I’ve been meaning to write this for literally years but a chat in the Public Sector Comms Headspace group prompted me to finally write it. You may be getting asked to do things on Facebook that you don’t think will work. Rather than saying a flat ‘no’ here’s the beginnings of a reply for you.
Dear [INSERT NAME]
You’ve asked me to post [INSERT TASK] to the corporate Facebook page.
This can be done. My clear professional advice to you and the organisation is that this would be damaging. Let me explain and suggest the most effective course of action.
Firstly, we need to know some basic principles about Facebook.
We also need to know that Facebook strongly discourages people from navigating away from Facebook. We need to put all the information on Facebook in an engaging way.
We need to know that Facebook is Facebook. We need to avoid the siren-call of merely replicating what we’ve done elsewhere.
We must understand that Facebook is a social media platform governed by an algorithm that seeks to shape people’s experience. This algorithm is a closely-guarded secret and changes often. But there are three ways we can understand it. They are: what Facebook says, what other user do and say and what we can discover ourselves.
What Facebook says is easy. Every year they stage a conference called F8 where they talk about the broad direction of travel. From this we know that people see fewer updates from pages they like. Instead, they will see more from friends and family. So, as an organisation with a page we have to be very protective of what we post.
From this we know that posts we make that don’t engage with people are marked down by the algorithm, shown to fewer people and do us no favours for future posts.
From this we also know that repeated content is marked down as being less interesting. Video or an image used over and over won’t engage and if it won’t engage it’ll get shown to fewer people.
What others say and do is also easy. Companies that specialise in social media will post insight on how they have used Facebook as a way of demonstrating their superior skills to others. While we should not blindly accept every blog post there is a collective bank of knowledge that we do well to draw from.
From this we know research on the most engaging types of content. So, video is the most engaging followed by an image followed by a link and lastly followed by text.
What we know is also easy. Facebook gives us lots of data around how our post performed, how many saw it, how many people engaged with it and where they were from. Our lived experience is really valuable.
From this we know exactly who our Facebook audience is, what sex they are, what town they live in and what kind of content they like. Think of it as as room of those people. If you go in and deliver the wrong speech to the wrong audience you’ll fail.
We know that content is king. If content is unique, engaging and interesting then it has a chance of flying high. If it isn’t it won’t.
From this we know that a regional daily newspaper can post 20 times a day and be rewarded with good engagement providing it has enough material that people are interested in. We know that if we repeat post frequency ourselves without the content we will fail. It is a quality not a numbers game.
So, in summary, we can [INSERT TASK] but I strongly recommend away from this course of action. However, if we together create something that’s relevant to the audience, unique and interesting on a channel that’s appropriate then we have a chance.
[INSERT YOUR NAME]