Much has been written recently about the changes in Facebook’s algorithm and its pay-to-play philosophy.

Many nonprofits who spent years or months building up an engaged online community on the biggest social network are now seeing a dramatic decline in the number of fans they are able to reach with each post.

If this sounds familiar, you may be wondering if Facebook Ads will help your nonprofit reach more fans and get more bang for your Facebook buck.

At the recent Social Media for Nonprofits Conference in Boston, Cody Damon of Media Cause provided some insightful advice on whether or not a nonprofit should jump into the Facebook Ads ocean.

Before you sit down and purchase a Facebook Ad for your nonprofit, ask yourself these three vital questions:

 

1. What is my goal?

Without a goal, your ad campaign will mean nothing and you will be simply throwing money away (and trust me, Facebook doesn’t mind taking it). Advertising Objective

A reasonable goal could be an increase in email signups from your website. When you create your ad, this will be called the “advertising objective” – it’s what you want people to do when they encounter your ad.

Cody suggests (and I agree) that you pick a goal much more in depth than simple clicks to your website. Do you want to measure “website conversions”, which means that when people visit your website, they take an action and “convert”?

A successful “conversion” could be signing up for your email newsletter, subscribing to your blog, or making an online donation.

 

2. Can I measure it?

Whatever the objective, make sure that you can measure it. Just saying “raising awareness for my nonprofit” may not be enough, unless you have specific benchmarks in place to measure your progress.

You need to know what success looks like. What will happen if your Facebook Ad is successful? What will have changed?

 

3. Can I afford it?

 

Clients frequently ask me about the price of Facebook Ads. Unlike traditional newspaper ads or billboards, there is no set price for a Facebook Ad.

You can set your daily budget, or “lifetime” budget, and you will need to choose a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) or CPC (cost per click bid). You only pay for the impressions or clicks that your ad receives, and if they are targeted well, this can be very effective.

If this all seems like Greek to you, you are probably not ready to run a Facebook Ad without outside help. Facebook has a great help center on their website, and there are many firms and consultants who can help you set it up and run it.

General best practices for your Facebook Ad:

  • It must be eye-catching and well-written. Do not use your logo and call it “Come to our website!”
  • It must have a photo. For all ads, the best size image to upload is 1200x627 pixels,
  • The photo cannot contain more than 20% text.
  • If it directs to an outside website, it should direct to a specific landing page, rather than just the main home page of your website.

For more on using Facebook Ads to build your online community and engage with your fans, read these great posts by Jon Loomer, John Haydon, Nancy Schwartz and David Serfaty.

Julia Campbell works with nonprofits to help them raise money online, conquer social media, and become content experts. Her blog on nonprofit marketing is at www.jcsocialmarketing.com