Facebook’s latest announcement, a free platform for paid-for events is huge news. Facebook’s e-commerce capabilities (or lack of) have always been a stumbling block for the platform, which undoubtedly drives huge amounts of top of funnel intent, but intent that is all too difficult to track. Even within Facebook’s portfolio, although Instagram is so visual and aspiration-driven, it’s been surprisingly slow to make a successful link between in-platform product and cash transaction. Many brands “know” that social drives sales, but they struggle to attribute that impact to anything specific, which means it’s difficult to learn and optimise. 

Charities often see really engaged audiences on both of these platforms, sharing news and success stories, but it’s often tricky activating that audience to donate and fundraise off the back of it. The role of social is a tricky one – people generally don’t like to click off-platform. But if social is where you can communicate most effectively with your most loyal and dedicated audience, it has to be a platform for activation, not just information. This is where in-platform events bookings could be really helpful for that fundraising revenue stream: for virtual 10ks, quizzes, and coffee mornings… or whatever else our imaginative fundraising teams can think of.

But what does this mean for the wider landscape? The pandemic has already seen the loss of Hoop, an app where parents and families can find events and things to do in their area. Hoop was a lifeline for lonely new mums on maternity leave and it will be sorely missed. But with the widespread cancellation of classes and events, it lost its only revenue source and had no choice but to close its doors. You can only wonder how other platforms like Skiddle and MeetUp are coping with no events and revenue coming through. And now along comes Facebook, undercutting these platforms, offering brands and organisations the chance to sell their ticketed events for free (albeit virtual events only – for now). It’s not clear whether it will have the same functionality (or level of trust) of specialist platforms, but it could potentially work out cheaper than other event platforms. On Android devices using Facebook Pay, fees are being waived, although Apple have not agreed to waive their 30% cut. 

On the plus side for brands and non-profits, your audience are staying in-platform, likely with half their personal information pre-filled, This presents an effortlessly simple click to buy or book. With such a short, frictionless funnel, we could see much higher conversion rates, particularly benefiting charities who look to social media to fill their fundraising spots. This is incredibly exciting for charities relying on virtual fundraising at the moment.

But what happens in twelve months, if Facebook introduces fees for the service? The pandemic has only increased Facebook’s share of attention, with a 12% increase in daily usage year on year – if brands get into a habit of promoting, booking and hosting all in one platform, it will be a difficult habit to break. This is an incredibly fast-moving space with both technology and ethics constantly evolving. The new Events platform presents a great opportunity, but with an eye on the future for what happens next. 

Let’s face it, 2020 has been, as the Germans might say, “ein absolut Shitstorm”. On every level, we’re surrounded by tragedy, mistrust, a drop in income for individuals and organisations, and a struggle to maintain any semblance of normal life whilst keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

With the cancelation of major events, charities in the UK (and worldwide) are facing a huge struggle to keep operating, and to attempt to mitigate this drop in income, the 2.6 challenge has been created, to encourage individuals to create their own micro fundraisers they can participate in safely at home. This post looks at how you can drive awareness of this challenge with your supporters as well as activate them to participate.

Search Landscape

“2.6 challenge” didn’t even exist as a concept a week ago (for Google, anyway!) This makes it a brand new search landscape with a lot of opportunity, even for smaller charities who might struggle with visibility for generic charitable terms the rest of the time.

Searching “2.6 challenge” on desktop, and you’ll only see paid results above the scroll. On mobile, the three paid ads take up even more space.  The top result for me showed non-extended site links, but otherwise its bare-bones basics PPC ads, so it’s critical to get it right to secure that click. Within those characters you need to establish who you are, why you need support, why somebody should choose you, and what they’ll get by clicking. One of the most popular secondary terms is “2.6 challenge ideas” – create a blog post specifically geared to this query to show your supporters (and Google!) that your organisation has what they’re looking for. It’s also a good time to brush up on your Brand PPC – if potential new supporters discover you by researching the 2.6 challenge, they may research further before making a decision to choose you over another cause. Make sure your brand PPC is comprehensive, to the point, and engaging. Have you been running any ad copy tests recently? Launch the winner now and create a few new options to test. It’s a very different emotional and financial landscape to our normal daily life and you may find that your typical messaging isn’t as successful as normal, and different messaging is more effective. Also look at your landing pages – for brand PPC we typically use the homepage as a landing page. Have you referenced your current campaign work (including the 2.6 challenge) clearly on your homepage as your single call to action? Or perhaps test sending brand traffic directly to a 2.6 challenge landing page?

