When To Break The Rules | Facebook Fundraising Case Study
When it comes to digital fundraising, there are many rules. Some rules are informal, and some have a legal disclaimer. You, of course, do not want to break any laws or compromise the integrity of your organization under any circumstance. But sometimes there are unwritten rules and traditions that need to have their tires kicked from time to time. This is true when it comes to donor acquisition campaigns on Facebook.
If you have done much work in this area, then you know the best practices for Facebook advertising, in general, call for short video ads with optional audio; 15 seconds is often ideal. And I can say from experience, those best practices exist for a reason and those types of ads tend to perform the best. But in fundraising, the most important thing is not ad economy and efficiency, it is connecting to the hearts of your donors.
I recently ran a fundraising campaign that was focused on the story of someone who was helped by the organization. I had two ad units—just two. There was a write-up of the story with a photo, and we had the same write-up along with a 14 second clip cut from a really strong 3.5-minute video. I wanted more ad units but very few assets were available. So I launched the campaign and began to monitor it.
One morning while I was analyzing data from the campaign, I just did not feel like we were telling the story as powerfully as it could be told. I decided to break the rules and I uploaded the full-length 3.5-minute video to use as an ad. The video was so long by Facebook’s standards that it did not qualify to show in over half of the potential video placements. It was too long for their auto-captioning system to review, and it was a monster to caption manually. It was as if everything was telling me that the system was designed to keep people from doing this.
I eventually got the video set up and relaunched the campaign with three ads. A photo, a 14-second video, and a 3.5-minute video.
The initial results were surprising! The long 3.5-minute video had a 280% better cost per donor and generated 426% more ROI than the short video and photo.
The long video did not have better engagement, it did not have more link clicks, it did not have more viewers. But the people who did watch it were moved. It connected them to the heart and soul of the organization.
I am not advising you to go and launch extra-long videos in your next campaign. I simply want to encourage you to think outside of the box. Not all best practices are best for everyone in every situation. Be willing to test ideas that are different from what normally works.
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