December 2007

Viral Marketing Evolved: Four Tips for Multi-Channel Marketing with Facebook

by James Young, Product Manager, Convioand Tompkins Spann, Senior Market Strategist, Convio

For online marketing professionals, social media platforms such as Facebook and MySpace provide an exciting new frontier for viral marketing and innovative constituent engagement. While rated #2 behind MySpace in total members, Facebook is gaining speed. With more than 54 million active users, more than half of Facebook's members are outside of college, with the fastest growing demographic 25 years old and older. While the bulk of your existing constituents may not be on Facebook right now, this "new constituent" — individuals wanting to find new ways to engage with nonprofits — represents a whole new generation of potential supporters.

Convio's Facebook application beta program

Convio's latest release (v 5.3.20) allows organizations to easily integrate Facebook into their Convio-powered campaigns, content and list registration forms. Convio's toolkit with pre-integrated "hooks" makes it easy for organizations to create and maintain a custom application on the Facebook platform with complete control over the content, structure and constituent experience. Even a non-technical administrator can populate the content to get started. Organizations with technical resources can take this template and incorporate additional features to truly customize their application while maintaining integration with their Convio site.

More than 40 organizations, including America's Second Harvest, Conservation International, Divine World Missionaries, Drug Policy Alliance, Easter Seals, Jewish National Fund, Lupus Foundation of America, Inc., Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Wildlife Federation, The First Tee Greater Austin and The SmileTrain have applied to join Convio's Facebook application beta program.

Four tips for multi-channel marketing with Facebook

A Facebook presence alone may provide some returns, but the real results will come only from an integrated multi-channel approach. Consider these four tips to increase your success in achieving results:

  1. Keep your eyes on the ball — Facebook is an item in your toolkit, not the goal. It is a means to help extend the reach of your message and recruit new supporters.

  2. Reward your Facebook champions — Everyone likes to be recognized, so identify the supporters who have helped recruit the most and show them some love. Perhaps highlight a monthly Facebook Star in your enewsletter or on your Web site.

  3. Don't go dark — Make sure your team is prepared to devote time to regularly updating the content and tweaking the application — some Facebook users spend an average of 20 minutes on the site daily (comScore). Don't let weeks pass without an update and don't wait for the right event to come along to inspire content.

  4. Treat your Facebook users differently — New recruits from sites like Facebook should be cultivated along a separate relationship pathway. The desirably youthful demographic of Facebook users expects a high level of interaction from your organization. While the old rules still apply, you'll need to develop a strategy that engages these "new constituents" in new ways.

Allowing your constituents to interact with your organization in an environment that they are familiar with provides them an opportunity to advertise and recruit their friends and networks to support your efforts. Plus, the beauty of Facebook's viral marketing strategy is that members are not burdened with the effort of notifying their friends; the system does this automatically!

Through Facebook, nearly every action or update made by a member triggers a note to all of their friends. Imagine this...

Amy gets an email from the American Health Society asking her to add the AHS Facebook application to her Facebook member profile. She clicks the button to add the application and decides to make a donation of $35. Immediately, all of her friends receive an update that Amy has added the AHS application and made a donation. Some of them decide to check it out for themselves, subscribe to receive the AHS newsletter and then their friends get an update. And so on and so on.

Viral Marketing Evolved: Four Tips for Multi-Channel Marketing with Facebook | Convio