NationBuilder and Facebook – best practices

There’s been a recent revelation that Facebook has been throttling down the online presence of Facebook Pages (pages by organizations, businesses, celebrities, etc. that Facebook users can “Like”) and crimping the ability of owners of those pages to reach their respective fans:

Spring of 2012 was when bloggers, non-profits, indie bands, George Takei, community theaters, photographers, caterers, artists, mega-churches, high schools, tee-shirt vendors, campus coffee shops, art galleries, museums, charities, food trucks, and a near infinite variety of organizations; individuals from all walks of life; and businesses, both large and small, began to detect—for it was almost imperceptible at first—that the volume was getting turned down on their Facebook reach. Each post was now being seen only by a fraction of their total “fans” who would previously have seen them.

Some are describing this as “broken on purpose:”

It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.

As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”

In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.

This is a clear conflict of interest. The worse the platform performs, the more advertisers need to use Sponsored Stories. In a way, it means that Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users. In the case of Sponsored Stories, it has meantraking in nearly $1M a day.

I like to simplify things for my clients. Broken on purpose is cute, but I’ll be calling it a bait-and-switch because that’s what it looks like to me. (Extortion also sounds rather apt) Regardless of the terminology, the conclusion is clear: it’s a dick move by a rapacious corporation. As such, I’ve lately been recommending to my clients that they approach Facebook differently than they’ve done in the past.

In short: Use Facebook to drive people to your site, never vice-versa.

On your Nation (your NationBuilder site), you control your outreach. You decide your message. You even have control over what a particular set of people see, while showing another set something different. You know who went where, what they saw, and what they did. You have the ability to sign up people for events, ask for donations, sign them up for email, etc. Your Facebook Page provides none of this. Think of it like this: your site is your home and your Facebook Page is there to invite people over to hang out.  🙂

NationBuilder makes it effortless to display a Facebook Like Box.  By default, a NationBuilder user can have this box appear in the sidebar of their two-column pages. Since it’s so easy, most orgs with a Facebook Like Page opt for it.

I’m not going to tell you not to do this. I’m going to tell you the best way to do it:

(Before we start, if you are not using the blog on your Nation, start using it. Your blog is where you post anything relevant that you think your users might want to see. If you’re only using your blog for press releases or official announcements, then you might as well draw cobwebs on it, too, because nobody’s going to look at it, much less follow it or subscribe to it with RSS. Want to know what to put on your blog? Ask yourself: would you add it to your Facebook Page? If yes, then add it to your blog in a blog post.)

When you want to share something with your audience, follow these steps:

  1. post it on your blog
  2. copy the link to your new blog post
  3. go to your Facebook Page
  4. post the link to your blog post on your Facebook Page. You can write a little something about it, too.
That’s it! Simple, right?  It’s simple, but it’s profoundly better.

Each blog post is an opportunity to get eyeballs away from Facebook and onto your site. Your Facebook Page should have no original content, it should only consist of links to the original content that’s posted on your blog (or events page, if you’re posting an event).

Now, a word about the different types of Facebook plugins. You have a few options.

I always recommend the Facebook Like button without reservation:

When a user is on your site and clicks Like, a thumbnail of your website appears in the user’s timeline. Free advertising!

The Facebook Like Box is to the right and you have some control over what it displays. You can have one with an Activity Stream, one with faces, or one with both. I recommend the one with faces only.  The Activity Stream is huge leak in your bucket. It invites people to click on something that will take them away from your site and land them on Facebook, which is likely where they will stay to read all the new updates from their friends. They might not even remember to come back to your site.

Again, your Facebook page should exist for one purpose only: to drive traffic back to the your site. And once they are there, you should do what you can to keep them there and minimize anything that might send them away. The Activity Stream is so big a leak that I’m surprised it doesn’t make its own sucking sound like a sink draining out the last bit of water.

Now, some organizations do this exceedingly well. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Facebook Page, for example, has nothing on it that wasn’t already posted somewhere on their site. Every link goes back to


  1. Post everything to your blog that seems interesting
  2. Post each link to each blog post on your Facebook Page. Don’t forget to Tweet the link, too!
  3. Never post something first on your Facebook Page.
  4. Never, ever post something only on your Facebook Page.

UPDATE: The NationBuilder blog beat me to the punch by a couple months. Dammit!

Boy Scouts of America Lawsuit – A Brief History (from my perspective)

A friend wrote to me:

“I wanted to ask you from a LGBT point of view why it seems important to try and change the Boy Scouts policies when they obviously are so against it versus Those leaving the Boy Scouts of America?and boycotting it for these reasons and making a new organization? I basically want to know if there is something im missing, because it just seems easier to create something not already set in stone yaknow?

This was my response.

In the late 1980s, Chuck Merino, an El Cajon, California police officer, started a group under the Boy Scouts of America ?umbrella for at-risk teens. Called “the Explorers”, the class met once or twice a week at a high school in El Cajon. They had motivational speakers, classes, etc., mostly from low-income, at-risk backgrounds. El Cajon is about 40 minutes East of San Diego. It’s hot and poor and miserable. Teens there have it rough, so a program like Chuck’s was important and did a lot of good. Through this program, Chuck helped hundreds of kids.

On a summer night in 1992, around 10PM or so, I was standing out in front of SOHO Tea and Coffee in Hillcrest, a San Diego suburb just north of downtown – the gay section of town. I was standing out in front of the place, chatting and smoking with my friends like we did almost every night. One of my friends, 17-year-old John Weir, had parked his car in the alley around the corner. On his way to meet up with us, he was jumped by some gay bashers. He was stabbed in the neck. He made it as far as where we were standing, but then he went down on the sidewalk. He died at the scene. The gay bashers got away.

