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You Get More With Facebook Than You Give—Is Your Organization Stepping Up to the Challenge?

Resource Center - Foundation

By Derrick Feldmann

(May 29, 2012) The Pew Internet and American Life Project released findings recently on the effect of Facebook “power users.” The researchers analyzed 269 Facebook users and their activity over the course of one month. In that month of analysis, it was discovered that 20 to 30 percent of the survey sample represented power users – people who sent friend requests, added content and liked content of their friends at much higher rates than the rest of the sample.

The heart of the research details one important finding: because of these power users, there is a consistent pattern that Facebook users receive more from these individuals than they give to others. This means that, overall, users will get more friend requests, will be “liked” more often than they “like,” and receive more messages than they send. In addition, it was even discovered that users comment on their friends’ posts more often than they update their own status.

What does this mean for nonprofit organizations? Here are three suggested applications.

Work harder to use conversational engagement on Facebook.
Organizations need to spend more time developing conversational content through Facebook rather than employing typical blast-message approaches. If we know that users are more willing to comment on the postings of others than update their own status, we should be prepared to create conversational updates that focus more on pulling the user to comment rather than posting static messages.

Draw in users with comments to create better feedback mechanisms.
Organizations should be spending more time working to engage users within the content of their posts.  Each post contains “content” - information, knowledge and stories that lead to discussion. As an organization, you must look at each post and ask yourself, how can I discuss and converse with my community about the knowledge and information shared? What are the questions that I can generate, the additional information I can present on the topic within the post, and the various viewpoints we can position the post to generate action by the Facebook community? In addition, consider searching Facebook user content and commenting on, or providing feedback on, conversations relevant to the issue or cause. This will help to encourage more commenting and Facebook interaction among community members.

Understand power users and their effect on your cause.
Facebook users that have substantial followings are called “power users” because as they continued to grow the amount of friends, they started to increase commenting, posting, liking, and other forms of engagement within their network. As an organization, you should determine the effect of the power user on your cause. Although their actions within Facebook might have increased, it does not necessarily mean their influence has climbed to new heights. Some power users, after all, may not be influencers. This is evident in the main finding that these power users are driving activity, but that users are not reciprocating at the same rate. Their following may be just listening and viewing information but not responding. Therefore, nonprofits must understand how to effectively utilize power users in their network and whether or not the posts or comments from these users will generate action, awareness or conversation on the organization’s behalf.

Ultimately, we need to remember the conversational power of Facebook. It is a medium of interaction and engagement. Consider this: Is it the reach or viral nature of your organization’s message that’s important? Or is it the number of engaging conversations your community members have about your cause?

Click here to access the Pew study.

Derrick Feldmann is CEO of Achieve, based in Indianapolis. He will present a session at the AFP TechKnow Conference titled “Taking Facebook to the Next Level,” based on recent research and case studies. He’ll also give a talk at “AFP Live” in the TechKnow Hub expo on how the design of a website affects donor behavior.

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