The Facebook Algorithm


In terms of nonprofit organizations and affiliated individuals, Facebook has been somewhat of an underused or misunderstood tool. However, when used correctly it can be an incredible resource. One of the keys to cultivating your audience on Facebook is understanding the Facebook algorithm.

The popularity of Facebook is very impressive. ESC consultant and social media expert Mike Byrnes recently spoke at an ESC social media workshop citing statistics such as:

  • 1/7th of humanity is on Facebook
  • More than half of the sharing on the internet is done on Facebook
  • Facebook accounted for 5 out of every 6 minutes spent in the Social Networking Category

Share of Time Spent on Social Networks

social media image

The key to understanding how to capitalize on Facebook’s popularity to expand your reach comes down to understanding the Facebook algorithm. The Facebook algorithm consists of:

  • Affinity – Your relationship and interactions with your followers
  • Weight – The content of post, photos and photo albums have the most weight
  • Time Decay – How long ago did you post or interact

All three contribute to your “rank.”



Interaction is extremely important when building a Facebook presence. You do not want to simply put out a statement and walk away. Instead try to create engagement and interaction with your audience. This can be achieved by posting questions or calls to action, starting discussions, commenting on posts, “liking” comments on your posts, and sharing are all ways to increase your engagement and affinity with people. The more you increase your affinity the more likely you are to have a greater reach in the future.


On Facebook photos, photo albums, and videos carry the most weight. Photos are more likely to be “Liked”, shared, and commented on above all other content. This does not mean the best practice is to only post photos and videos, be sure there is a variety of content posted. It is also good to note that the weight component can overlap with the affinity component, for example comments on a post hold more weight than a “like” on a post.


This simply refers to how old your post is. The more you interact on social media platforms the more you extend your reach. However, this does not mean post anything and everything, instead be thoughtful about your posts. Remember to post what will engage your audience. While there are scheduling tools on Facebook, sometimes the real time posting has more traction and carries more weight.

Would your nonprofit benefit from a social media consulting project? Contact Ulea Lago, ESCNE Director of Consulting, at or call 617-357-5550 to find out how a consultant could help your eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island nonprofit.



How to Make Nonprofit Content Stick on Social Media


Some nonprofits are in a better position than others to create compelling content, especially in social media marketing. For instance, the number one tip we come across is to post compelling photos, but let’s explore that for a moment:  how can a nonprofit offering management consulting services compete with another working to find homes for kittens and puppies? It’s a question we ask ourselves often at ESC, but we’ve come across a few strategies that can put any nonprofit in a great position for recruitment, fundraising and general exposure on any social media platform.

Create content that works in a way that fits your brand
You see this same advice over and over again—post photos! Post videos! This can be an extremely simple process with huge results for “photogenic” organizations like animal shelters, nature conservations and other photo-friendly nonprofits. You also don’t need a media release signed by that dog up for adoption or a beautiful sunset. So what can organizations with more obstacles do?

One option is to post photos that are more genuinely graphics. Posting photos on social media is all about share-ability. Make a statement or insert a quote using sites like Quozio, ReciteThis, or BeHappy.Me, slap on your organization’s logo (Microsoft Paint will do the trick if that’s all your working with), and post away. This is the simplest way for organization’s who don’t necessarily have the subjects, time or resources to take photographs for content.

Share what’s already been created
Another strategy, while less direct, is to share photos from other pages that are relevant to your mission. If you work with other organizations, share their content and write unique posts that tie in your connection. Whatever connected content is out there is an opportunity to save you time—and as nonprofit professionals, we understand you can never save enough time in the day. You can, and should, do the same with videos. Work with your Marketing Manager, Executive Director, or Media Committee to decide how to promote your organization by rebranding relevant content.

Do less
Veering away from photo and video sharing exclusively, be sure that whatever you tweet, post, pin or share is accompanied by (or made up of) copy that is short and to the point. Even on Twitter where your messages are limited to 140 characters, don’t use up all the space if it’s not entirely necessary. As shown in the above graphic, attention spans online have dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the past 13 years. While this may seem like a tiny change, it represents the absolute necessity for content to be concise online. Don’t throw just anything on social media hoping for eyes. Take time to whittle down your words, simplify your images, and make sure that what you share is not just seem but absorbed in, quite literally, the blink of an eye.

If your nonprofit could benefit from social media marketing consulting or other consulting services, including traditional marketing, branding, strategic planning and more, please contact ESC Director of Consulting Ulea Lago at or call 617-357-5550.

Get the Most Out of the Best Social Media Platform for Nonprofits

ESC Consultant Mike Byrnes knows a thing or two about social media. You may have seen him speak at a past ESC engagement or at any one of his appearances around the globe—his company, Byrnes Consulting LLC, specializes in social media and online marketing, and he’s been an incredible resource for ESC nonprofit clients over the years. But did you know that Mike is particularly savvy about his LinkedIn use? In 2012, he was notified that his profile was one of the top 1% most viewed LinkedIn profiled of that year out of over 200 million members (LinkedIn recently exceeded 300 million members). We think we can trust in his advice on how to this platform to your nonprofit’s advantage.

