Facebook is the biggest social media platform out there, with a whopping 1.71 billion users in 2016. It’s one of the best and most effective platforms you can use to promote your personal fundraiser… if you know how to do it.

This is a guide to winning at Facebook: how to make sure your posts are seen, how to increase the odds that people will donate to your fundraiser, what to post, how to post, and tips and tricks that will make you a Facebook ninja.

Picture of you, after reading this article

Facebook learns what kinds of posts you like and don’t like based on what you click, what you comment on, what you scroll past and what you spend time reading, what your friends like, and even what websites you visit when you’re not on Facebook. Read more about how Facebook customizes each user’s newsfeed here.

Because the experience is so customized for each user, there’s no way to “game” the system to make sure your post is seen (unless you’re a company with a brand page and can pay to play), but there are some tricks you can use to stack the deck in your favor and increase the odds that your posts appear in your friends’ feeds.

Get Interactive.

Most of us have had an awkward conversation at least once where we’re talking to a coworker, classmate, or Aunt Myrtle and they reference a Facebook post they made. You have no idea what they’re talking about. You didn’t see that post at all.

Here’s why: You don’t interact with that person on Facebook. You don’t “like” their posts, you don’t comment on their posts, you don’t message each other, and Facebook (perhaps rightly) assumes based on your behavior that you’re not interested in what they post. So Facebook stopped putting their posts in your feed.

It’s a huge benefit to users that Facebook filters out content you most likely won’t be interested in, but sometimes it can backfire on you. You probably have friends on Facebook you don’t interact with much — the average Facebook user has about 200 friends, so it’s tough to interact with everyone on a regular basis.

But when you post about your personal fundraiser, will they see it?

One thing you can do before your fundraiser is ramp up your interactions with your friends — “like” their posts, have conversations in the comments, message them. When you’re regularly interacting with another user, Facebook is more likely to put their posts in your feed and vice versa.

This can also help warm people up for your personal fundraiser, especially if you’re not a very prolific Facebook user.

Imagine a friend you haven’t talked to in months calling you up and asking you for money to help with car repairs. You’re not likely to give them your money, are you? That’s sort of what it can feel like when a Facebook friend who hasn’t interacted with you much asks for money through a personal fundraiser.

By nurturing your online relationships with your Facebook friends, you’re not only helping the odds of your friends seeing your posts in their feeds, you’re putting them in a place where they will be more willing to help you.

This is one area where personal fundraisers actually have a huge advantage over companies on Facebook — Facebook announced in June 2016 that they would be prioritizing posts from friends and family over sponsored posts and posts from business pages in users’ feeds. So you should use that advantage to its fullest extent by interacting with your friends!

Post cool content.

The worst kind of post on Facebook is a text-only post. Even if you have a sparkling wit, Facebook has found that users are less responsive to text-only posts. So you’ll need to add other kinds of content to jazz up your posts so your friends see your posts and interact with them. (By “interacting” with a post, we mean: Liking, commenting, sharing, clicking on a link, clicking on a photo, etc.)

Here’s what kind of content you should be posting:

Links: First things first — any posts about your personal fundraiser should include a link to your fundraiser. Every single time.

But what we’re talking about here is a specific kind of post, in what Facebook calls its “native link format.” (“Native” means that the content is uploaded directly to Facebook and Facebook formats your post to its specifications.)

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Facebook, you’ve seen a link post:

When you load the link into the box where you write a post, Facebook generates a preview of the content on that page — it pulls the title from the page, a short summary, and a photo. (That will be your Page Title, Summary, and Cover Photo from your Mightycause page.)

Facebook has found that users prefer links in this format because they can preview the content and decide whether or not it’s interesting to them. (Because they can preview the content, they also feel more confident that the link is not spam or advertising.)

When you plug the link into your post and the preview is generated, you can then delete the URL from the post but we recommend keeping it there — it gives people two different places to click the link. (You can remove “http://” from the URL though.)

This is one of the easiest kinds of posts to make because your Mightycause page and Facebook do most of the work for you. You don’t even need to go to Facebook — as long as your Facebook account is connected to Mightycause, you can just go to your page and click the Facebook icon to make a link post.

All you need to do is write some text to accompany your link. This shouldn’t be too long (4–5 sentences at the most — you want to avoid seeing the “Read More” button in your post because many users won’t click it) and contain a “call to action,” or instructions for what you want people to do. Are you asking them to make a donation, leave a comment on your Mightycause page, or share your link with their friends, be specific!

Photos: Facebook users see a lot of stuff in their feeds, from many different people, and one way to get them to stop scrolling and pay attention to your post is to share an eye-catching photo.

Any photos you share should be relevant to your fundraiser. Online image editors like Canva let you easily add effects, text overlays, and format your photos for easy online sharing… and they’re free to use so you don’t need to worry about expensive programs like Photoshop. You can even download free image editing apps like Pixlr to edit photos right from your phone.

