M & R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network have just released a report about Facebook benchmarks which seems to validate a lot of current assumptions, and sheds light on previous unknowns. The report analyzed Facebook Insights from July – December 2011 of 37 very large nonprofit organizations, such as the AARP, Human Rights Coalition, and Oxfam America.
The resulting report offers some insightful benchmarks for large nonprofit organizations: average number of Facebook fans, the reach of a Facebook update, who sees the updates, the average number of people who will be Talking About This per 1,000 Facebook Fan users, and more specific benchmarked types of engagement. While it is unfortunate the smaller organizations were not included because they were under-represented among the study partners, there are some takeaways applicable to organizations of all sizes.
Key benchmark findings in this report:
- Approximately 10% of the email list subscribers become Facebook fans. In this study, the average nonprofit had 31,473 Facebook fan page users, representing 103 fan page users per 1,000 email subscribers. This could be a great benchmark to keep in mind for nonprofits new to Facebook, or re-engaging with Facebook. It should also be something to consider internally: is your email list fully aware of your Facebook page, and does the Facebook Page represent approximately 10% of your email list number?
- Nonprofits on Facebook grew 70% last year in terms of sheer fan Likes. Not surprisingly, wildlife and animal rights groups had a significantly higher percentage of growth. Though the report cannot begin to speculate as to the causality of the growth, one takeaway may be that if your Facebook Page did not grow significantly last year, it may be worthwhile looking again at your Facebook posting and engagement strategy. Keep in mind that Likes does not mean that your fans are engaged or able to be moved to action, which should be two goals of your Facebook presence.
- The equivalent of just under 20% of fan page audience see fan page content. This may or may not come as a surprise. The equivalent of almost 20% of the audience reached does not exclusively consist of fans. As the report explains, “ … a lot of the people an organization reaches are not necessarily fans of the page – they are exposed to a nonprofit’s content through viral sources (friends sharing content, for example).”
- Nearly a third of people saw an organization’s content because a friend created a story about the fan page. Environmental groups had the highest percentage of viral reach at 37%, while International groups had the lowest percentage of viral reach at 15%. Of the 20% of the audience reached through a post, 30% of that saw it because a friend Liked or shared the story. A takeaway? A very small percentage of your fans ever see your posts. This verifies that Facebook should not be the be-all-end-all marketing channel for organizations. Consider cross-posting to other Pages where you have a collegial relationship with the organization, highlighting a specific post in an e-newsletter, or specifically asking fans to share certain posts.
- Approximately 2% of all fans are Talking About This weekly. The People Talking About This metric means that people Liked, tagged, responded, commented or checked into a place. As the report states, “This is a fairly broad measurement of how involved people are with your fan page – a barometer that can show you the general health of your fan page.” In my own work with nonprofit organizations of much smaller-sized fan pages, I’ve seen the Talking About This metric vary from 1 – 3%. If your metric is at or below 1%, consider reviewing your current Facebook strategy. If it is above 3%, I’d love to know what you’re doing that is working so well..
- For every 1,000 people who like a nonprofit’s fan page, 6 people will interact with a post from that organization daily. Engagement includes all actions that create stories as well as all clicks on a page or a page’s content. (Note that creating stories is not part of the Talking About This metric.) Given that only 20% of the fan page audience sees your Page’s content, a daily engaged user rate of .6% isn’t that low. If you are a smaller organization, you may see a lower daily engagement rate. The important takeaway here is that you should have at least a few engaged users daily. Anecdotally, the smaller organizations that I work with range from a .4% to a .7% daily engaged user rate.
The full report can be found on M & R’s Facebook Page. You have to Like the Page first in order to download the report!
Debra Askanase has 20 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations, from Community Organizer to Executive Director. She is the founder and lead consultant at Community Organizer 2.0, a social media strategy firm for non-profit organizations and businesses. She blogs about the intersection of social media, nonprofits, and technology at communityorganizer20.com and regularly provides advice and commentary to our eJewish Philanthropy community.