Since the key to networking is participation, your social media strategy must focus on developing fans. Having an attractive profile in the social media world is what converts people from casual visitors into fans. Without a good profile design, you’ll find it hard to develop an active fan base. Creating an engaging profile page is a must if you want to attract new fans and cultivate potential donors and supporters. Although you should do this across all social networking platforms, here I am going to focus on how to create an effective Facebook profile for your nonprofit.
The tips below assume that you already know that providing relevant content on regular basis on social media networking sites is key. Content can be in the form of news, links to interesting articles, photos, videos or other material. Regular updates build community, attract supporters and inspire engagement. In short, it keeps people coming back to your site. You can be as creative as you want as long as your content is relevant and updated regularly.
Now that we underscored the importance of quality content, let’s take a look at a few tips and best practices to build an effective Facebook page.
1. Create Custom Tabs
Custom tabs give your organization the opportunity to offer a unique experience to your page visitors. By grabbing visitors’ attention right from the start, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll succeed in converting them into fans. Customizing your profile becomes a powerful tool when you link users directly to specific tabs. Although creating custom tabs requires some skill and an investment of time, it’s well worth the effort.
Let’s take a look at how nonprofits use this feature. The One Campaign, for example, uses a custom tab to invite visitors to join its mailing list. Talk about a great strategy to quickly build your mailing list!
2. Don’t Let New Visitors Land on the Wall
Why on earth would I tell you not to let new visitors to land on the wall? The main reason is that you have less control over the information visitors will encounter on your wall. Your wall features content provided by you as well as content provided by your followers. Although you provide engaging content, your followers might not. By avoiding the wall as a landing page, you can better manage the introduction your visitors will receive to your organization.
Your introduction should, of course, feature the best of your organization. Maybe a succinct “about us” paragraph, sprinkled with some pictures of the people you help and a list of your core programs. You can even have a call action to donate, sign a petition, or spread the word. The possibilities are endless. The point here is that you want new visitors to enter through a controlled environment. Once properly introduced to your organization, they can then proceed to navigate through less structured areas like your wall.
Take a look as this example. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) does a great job of providing a customized landing page (tab) for its visitors.
Remember, one of the great features of Facebook is that it allows you to link users directly to specific tabs. But don’t go crazy creating tons of custom tabs. Facebook will only let you display six tabs at a time. All others get buried on the drop down menu located to the right of your tab panel.
3. Create a Unique Page Image
This is one of the most important components of a fan page. As I discussed on my previous post “Creating an Effective Twitter Profile,” your profile picture should be related or reflective of your nonprofit’s logo. This does not mean, however, that it has to be boring.
Facebook recommends that page pictures be 200px wide. Height, however, can be varied as needed. The height flexibility can be used to your advantage. Take a look how one organization uses the height of its profile image to its advantage.
Your profile image is one of the first things users look at when visiting your page. A great picture can grab people’s attention right away, increasing their interest in your organization. So, make it good!
4. Claim Your Vanity URL
Facebook now makes it possible to create a customized link for your page (also known around the tech world as a “vanity URL”). Vanity URLs are now open to all organizations whose pages have at least 100 fans. Choosing your URL is on a first-come, first-serve basis so nab yours now before someone else does. Having your own vanity URL (e.g., http://www.facebook.com/hivlawproject) is a strategic component of any social media plan as they are easy to remember, easy to share and makes it easy for users to find you on Facebook.
Tip: Try to secure your organization’s name on as many social sites as you can.
5. Optimize Your Website’s Share Preview
The “Share” feature is a must-use feature because of its viral potential. Through this feature, you essentially include special code on your website that allows supporters and fans to share your links (news, reports, petitions) with their networks instantaneously. Literally, through the “Share” button, any of your links have the potential to spread like wild fire on the web. All people have to do is click on “Share” and the information goes to their profile walls.
Let’s look first at a poorly optimized Share Preview example. This news article was taken from Oxfam International Blog (http://bit.ly/cWnzxP). The post features four pictures so when the user clicks the “Share This” button (a third-party application, not the same as the Facebook “Share” button) and chooses Facebook, the user is presented with Facebook’s “Share Preview” button. What is the problem with this? Well, it is simply not optimized for viewers or search engines. First, below the heading (first red block), the web address that is shown is not the one of the organization (@Oxfam). Second, the user is presented with four pictures to choose from to accompany the news release. Not only does this create more work for the user, it also allows the user to select a weak or inappropriate visual for the article. And, of course, it allows the user to opt-out of posting a visual altogether. (How attractive will this text heavy update be for the next reader?) Third, the Description Meta Tag is not used so Facebook will pull the first few lines of the article as the description.
To avoid the problems above and effectively optimize Facebook’s Share feature on your page, there are a few key things you need to bear in mind. First, you should define a custom “Share Preview” image. See details on customizing how the shared item appears on Facebook. This will prevent the user from choosing an inconsistent image (you post a release of the emergency in Haiti, but the user selects a picture related to the Tsunami in Indonesia) or no image at all. Second, make sure you always include a well-written Description Meta Tag for your posts. Facebook will pull the Description Meta Tag from your site into the news feed. If you don’t include a Description Meta Tag, Facebook will grab the first few lines of your article by default — which may or may not hook readers. A good Description Meta Tag can make the difference in having people clicking through to read the link or ignoring it. To implement the Description Meta Tag, see Facebook Share documentation for details. Third, don’t use third parties buttons (e.g., “Share This,” “Add This”) to share your content . Use the “Share” button provided by Facebook as it will automatically grab your website’s URL.
An optimized “Share Preview” (using Facebook’s “Share” button) looks like this:
Tip: Do not make users think. Make it as easy as possible (one click) for them to share your content in an appropriate and attractive manner.
On my next post, I will continue exploring ways to create an engaging, fun and attractive Facebook page for your nonprofit. Until then, try to implement the tips on this post. Remember, Facebook provides you access to an audience of over 200 million people worldwide. Putting some time and effort into customizing your profile can give you an edge that allows you stand out from other organizations.