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Nonprofits: Now Where Do We Go With Facebook?

fbLogoCh2In a new “Social Good” podcast, Allison Fine and guest Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud, take a look at Facebook a year after the company went public. Describing Facebook as “the social network so many people love to hate,” Allison asks: “Is Facebook more interested in us as a product than customers?” and “Is Facebook shifting more to shareholder interest than user interests?” My answer is yes. And yes. Listen to the podcast.

Several years ago, when I first heard that Facebook was going public, I expressed concern about what that would mean for nonprofits. So many charities were finding creative ways to leverage the free tool to engage and expand their supporters, but were also facing challenges because Facebook was making decisions that seemed less about meeting the needs of their users and more about developing revenue streams.

The truth is, Facebook will continue to make changes that are good for its bottom line. Many of those changes will also be good for nonprofits, but that will simply be a side effect. In 2010, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes launched Jumo — a social network created specifically to allow people to follow and support causes — which some described as “a Facebook for causes.” At the time, I wondered, “Why can’t Facebook be a Facebook for causes?” (Despite Hughes’ success in raising $3.5 million in grants, the vision and execution of Jumo was flawed from the start, and magazine publisher and digital platform GOOD bought Jumo in 2012 for $62,221.)

As algorithms change for news feeds, what works one day might not work the next. What used to be free may now require a fee. But nonprofits have more influence than they may think, Barry says in the podcast. “If we started using the platform in different ways instead of just consuming it in the way they serve it to us, it would set off signals on their end that the users are changing, and we need to adapt.”

Listen to the podcast for other tips about how to leverage Facebook as it continues to evolve.