Mike Byrnes Top 1% LinkedIn 4.24.14

In terms of nonprofit organizations and affiliated individuals, LinkedIn can be an incredible resource when used correctly. One of the features Mike points out in his ESC Social Media workshop is the Advanced Search tool. Through this, you can search for keywords, names, titles, companies, schools and locations; you can search for first connections, second connections or third; you can whittle those searches down to current or past company, industry, nonprofit interest; and if you have LinkedIn Premium, the options are even greater. This tool would be of particular interest to nonprofits searching for board members, volunteers, staff applicants and even new donors. Especially with the addition of volunteer experience to LinkedIn profiles, nonprofits are at an advantage to use this social networking tool.

While using the Advanced Search tool is incredibly beneficial to nonprofit organizations and individuals alike, nonprofit leaders should also be tuned into the benefit of LinkedIn’s “Recommendations” feature. This allows connections to write personal recommendations to you, which, as it is for any nonprofit management professional, reflects your organization.

Mike Byrnes LinkedIn - Blog - April 2014

Mike suggests that nonprofit professionals regularly thank their peers and associates by writing short recommendations so that you may get them in return—this can offer a huge boost to your nonprofit’s reputation directly through you, and what better way to give back to the cause you care most about? Five minutes of writing some positive words could mean five new clients for your organization or a five-thousand dollar donation from a previously unconnected donor.

Would your nonprofit benefit from a social media consulting project? Contact Ulea Lago, ESCNE Director of Consulting, at or call 617-357-5550 to find out how a consulting project with ESC of New England could help your eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island nonprofit.

Top 10 Online Practices for Nonprofit Marketing


If you are a nonprofit management professional, you know that social media and online presence is vital to the success of your organization’s marketing efforts today. Mike Byrnes, an ESC Consultant and active independent social media speaker and consultant, names ten key points for managing online content, websites and social media for nonprofits.

1.) Fresh content
If you want to maintain optimal online presence for your nonprofit, you’ve got to provide followers with a steady flow of content on a day-to-day basis. Share recent industry news articles, keep up a blog, or share photos from recent events to stay in the present.

2.) Clear and easy navigation
Help viewers skip the hassle of looking for the information they want by bringing relevant content to your audience through a clear, simple interface. For example, part of any nonprofit’s audience is potential donors; it should be common sense to feature “how to contribute” on your home page, along with mission information and other hot, must-see content points.

3.) “Above the fold” real estate
Displaying the information you need to be seen “above the fold” is imperative to the success of nonprofit marketing efforts online. The phrase refers to content that’s seen on the screen without having to scroll down. If your nonprofit’s website has relevant content stretched throughout a long vertical homepage, you may want to evaluate its arrangement to be sure important text, links and photos are seen immediately by visitors.

4.) Scanable, to-the-point content
Websites and social media profiles don’t have to pack in a breadth of text. Quality content is concise and easy to read while still expressing all the entirety of details your nonprofit needs to convey. Ernest Hemingway may have never dreamed of writing online content, but his style provides an excellent baseline for writers who need to pack a big punch with few words.

5.) Pictures
Visuals are a necessary form of content today, and, thanks to social media, photo shares can make a huge difference in marketing for nonprofits. A post by Common Sense Media’s Taryn Degnan on Beth Kantor’s blog tells the story of producing a viral Facebook image and includes several points for best image creation practices, including how to add text, what to look for in competitors’ successes and why it’s important for nonprofit photos to be original. If you need help with sizing, HubSpot has produced a must-use infographic for the average social media manager.

6.) Videos
Videos are equally important storytelling tools for nonprofit management professsionals to incorporate in their online marketing strategy. If you are at a loss for how your organization could produce a video, or what subjects might be compelling enough within your nonprofit, think about the stories you have to tell. With modern technology, creating a video can be as easy as shooting and posting from your smartphone.

7.) SEO (eg. keywords, etc.)
Search engine optimization (SEO) can make or break your nonprofit’s online marketing campaign. Choosing the right keywords for your audience can seem like a daunting task, but a look at your mission and services should make this step a breeze for established nonprofits. For more thoughts on SEO’s impact, Mashable breaks down the concept and its history over the last decade for new and experienced online marketers.

8.) Independent pages
If your homepage features several tabs including your organization’s mission, history, constituencies and other relevant subjects, each of those pages must be able to stand on its own. This means anyone who comes across these pages through search engines, rather than being led to them through the home page, should be able to quickly identify that these pages are a part of your nonprofit’s website, and they should invite the reader back to the homepage for further exploration and to other connected sub-pages.

9.) Capture contact info
Without a way to capture contact info, your organization’s website and social media profiles can only be landing pages for eyes rather than certain connections. Develop something that is worth the exchange of an email address–a newsletter subscription, a guide that is useful to your audience, or another “gift” uniquely desired by the people you aim to connect with online–to maximize your online impact.

10.) Measure results
Finally, nonprofit website and social media managers should use analytics and other forms of measurement to track how their posts are helping their organizations better fulfill their missions. Facebook Insights, Twitter Ads and Google Analytics are just a few major examples of tools to help you navigate online marketing results. Without measurement, and a follow-up of adjustments your results may call for, time and effort put into social media and website work can be wasted. Keeping all ten of these best online practices for nonprofits at the forefront of your mind will ensure the success of your new media marketing efforts.