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A Profile, a Fan Page or a Group? How NGOs should utilize Facebook to promote their mission?

A free and easy way to promote your NGO is through Facebook. With over 500 million active users, it is necessary that NGOs utilize the social network to promote their goals and activities. However, on Facebook are three options - a Profile, a Fan Page and a Group - and it is crucial to know which one will best serves your needs.

Facebook Profiles Are Personal

A Facebook Profile must be connected to an individual with a first and last name. To stress the personal use, an individual Profile is limited to 5000 friends and has access to user data, which is a critically important issue. NGO as an institution, that has to meet certain moral standards, should not access private data of it's supporters. For that reason creating a Profile exceeds NGO's competences.
Not only from the moral, but also from the practical point of view using a Fan Page is more appropriate than using a Profile. The individual user (a Profile) can only update his or her friends and send a single message to 30 or 40 people. Thus, a Profile Page is not conducive to the goals of NGOs to reach out to many people efficiently.

Fan Pages Are Public

A Fan Page addresses the limitations of an individual profile page. It is not a Facebook friend that can be added and the Facebook user looking at the Fan Page does not know the name of the person who runs the Fan Page. Furthermore, a Fan Page is transparent and public: everyone can enter and see the content of the Fan Page. For a Profile, the individual must log into Facebook and become the friend of the user. Conversely, Fan Page information is public without a Facebook account or friend request. A Fan Page also has unlimited fans while both Profiles and Groups are limited at 5000 individuals.

Groups Are Like Social Clubs

Facebook’s Groups are analogous to social clubs in the offline reality. Members are invited by administrators and only groups, with a public status, can be found via Facebook search. Facebook Groups are set up for personal interaction and are directly connected to the people who administer them, so when you post something as a group administrator, it appears to be coming from your private profile. Fan Pages can create content that comes from the Page itself, thus are better for the organization's purposes. Pages can host applications, so they are capable to show more content than a Group. Groups are a perfect tool for organizing smaller scale interaction around a certain projects or causes, but should rather not be use as the only form of NGO's representation on Facebook.

Reach Out to Your Fans More Effectively

In our opinion Groups and Profiles with their limitations are not appropriate for NGO's. Our recommendation is to use Fan Pages as a basic tool of NGO's communication on Facebook. Fan Page creates the greatest opportunities to reach out supporters, keep them informed and engaged in NGO's everyday activities.
First of all, you can integrate your Fan Page to the NGO's website and Twitter, so the followers can instantly become fans. Secondly, you have access to demographic information such as sex, age, location so you can project you communication strategy knowing exactly to whom you are posting information. Thirdly, you know the frequency of fan interactions on the Fan Page. The Fan Page is extremely interactive for all fans. They can post pictures, videos, discussion boards, applications, wall posts, groups, and other interactive elements. Finally, a Fan Page can update statuses which are shared with your fans on Facebook. With all of these options, your fans will be kept up to date on your news and you can effectively respond to their comments or questions.

Respect the Privacy of Your Fans

Fan Page administrators cannot view the profile via a friend’s profile which gives security and privacy to your supporters. Other users can become fans, but the access to individual profile pages is limited.

Search Engine Optimization Strategy

Fan Pages are indexed by search engines, while Profiles and Groups are not. The information on your Fan Page is accessible in a search engine which otherwise would remain private with a Profile. The more frequency your NGO shows up in a search, the more supporters and name recognition you will have.

As NGOs, you should create a Fan Page because you can successfully use Facebook - the most popular site on the internet - to promote your NGO and expand your supporters. Once you have an established fan base, you can easily communicate with your fans and they can share their own experiences, advice, ideas, or questions. The Fan Page is also connected to search engines to increase your recognition. Very important is that you can do all this while protecting the privacy of your supporters.

To start your own Fan Page, go to:
To create a Group, go to:
Facebook is also connected to other applications that you might find useful (read more about Jumo and Fundraz).
If you want to find out about other social networks, click here.

Linnea Larson
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