Can you get Facebook to work for you, or is it all a waste of time and money?

I read this blogpost today, over on Queer Ideas: “If Facebook isn’t the future of social marketing, what is?“. Now – the author of the post, Mark Phillips, is a brilliant, brilliant man, and normally I agree with everything he says – as should you. On this one however, I have to somewhat disagree.

Mark references a report from Forrester, that says most organisations (also companies, I believe?) do not get much engagement back from social networks such as Facebook and twitter. The report (as I understand from Marks words), sort of suggests that this is a waste of time.

I have no doubt that the research is correct and that most businesses do indeed not get much back from their social channels. It is the conclusions – that this is the fault of the channel – I absolutely disagree with.

You see, most organisations and businesses are completely doing it wrong.

How many organisations do you know, who work with a comprehensive publishing plan where each and every Facebook post has a goal that is then measured and analysed?

How many organisations do you know who re-write each and every Facebook post 5 times, and put as much care into these words as words in an ad?

How many organisations do you know, who has a defined personality of who they are in social channels, that makes them recognizeable?

Not that many I will presume. And that is why they are not getting much back from their social channels.

Shit in, shit out.

As Facebook grows, it is only going to get harder to get organic reach. With 500 friends and 1-200 pages people follow, there are tens of thousands of posts Facebook could choose to show in your newsfeed. It’s only going to choose the best stuff. The stuff you usually interact with and find interesting. How do you expect to be one of those top 1-2% of posts, if you are not putting in the time and effort? You are not the pictures of the very cute babies in their lives. So you have to work harder.

You have to take the time to reply to those who do something for you. Even if there are 20.000 of them over a two week-period. You have to make sure you don’t talk like a robot. Like a press release. You have to make sure you don’t bore people to death. You have to become a personality. You have to plan, and work on it, and for the love of [insert your deity], you have to send people to good landing pages! Most landing pages are not prioritised, they are not user friendly, and they are not adapted for mobile. And from Facebook, most of your visitors are mobile. You have to do the work.

If you do, Facebook is one of the most rewarding channels. The Norwegian Cancer Society regularly gets a return on investment of about 8 when they advertise on Facebook. Most of that from donors who are new to the database. Those results are possible because they have done the ground work. I have worked with clients where we have increased organic reach tenfold just by paying closer attention to what is put out there.

I’m fairly certain that if you sent out a piece of direct mail that was a first draft, with a return form made of toilet paper, without a return envelope, where half the text was hidden behind another piece of paper – to people who do not know a single thing about what you do – that wouldn’t work so well either.

So that’s it. Fix your website, and put in the time and work to the social channels. Realise that just like not everyone opens the envelope you send them in the mail, not everyone is going to see your every facebook post. That’s okay. That doesn’t stop you from trying.

Do that, and I’m sure Forrester will have different results later on. 

Stop hating on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, you bitter people.

I thought I was done ranting after writing about how slacktivism is a really stupid term that’s not real and should be stopped immediately. But there have been so much weird and bitter criticism for the Ice Bucket Challenge this past week, that I have another rant coming on.

Here are some of the, to me, baffling pieces.

Just to mention a few. Well. I really don’t see how you can criticize something that has raised an astounding $41 $53 $70,2 million at the time of writing. I have so many issues with this, that I don’t even know where to start. So the following is in no particular order of annoyance – just the order they ranted their way out.

The narcissism-argument

Who CARES if people give for narcissistic reasons?! As long as they are giving, it certainly does not matter to me. And guess what? We’re all narcissistc in some way or other. And we all have different reasons for giving. Please read this great piece by Lesley Pinder for a nice write-up on all the different reasons we give. The narcissism is what keeps the phenomenon moving. If people just gave, and didn’t tell anyone about it – guess what, far less money would be raised. Use it, don’t hate it. You wouldn’t spite a major donor with a plaque on the wall for being narcissistic – it’s no different when a teen posts a video to instagram.

The “slacktivism”-argument

For a complete debunking of the slacktivism-myth, see my previous blogpost for all the facts. So there’s that out the window. But even if some people do just to the online thing (also know as clicktivism, hashtag-activism and other derogatory terms) – that also helps move it all forward! Seth Godin has written a very good piece on this: There have always been those who just talk and don’t do – there still are. But they help get the word out. They normalize the behaviour.

The “these people don’t really care about the cause”-argument

Well again – who cares, it’s 72 million to cure a horrible disease! While technically, I think the argument has some truth to it – I don’t see why that should make a difference. If people can give because it’s fun, that is just as good a reason to give, if you ask me.  It’s like some people think that unless you truly care on a personal level, you shouldn’t give. I do not agree with that.

The “these people will never be loyal donors”-argument

Well, first of all: you don’t know that. Even if just a fraction of the 600.000 (or so) who have donated become regular donors, it means a lot of money for the ALS Association.  But even more important, I think we should be less afraid to let people go. Yes, it might be true that these people won’t become loyal donors of the ALS Association. And they might move on to some other cause for the next viral craze. Then let them. Trust that they will be back next time you have a moving story or fun activity. Trust in your own ability to reach people again later.

Also: If this had not happened – ALSA would not even have the chance to TRY to convert these people. These are hundreds of thousands of new leads for them to thank, steward and tell about their cause (that they have now even heard of). If ALSA does this well, the next time these people see an ALSA ad, they might just respond.

The “these money are stolen from other charities”-argument

This is the most bizarre to me. I haven’t really seen any stats on it, other than the author’s claim that half the money they raise would have come in anyway. And that somehow, that means that the challenge is now eating out of the half that it is possible for all charities to raise money from. I do not believe that for a second. Looking at the numbers from our own Cold Water Challenge that raised a lot for the Norwegian Cancer Society this spring, almost all donors were new. I don’t just mean new to us, they were probably  new to the act of giving too, bar dropping a few bucks in a bucket here and there. Most of them were 18-30 year olds. As any fundraiser know, these are not the staple of your average donor database.

So not only is this money from people who wouldn’t normally donate (and thus cannot be stolen from other charities) – these people are now being exposed to giving as something “expected and normal to do”, as Seth says in the previously linked blog post. How great isn’t that?!

And lastly..

We always talk about how we can find ways to interact with a younger audience. And then, when a younger audience engages with our world – raising more money than any of us have ever managed, without us even helping them – we look down at the way they choose to do it?? That is just so rude, un-grateful and short-sighted that I don’t even know what to say.

Don’t be that guy. Stop raining on someone else’s parade. Get with the program.