BETTER FACEBOOK: How to shape your 2018 Facebook strategy with seven key questions

facebook flowchart

It’s been a few weeks now since Mark Zuckerburg’s game-changing announcement on how Facebook will now work.

In short, his message was that people will see more from family and friends, more from groups and less from pages. Facebook Live will be rewarded. I’ve blogged on what that may mean for you as a communicator here.

It’s early days on how this is playing out. Some people have embraced the change. Others have sort of hoped they would go away. I’ve found people’s response perfectly mirrors how they are as a communicator. Some have rolled their sleeves up. Others, incredibly, don’t even know the change has taken place.

After delivering Essential Digital Skills for Comms workshops, for me, it boils down to five key questions you need to be asking yourself.

Q1 Have you got money?

If you’ve got money, the chances are you’ll be less affected by the changes. But you will have to spend more to get your content into people’s timelines. But make it good and engaging content to make it work.

If you’ve got a little money, think about tapping into Facebook’s immense hoard of data. So, if you are after brass band enthusiasts in their 20s in Stafford you can find the hard-to-reach easily. With some money. But this should be a small part of your strategy.

If you’ve got no money at all you

Q2 Have you conducted a review on your page?

Think about the area you serve. If it’s a community of 100,000 how many people like your page? From research I’ve done, the answer to that is a small minority. But how are your insights? Who likes your page? When are they most active? What content are they engaging well with? Make sure your content is engaging. Short, sharable, human and informative video. Information that people actually want rather than as a tick-box bucket to chuck stuff.

Q3 Are your pages fake profile secure?

Facebook’s terms and conditions are that each person can only have one profile. Not one for home and one for work. So the ‘Dan Slee Work’ or ‘John Smith’ profiles are against terms and conditions. Facebook calls them ‘fake’. They are at serious risk of being deleted by Facebook without warning. If access to your corporate page is only through fake profiles you at risk of losing access to your page.

Q4 Is your page connecting with an audience?

Just the one page? How is that working for you? How are the smaller pages faring? Are they doing a better job of reaching that sub-audience? If they are, that’s fine.

Q5 How are you with groups?

If you want to understand how groups work go and join a few. The place where you like will have one. The excellent Public Sector Comms Headspace is another. You need to join

Q6 Have you conducted a group review on your area?

Part of the fear of the unknown is not knowing what it looks like. The unopened box on the table is mysterious because we don’t know what is in it. Same with groups. Carry out a review of the groups in your area by town, village, estate, county and ward. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find. You can do this through using Facebook’s own search tool. Make a note of the numbers and the larger groups.  You’ll be surprised what you’ll find.

Q7 Have you decided what approach to take with groups?

There are three ways to approach them. The first is ignore them. But I really don’t think that is a strategy for the forward-thinking comms person.

Approach A: Use your own profile to contribute

The second is to use your own profile to join them and take part in the conversation yourself as a representative of the organisation. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. The advantage is that you are a human face contributing to the discussion. The disadvantage is that people can see who you are. You may want to lock down your profile. You may want to turn off notifications from the group so you don’t see what is being said.

Approach B: Use your own profile to contact the group admin and ask them to post on your behalf

This is less risky. Being identifiable to one person may seem a less exposed path than being exposed to hundreds or even thousands.

Approach C: Start your own group.

You’ll need to do it with your own Facebook profile and people will be able to message you. I’ve not seen an engaging group set-u by the public sector but I’m happy to see one.

Either approach A or B are tricky and ask a lot of the comms officer. This isn’t for everyone and managers would be foolish to expect this to be mandatory. But those who are answering this question are making inroads.

Of course, let’s not forget that Facebook may not be the channel for all of your audiences. But with almost 40 million users in the UK this is not a channel to disregard.

I’ll be tackling the Facebook issue and running through research on groups and what people are using them for at the ESSENTIAL DIGITAL SKILLS FOR COMMS workshop in Manchester on March 23 and London on March 29.

Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.

TRIAL NOT ERROR: Why every organisation should have Trojan Mice

Okay, confession time: I try my absolute hardest to avoid books on social media.