When sharing a photo, you’ll need to put a link to your fundraiser in the text of your post. Don’t forget to do this — it’s very important!

Videos: Most of us have all of the tools we need to put together a great video for Facebook already. Here’s what you’ll need: A smartphone and the Facebook app. Really! That’s it!

You can film a video on your phone and upload it directly to Facebook from your phone. If you want to add a little pizzaz to your video, splice together multiple videos, or edit out a part you don’t like, you can download a video editing app like VivaVideo. And the best part? Facebook’s algorithm loves “native videos” so you will be rewarded in the number of people who see your post when you upload a video directly to Facebook.

Screenshot of the editing process in VivaVideo.

Some ideas for videos to promote your fundraiser would be a personal appeal to donate (let them know you’re fundraising, tell your story, ask people to help you), thanking donors, celebrating a milestone, or giving an update on your situation.

There are even more options for sharing videos on Facebook with Facebook Live. This is a new feature on Facebook and they’re so excited about helping users who make live videos that they will even send notifications to your friends when you’re about to go live. (Users can turn those off, but by default they will receive a notification that one of their friends is “live.”) It’s a great way to be seen on Facebook. You can do so many cool things with Facebook Live, like doing a Live Q&A, playing a song you wrote, and more. Get creative and be sure to use Facebook Live!

Just as with photos, you’ll need to include a link to your fundraiser in your video’s description.

Go Public

Check your Facebook security settings. Many us have locked down our accounts so only friends can see our posts (which is totally understandable — you don’t want your boss and your mom to see photos from your wild night out) but you’ll want to make sure any posts you make about your fundraiser are public.

This is so you can expand beyond your own social network — if your friend tries to help you out by sharing your post about your fundraiser, but the post is friends-only, their friends won’t be able to see it unless they’re also friends with you (in which case, they probably already saw your post).

You don’t need to make your entire account public if you don’t want to; each time you post, you can choose whether the post is public, friends-only, or private by clicking the blue button to the left of “Post.” Make sure that anytime you post about your fundraiser, it’s public.

Tag, You’re It!

Facebook allows you to tag other users and even companies in your posts and in comments. If you get tagged in a post, you’ll get a notification that you were tagged, and sometimes even an email (depending on the user’s settings).

It can also help you reach more people — if you tag your friend, Facebook is more likely to show your post to any mutual friends. So tagging can be a great way to make sure the right people are seeing your posts. Is there a business or brand page that’s relevant to your fundraiser? Tag them. If you’re not sure how to tag someone, learn how on this Facebook support article.

Now, don’t go crazy tagging people and businesses: If someone sees that you’ve tagged 200 people in a post, they could report you as spam.

But if you’re thanking a donor, tag them. If you’re talking about your best friend in your post, tag her. If you had surgery and you’re fundraising to pay off the bill, tag the hospital.

PROTIP: Tag Mightycause in your posts! We want to see what you’re doing on social media and we might even share your post if we like it!

There’s another kind of tag you can use on Facebook: hashtags.

Hashtags turn words into clickable links when you put a # in front of them; when you click a hashtag, you’ll see a feed of posts from other users who have used that hashtag.

Pay attention to any hashtags that are trending, and think of any hashtags relevant to your fundraiser. Hashtags for breast cancer and LGBT+ causes and posts are always popular, for instance. Hashtags are a great way to reach new people and expand beyond the people you know. Get the scoop on using hashtags on Facebook here.

How often to post

Facebook is a platform where the quality of your content is more important than how often you post (and by “content,” we mean, “the stuff that’s in your post”), so we recommend posting about your fundraiser at least 2 times per week, and more often if you can come up with strong content. But quality is more important than quantity on Facebook so focus on making each post as good as it can be.

Be persistent, and put yourself out there.

A lot of people call and write us wanting to know how they can get donations for their personal fundraiser without sharing it on Facebook.

They might feel ashamed or embarrassed about asking for help, or not want their friends and family to know that they are raising money online. That’s understandable but here’s the thing: Online fundraising is about putting yourself out there. That’s how it works! We give you the platform and technology to create a page so you can use it to ask for help.

You probably already know who your biggest supporters are. They’re your friends, your family, the people in your community. Facebook is one of the easiest ways to reach out to them.

In addition to putting yourself out there on social media, running a successful personal fundraiser also takes persistence. You can’t post once and expect donations to roll in. You’ll need to work at promoting your fundraiser until your end date, find creative ways to discuss your fundraiser and come up with a strategy.

This information in this article is a starting point. But your fundraiser is all about you. So, however you choose to share your fundraiser, make sure your personality shines through and you show your personality in all of your efforts!

Good luck!

Oh, and if you get stuck, drop a line to one of Mightycause’s Crowdfunding Support Specialists: