ice cream recipes.
Has this ever happened to you? I’m sure it has – because if you use social media at all, whether it be Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram, they all work the same way. They show you what they think you would like to see. Then you want to keep scrolling and for that to happen they need to show you things that you want to see.
This is how social media works. They show you things related to what you’ve searched for already.
So, what does this mean for you and your nonprofit organization?
Here’s an example:
It means if you tell all the people from your church to like your nonprofit’s Facebook page and they do, Facebook is going to show the church people your nonprofit’s posts again and again – even if they’re not the people you want to reach.
If you want to reach people who need what you provide through the services you offer or through an outreach group, or meetings, or classes, or moms’ day out but who don’t go to your church, those people aren’t as likely to see your nonprofit’s Facebook or Instagram posts because they are outside of the circle of your church members.
If you are trying to reach your church members, then having them like your post is the right thing to do - but if you’re not trying to reach church members, you’re missing the people you want to serve.
Yes – if your church, or your personal friends, or your volunteers and staff make up the majority of people who support your nonprofit on social media, they are going to be the audience that Facebook and Instagram shows your posts to.
They are the ones who appear to be interested in your posts (because they’re “liking” and commenting on your posts) – so Facebook and Instagram are going to give them more of what they are interested in: your posts – which is good, but they aren’t the people who need your services.
So how do you get your nonprofit’s posts SEEN by people outside of your inner circle? Outside of your core group of supporters?
It is great to encourage your donors and supporters, your staff, and volunteers to support your nonprofit on Facebook and Instagram. Likes and Shares no matter who they’re from really do help, BUT if those are the only or the majority of the people liking and sharing your posts, those people and people who have similar patterns and behaviors are going to be the only crowd that organically see your nonprofit’s social media posts.
Note: Seeing a post “organically” on Facebook means seeing a post without paying for Facebook to show your ad to new people.
Let’s say your nonprofit is hosting an outreach group for young single moms, or parenting classes, or a Bible study, or a Mothers’ Day Out group, or an arts and crafts group, or a young singles group, or any type of meeting, group or class for people that don’t typically go to your church.
How are you going to reach those people?
You can’t just post about it once and expect the word to spread like wildfire because if you’ve only been getting likes and shares from your supporters, guess what? Those are going to be the only people who see your nonprofit’s posts. And then what? Nobody shows up to your group, or your meeting or your class.
You’ve put in all this time and effort to plan this group, meeting, or class, and it’s all for nothing! How discouraging is that? Doesn’t it make you feel like you just wasted your energy? Doesn’t it make you feel like you’re NOT making a difference no matter how hard you try? But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Listen to this – Tell Facebook and Instagram where to cast your net - which fish you want to catch.
Don’t tell your supporters, staff, and volunteers to STOP supporting your nonprofit on social media, instead, tell Facebook and Instagram who to show your posts to.
If you want people to show up for your group, meeting or class, here is what you do:
An event isn’t only a fundraiser, it can be a class or a meeting or anything like that!
A few months ago – this was before all the COVID stuff - my husband and I were sitting on the couch on a Saturday night and he was scrolling through Facebook on his phone. He said, “Oh wow, did you know the town’s winter carnival was this weekend?”
I said, “Nope.”
He showed me what he was looking at and it was a basic Facebook post – NOT a Facebook event. There we were, two people with extra time on our hands and money to spend on supporting the town by buying from the food vendors, and shopping at the craft fair, and entering the pancake eating contest – and we had no idea that event was going on. It was taking place TWO MILES down the road from our house, and we had no idea.
In contrast, I just got two notifications on Facebook for two local events coming up that nonprofits are hosting because they are Facebook events not just Facebook posts. If you create a Facebook event, Facebook will help you spread the word to more people – to audiences beyond your support system. When you choose a category for your event – arts, crafts, health, music, or another category – Facebook will show it to people interested in those things. And then, if that person shows that they are interested in your event, Facebook will show your event to their friends.
