Being from a small town, there was always something going on, competing for attention and dollars. Fundraising for families or causes that need support, local sports teams raising money, youth leagues recruiting players, small businesses competing for customers. Obviously, this isn’t just a small-town problem. Our attention is increasingly split between issues, channels and media with a barrage of overwhelming information (and misinformation), news (and fake news) and events (and non-events).
The barrier standing between your business or organization and your goals can be varied. Organization, product offering, pricing and management issues are sometimes to blame, and make no mistake, those have to be addressed. But often, the most overlooked tool is simple communication.
Facebook seems to be the #1 channel nonprofits and local businesses turn to, and for good reason: it’s quick, easy, intuitive, free (mostly), and literally millions of eyeballs are already there. So why not upload a couple pictures, name your page and start posting? If you build it, they will come right?
Not so simple.
Yes, Facebook is a great tool and can be a powerful one as part of a communications strategy. But it’s still passive. You push info out and wait for your targeted audience to do what you want. And, not to mention Facebook’s constantly changing algorithm doesn’t make it easy for pages to be seen, even by people who have “Liked” the page. So, how do you truly engage?
The answer is different depending on the business, cause or organization, but the short answer is to think about who you want to reach and where they live, both online and in real life (IRL). In small towns like the one I grew up in, the local newspaper and radio station are still viable and vibrant options, despite the declining trends of those media overall. Local newsletters and listservs may be where people go for info. Local fairs and events, where you actually meet and greet prospective customers or members, can’t be downplayed in smaller markets, or even micro-markets and neighborhoods of the larger metro areas.
Trends will change, but communication is an age-old art that requires true engagement with your audience. Limiting your communication efforts to Facebook limits your opportunity for success.