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Is your Facebook Page Worth it?

Whether you're a large organization with brand awareness through the roof and a budget to match or a small nonprofit makeing do on a shoe string budget, you can't afford to waste resources.  Not even on your Facebook page.  Whether people became your fans, or, in the new Facebook parlance, "like" you, you invest in your presence on Facebook to build relationships with current or potential donors, volunteers, and activists to move them to take action that support your mission.  You're spending resources on Facebook for a reason.

But how do you know if you're succeeding? How do you know if those resources you're spending on your Facebook presence are worth it?

We set out to develop a measurement program to answer that question for one organization, our friends at the US Fund for UNICEF (UNICEF-USA).  In the process we discovered some interesting findings for them an an approach that includes what we think are best practices for other organizations hoping to answer for themselves, "Is it worth it?"  Our findings and recommendations are documented in a free ebook, available here.

For UNICEF-USA, nearly a year's worth of data illuminated some interesting takeaways and ideas for further testing, including:

1) The number of daily posts to their fan page had a major impact on UNICEF-USA's fan base and click-through (their mechanism for capturing online donations): Up to three posts a day drove consistent click-through and unsubscribe rates; unsubscribe rates rose dramatically with more than three posts per day.

2) Unsurprisingly, click-through and conversion rates were best for UNICEF-USA during high-profile disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti (there were three disasters during the period covering the data we studied).  Surprisingly, during the days immediately following natural disasters, UNICEF-USA posted many, many things on its Facebook page that didn't link to an opportunity to donate, potentially missing countless opportunities to convert concerned people into concerned donors, taking action about something they care about.

3) "Engagement" didn't correlate to action.  We ran several simple and more complex statistical analyses and found that there was no strong relationship between the number of "likes" or comments on a given post and the click-through rate on those posts.  This gets to the heart of what most nonprofits measure on Facebook, and the numbers were borderline enough that we recommend further and more deliberate testing of this point.

As the opportunities for nonprofits on Facebook and other social media continue to grow and evolve, a robust approach to collecting actionable analytics that allow nonprofits to make smart, data-driven decisions about where and how they invest resources will be ever more critical.  We hope our ebook is a good solid brick on the path in that direction.

*Shayna Englin is the founder of the communications firm Englin Consulting. Shabbir Imber Safdar is the founder of the TruthyPr.

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