If you are hosting a group that is going to meet over several weeks, or months, I want you to create an event for your next meeting only. Don’t worry about making an event for every single meeting. If your group is starting off, name the event “Parenting Class Kickoff” or “Mothers’ Day Out Kickoff.”
If your group has been meeting for a while but you still want to reach more people, just create an event for your next meeting and name it, “Mothers’ Day Out.” The most critical part is that you are creating a Facebook event – you can explain to people who are interested the details of your upcoming meetings, but first, you have to get your foot in the door with one event.
When creating a Facebook event, be sure to add details like when, where, a contact email or phone number and a short description like – “Join us for Mothers’ Day Out, Tuesdays at St. Francis Church. Meet other moms while your little one plays with new friends. Call Jennifer for details at (555) 555-4321.” That is all you need to say.
You also need a cover photo for the event which you can create for free on Canva.com. Keep it simple – just select “Facebook event cover” from the templates, type in the title of the event in the center of the graphic, or add a picture, and upload it to your Facebook event.
If you want people to show up for your group, meeting, or class, create an event on Facebook.
Now here’s the MOST IMPORTANT PART of boosting the event: Choose your audience.
If you don’t choose your audience, Facebook will choose it for you. And who are they going to choose? Hopefully, you know the answer to this by now – Facebook is going to choose your support system and people just like them. You have to tell Facebook where to cast your net.
So, let’s say your nonprofit is hosting parenting classes. You created an event for your “Parenting Class Kickoff,” and now, when you are viewing your event, click the “Boost Event” button.
A new window will pop up, scroll down on the left to where it says AUDIENCE.
It will give you several options, but I recommend clicking, “People you choose through targeting.”
In the new window that pops up when you select “People you choose through targeting,” you will select gender, age, locations, and you can even add detailed targeting. You can actually tell Facebook who to target based on their demographics, interests, or behaviors.
So for this example, with the Parenting Classes, we are going to select both men and women, ages 18-30, and we’re going to type in the city we’re in, and major towns and cities around us that people would realistically come from to take this class.
Next, we’re going to add some detailed targeting. In this search bar, you can type in things like “family” or “income” or “parenting” or “child.” For this example, we might select the demographic “Parents with early school-age children.” Yes, it’s pretty freaky how specific you can get with these types of details, but truly, by making these selections, this will help you reach the specific people you want to reach on social media.
Think of your audience and some interests or demographic details that apply to them and add them as detailed targeting. You can always delete things you’ve added before you boost your event. Facebook will let you know if your audience is too specific, or too broad, or just right.
So, if you want people to show up for your group, meeting, or class, create an event on Facebook and boost it.
And now more than ever, with the COVID-19 shutdown, there have been so many events, meetings, and groups cancelled, people are out of touch and details are cloudy. Remember, posting once a week about your event will help clear up the details and remind people about your event.
I also recommend that you take your strongest, most clear, and best looking post about the event and boost it in addition to your Facebook event.
Just like with your Facebook event cover, your post needs to have a simple graphic with the title of the event on it. With a post as opposed to an event cover, you can include the date and time, or a one liner like “meet other moms while your little ones play!” but remember, you need to keep your text to 20% or less of the image, but you want it to be big enough to be readable on a smart phone screen. Keep your message short and simple.
When you boost your post about the event, you can select the same audience you used for your event – Facebook will remember what you originally selected and allow you to use it again.
If you want people to show up for your group, meeting, or class, create an event on Facebook and boost it, and post about it.
This is an opportunity to choose your audience. If you want to see success and stop spinning your wheels – take these steps! You will start to see a difference. It’s not going to happen overnight – but once you start, you’ll start seeing the ball roll and you’ll start to experience success! But it only works if you start.
You can do this! You are amazing! Look how far you’ve already come! Everything we’ve talked about today is do-able.
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Links mentioned in this episode and other helpful episodes:
Banana ice cream recipe: How to Make Banana Nice Cream (The Ultimate Guide!)
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