Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware of the announcement last month that Facebook is changing the news feed to ‘encourage more social interactions from your friends, family and groups’.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the changes meant users would be seeing less content from businesses, brands and the media. These changes have been justified with quotes such as ‘we want people to connect with each other’, ‘create more meaningful interactions’, ‘start conversations on important issues’ and ‘ensure time spent on Facebook is time well spent’.

First of all, don’t panic. In short, it means that Facebook plans to tweak its algorithm to show the most engaged content to its users to keep people using its platform.

This is a good thing for both the NFP and philanthropic sectors. Why? Here are 2 key reasons…

  1. Content related to causes IS more engaging and matters more to people than content from commercial brands. We can tell more emotive stories and connect with and engage people on a much deeper level than any corporate or brand. So these new changes should work to increase reach to supporters, fans and the public.
  2. Increased reach of social sharing will increase awareness and conversions. If Facebook is making changes to ‘show more content from friends and family’, this means what people post and share on Facebook will be prioritised in the news feed, which means more people will see those posts and heed any call to action. This is very good news for charities as a smart sharing strategy for online fundraising campaigns already increase conversions on average by 25%…this will grow to mean we raise more money from Facebook.

So there’s your two key reasons to get excited about these proposed changes. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

How to improve your Facebook reach

Facebook works on an algorithm that takes multiple factors into account and measures everything you do. These actions will influence the Facebook algorithm to improve your reach on Facebook.

1. Activate ‘Reviews’ on your Facebook page(s) and ask fans to review your page (rating out of 5)

 The higher your rating from users, the more ‘engaging’ and ‘meaningful’ you’ll appear to Facebook. In turn, they’ll prioritise your content in the newsfeed.

Tip: If someone gives you a low rating, comment back to them to see if they have an issue or a bad experience, often calling it out (in a subtle way) will encourage them to change their rating of your page.

2. Create more engaging content

Yes, it’s obvious. But it needs to be said as there’s still so much room for improvement on most of our Facebook pages.

Align values, tell stories, celebrate achievements, make people laugh or cry. Set yourself apart so you’re inspiring people and work to increase the relevance of your cause in their daily lives.

In turn, they’ll increase their support.

3. Create a business manager account and add your Facebook page(s) and accounts

Ensure all Facebook pages and/or ad accounts are added to the same Business Manager account.

Why? Because if you’re spending money on one specific Facebook page, Business Manager will associate all your accounts and pages together so you can leverage your investment in their platform for all your pages.

If you’re spending money, Facebook will prioritise your content and marketing efforts because they also need to keep making money themselves, and it’s not a smart approach to bite the hand that feeds you.

4. Verify your domain(s) through Business Manager

Make sure you verify all your website domains to show Facebook that you’re only promoting sites that you own and manage.

‘Fake news’ is a big problem on Facebook and something they are trying to stop, so verify your domains to ensure Facebook’s algorithm knows your content is authentic.

Tip: By verifying your domains, you’ll also be able to customise your link posts in the news feed (by changing the image, title and description).

5. Maintain a 100% response rate to messages on your page

When people message your page, ensure you respond to them as quickly as possible. Not only does it create a fantastic first impression and start the relationship-building process, but you’ll show Facebook that you’re active in the platform and responsive to their users…which is what they want.

Tip: Setup email notifications when someone messages your page to allow you to respond as quickly as possible.

6. Allocate budget to boosting posts and promoting content

If you’re relying on organic reach, then you will struggle. Facebook want organisations to spend money to pay for the privilege of marketing to their users. Just a small weekly budget ($20-$50) can make a significant impact to improve reach and engagement.

Tip: Upload email lists of your existing supporters and boost your content to those lists. These people will be more likely to engage with your content so you’ll improve your engagement rate AND increase retention.

7. Reply to comments and interact with people on your posts

It sounds so simple, but we don’t often see it.

If you proactively respond to people who are engaging with your posts, then people will continue to engage with your content. From that interaction, your engagement rate will go up overall and Facebook will increase the reach of your posts because your content is proving to be popular with users.

Tip: Allocate 10 minutes at the start and end of each day to reply to comments and thank people for sharing, you’ll be amazed at the response.

Luke Edwards is the director of Elevate Fundraising.