Facebook as an Acquisition Tool and Income Driver

Facebook used to be mostly about connecting with "friends", and in many ways, it still fulfills that role on an individual basis.  For nonprofit arts organizations, however, Facebook changed into a marketing channel after it went public and needed greater income streams for its investors.  A little over two years ago its algorithm changed creating a world where posting to an organization's page might only reach 20% of its fans.  The required fix: boosting. Although the algorithm changes frequently, boosting still seems required to reach over 50% of a page's fans. Furthermore, even when boosting, Facebook as an engagement channel usually makes meaningful contact with only existing, high-user fans.

Acquisition is rare through the magical mystery perfect viral campaign and using Facebook as an income stream often seems like the mythical unicorn.  Yet Facebook can be used to increase event attendance, donations and acquisition of new fans, and transactions. Four tools can make this possible:  1) Becoming a Facebook nonprofit, 2) Adding a 'donate' button to your Facebook page, 3) Ensuring that anytime someone buys a ticket or plans a visit you have the code embedded in your purchase path for him/her to share, and 4) Moving to Facebook Business Manager.  The following provides the links and tools for you to move from beginner or intermediate to a advanced Facebook guru.

1) Becoming a Facebook nonprofit:
Much like becoming a Google nonprofit (covered in AMT Lab most recently by Daniel Fonner with previous articles here), Facebook has resources to give your organization a stronger presence.  Facebook helps nonprofits directly by providing clear and defined steps you through how to maximize engagement, raise awareness of your work, create active engagement with your followers and, raise funds.  There are two highly effective ways to generate funds directly on Facebook:  1) Include a donate button on your page as you see on the Humane Society example below or 2) Include one in a Facebook Ad (FYI Facebook beginners -- ads are not boosted posts). 

To have raise money on Facebook instead of redirecting to your website, however, you need to apply to be a Facebook recognized nonprofit. Simply go to Fundraising Tools and click on "Apply."  It will automatically generate an action in Facebook to evaluate your organization as a nonprofit and allow Facebook to collect donations on your behalf.  Why have Facebook collect donations?  People like to be stay in Facebook once they have already started a session.  If they have to click away from Facebook and fill out a form, the likelihood of completion drops immediately.  So, how do you add a donate button?

Source: Humane Society of the United States Facebook page

Source: Humane Society of the United States Facebook page

2) Adding a 'donate' button to your Facebook page or Ad
Once you are approved to collect donations and raise funds on Facebook, you can move forward and create a Donate button on your Facebook page.  Best practices in website design always include a one-click solution for purchases and donations.  It makes sense to have Facebook do the same.  Luckily, Facebook has provided very clear instructions on how to accomplish this page change and even provides an option for a donate button in Facebook ads. To do this, however, you'll need to move to Facebook Manager (instructions below).   If you have already moved to Manager, you will work through a call to action process via that interface. As always, Facebook's instructions are easy to follow.

3) Facebook Business Manager

Boosting reaches your fans and maybe friends of fans at best.  Even if you pick other categories, often your data will reveal acceptable reach but not a lot of clicks.  If you want a true acquisition campaign to gain prospects to pull into your marketing funnel, switch to Facebook Business Manager.  When advertising to a geographically and psycho-graphically limited audience, the costs are actually minimal.

Moving from working on your Facebook page directly to working through the Business Manager provides significant upgrades to how you can boost, create sponsored ads, and, as noted earlier, add a Donate Button to ads.  Most importantly, it truly lets you manipulate a clear acquisition plan for who you reach and what they see.  This can be used for donations or for promoting events and shows to your community. Making the change means you'll be doing most of your work through business.facebook.com instead of your regular Facebook page, but your tools and insights are exponentially more refined.  Read more about Business Manager and make the change.  Then you'll create acquisition campaigns to reach people who not your fans NOR friends of your fans.  Actually new acquisitions.

4) Embedded a code in your purchase path or email
Facebook is a powerful tool for people to share information with their friends.  Audience surveys, regardless of the survey source (NEA, Culture Track, etc.), reveal that attending the arts is a social activity.  Hence, it makes sense that linking a purchase of a ticket to the most active social media platform makes sense.  Likewise, allowing information from your emails to be posted to Facebook by people in your email list allows for a social exchange with a potential for many more impressions than a mere “Forward to a Friend.”  Be sure to have both, though, as some people still prefer direct email communication over Facebook posts.

Embedding code in your purchase path or email will likely require the assistance of your website manager. Instructions are easy to follow. Most content is shared to Facebook via url links, thus it is important that you use Open Graph tags to take control over how your content appears on Facebook.  Additionally, you will want a Facebook ID tag on the page.  

Once you have moved through the steps above, be sure to check that you are following best practices.  Soon, you will be making extraordinary gains in acquisitions and, with a coordinated marketing and development path, income.

Have you used Facebook successfully as an acquisition tool? If so, tell us about it in the comments section below!