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Is Facebook Holding Your Fans for Ransom?


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By Georgia Joseph

Facebook marketing is over — welcome to the new era of Facebook advertising. A recent article on AdAge Digital  begins, “Facebook is being more blunt about the fact that marketers are going to have to pay for reach.” So, if you’ve noticed your Facebook referral traffic dropping lately, you’re not the only one and it’s not your fault. Facebook is a business and it has decided that organizations will now need to pay to get their messages out to more than a paltry percentage of their fan base.

This is painful news for ministries that have spent years developing a loyal community on Facebook. If you do decide to fork over the cash, it won’t be cheap to get your messages seen by the same number of people you used to reach…for free. Web directors are unhappy and I understand the angst, but social media platforms wax and wane. No single one is going to be the “it” thing forever. In order to go public a platform has to prove it can make money, which means the word “free” always has air quotes around it.

So what’s a cash-strapped non-profit to do? Probably what it should have done in the first place — diversify. By putting your eggs in a variety of baskets, your digital strategy will be more robust and your budget will thank you.

Here are 10 ways to do that.

1. Google+

I used to make jokes at the expense of Google+. Some of those jokes are probably recorded, so I can’t deny it, but I wasn’t the only one. If you haven’t been over to Google+ lately, you really should go take a look.  It’s a flexible platform with a nice collection of easy tools to use to customize your message. And Google is already making money, so they have less need to reel you in only to slap on the golden handcuffs later.

2. Twitter

Twitter is still free and hasn’t been polluted with too much advertising just yet. It remains a great way to keep your audience members updated in real time and engage in conversations with them. Check out Twitter’s tips for non-profits. It might be worth paying for one Facebook ad to your entire community asking them to follow you on Twitter and join you on Google+.

3. SEO

Referrals from organic search terms can easily make up the lost traffic from your Facebook page and the search engines are making it easier and easier for “ordinary folks” to be successful at optimizing their websites. Check out Google Webmaster Tools to see what I mean. Another great resource for clear, simple, basic SEO tactics is Bruce Clay[. White hat all the way.

4. Email

Email is tricky to get right these days, but worth the effort. The odds are against you. It is so ridiculously easy to annoy people with email. Google’s default organization of the Gmail inbox pretty much guarantees that your message won’t be seen without some intentionality on the part of the recipient. Declaring email bankruptcy is common among inundated subscribers. The three most important factors to email success are timing, a great subject line, and content that’s relevant to the needs of the moment. See this three-part series on email marketing  to make sure you have the basics right.

5. Guest Blogging

If you’re a Christian ministry, there is a really good chance that someone in your organization is producing content, and lots of it. Consider asking them to guest post for related blogs, with decent traffic, whose visitors will value the information. Guest bloggers get to link back to their own websites. Add extra value by optimizing the content for search and sharing that with the owner of the blog. Each of you will appreciate the additional readers.

6. Wikipedia

Almost everyone who’s done anything for anybody has some type of Wikipedia page. Find yours and improve it steadily, following Wikipedia best practices. Wikipedia got over 100 million visitors this last September  and can be a significant source of referral traffic. Skip the marketing-speak and concentrate on making your page a valuable resource for users.

7. YouTube

Of course you have a branded YouTube channel that links to your website and that you promote regularly, right? What? Did I just hear you say “no”? Well then, that can be the first thing you do tomorrow. Video is one of the most popular types of content on the web  and the possibilities for extending your reach are endless. SEO for YouTube is a great place to start.

8. Social Readers

Social readers are apps like Flipboard and Zite. They provide a much richer content experience than a browser does. I consume 90% of the content on my iPad using these apps because they are convenient, customizable, and smart enough to remember what I like and don’t like. In order to get your content promoted by Flipboard, you’ll need to provide them with an optimized RSS feed.

9. Direct

Way back when I started in the dark ages of the Internet, encouraging people to bookmark our site was an important part of our digital strategy. If you check your web stats, you may be surprised to find out how much of your traffic comes from people typing the URL directly into the address bar. You can encourage more of this by having a short, memorable URL; highlighting it in obvious places; and (yes) asking people to add it to their favorites, wherever they happen to keep those favorites.

10. Blog

If you don’t have a blog by now, you should.

What strategies are you using to stay connected with your Facebook community without spending excessive amounts of time or money? Is there one or two that seem to work better than the others?  

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Georgia Joseph isthe  Director of Business Strategy at Five Q and she will be leading the workshop, Website Content Strategy: Telling Your Story Well, at the 2014 CLA National Conference. Be sure to register today – early savings now through January 31, 2014.

CLA.ProfPicW.flame_ Learn more about mastering social media through the CLA Online Academy. Check out the strong line up for the Winter session. Final day for regsistration is January 6, 2014

Internet & Technology – Winter Quarter 2014

 

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