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May 9, 2018 · 3 Tips For Increasing Engagement with Facebook

I’ve got a bone to pick with Facebook.

Listen, Zuck, you want to push for-profit brands to advertise in order to increase their visibility on the platform? Fine. You need to make money, I get it. But forcing nonprofits to advertise their Pages in order to attract donors? Do you see the problem here?

I was lucky to be part of the first wave of nonprofits that used Facebook to attract prospective donors. As head of communications for a major children’s nonprofit, my team increased new donors by 25-30% annually. We even scored a 278% increase in new donations in a single year.

But Facebook announced in January that it was making major changes to its algorithm and prioritizing posts from friends and family—and users would see fewer public posts from organizations, brands and businesses. Some brands saw a fast drop in numbers The reaction from social media managers was swift: organic engagement is dead.

Not so fast.

Yes, there are ways nonprofits can still use Facebook to increase visibility and attract potential donors. Here are a few:

1 – Authentic Video

It might surprise you to learn that authentic video—not high-end, professionally produced footage—gets more engagement. So get your spokespeople on camera, do some quick editing and post it. Better yet, do a Facebook Live event to get a conversation started.

2 – Use Your Biggest Resource

The largest resource any nonprofit has is its employees. Train them on your social media policy, then ask them to support your brand online. Encouraging them to Like your content or comment on it instantly amplifies your signal to their friends. Will it be perfect? No, but remember: authenticity wins.

3 – Keep Producing Great Content

It may seem counter-intuitive, but content matters more than ever. Keep your Page fresh with visuals like eye-catching images and infographics. It’s smart to re-use older content if you take the time to freshen the headline, ask a question or change up the opening line.

Yes, you should still use Facebook to promote your cause and drive potential donors to your website. A word of caution: be careful about blasting links to your site in every Facebook post. Still, link back to the site occasionally to encourage visitors to sign up for your newsletter or volunteer—and donate!

Kris Austin is Principal of KS Austin Communications. In this webinar, Kris shows you how her team leveraged social media to find potential donors, increase online donations, and help one healthcare organization meet its fundraising goals.

Jun 26, 2017 · Social Media Use in a Crisis (Need examples) in Premium Members

Janet, I have an example of the opposite: when social media should not be used in a crisis situation. In this case, the agency was being blamed for a crime, and we worked hard to keep the story off SM while investigating what happened.

Jun 26, 2017 · Social media for donor development in Premium Members

Kathy, I managed communications a statewide health care agency, and was constantly asked for “our own FB page”. My response was “send me 4-6 months of daily posts and we’ll talk about it”. They usually figured out that they didn’t have the resources to do that, and would send me content for the main page. If you’re the brand keeper, a single voice is optimum in most cases.

Jun 26, 2017 · HIPAA violation Photo tagged to a hospital location posted by visitor in Strategy, Policy & Best Practices

I’ve dealt with this. First, you should be able to remove the tag (even if it’s your location). Second, it’s not a HIPAA violation *if* you can show that you’ve done everything reasonable to prevent such a thing. In this case, do you have a social media policy for employees and volunteers? Train them to it? Then you’re fine. (You might also consider posting a notice in the Behavioral Health area about patient privacy and your social media policy.) If you want some tips on a policy, let me know.

How sad that someone thought it was appropriate to post a photo of a patient in distress!

Jul 27, 2016 · How to deal with hospital complaints on Facebook in Give & Get Advice

Eunice, what you’re talking about is a crisis communications situation. I know a week has gone by, but the hospital still needs to address this–as soon as possible.

There is a decision tree created for situations like this. It’s here:

I’d also strongly recommend that you create a report of the 1000 comments and send it to your manager and up the chain to the executive team. Even if the complaints are about simple things like wait times in doctor’s offices and the Emergency Room, the exec team needs to see what the public is thinking about the hospital and clinics. You are just reporting what was said.

In the meantime, respond to the discussion overall if the facts are wrong. Do it from an official account *if* the official one is accepted into the closed group. (If not, you may have to use your personal account.) The simple act of letting people know they were heard can often help diffuse the situation.

If I can be of any further help, please contact me: or (408) 718-8446. I have 15 years of crisis communications experience, and have seen the worst of it. I am so sorry that you’re dealing with this!

Jul 27, 2016 · Facebook advertising for advocacy campaign in Strategy, Policy & Best Practices

I second what @astonebreaker said above. Go for free publicity first, i.e., post your video and see how it does. If voters can only cast a vote on election day, I would definitely advertise/boost a post 48 hours prior to the vote. All the best!

May 3, 2016 · Recommendations needed: Maximizing Twitter for media relations in Give & Get Advice

Tami, there are some very helpful articles that I’d recommend instead of a course. This one from Forbes (2014) is good: “Twitter for PR: Fact and Fantasy” They also wrote a follow up that’s worth your time.

Here’s what I’ve done to connect with journalists on Twitter:
1 – I have a short list of the top reporters I want to connect with. (Not all of my “targets” are on Twitter. I connect with some on LinkedIn.) Note that for a large outlet (ex: NY Times) I choose multiple reporters in different departments so that I can pitch a different angle if the first reporter turns me down.
2 – I do a search on their name, for example: typically brings up a Twitter handle.
3 – I start following and retweeting things they’re saying. I don’t RT everything–I don’t want to look like I’m stalking. However, I make it clear that I’m interested in what they’re writing about. (I’ve also commented on an online article so they see my name in a few places.)
4 – I offer some information or a connection on a story that they’re working on or have shown interest in.
5 – And then I pitch my client and/or story.

Yes, it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight–particularly for the national outlets. Once you have their attention, it’s going to take even more time to get the story done. (I once had a Wall St. Journal story take a year–no kidding, 365 days–before it was finally published.) Be patient. Invest your time and the effort to follow up…and follow up….and follow up.

If you want to talk further about a particular outlet or pitch, I’m happy to connect offline. My email is:

Apr 13, 2016 · Closed Facebook Groups for Patients - Advice Please in Give & Get Advice

Thanks Dan. Yes, Lisa, we need to talk. My greatest concern with using FB–as convenient as it is–is that they can and do change the parameters with no notice. So your private/closed group could be an open one tomorrow. That’s not good for MH patients at all.

Let’s talk.