Promoting Rotary through Facebook ads

By Rich Lalley
Webmaster, Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield, IL

Whether or not you’re active on social media you understand that the nature of communication is undergoing a revolution. If they were a country, Facebook’s 955 million active users would be the world’s third largest, only behind China and India.

For this reason alone, Facebook offers Rotarians a terrific platform to promote Rotary and spread the word about our great service organization. Facebook is also changing the world of paid advertising, providing a platform that can target messages to people based on where they live and what their interests are, and for pricing that is far less than other media.

For example, my Rotary district, District 6440 in Northeast Illinois, began a Facebook ad campaign January 2012 with the help of a Rotary International PR Grant, and the results were impressive.

The district invested $12,000 for direct ad messages to 220,000 service-minded adults living in our district. On Facebook, we defined this as adults older than 30 who on Facebook expressed an interest in charity/causes, education/teaching, environment, politics, or small business owners. The results are as follows:

  • Over 34 million ad impressions, a cost per thousand impressions of 36 cents.  This compares very favorably to typical advertising costs.
  • The average Facebook user in the target audience saw a Rotary ad more than once a day, every day, for five months.
  • “Clicks” on the ads resulted in nearly 9,700 visits to specially crafted Facebook “landing pages,” which answered “What is Rotary?” and “Why join Rotary?”
  • Over 240 new Facebook fans for the District 6440 Facebook Page. These fans now receive a steady stream of Rotary-related news.
  • Over 100 inquiries to the district for more information about joining a local Rotary club.

One challenge and opportunity of Facebook advertising is the sparse nature of the ads. They’re no more than a small thumbnail photo, short headline, and short paragraph of text.  But over time, it’s easy to refine your messages and improve their performance by tracking which ads cause user interaction and which don’t. District 6440 found that ads that work the best were images of happy faces with appeals to making new friendships while going good in the community and the world work well.

Here are their top performing ads:

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