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Facebook is social media’s world leader. With 1.65 billion users, the platform offers the potential to reach an enormous and varied audience. You only have to look at No Make Up Selfie or ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised $2.8 million and >$100 million for their respective causes, to see what this can mean for charities of all sizes.

But with so much potential comes heaps of competition. While the number of content producers, and the amount of content they are able to produce, continues to rise, the audience remains restricted to a single stream: our ability to consume does not rise at anywhere near the same rate. Charities must keep up with the latest trends so they don’t get lost in the crowd. This is particularly important for rare disease charities, who often struggle to reach an audience wider than their small groups.

The Media Trust is a charity that connects other charities with the media industry to help them raise awareness. Libbie, our Fundraising and Communications Officer, went along to their recent Facebook Masterclass to gather intelligence on how small rare disease charities can best engage Facebook’s users. Following three informative presentations given by Facebook’s directors, delegates had the chance to meet Facebook employees and ask burning questions or discuss general advice. Here are the top tips that Libbie came across…

1. Mobiles are taking over the internet
60% of time spent on the internet is by mobile device, which, for an average person, amounts to 2 hours and 24 minutes per day. Indeed, of Facebook’s 30 million daily UK uses, 27 million of these are by mobile.

It is therefore crucial that charities think about mobile usage when generating content for both Facebook and other media platforms. Consideration could, for instance, be given to the size and layout of the content, or whether the audience will have their sound volume on.

2. Visual content is visible
Did you now that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words, and that you only need to see an image for 13 milliseconds to identify it? Associating your content with – or transforming it into – an image is therefore a great way to capture your audience and spread your message. This is particularly the case if your audience is young: teenagers tend to scroll through their newsfeed 2.5 times faster than adults.

Better still, if you have the ability and/or budget to create video content, it could well be worth splashing out. Facebook boasts 8 billion video views per day, and it is predicted that 80% of global internet traffic will be in video format by 2019. But when creating videos for social media streams, it is important to remember that the first scene has to be as catchy as an image if it is to get noticed. It is advised that you steer clear of fading titles and instead hit the gripping stuff first thing.

3. Creativity springs from others’ creativity
Wondering how to generate your own noticeable content on a low budget? Why not spend a few hours researching the work of other charities? As you explore their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, make a note of what you found most eye-catching, what you found least eye-catching, and why. These should give you some ideas and direction for your own content.

There are a number of design programmes to get you started. While Adobe Photoshop Elements requires a time investment for you to get the hang of it, it is a really flexible and quick method of editing images and photos. Alternatively, Canva is a free and easy-to-use online design programme that has the capability of producing professional-looking content very quickly. Charities can apply to get a premium Canva account for free!

4. Speak with Morgan Freeman-esque consistency
Morgan Freeman has an almost instantly recognisable voice. Julia, one of Facebook’s top creative minds, suggested a useful approach to achieving a consistent voice: pick a well-known personality and ensure that all your content sounds like them (give or take a few modifications). Newsreaders and TV presenters might be best if you’re after professional content, or A-list celebrities might work better if you’re hoping to be more informal.

5. Facebook has tools to help you
Facebook has a number of products and tools to help you achieve your charitable aims – whether that is to raise awareness, activate supporters, raise funds, or something more specific. The best way to find out more is via the Facebook for Nonprofits website. This has a wealth of information on topics including ‘ads’, ‘insights’ and ‘fundraising tools’.

6. Searching is the past, discovery is the future!
Another trend to be aware of is the gradual switch from ‘searching’ – beginning with intent – to ‘discovery’ – rummaging around. Content therefore needs to be interesting to both your targeted audience and those who stumble across it. If they understand and enjoy it enough, a discoverer might even share their finding with their own friends.

Alongside these top tips, delegates were also introduced to Facebook’s innovation plans. In addition to Aquila, an unmanned flying aircraft designed to improve Internet connectivity in remote areas of the world, the group are trying to improve accessibility for visually impaired individuals. They are designing artificial intelligence that uses new photo-recognition technology to audibly describe photos. For instance, the photo to the right might be described as: “This is a photo of Flóra Raffai, Libbie Read and Rick Thompson. They are all smiling and look happy. They are in a kitchen. Libbie is holding a cake. The cake is white, blue and pink”. With the potential to help thousands visually impaired individuals across the world, we at Findacure are very excited to see how it develops.

We would like to thank the Media Trust for organising such a wonderful event, and Facebook for helping out small charities like ourselves. If you have any questions about the blog, or more generally about communications, Libbie would be more than happy to help. Please feel free to contact her on [email protected][/two-third][one-third]facebook logoWhite space for website20160428_151308White space for websiteFacebook masterclass graphWhite space for websiteWater Aid visual contentWhite space for websiteCharity Water InstagramWhite space for websiteFacebook for non profitsWhite space for websiteFacebook masterclassWhite space for websiteBirthday 2015 (5)[/one-third][/row]

Top tips from the Facebook experts

by Libbie Read time to read: 4 min