On Beth Kanter’s blog this week, there’s a sneak peek into new Idealware research on how not-for-profits are using their Facebook fan pages. For those working in the charity sector – and perhaps for anyone familiar with Facebook – these initial results won’t be that surprising. Charities, it seems, are finding Facebook fanpages useful for increasing event attendance, driving traffic to their websites and encouraging online action (such as signing petitions), but having less success with using their Facebook presence to attract donations or volunteers.
Kyle Andrei from Idealware writes:
…more than 65% said that they’d had some success with moving people to take some form of action for a cause, like signing petitions or other advocacy actions. Online petitions and other political or advocacy actions are easy to do, demand little time, and are easily spread through Facebook and other social media.
A good recent example comes from Greenpeace. Greenpeace seem to just get online campaigning. Back in the middle of the last decade, they launched the Green My Apple campaign, drawing in Apple’s own loyal fan base to pressure the organisation into upping the green credentials of their products.
This year, for Earth Day, they’re asking Facebook to ‘unfriend coal’ and instead use clean energy sources. The campaign’s been run on Facebook itself. There’s a fanpage with a slick 30 second video introducing the campaign’s key message, and a welcome screen in a number of different languages. There’s a date target of April 22. There are regular campaign updates and fans are encouraged to add their comments.
I took the screenshot below this morning (14 April 2011). At that time, this post had 81,007 comments.
What’s Greenpeace doing right here?
There are presumably thousands of IT companies who are not using clean energy. They’ve picked the one with 600 million users. These are people who use Facebook, which means, whether or not they’re interested in the deeper issues of climate change, they’re on the platform already. These are people who get how Facebook works, who can leave comments or upload photos and who are spreading the word virally amongst their friends.
Greenpeace recently asked fans to help them set the world record attempt for the most comments on a single post – and achieved the goal within 24 hours. After all, it doesn’t take a lot of effort for a fan to leave a comment. It’s going to take far less time than volunteering for the cause. It’s doesn’t require the financial commitment of making a donation. And it’s exciting as well, to be part of a global movement like this, to say that your comment was one of over 80,000.
For those fans who are interested in learning more about the cause, there’s also a non-Facebook microsite. Interestingly, the blog post there, Greenpeace supporters set world record for most Facebook comments, has – as of when I’m writing this – no comments. Again this is proof that, in many cases, it’s better to take your organisation to your fans rather than asking your fans to come to your organisation.
With just over a week to go before Earth Day, it will be interesting to see how this campaign develops, and whether there will be any official response from Facebook. For now, it’s an interesting case study on how Facebook fanpages can motivate supporters to take the low-level actions highlighted in the Idealware research.
I’ve liked it.