Books on climbing? Yes. Books from self-styled social media ninjas? no thank you.

One of a few that stands like a shining beacon is the excellent ‘Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do’ by Euan Semple.

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve recommended this hardback work to. Even if you don’t go out and buy it you can take something from the title.

One of the reasons why I’m rather keen on it is that it strikes a chord with some of the work we’ve done.

One example that Semple comes up with is ‘Trojan mice.’

In other words, in an organisation do lots of little things to see where they end up and if they work without shouting about them to the world. Or senior management. He writes:

“Conventional initiatives are like the more familiar Trojan Horse. Big, lumbering, slow moving. It takes a lot of people to move it and it is very hard to get it to change direction without a lot of effort.

“As we deployed low cost small tools and kicked off little initiatives at the BBC we began to describe our approach as deploying Trojan Mice, a metaphor borrowed from British consultant Peter Fryer.

“Set up small, unobtrusive inexpensive and autonomous tools and practices set them running and cajole and nudge them until they begin to work out where to go and why.”

It’s an approach that in spirit chimes with Dave Briggs’ line about JFDI – Just Flipping Do It.

Thinking back, some of the things I’ve done have worked well. Others haven’t. None of them we’ve made a big noise about from the word go.

Of course, there is the argument from some PR people that everything – Trojan Mice and otherwise – has to be linked up to a campaign with objectives, key messages and things to measure. I’m just not so sure about this. This feels like trad comms sellotaping itself to the new stuff and forgets that fact that to make this new stuff work you have to embrace the fact it’s a conversation.

With Trojan mice you can make some mistakes. Do five things. If two work, tell your bosses’ boss about them and see how you can nurture them elsewhere. Even the quiet failures you can learn things from.

Creative commons credits:

Trojan horsey


SOCIAL PLAN: 11 Golden Rules for Social Media in an Organisation

Holding the door open for bright people should be the aim of every organisation’s social media plan.

Because managing the message is dead.  And because the corporate voice doesn’t work.

The social web includes places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and every platform that allows for two way debate and discussion.  The social web is about conversations, the human voice and a completely fresh approach.

One person once said the best way to approach this new landscape was to put aside everything that you’ve learned so far about how traditional communications works. That’s not all that far from the truth.  First amongst these is to recognise that social media is deep down not that different to the telephone, the PC, email and the internet.

When every one of these was first introduced those in the workplace feared what it would do in the hands of staff. Gradually people realised that the more people had access the more positive they became.  You’re unlikely – I hope – put all email activity into the hands of comms people. So why think about doing it for social media?

The best answer is for comms people to have responsibility for social media but to try and allow as many people as possible to use it. Preferably on the frontline as that’s where most of the stories are.

Here are ELEVEN golden rules for comms people:

  1. As a comms person be a supportive gatekeeper. Be keen on the idea of people in service areas having the keys for social media. Sanity check and support.
  2. Use the language of the platform. Dear Sir works as a letter. It doesn’t over the phone. Get to know which ever platform you are looking to use and follow it. Be relaxed. Be conversational.
  3. Gently remind people that there’s a code of conduct. Shout and swear in a public email, on the phone or in a letter and there’s procedures. The same goes for online too. Gently remind but don’t labour it.
  4. Be a human being. People respond better to a human being than they do to an institution. Let staff use social media in their own name if they are keen to.
  5. Be transparent. Make it clear you are working for the organisation.
  6. Be polite. Be respectful and be professional at all times.
  7. Be connected. Let your social media be linked to offline communications but don’t let it restrain it. Have a comms plan and have social media within it, by all means.
  8. It’s about conversation. Recognise you can’t control the conversation. You’ll feel better straight away.
  9. Don’t let comms hog the sweetie jar. Let people in service areas use web tools. Let their enthusiasm and knowledge shine through. They’ll be more genuine than you’ll ever be.
  10. Be a digital native. Learn how things work as yourself.
  11. Don’t be afraid to experiment and innovate. It’s how the best ideas come about.

First posted in Comms2point0.

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