Most people use Facebook to connect with friends, to catch up with colleagues, to make new business acquaintances, to post family pictures and discuss hobbies and special interests. Businesses use Facebook to promote products. Social organizations use Facebook to promote causes. These are some of the more common uses of Facebook. But then, some of us like to push the envelope. To boldly go where many have not gone before. To explore unchartered waters. To use Facebook like it’s never been used before. So, here are a few very off-beat, creative uses of Facebook. Maybe, you’ll draw inspiration from them.
Be prepared to face the wrath of bloggers and social networkers, if you say something that’s politically incorrect on Facebook. That’s the message that cosmetic major Vaseline seems to be getting these days. The company’s ‘Transform your face’ application to promote its skin-lightening cream has earned negative criticism across the online world. The campaign, promoted by Bollywood star, Shahid Kapoor, allows users to upload their picture, clear the dark spots and whiten the face. This has indeed attracted wide spread criticism as the promotion endorses fairer skin over the darker shade.
Though the campaign primarily targets the South Asian market, bloggers from across the world talked about being ‘uncomfortable’ with this Facebook application. In all ‘fair’ness, we may say, that it’s after all, a promotion for a skin-lightening cream. Nevertheless, companies must keep in mind that social media promotions address large audience demography from across all parts of the world. What seems perfectly normal in one country may be entirely offensive in another culture.
Social media has opened up new avenues for networking and connecting with new people and cultures. It has also opened up a new horizon of possibilities for promoting social causes. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, when used effectively, are powerful tools that can help spread awareness about social causes, alter audience perceptions, induce change and encourage positive actions.
Facebook with over 300 million users is simply the best way to promote a non-profit organization. It’s flexible, easy-to-use and has a wide array of applications and tools that make promoting a social cause, a whole lot easier. Besides, where else can you connect with so many users in one go. And where else can you generate awareness about your cause at the click of a mouse.
Here are ten easy ways to promote your non-profit organization through Facebook.
- Create a Facebook Profile
Start your Facebook promotions by creating a Facebook profile. It’s your online address on Facebook. Just login and create a page (the page needs to be created by a Facebook user. After logging in to Facebook go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php to create a new page. Read this brief PDF guide to understand more about Facebook Page).
You can add your logo and a small write-up about your organization. Add photos if any are available.
Keep updating if you want ’em coming back for more! Add more information and update your Facebook profile regularly. Most Facebook causes fail because visitors get disinterested when there is hardly any new information.
- Add applications to make it interesting
Add quizzes, add polls, get visitors to voice their views, add games, and puzzles, in order to get your supporters interested in your cause. Remember not to over burden your Facebook profile with tons of applications. Choose few and choose wisely.
You can use this application to create interesting polls pertaining to your cause. http://apps.facebook.com/opinionpolls/create_poll.php
Check out this interesting application that lets you create games for your eco-friendly cause: http://apps.facebook.com/planet-saver/
[Read this guide to get some help with adding applications to Facebook Page]
- Join relevant Facebook Groups/Pages
Now that you have a Facebook profile and interesting content, you need to focus on building awareness about your cause and leading more people to your profile page. You can start doing this by connecting with other users through Facebook groups/pages. Take a look at a few groups that you may find interesting like:
I Support Non-Profits
Ngos in India
Visit groups like these where you can connect with people who have a passion for helping others or visit groups related to your area of operations, say, environment groups if your organization works for afforestation. Seek to genuinely help people solve their problems or give out information they need while connecting with them through these groups. That way, you can get more people interested in your work while generating a whole lot of goodwill.
- Support through other channels
You can get more support for your Facebook profile and greater visibility through other channels like Twitter tweets, Youtube videos, Flickr images etc. All these channels can be connected to your Facebook profile. So, your profile gets content-rich, while eliciting visitor interest through other channels.
- Start blogging and connecting with bloggers!
Start a blog. Write about your organization, your vision, your passion, your commitment, add success stories and testimonials. Promote your blog extensively through your Facebook profile. People can read about your non-profit and relate better to your cause, this way.
Another great way is to connect with bloggers. Talk to them about your cause. Show them how committed you are to spreading awareness. Request bloggers to give more visibility to your cause and your Facebook profile through their blog posts.
