Non-Profits Poked by New Facebook Fees
Facebook has declared since its launch that it’s “free and always will be.” And that remains true — unless users want to guarantee their posts are being seen. New fees may pose a problem for non-profit organizations that “rely heavily” on the site to create awareness for their cause.
The days of free marketing on Facebook Inc., are ending as the world-wide social media site has begun a campaign to “promote posts” and increase advertising revenue by attaching a price tag to characteristics of the site that were once free, according to Facebook’s news site.
Some non-profit organizations are “worried” about how a Facebook fee could affect one of their largest forms of marketing. At least two Fayetteville non-profits will not pay to promote posts, their founders said.
Local non-profit, Forgottensong, uses a consistent social media presence to create awareness towards their cause of improving the lives of women and children in war-torn countries, founder Charles Davidson said.
“Our [social media] audience is not large, but growing,” Davidson said. “We urge followers to invite friends and communicate regularly via Facebook.”
Facebook has served as a platform for businesses, artists, and non-profits to create an easily accessible page that anyone can see and “like” to become a subscriber. Many non-profits use their page to gain an audience and attach links to the organization’s website to provide more information.
Forgottensong has 371 “likes” on their growing Facebook page, meaning 371 “friends” are regularly updated with videos, photos and information about what they’re doing and how to get involved.
While Facebook is not the only way Forgottensong creates awareness, it serves as a platform for a bigger picture. Word of mouth promotion, hosting events, getting people involved in various ways and sponsorships from other organizations help to promote their cause, Davidson said.
“My take is, social media along with email is cheap, but also passive,” Davison said. “It takes a lot to get someone to even see a post, much less respond to it. So we [post] often.”
Another local non-profit organization, 3 Bags in 2 Days, uses Facebook to create awareness for their cause of restoring dignity and respect to Fayetteville people who are homeless or living in poverty by providing a bag of basic necessities — including a water bottle, deodorant, toothbrush, and socks — among other things, and hosting free events such as Art in the Park and Laundry Love, according to their website.
“I utilize social media to build up an audience That has been a huge platform for people to share the story,” said Chloe Seal, 3 Bags in 2 Days Founder and UA senior.
With almost 2,000 “likes” the organization has been successful in gaining an audience. “Friends” can view their page for updates such as bag packing and distribution days, special events like Art in the Park and volunteers and resources needed to make it happen.
Seal does a lot of public speaking to promote 3 Bags in 2 Days, but “Facebook has been pretty handy and super useful for spreading the word – especially when it comes to needs,” she said.
The social media giant, boasting one billion monthly active users as of Oct., 2012, has launched a new feature that lets users pay to promote their posts to friends, similar to advertisers. After testing the service in New Zealand, it has been gradually introduced in more than 20 countries, making its way to the U.S. this month, according Facebook’s news site.
Facebook has explained that promoting a post — such as Forgottensong announcing they need used laptops for their school in Iraq — will bump it higher in your friends’ news feed.
“Every day, news feed delivers your posts to your friends. Sometimes a particular friend might not notice your post, especially if a lot of their friends have been posting recently and your story isn’t near the top of their feed,” wrote Abhishek Doshi, a software engineer at Facebook, on the Facebook news site.
While paying to promote posts may be useful for businesses with money to spare, non-profit organizations rely on people seeing their posts to help those who are in need – and many non-profits cannot afford to pay.
“I don’t think that paying is a route we’ll go right now,” Davidson said. “The true measure of success on Facebook is how many people are following you. If lots of people are following you and sharing, then paid advertising won’t be necessary.”
As an administrator for the non-profit page, Seal has access to the amount of people her posts reach. Before the promoting posts launch, 3 Bags in 2 Days posts were on the newsfeed for upwards of 800 people, she said, but now consistently reaching only about 100 people.
“I won’t pay to have our statuses promoted,” Seal said. “I can’t justify spending money to promote via Facebook when that money could be used to directly help people.”
Facebook didn’t say how much it will cost to promote the posts, only that it’s considering a range of prices as part of the test, but some users have seen $7 as a cost per each update to promote, according to the Facebook news site.
Because 3 Bags in 2 Days news will no longer be reaching a large audience on Facebook, Seal plans to utilize and “vamp up” other free forms of social media and “tap into different, creative ways to engage people.”