Anthony Adornato, communications director for the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University, said his organization is taking a “wait and see” approach to Facebook’s recent algorithm adjustment that reduces the number of posts seen by followers on any given Facebook page.
“The whole premise of the Internet and social media is to have an open system, so this type of control is a bit problematic when budgets are tight and you’re working with limited resources to reach as many people as you can,” Adornato said. “If someone ‘Likes’ our page and wants to see the content we’re posting, I think they should have the opportunity to see it.”
BBI has offices in Syracuse, N.Y., Atlanta and Washington, D.C., that advocate for people with disabilities in the workplace. Since 2009, the organization has relied heavily on its Facebook page to share disability research and information and job opportunities, as well as connect people with disabilities and their families with others like themselves, he said.
“Our Facebook strategy is really a bottom-to-top approach,” Adornato said. “It’s not just about the Institute posting information…our clients use the page to connect with friends and family and share content that’s important to them. It’s another way that they are able to interact like anyone else.”
But recently the communications director said he was surprised to see that the Institute’s posts had dropped by nearly a third in reach, with fewer “Likes” than at the end of 2011, even though there are more followers on the page today.
“We’re not doing anything different as far as posting and we have more followers, but our posts aren’t reaching as many people,” Adornato said. “It’s interesting, because the only reason I can think of is the change in the algorithm.”
Before the precipitous drop experienced by most Facebook users began last summer, BBI invested in Facebook Ads — an alternative method to expand the page’s reach and to garner more followers — but the organization didn’t see much of a jump in page participation. Because budgets are tight, the organization decided to see what other organizations were doing before investing more money in the Ads or paying to have their posts seen by more followers, he said.
For now, Adornato said that he’s made adjustments to his posts and recommended that nonprofits in a similar situation should:
- Avoid generic announcements and begin a casual conversation. “I find the content that generates the most ‘Likes’ tells a compelling story, so I am less likely to post about events or research and more likely to post a photo and story about a summer camp for kids with disabilities,” Adornato said.
- Interact as soon as possible with those that ‘Like’ a post, join your page or comment. “If someone ‘Likes’ your page or comments, they are expecting a reply within a day,” Adornato said. “I would program my accounts to notify me when someone interacts on the page or set up an email alert.”
- “Like” similar organizations’ Facebook pages and interact with them. “If you reach out to them and interact by commenting or sharing their content, it’s more likely that they will share yours,” he said.
“Social media is exciting at the nonprofit level because it’s relatively inexpensive,” Adornato said, “and I hope that Facebook stays away from pay-for-play, recognizing that nonprofits rely on their followers. We see social media as a great avenue, but once you start changing the structure and what it was meant for, pay-for-play doesn’t bode well.”
For more information
Anthony Adornato is the communications director for the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, which works to advance the civic, economic and social participation of people with disabilities. To learn more, visit http://bbi.syr.edu/ or www.facebook.com/BurtonBlattInstitute.