Bloggers can help you get more mileage for your cause simply by putting in a few words about your organization along with a link to your Facebook profile. It’s a great way to reach out to a large group of audience, who may or not may not be active on Facebook. Also a word from a reputed blogger will build your brand online and add a touch good will to your organization among the online community.
- Raise funds
You can raise funds for your cause successfully through Facebook. Most of the popular non-profits are doing it and so can you. For example, organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Mercy Corps are working to raise funds through Facebook. And very recently, there is a large drive on Facebook to raise funds for the earthquake survivors in Haiti.
- Manage events
You can manage events online or promote offline events through your Facebook profile. It’s a great way to encourage participation in your cause. Seven for Seven uses Facebook to talk about upcoming events and even asks for registrations online. Use the Events application in Facebook to create events for your non-profit or invite fans to your offline events.
- Call for volunteers
Do you need volunteers to pitch in for a cause? Schools and colleges are using Facebook to encourage youngsters to volunteer for social causes. Whether it’s cleaning up the neighborhood or planning a tree or visiting an old age home, you can always find volunteers from any part of the world through Facebook. Take a look at Singapore 2010 Volunteers on how to utilize Facebook to attract volunteers for your non-profit.
- Get into discussion mode!
Another great way to encourage participation in your Facebook profile and keep visitors engaged is by urging them to discuss their points of view. It’s a great way to start a conversation, keep the ideas flowing and get the visitors talking about your cause. Use your discussion forum to talk to your visitors, hear them out, seek out ideas and encourage participation in your cause.
- Inform. Engage. Educate.
Remember, give visitors information that is useful to them. Like why it’s so important to vaccinate children against pneumonia (Prevent Pnemo) or how hospital births can save more lives in a developing nation like India (Sure Start Project). Keep visitors engaged, then, educate them about your cause. When you offer information that’s interesting or useful, people are more receptive and more willing to spread the word about your cause.
If you are a Facebook user, you must have got accustomed to notifications filled with invitations to join FarmVille and gifts of trees, chickens and sheep from your FarmVille-farmer friends. All the FarmVille action on the Facebook wall is drawing even the novice gaming crowd towards it. The nostalgic urban crowd is quickly getting hooked onto the virtual farming game and deriving simple pleasures from ploughing land, sowing seeds, harvesting crops, collecting fruits and raising livestock in their own virtual farm.
The game was developed by San Francisco based gaming firm Zynga and launched on the 17th of June. Despite being a fresh entry into the world of gaming, FarmVille has carved its niche and already boasts monthly stats of 30 million registered players across the globe, hundreds of them adding each day.
You have been wanting to start farming like your friends, but you have postponed the plan for quite some time. Your wall is notifying you about friends moving up on FarmVille. They are exchanging gifts, have a collection of beautiful FarmVille photographs with new animals and trees being added everyday. If you want to kick start farming now and if the activity on the wall is freaking you out, fret not!! Here is a comprehensive FarmVille guide which teaches you FarmVille farming from the scratch. Read more
Following the privacy violation charges by the Canadian Privacy Commission, Facebook announced four new privacy changes. The privacy changes will impact all users and not just Canadian users alone. Here’s a scoop about the issues Canadian government had with Facebook and how Facebook responded to those:
1) Retention of consumer data:
The Issue: Once a user opts out of Facebook, what happens to the information shared by the user on Facebook is unclear. On Facebook, deactivation of account was not an option for deletion. A system that ensures complete deletion of user data upon account deactivation was demanded.
Facebook response: Upon deactivation, users will be notified with the “delete” option. They have the choice to elect a complete wipe out of all user account details forever or have them saved on Facebook’s database for future reactivation. Read more
Social media sites, notably Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn have become household names and have become an integral part of people’s life so much so that it is tough for regular users to imagine a life without social media. Social networking websites have become virtual celebrities, with an enormous fan following and all the glitz and popularity that is hoarded on them. But are they making the kind of money that real world celebrities get to make is the million dollar question.
