Eight Ways Non-Profit Organizations Can Maximize Their Facebook Page

Facebook is something that 128 million in the United States alone use daily, but surprisingly, many non-profit groups are not getting the most out of this platform. The Saint Louis Social Media Club estimates that almost half of all Americans learn about causes and non-profits through social media.

Non-profits on social media have to figure out how to get their messages seen through the 2.5 billion piece of content that MediaBistro estimates are shared by Facebook users each day. You are going to have to compete amongst the pictures of cats, Candy Crush game requests and vacation pictures to connect to your audience. If done right, it will help you grow your visibility in the community. Here are eight ways you can maximize your Facebook page.

Post Often And Use The Schedule Tool
The worst thing I've seen when visiting a non-profit's Facebook page is seeing only a handful of outdated posts. Posting a bit more frequently keeps you in front of your audience, but also helps you stay in the loop with what your audience is interested in. But what about time constraints? Luckily, if you can carve out some time to craft status updates, Facebook has a wonderful scheduling feature. (Word of advice: Choose someone who is trustworthy AND really interested in making your Facebook account the best it can be. The answer isn't always "so-and-so's teenage nephew, who is always on his iPhone.")

You can also use Facebook's Page Insights feature to find out when your followers use Facebook the most, allowing you to schedule content when they would be more likely to see it.

Use Pictures
Blocks of text aren't so appealing to look at. Like any other site out there, Facebook is a visual medium. Showcasing a few great pictures occasionally can do wonders in making your page look better while nicely grabbing a user's attention in their crowded feed. Anyone can take great pictures. Anyone. PetaPixel offers a quick list of easy tips even a non-tech-savvy person can understand.

It's best to also write a caption for your photos (through the status box), to give a little more context about the picture. Just don't go too snap-happy. Facebook often penalizes accounts that share too many pictures because it can appear spammy. Quality definitely trumps quantity here.

Network With Other Organizations
Remember, Facebook is a social network. That said, you should make sure that your page is following other local non-profit organization pages, like government agencies, public libraries and service groups. If they post something that your audience would be interested in, share it. This way you develop a connection and they will be more likely to share your organization's Facebook posts with their audience. Make sure you're keeping up with your community and partners by liking their pages as well.You can also take advantage of the tagging feature in Facebook by tagging your community partners in posts and images that you share.

Make Sure Your Page Has As Much Information As Possible
You know to fill out your location, a description of what your organization does, your website and, of course, upload a profile image. Adding photo albums, a header image and categorizing your page as a non-profit not only presents a more professional image, it creates a destination page your audience can actually use. Be sure to also link your other social network accounts, like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Join Other Groups
The Facebook group Non-Profits on Facebook is a great way for non-profits to see what other groups are doing, both as organizations and on social media. It's basically networking from your own desk.

Answer Your Private Messages
Facebook allows users to contact a page's admin privately, Make sure you answer those messages in a timely fashion; the longer it takes, the more likely they are to lose interest in your organization. You wouldn't want to turn away future donors or volunteers that way.

Take Advantage Of Insights
Do you want to know a not-so-secret about your Facebook page? If you go to your page's Insights section you can find a wealth of analytics about your audience. With this information you can better target your Facebook content to your audience. For example, you would probably take a different approach based on who is liking your page. You can also use this information to schedule your posts to when your audience is more likely to be on the computer.

Make Sure Your Facebook Content Is Interesting
Facebook is a fickle beast and it's changing how the site decides to share which articles and stories with its users. You might have noticed this when you were looking in your stats, observing that some posts might have reached as few as 5-6% of your overall audience. Unfortunately for some non-profit groups, this means that your posts are going to not have as high exposure as they might have previously had. The easy way to get your posts more exposure is to promote them by paying Facebook to post them on newsfeeds more readily, but that isn't financially feasible for everything you do on Facebook.

The budget-friendly (though more time-consuming) solution? Making sure every one of your posts will engage your readers. If you create content that is shared, liked and commented on, you can guarantee that your posts will reach more of your audience. The worst thing that you can do is to barrage your followers with constant requests and sharing things that are not relevant to your cause.

"Non-profits need to focus Facebook to grow and build relationships by growing a following, sharing their their stories and to explain why they exist in the world," said Joshua Davidson, founder and CEO of social media marketing firm Chop Dawg Studios. "This leaves much more of an impact and an emotional connection between the nonprofits and their biggest supporters."

Headlines and statuses are incredibly important for this -- you should take extra care writing those. Venture Harbour and The Atlantic have two great articles on how you can brush up on your headline and status-writing skills. Another important thing to note is how you're "adding value" to your audience. Think about it: They follow your organization because they are interested in the work you do, or want to feel more involved in the community. Think strategically about crafting and sharing content that helps create this connection, rather than blanketing a reader's feed with generic press releases.