Facebook’s Impact on Email Campaigns

by Hannah Brazee Gregory

Just like video killed the radio star in the 1980s, social media is very rapidly changing how nonprofits need to approach email campaigns and website development.

Your nonprofit has been working on growing its Facebook audience, and one of the ways to invite supporters to your befriend your page is with your email list.

What is likely to happen next illustrates a growing trend that is changing the “digital PR” game.

Now that your audience member has connected with your organization on Facebook, they remove themselves from your email list. Why get email when they can get all the information they want in one handy place?

Don’t worry. You did the right thing by inviting your email list audience to connect with you on Facebook. You just need to be aware of this trend, so that you can adjust your strategy.

Facebook has become more than just a social-networking portal that allows people to connect with their friends (or to find new friends).

It now provides a valuable service to its users by allowing them to control and filter what information they want all in one easy-to-use digital space.

What does this mean for your Facebook and email campaign strategies?

Let your audience choose how they want to get information.

Some people will want information via email, while others will want to opt out and rely on the Facebook connection to keep them informed.

That’s okay. All long-term relationships require flexibility.

If your supporters (or potential supporters) are given an opportunity to choose how they receive information from your organization, they will feel empowered.

This will increase the likelihood that they will stay connected and engaged in the work you are doing.

It is also a good idea to take the bold step and actually ask your email list how they want to receive information and how often.

View your Facebook followers like you would an email list.

Maybe your email list isn’t growing as steadily as it used to given Facebook and Twitter trends (using your list for communication rather than email, even with friends and family).

That’s okay – as long as your social media lists are growing. Give them the same attention and priority you give your email audience. In fact, this audience might be even more important since they represent the future.

Make sure your Facebook page offers more than just status updates.

Unlike how individuals might use Facebook – letting their friends know of their every move (or “status), from eating a bowl of cereal to watching the big game – nonprofits need to provide more than just a status update.

Facebook doesn’t have the same character limitations as Twitter, but it does have limitations and should not be used to “house” information about your organization.

Rather, it should link to rich content on your website to keep your Facebook audience informed. It should also have a clear call to action on a regular basis (like donate now, register for our event, write your congresswoman).

Facebook is a portal that links supporters to substance and action. So make sure you have great content to link to on your website and blog.

Let your email campaigns do double duty.

Does this mean twice as much work to prepare information for the multiple channels through which it can be distributed?

It will be more work, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think. If you use an email campaign program or system that houses an archived link of all of email newsletters, take advantage of that.

Attach that link to your Facebook page and your e-newsletter can do double duty.

The social media landscape is ever-changing, but the fundamentals of maintaining a good relationship with your audience remain the same.

Just like a good marriage or friendship evolves with time, so does your relationship with your donors and stakeholders. Just be sure not to get left behind.

Hannah Brazee Gregory is a nonprofit marketing expert and founder of Shoestring Creative Group, the nonprofit’s agency. She can be reached at nonprofitexperts@shoestringgroup.com or 1-888-835-6236.

Reprinted with permission of Philanthropy Journal.