Posts Tagged ‘community groups’

5 reasons your community group should NOT use Facebook ads

Saturday, March 25th, 2017 | Thoughts

You’re on the committee for a community group and you have a big event coming up. Someone suggests you should do some advertising as it would be a great chance to get some new people in. Someone else suggests “let’s do some Facebook ads”.

It is understandable why this suggestion would be made. Flyers are a massive waste of money. Plus, everyone is doing Facebook ads now. It seems like a great way to go.

It isn’t. Stop right now and make sure you can answer all of these objections before proceeding.

Your copy sucks

The art of writing sales material, known as copywriting, really is an art. It takes years to become good at copywriting. I’ve spent the last three months working on it, including buying expensive courses from some of the best copywriters around and my copy still sucks. Not just a little bit: it’s rubbish. It doesn’t convert.

And whether you are a business selling a product, or a community group selling an event, you need to convert some people into customers, even if that is only showing up to your event. Saying “oh we have this amazing event” is not enough. You need to write compelling stuff. That takes a professional.

Who are you going to target?

Facebook ads work because you can target specific people. But how will that work for your community group? The best marketers spend ages zoning in on their ideal customer, then market to them, then retarget them after they have visited their website.

Nobody has visited your website because you’re a community group, and even if they did, you don’t have a retargeting pixel on there.

So you target “people in my city”. Which is the equivalent of sending a blanket mailshot out via the Royal Mail. Most targetted direct mail gets a 1% response rate. Untargeted mail can only dream of that.

Facebook takes time to work

Facebook is very good at working out who your ads should be shown to. But this takes time. You have to spend money before it works. When I started advertising for the WAM 30-day challenge, we were paying £0.60 per click. Thre weeks later we were paying £0.15 per click. Facebook worked out who my ads should be shown to.

But that only happened after several weeks and several hundred pounds spent on ads. The first £100-200 is basically a fee you pay to Facebook so they can work out who to show the ads to. Then you start seeing results. How big is your budget? Probably less than that, right?

People don’t trust you

People are suspicious of paid advertising. They should be: a company is trying to influence them. You might think that you avoid this being a community group. But you’re wrong. You’re in a worse position.

Why? Because it is even more suspicious. ProCook follow me round the internet with adverts for their latest cookware. They know I have been on their website so they target me on Google and Facebook (and all the websites who use their ads, which is everyone). There are ProCook ads everywhere.

But at least I know what is going on here. ProCook is relentlessly targeting me because they are trying to sell me a pan. That’s the deal.

With a community group, it is a whole different ball game. What are they selling? How are they funding these ads? Is it a cult? What is their business model that allows them to run Facebook ads?

People want to discover community groups organically, either by searching for something they are interested in or because a friend told them about it. Seeing paid advertising makes it look like a religious cult or government-sponsored initiative to shift state-provided services off their books and into the hands of private individuals.

There are better things to spend the money on

Like making your events even more awesome. So that people come back. Most groups do not have a promotion problem. They have a retention problem. You only need one new person to come along each week and you have one hundred members after two years of running. But most groups are five years down the line with 20 members.

Everyone Involved

Saturday, December 5th, 2015 | Thoughts


How do we get people more engaged with community groups?

It is something that I imagine most groups are concerned about. Most of the people on their mailing list probably never turn up to any of their events. Some attend every now and then, or come for a while then stop coming back. Few are as actively engaged as the group would like them to be. I might even suggest that is impossible, because more engagement is usually better.

Some may just want to sit on the mailing list and keep an eye on the activities of the group. I know there are people and groups like this on the West Yorkshire Humanists mailing list. Others probably do genuinely intend to go to events, but there is always something else on. I have sat on the Leeds Salon’s mailing list for years and maybe made it to two events.

This was brought into sharp focus for me recently when I was talking to one of the people who run the Finnish language school. It sounds very useful for me. However, it is on a Saturday morning. Saturday morning is when I do Parkrun. And when I have band practice. And when my advanced Toastmasters club meets. It’s not that Saturday is a bad day, I am just busy all the time. But it it got me thinking about getting members to buy in.

“I am busy” is really a meaningless phrase because everyone is busy these days. It is shorthand for “I have other priorities”. Thus it might not be reaching people and letting them know about events that is the difficulty groups encounter. It could be that they are doing all of that, but they are not pushing themselves high enough up a person’s priorities.

At the same time, I was thinking about my host’s address for Sunday Assembly Leeds. I needed to talk about how the group is run by volunteers, and how we need people’s support volunteering. It occurred to me that one of the selling points should be that that is what a community is. If you are not volunteering, you are not really part of the community in the same way that somebody who is volunteering is. This is a whole different circle to get people inside as Rick Warren would describe it, but there is actually where the good stuff is for them as well as you.

Anecdotally I would say that once someone is involved in the group they spend more time thinking about it and are more likely to turn up to events. They feel like they know what is going on. They are part of the community, it forms a cornerstone of their social life and engagement spirals upwards.

That means that these two issues have a common solution. If you can get people to help run the organisation it not only helps the group run smoothly but is also beneficial for them because they fill including and their engagement levels go up in a positive feedback cycle.

Therefore I am putting forward the idea of Everyone Involved. What if you asked every member of your group to be involved in some way? It does not have to be a big way. They could help run things at events. Maybe put the welcome packs out or be a greeter. They could do something from home – write articles, update the website, even just re-tweet the group’s messages. But the idea is that everyone – every single member – would be asked to do a job, no matter how small or trivial.

I am still fleshing out the idea. It in itself is incredibly simple of course, but whether it is a good idea or not, and how it could be practically implemented remain to be discussed.

SocietasPro v0.4

Sunday, January 1st, 2012 | Foundation

The next release of SocietasPro. Here is what we’ve changed:

  • Implemented a password recovery system
  • Location is now shown on the events listings page
  • HTML Purifier is now used for filtering
  • Custom columns are now supported by import members
  • Custom columns now supports select boxes
  • The control panel now has a version checker
  • You can now change a member’s password
  • Custom columns are now included in exports
  • There is now a high contrast stylesheet for better accessibility
  • Improved visual editor
  • System pages have now been styled
  • Added a calendar view to events