Further down the page we see a few news results – interestingly, as well as the Mail, we see local news outlets appearing too. This tells us that seeding local interest stories with local press about what your fundraisers are doing could be a way into this section of the search results page, increasing your overall visibility and likelihood of driving traffic. Are you contacting your supporters as they sign up, and as they complete their challenges? Are any of the challenges quirky or interesting, or are the participants particularly inspiring (not that all supporters aren’t inspiring!) Major Tom walking 100 lengths of his garden on his 100th birthday for the NHS couldn’t be a more perfect story if it tried. A genuine, inspirational man, celebrating a key milestone by participating in an unusual activity, and in the name of a highly topical cause. Could someone celebrate their 40th birthday by doing 40 keepy-uppies with a banana? Or their 5th wedding anniversary with a 5k three legged race round the garden? Enable and inspire your supporters to think creatively if they like – if you have a Facebook page or forum for your supporters this is the perfect time to use it to help them inspire each other.

Getting back to our search results page, we also see some video results. As before, this includes “smaller” results. Individual videos from supporters, with views not even in triple digits are appearing on page one of Google! Now is the time to act – encourage your supporters to produce content, and promote that content via other platforms to increase the view count and help increase your visibility within the search results page. This opportunity won’t last long.

Social Media

You’ve probably already announced this campaign on your social channels – make sure to keep it up. Shout out supporters who have already started, but make sure to stress throughout that “it’s not too late” so that the rest of your audience don’t think the ship has sailed. Ask questions – “who’s running/baking/painting?” “Who’s getting the family involved?” “who is doing this in place of a canceled event?” The Great Manchester Run was canceled this year, so I’ll be running my first 10k in the streets around my house – and I bet plenty of others are planning this too. Brainstorm what common ground your fundraisers might have and encourage conversation around this. Your fundraisers can use platforms like Strava Routes to share their planned route with their supporters, or use Facebook or Instagram to livestream their challenge attempts – make sure to help your fundraisers with tools like this, so they can engage their supporters as much as possible.

Email and on site

Keep your sign up journey as simple as possible, as with any campaign. Once on your site, inform, inspire, and activate. Can you create and send a digital fundraising pack (perhaps a quick rebrand of an existing fundraising kit?) Make sure they feel their fundraising will be valued, and they know exactly how to create their own fundraising page. If your service users have been affected by the Covid crisis, mention how you’ve adapted your services to support this change in need and operating environment. Timeliness like this helps drive urgency, and urgency drives action.

Good luck – and stay safe.



One question I get asked almost every time I deliver a social media training session is, “what’s the difference between a Facebook ad campaign and a boosted post?” It’s a fair question, in a lot of ways they’re pretty similar. But here are some of the key advantages of an ad campaign over a boosted post:

  • Audience Targeting Options
  • Creative Testing
  • More Variety of Objectives
  • More Control over Budget
  • Better Reporting

Boosting posts is like a “mini” ad campaign. It’s faster, it’s easier, but you can do less. Like a go-kart compared to a car. For the right purpose, they’re great… but sometimes you need more.

Quick Summary of Boosting Posts on Facebook

First tip with boosting posts – it’s best to ensure that any post you boost is performing strongly organically first, ideally for around 6-24 hours. This sends signals to Facebook’s algorithm that it’s a strong post, and you’re likely to be rewarded with lower costs and better results.

When you click Boost Post it will give you a few limited options for what you want to achieve. For example, if it’s a video, you can choose between driving Video Views or attracting Messages. You will be able to add a button to the post to encourage users to take action. The button options you are given will be more limited than in Ads Manager.

You need to choose who you want to reach, how much you want to spend, and how long you want the post to run for. You can also choose whether you want the post to run on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger (or all three). The audience network is not an option for boosted posts. It also wouldn’t appear in Stories.

The advantages of boosting posts is that the post often looks more natural in a newsfeed rather than like an ad. It’s quicker and easier, and you can spend less.

The disadvantages are that you can’t optimise or compare different creatives, and your creative formats and targeting options are more limited. You also don’t get as strong reporting afterwards.


Why Facebook Ad Campaigns are Better

As mentioned at the start, there are five key advantages of a Facebook ad campaign over a boosted post:

  • Audience Targeting Options
  • Creative Testing
  • More Variety of Objectives
  • More Control over Budget
  • Better Reporting

Let’s go through them briefly…

Audience Targeting Options

Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool for targeting the right audiences. For example, in an ad campaign, I could target women turning 50 in the next week, who have visited my website recently, who like dogs, who watched at least 50% of recent video I shared, who weren’t university educated and who aren’t a fan of my page. You can add layers and layers of targeting including basics like age, sex, location, interests, but also whether they are current fans, similar to your current fans, have interacted with your website, have interacted with your content, who have purchased from you recently – the world is your oyster. Boosted posts scrape the surface of this functionality. They have the basics of audience targeting, but nowhere near this level of depth. Ask yourself who are you trying to reach, do you need this level of depth? If you don’t, then there’s nothing wrong with the basics of a boosted post.

