grow reach

Grow Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Reach By 130% in 5 Steps

It’s incredible just how much we can learn about our marketing efforts with Facebook’s Insights feature.

From details on the optimal time to post updates to data on the success rates of posts with images, we are now armed with more information than ever on what we share. But the answer to one pressing question remains unanswered among community managers: What types of content should my nonprofit post on Facebook?

We already know the content we post on Facebook must be engaging. One key prerequisite to satisfy Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which determines whether an organization’s post will be served to its fans, is to share content that receive numerous likes, comments and shares.

For Facebook pages with fewer than 10,000 fans, posts reach an average of 21.2 percent fans and engage merely 6.1 percent fans, according to a recent study by Agora Pulse. Pages with more than 100,000 fans reach 10.2 percent and engage 4.9 percent.

Here at Media Cause, we’ve taken a scientific approach to determine what types of content to post on Facebook to increase reach and engagement. Using this approach, one of our nonprofit clients grew its reach by 130 percent just after a week. Here’s how it works:

1. Make a list of content themes

The best way to determine content themes is to look at your nonprofit’s goals. For example, a veterans’ support organization’s goals might be to educate the public about issues facing former military personnel and inspire them to show support. The two content themes for this nonprofit would be “Education” and “Inspiration.”

2. List categories under each theme

Examine your nonprofit’s Facebook page and list the types of content that fall under each theme. To go back to the example above, news stories about women in the military and mental health issues would go under the “Education” theme.

Theme: Education

Categories: News stories about women in the military, news stories about mental health issues.

Theme: Inspiration

Categories: Personal stories from families of veterans, personal stories from veterans.

3. Export your nonprofit’s Facebook Insights

Now you’ll need to put your themes and categories into action. Go to your nonprofit’s Facebook page. Then go to Admin Panel > Check Out Your Page Insights > Export Data. Select ‘Post level data’ and enter the date range for last month:

How To Grow Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Reach By 130% - Step 3

4. Identify each post’s category and theme

In the Excel sheet you just exported from Facebook Insights, create two new columns: “Theme” and “Category.” Refer to your list from the second step and assign the appropriate theme and category to each post.

How To Grow Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Reach By 130% - Step 4

5. Calculate the average reach and engaged users for each theme and category with a Pivot Table

At Media Cause, we’ve created our own proprietary social media performance indicator called Resonator Rank, which shows what types of content resonate well with your supporters. In geek terms: After we sort your posts into themes and categories, we take a weighted average of likes, shares, comments and clicks per category, and then run a standard deviation on each category relative to the whole data set. This makes it easy to understand which types of content engage and grow your Facebook community.

The following step is a simplified version of the Resonator Rank and focuses only on reach and engaged users.

Go to Data > Sort > Pivot Table > Ok. In the PivotTable Builder in Excel, enter “Theme” and “Category” as your row labels and “Lifetime Post Total Reach” and “Lifetime Engaged Users” as your values. If you’re not familiar with pivot tables, double click your values to make sure you have the average. Your new Excel sheet will populate automatically.

How To Grow Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Reach By 130% - Step 5

You’re done!

Take a look at your calculations. This is where you’ll see that some categories have performed significantly better than others.

How To Grow Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Reach By 130% - Results

A few key takeaways from the example above:

(1) Since news articles about women in the military received the greatest reach and engagement, this is a good indicator that the nonprofit’s fans are interested in knowing more about that topic. So the next step would be to share more content on women in the military, including personal stories and videos.

(2) Since one of the goals is to inspire fans, it would be helpful to share fewer personal stories from family members and more personal stories from veterans, because the data shows the audience resonates more with the latter.

(3) Since stories about mental health received the lowest reach and engagement, the next step would be to consider looking for different ways to post about mental health. For example, look for stories that highlight how veterans battled their struggles with mental health issues since personal stories from veterans resonated well with fans.

It can take several revisions to your themes and categories to gain compelling insights, so we encourage you to keep revising until you uncover them. By understanding what types of content resonate the most with your nonprofit’s fans and sharing more of it, you can significantly increase reach and engagement.

While the insights gained from these five steps can be incredibly useful, we understand it requires a lot of time and analysis. We recently built this approach into a monthly, custom-tailored Community Building Plan that’s easy for nonprofits to digest. Click here to view a sample report of the plan.

If you have any questions about this approach or would like to explore Community Building Plans for your nonprofit, please email me at


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