When it comes to digital organizing, many organizers think of Facebook first. After all, billions of people around the world and across political, socioeconomic, and values spectrums use Facebook and Meta-owned WhatsApp and Instagram on a regular basis. It can be really easy to find and connect with your audience on Facebook! The problem is that overreliance on one (imperfect) tool or platform is risky.
Facebook can be problematic
We’re sure you’ve heard a friend or two announce that they’re quitting Facebook. Facebook has allowed extremist content and misinformation to run rampant on its platform, and despite its massive scale and influence, it has evaded government regulation. It’s important that anyone who uses or advertises on Facebook does so with an understanding of Facebook’s flaws.
When it comes to organizations, Facebook has a very broad and flawed definition of what is considered “political.” For example, oil and gas companies are able to market with minimal interference on the platform, while posts about climate change are suppressed as “political.” Facebook is known to suppress “political content” from users’ feeds. This suppression by the algorithm came as a surprise to many organizations who had invested time and money into building engaging Facebook pages. Now, no matter what advocacy organizations do, they’re still reaching fewer people than they once had the potential to reach.
This won’t be the last time Facebook changes the way it operates. One of the first recommendations our team typically makes to clients trying to grow their digital presence is to have a backup plan for the next time Facebook makes a detrimental change.
Why is it important to reach people outside of Facebook?
Relying solely on Facebook can exclude an entire audience that is interested in your work but not interested in social media or Facebook. Facebook is also constantly introducing new changes that can make it hard to keep up with.
As Facebook expands its definition of political content, restrictions are making it harder for many organizations to place successfully targeted Facebook ads or reach supporters through posts. There are many alternatives for your organizational advertising budget like Google Ads, LinkedIn, or YouTube, depending on your target audience and their interests. You can also advertise directly on websites that cover your specific area of interest and appeal to key demographics that you might struggle to find on another social media platform other than Facebook.
Other ways to reach your audience
If your organization doesn’t have a thriving email program, you’re leaving money and activist engagement on the table. Email is tried and true, and not going anywhere. When you have an email program, you own the list of email addresses subscribed to your program. This means you have more control over what your audience receives from you and gives you a more direct channel to communicate with them. Email allows for greater control over exactly what is communicated and how, as well as provides a level of transparency and trust that is not often felt through Facebook. Email is also a great way to fundraise, as the people who have subscribed to your list are people who have already demonstrated interest in your cause, thus making them more likely to donate.
Mobile messaging is also another way to reach your audience. As with an email list, you also own the list of phone numbers opted-in to your program, meaning you can text them on your terms. For timely or quick updates, mobile messaging is a reliable and effective way to contact your list. The open rate for SMS is a whopping 99%, and more than 90% of all texts are opened and read within 3 minutes of being received.
Still a fan of social media? Your audience likely uses social media platforms other than Facebook. You should take into consideration who your target audience is and use the social media platform most popularly used by that audience. For example, certain audiences tend to spend a lot of time on TikTok, and if your target audience is one of them, Facebook is unlikely to be the most effective tool for your organization.
A diversified strategy is essential for creating a sustainable program that turns your audience into activists.
We know that Facebook can be a necessary part of a strong digital program. Quitting Facebook entirely is not a plausible option for most individuals and businesses. But you can take steps toward reducing Facebook’s control over your success.
Ultimately, you should aim to diversify your digital strategy so that you are never solely reliant on any one platform. Need some help diversifying your digital presence and reaching the right audiences? Book a free strategy call with us today to get started.