Creative Testing

Within Facebook Ads you can run “true” AB tests, as well as the standard option of running multiple creatives at the same time to see which performs best. This can mean different versions of the same ad, but different call to action buttons, or different images, or different texts, or video vs. image (for example). Or it can mean testing completely different creative messages and styles. There are two ways of trying different creatives:

1. True AB tests: Your audience is divided into two equal halves and each half will only see one ad in order to measure accurately which ad is better.

2. Self-optimising creative variants: Facebook runs all your ads, it’s possible that the same people will see all your variants, and it will start showing your best ad to more people, and potentially stop serving your weaker ad altogether.

Currently, none of this is possible with a boosted post.


More Variety of Objectives

When you advertise on Facebook, you always choose an advertising objective. This might be sales, website traffic, to reach as many people as possible, to attract page likes, or to drive engagement with your content (as a few examples). Facebook will optimise towards your objective, meaning that within the potential pool of people you want to target, it will try to only show your ad to those people more likely to fit with your objectives. Boosted posts have a more much limited range of objectives, making it more difficult to achieve your goals cost effectively.


More control over budget

With a boosted post, you generally set the amount you are willing to spend in total, and how many days you wish to run it for, and that’s that. With a full ad campaign, you can limit how much you’re likely to pay for a click, purchase or like. You can allow your budget to flow freely between different audiences depending on what’s performing best. You can schedule your budget to spend more at specific times of day. In general, you can be a lot more creative with how your budget is invested. Again, this might be relevant to your goals, or it might not be.


Better Reporting

At the end of your spend, you’ll want to know – did I achieve what I wanted to? Facebook Ads Manager lets you cut and slice and pivot your data in so many ways to see understand how it performed and why. You can set daily reports to run and send to others in your organisation. You can compare engagement rates between different creatives, see whether men or women were more likely to buy, or whether younger people cost more to reach. You can see how your ad performed on Facebook vs. Instagram, or on desktops vs. mobiles. For higher spending campaigns, this sort of information is essential to improve on performance with each campaign.

So that’s it in a nutshell! Any key functional differences between the two that we’ve missed, let us know! Or if you want to hand with paid advertising on Facebook – get in touch.

        We get it – if you’re working in marketing at a non-profit you’re probably wearing a million different hats. You can’t possibly be an expert in everything, and you often don’t have time to learn. This post is for you – the time-poor, the many-hat wearing marketing unicorns who choose to follow the path of non-profit marketing for the greater good.


1. Confusion Between Narrow/Expand audience

When you’re setting up an audience in Facebook ads, you can choose from so many different options to reach your perfect audience. However, I’ve seen a few campaigns where all the ideas about audience targeting are dumped into the one box. This means that anyone who meets just one of these criteria would be reached by your campaigns. Use the Narrow Audience option underneath to define more criteria – a person will have to meet at least one thing in the first box, and something else in the second box in order to be targeted. Think of it as anything within a box means “or” and adding a second or third separate boxes means “and”.

2. Not addressing the comments on ads

Non profit ads can received a LOT of comments, especially if you’re using particularly poignant imagery. If you go to your page, and then Notifications, anyone who comments on an ad will be listed here, along with people who comment on your organic posts. If the ad is stirring up a lot of conversation (lucky you), you can filter by “most recent” at the top to make sure you’re responding to each comment as they come in. Everything should be replied to, even anything negative or difficult, or people could be put off making that valuable donation.

3. Excluding / including Fans

This depends entirely on the objective of your campaign. If you’re trying to acquire new people to your charity, remember to Exclude Fans (right at the bottom of your ad set creation window). However, if you have an urgent campaign where warm audiences would be most receptive, you may wish to run a small campaign exclusively targeted at fans specifically. Just remember, an existing fan is likely to respond very differently to a cold audience, so focus on the objective of your campaign, and don’t waste budget on the wrong audience.

4. Use of images only

The Facebook algorithm much prefers carousel ads (where you click to scroll across multiple images) and video ads to single image ads. And they’re so easy to create nowadays. You can create a Slideshow ad to function as a video simply by choosing up to 10 images and allowing Facebook to fade in and out of each image. You’ll reach more people for less budget, and potentially even see higher click through rates with these ad types.

5. Looooooooooooooong ad captions

It’s tempting to tell your whole story in a Facebook ad, but it’s just not the place. Think of it like a billboard above a motorway – you only have a second or two of focus to grab attention, so make your point quickly and succinctly. Facebook recommends 90 characters, and while you can go on for longer, you don’t want your main point to disappear below the dreaded “Read More” tag.

Any other common errors you’d add to this list?

Or let us know if you need a hand with your non-profit marketing.

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg announced that posts from business pages (including charities) would begin to see less visibility in the Facebook newsfeed, favouring content from friends and family instead, particularly content that is more likely to stimulate conversation. So what does this mean for small businesses and charities, many of whom are only just getting to grips with the potential of social media, and don’t have much budget? Read More