This was the latest in a string of gay bashings and people were very upset.

Chuck, who by then was a friend of mine, started an effort to get the San Diego police department to set up a sub station mobile unit (basically, a police station inside a tour bus). As part of the effort and to help get community buy-in on the sub station, he gave different talks throughout the Hillcrest neighborhood at community centers, including the LGBT Community Center. The Boy Scouts of America ?got wind of it, asked him if he was gay, and when he didn’t deny it, they fired him from the Scout Explorer program he started.

Chuck took the Boy Scouts of America ?to court – not for being homophobic bigots, which they are certainly guilty of being – but because they were using a public accommodation (the high school in El Cajon) and as such, were subject to certain rules, which they violated. You can’t use city property and discriminate the way they did.

Chuck won the first round, but he lost on appellate level. It went all the way up to the Supreme Court, but they declined to hear the case. So that was the end of that.

The court has ruled that the Boy Scouts of America ?is a private organization and private organizations can exclude gay people if they want since we gay people are not a protected class of people, according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Not being a protected class means that, at the time of this blog post, people in many states are routinely fired by good Cristian bosses who think that employee might be gay; at present these people have no legal recourse.) It is important to point out that the court never said that the BSA was right or justified in their discrimination, but simply that they were ?allowed ?to discriminate. Some judges called the organization’s practices “loathsome” while still ruling in favor of the organization.

Chuck’s lawsuit was the first of it’s kind against the Boy Scouts of America ?over their anti-gay bigotry.

I’m dismayed when friends sign up their kids for Boy Scouts because then it means I have a decision to make: whether or not to share this story, dredging up the past, taking an overt and very unpopular stance and basically implying (perhaps unfairly) that if they had a shred of empathy then they’d make the same decision. ?I don’t like putting people in that position. Perhaps, in the future, I’ll just send people a link to this post and let that be the end of it.

Regardless, I’m certainly not on any mission to change the Boy Scouts of America; a bigoted organization with a shameful history. They can do what they want. However, if they use a public accommodation, like a high school or a park building or some other special deal or privileged arrangement, that’s not OK and the courts have agreed with me on that point. In all such cases involving favoritism in regards to a public accommodation, I think they should be banned in favor of non-bigots.

On the other hand, I have had friends who have been beaten, some killed, by gay bashers. Gay bashers are usually guys in their late teens or early twenties. These men do not learn hate from a book or a movie. They learn it from bigots, like the ones in charge of the Boy Scouts of America. They are taught that gay people are not “morally straight“, that we are against God, that we cannot be truly Christian, that we’re all going to Hell, that we all have AIDS, that we molest children, and all sorts of other horrible shit. They are taught these things from people who should know better – people like those in charge of the Boy Scouts of America. And then these kids go and kill my friends.

The Boy Scouts of America can go to hell.

Tim’s voting guide

By popular request, here’s my voting recommendations for those of you who haven’t already early voted.


San Francisco Bay Guardian Harvey Milk Democratic Club Democratic Party Tim Wayne
Prop 30 Yes Yes Yes Yes Prop 30
31 No No No 31
32 No, No, No No No No 32
33 No No No No 33
34 Yes, Yes, Yes Yes Yes YES 34
35 No No Yes No 35
36 Yes Yes Yes Yes 36
37 Yes Yes Yes Yes 37
38 Yes No No YES 38
39 Yes Yes Yes Yes 39
40 Yes Yes Yes Yes 40
A Yes Yes Yes Yes A
B Yes Yes Yes B
C Yes Yes Yes Yes C
D Yes Yes Yes D
E Yes Yes Yes Yes E
F No, No, No No No F
G Yes Yes Yes Yes G
District 5 Supervsor 1. Rizzo
2. Selby
(Julian Davis
endorsement withdrawn!)
Davis 1. Selby
2. Rizzo
District 5 Supervsor
State Legislative Offices Leno
State Legislative Offices

Na No Wri Mo

I am going to participate in Na No Wri Mo this month. However, instead of writing a thousand words for a novel, I am going to write a nice blog post about something relevant. Luckily, I’ve been so bad at keeping my blog updated this past year that I have plenty to write about.

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to write:

  • a guide for Timeline images on Facebook
  • why nobody should rely on Facebook Like pages to get their message out to their constituencies
  • NationBuilder best practices (as I see them)
  • my take on the hissyfit temper tantrum thrown by many Democrats and liberals against NationBuilder for their deal with the Republican Liberty Caucus
  • my voting recommendations (I’ll probably do this one first)
  • my Disneyland and Disney California Adventures trip, and
  • Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood.

My goal is to blog at least once every day.

Wish me luck!

Boycott the Left!

The people on the left side in this chart are spending $25 million to prevent YOU and ME from knowing what is in our food. This is anti-consumer. They SUCK and you should join my BOYCOTT of them. More information here.

Boycott the left … side of this chart!

(Sorry for the play on words – I’ve never had an opportunity to say “boycott the left” so I couldn’t pass it up.)

My favorite belt

In the mid-nineties, I borrowed this belt from a friend. I liked it so much he let me keep it. I’ve loved this belt for a long time. Yesterday, my dog ate half of it and turned it into poo.

I still have the buckle, which is, I suppose, the important part. As you can see, the belt has no prong. This is extremely uncommon and what makes this belt super awesome and the best belt I’ve ever worn. I’ve never been able to find another quite like it. I’d look on the internet for a replacement, but the Internet is a sea of prong belts.

I can replace the leather part at any of those freaky leather bondage places down in Folsom. But in the interim, I’d like to get another one of these exact belts.

So, my question to all of you: Do you know what these types of belts are called?