The people behind these social media websites had remained mute about this until recently, probably because the sudden rush of success was more than a sweet surprise and they themselves did not know how to monetize the maddening popularity received by these websites. Of late, there seems to be lot of thought put into revenue generation and the paparazzi is finally getting their questions about revenue answered. Here is a report of the popularity score of some social media giants and relatedness of their respective revenue generation.
Brief History: Originally called “thefacebook”, Facebook was incorporated from a hobby of Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg. The hobby soon crossed the realms of Harvard dorm rooms and Facebook was officially launched in February 2004.
Key takers: High school and college students.
Finances: Facebook initially received a $500,000 funding from Peter Theil, co-founder of PayPal. A few months later, it received a $13 million financial aid from Accel Partners and another 425 million from Greylock Partners. A sum total of $40 million was conjured up to kick start the venture in a big way.
FaceBook today: Facebook is one of the fastest growing social networking websites today. Its interactive features and its global appeal have helped in its membership going viral. Facebook now has over 250 million active users, with over 30 million active users accessing it through mobile devices.
- August 2006 was a milestone year for Facebook as it signed a three year deal with Microsoft to provide and sell ads on their website for a revenue split. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark Andreessen who is also a board member of Facebook holds that Facebook would make well over $1 billion in the year 2009 if it pushed harder on selling advertisements.
- In the year 2008, Facebook was able to rake in $350 million, a huge progress from its 2007 revenue of $150 million. (Source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-9862792-36.html)
- However, the company had a $150 million negative cash flow for the year 2008, a deficit created by its $50 million EBITDA expenditure.
- But, Andreessen has said that Facebook is on track and has expressed confidence in generating about $500 million revenue by the end of 2009. The recent acquisition of social media site FreindFeed is sure to feed some funds as well.
The Verdict: The financial history of Facebook and the recent business developments indicate that Facebook is in a safe mode at the moment and also holds promise for upscale revenue generation moving further. The company is full of investor cash including $240 million from Microsoft that nails Facebook at a massive $15 billion evaluation.
Brief history: Twitter was the outcome of a daylong brainstorming session by the board members of the podcasting company Odeo. The first prototype of Twitter was designed for the internal use of Odeo employees, which was later developed and launched for public use in July 2006. But Twitter spun off as an official company in April 2007 when Biz Stone, Even Williams, Dorsey and other members of Odeo formed a formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of its assets including Odeo.com and Twitter.com from the investors and other shareholders.
Key Takers: Unlike other social networking sites, it is difficult to single out a particular kind of users who use Twitter most. Twitter has gained wide popularity across the globe with diversified user population ranging from college students, entrepreneurs and entertainment freaks.
Finances: Twitter is backed by Union Square ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital and Bezos Expeditions. Though Twitter has kept its funding under cover, its first round of funding is rumored to have been between $1 million and $5 million, followed by an equally enormous second and third round funding, all totaling up to an approximate US$57 million.
Twitter Today: Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide. Between the year 2008 and 2009, Twitter has seen a monthly growth of 1,382 percent.
Revenue generation: Twitter has always been discrete about its revenue and has evevn projected losses in its earlier announcements. However, in an unfortunate incident, one of Twitter’s computer was hacked and its revenue information was published by TechCrunch. The records contained Twitter’s internal projections for 2009 that indicated revenue of $ 400,000 in the third quarter and a $4 million in the fourth quarter in its net earnings.
The data has projected that Twitter will have over 1 billion active users by 2013 and its future revenue run rate, a massive $140 million by the end of 2010.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has said that the company is developing various add-on tools and services for the businesses and professional users of Twitter, which could create a revenue stream for the company. He said Twitter plans to introduce some of these tools by the end of 2009.
But Stone dismissed the notion of selling advertisements on the popular service at least for the 2009, even though ad revenue is the main way most web start-ups manage to stay in business while keeping their service free for consumers.
The Verdict: Until recently Twitter was believed to be running a loss, and that did not seem to surprise anyone because sudden appraisal of fame and authority can be a bog down. However, the recent Twitter revenue leakage and the fact that Twitter did not retaliate to this in a big way seems to confirm that Twitter has a sound financing system or is at least in the path of stabilizing its finances. And the unstoppable viral spreading of Twittering practices only adds to the joy of great finances.