Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos

Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos

The new larger format for Facebook photos has uncovered an amazing viral tool. I introduce you to the Facebook Viral Photo…

viral photo share screen - Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos
Likes: 5,012 Shares: 6,291

If you are on Facebook, you’ve probably already done it and didn’t even realize you were part of marketing gold. If you’ve ever clicked on that “Share” link on a Facebook photo because you thought it was funny, moving or just dumb, then you are part of this growing trend.

The reason that nonprofits want to capitalize on this trend is to reach new followers. With a good viral photo you can leverage your current Facebook fan base to reach their friends and family. One good viral photo can reach far beyond your current base and bring in new followers.

The three key ingredients to making anything go viral are humor, information or help. If it makes someone laugh, if it makes someone’s life easier, or if it helps another person it has a good likelihood of going viral. Luckily, nonprofits can capitalize on the helping people piece. But keep in mind that smiles are contagious.

The secrets to making your photo sharable on Facebook are simple:

  1. Make It Horizontal – The new Facebook layout is favoring landscape (aka horizontal) images. Once the Timelines turn on, square formats will be king
  2. Keep It Simple – One image, one message, one call to action. Don’t muddy it with lots of stuff. Think WWII propaganda posters
  3. Show It Off In PUBLIC – This isn’t a problem for images uploaded on Facebook pages, but if you are uploading to a profile make sure the globe icon is selected on your update privacy level
  4. Captions Are Key – The caption will travel with the photo across Facebook. Use that space to include links and other important information about your nonprofit
  5. Experiment – You never know what messages and images will take off. Try a couple of different things. Don’t give up!
  6. Tech Specs – 800 x 600 pixel sized images work well. You can download Photoshop Elements for around $100 and turn your photo in viral magic. Also, watermark or add your logo to the image just in case someone downloads it to repost

Now that you know the basics, it’s really all about content. In the visual medium of social media, really think about what your images are saying about your nonprofit. Try mixing up your messages with some photos that emphasize mission. Maybe try thanking your volunteers and see how far that goes. Here are some content ideas to make your photos spread (Hint: Click on the photos to see the original Facebook post):

Meaningful Messages – Write a quick call to action or a moving fact about your nonprofit on a sticky and take a picture.

stickie note - Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos
Likes: 3,860 Shares: 4,773

Fundraise – I always love Greg Ng’s Movember fundraising push and this Facebook Viral Photo is out of this world. Yes, you can ask for money with your photos! Having a short URL and a snappy caption are key.

Fundraising Image - Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos
Likes: 4 Shares: 1

Write It – Using all text or typography on these images has impact. Skip the cute kids and use all words to tell your story. You can do this all in Photoshop Elements with a little time and experimentation.

text based and funny - Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos
Likes: 6 Shares: 81,260

Call Out Your Fans – Create an image that people will want to share to show their solidarity. Adding an arrow pointing to the Facebook fan is a great way to get people to take a stand on your issue.

call out profile pic - Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos
Likes: 923 Shares: 1,067

Humor Always Works – Anything funny, weird or wacky will go viral. Nuff said. This one breaks the horizontal rule, but those Share and Like totals shows good content has no rules. (These are super good BTW and way fun to make!)

hotdog noodles - Nonprofit Tool Box: Facebook Viral Photos
Likes: 15,617 Shares: 6.586

What is your favorite Facebook Viral Photo? There are tons out there and we can learn from them all. Post them below!

PS – THANK YOU  to all my Facebook friends for sharing these photos with me!

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Kate Runy


A passionate technical wizard, Kate thrives on managing online content, social media for communications, and development projects.  Kate is the workhorse of the team, pulling out amazing feats of content creation and management week in and week out. 

Prior to joining BC/DC Ideas, Kate coordinated website and social media content, communications, and advertising for Go Global NC and Alzheimer’s NC.

Things that make her happy: I love animals about as much as I love working for nonprofits.

Mishel Gomez Cespedes


Mishel brings a passion for video storytelling and quippy social media content to the team.  At BC/DC Ideas, she is most likely editing video or scheduling the next moving social media post for our clients.

Her ear for storytelling is her greatest asset. Mishel has a unique ability to assemble content into a concise story that moves audiences to action.

A graduate of Wake Forest University she spent a semester in Spain and years serving her community through the campus organizations. Now, she is putting her passion for good to work.

Brian Crawford

creative director

Mix equal parts nerd and creativity and that’s Brian. A natural problem-solver, Brian’s ability to cut to the core of any problem helps guide our creative team to the correct solution without wasted time or money. It’s the core, this little nugget of truth, that helps our clients take the next step with their audiences.

Brian gets the greatest joy out of helping our clients realize and connect with their story. He is a true believer that everyone and every organization has a compelling story to tell, you just have to listen with an open heart.

Things that make him happy: Hanging out at the park with family, toddler-speak, hitting the focus pull, and good coffee.

Dawn Crawford


The engine behind BC/DC Ideas, Dawn has dedicated her career to good. Dawn brings her considerable experience and expertise to helping elevate the nonprofit sector. Our team’s lead strategist, Dawn is often seen leading our IdeaStorms, penning communications plans, or checking in with clients.

Before launching BC/DC Ideas in 2010, she earned her chops in 10+ years of communications leadership roles for public health, healthcare and youth-focused nonprofits. Working for nonprofits is Dawn’s dream job, and she loves that her 40+ hours a week make the world a better place.

Things that make her happy: A glass of champagne to celebrate big wins, Basecamp, living in the South, seeing the world, and a well-formatted spreadsheet.