I don’t think FaceBook is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I do think it’s an important part of a nonprofit or government or other mission-based organization’s overall box of outreach tools.
But so few nonprofits or governments — or corporations, for that matter — “get” FaceBook. For instance, many of them post endless pleas for donations as their status updates. Or post incredibly boring “events,” like that the Executive Director is going to speak somewhere. Or that the new annual report is now available. Or launch yet another contest. ZZzzzz.Here are some organizations that “get” FaceBook, in my opinion:
- Kentucky State Parks – posts about upcoming special events at different parks, or special deals, like women-only retreats. Every post makes me want to go! I’m “friends” with a lot of state parks, and in comparison, all the others are oh-so-boring in what they share on FaceBook (if they share anything at all). Are you listening, Oregon?
- PeaceCorps – posts mostly about what PeaceCorps members are doing in the field and special recognition or events where members are honored. I imagine thousands of former PeaceCorps members, as well as current members, swell with pride with every post, being reminded of what a fantastic institution they are a part of, and are further energized to become advocates for PeaceCorps with friends and colleagues.
- U.S. Agency for International Development – USAID – posts about what USAID is doing and accomplishing in the developing world, and what new strategies they are about to incorporate. Every post says “We’re active, we’re focused on what people really need, and we’re getting results.” Your tax dollars at work!
- Women of Uganda Network – I’ve been a WOUGNET supporter for many years, so it’s no surprise to me that their Facebook status updates would make me go “wow” so often. Every post is “here’s another fabulous thing we’ve been up to to help women and girls access computer technology.” Same for their Flickr account, for that matter. Ladies, I swear, I WILL get to Uganda soon!
- Mayhew International – This organization is based in England and is focused on humanely changing the stray dog and cat situation in a variety of countries, including in Afghanistan, by encouraging people to become responsible pet owners and by dispelling myths about stray animals. They don’t post endless photos of animals in awful conditions; their posts give me hope that this is a battle that can actually be won, and dogs and cats can be valued and bring joy in any country, in any culture.
- Humane Society of Henderson County (Kentucky) – Here’s an incredible success story, an organization that a few years ago was being attacked by PETA and the public for its horrific conditions and practices, and now, is an organization that welcomes the public and volunteers into the organization and is a model for other animal shelters. And their Facebook use is part of that amazing turnaround.
What do all these FaceBook users have in common? Their status updates are so compelling that I want to read them! They are using FaceBook to micro-blog about “wow” things. And I feel like there is a caring human writing their posts, not a cold PR person trying to manipulate me. I feel like they are my “friend.”What happens when these organizations post to FaceBook? People respond: They click “like”. They post glowing comments. They repost to their own status on FaceBook. They blog about it. They tell their friends. My guess is that these organizations see greater attendance at events, greater numbers of volunteers signing up to help, and probably an increase in donations – tangible results that make online activities worth doing.