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.
It seems as though the noose is tightening around Facebook pages that are run by a overlooked-until-now dodgy practice.
Many people in the past created a separate work profile. They did this because they wanted to keep work and play separate. Often this second account just had the word ‘work’ added to it.
How this dodgy practice works
So John Smith had his ‘John Smith’ account. He also created ‘John Smith Work’ as a way of logging onto the corporate page. Cunning, yes?
Well, not that cunning at all. Not least because it is obvious even to Inspector Clouseau that this is a second account. And before you dash-off to create thinking a John Brown account is an even safer bet don’t. But Brown, you think. That’s not my name. They’ll never guess. Actually, Facebook are really good at spotting through an algorithm accounts with few friends that just happen to be a page admin.
Why Facebook are doing this
You may have noticed but Facebook and others have been getting it in the neck for their role in ‘fake news’. Governments don’t like them. Nor do users. Accounts that are clearly fake are the first steps to tackle this. The platform have agreed to act. Fake users are first in the queue.
But you’re blue in the face
Of course, the wise people know that they need to change. They’ve even argued for the need to. Many have persuaded people that this is the best course of action.
But even then some people don’t want to change.
The common arguments are:
I don’t want people from work being my friends.
I’d rather keep work and family seperate.
I won’t add my real Facebook profile.
In the olden days, they may have had a point. But no-one can see who is the admin of a page. You don’t have to accept friend requests.
An approach: It’s time to get serious
I’ve noticed a very heated debate on the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group flagging up the issue.
Firstly, tell are admins you want your page not to break Facebook’s terms and conditions. Tell them their access may be removed without warning. This is an issue if you all have fake John Smith Work accounts. Tell people you are moving everyone to Facebook Business Manager. You’ll need a profile. It just makes the day-to-day tasks easier.
If people still say no, you may have to trim down the number of admins who are effectively posing a risk to your page. If some people don’t want to, they may just have to have ‘managing Facebook pages’ off their CV.
Go and tell the person in your organisation who is responsible for information governance of the broader issue. See what they think. They’ll agree with you.
Go and tell the emergency planning team what they think. They’ll agree with you, too.
Take these opinions, this blog and your opinion to your manager, manager’s manager and chief executive if you have to. Set out to them in writing the reasons why ‘fake’ profiles are a danger to your organisation. If you have to, list the people who have fake profiles in your organisation. List the people who don’t. Explain that you need everyone to either have a real profile or be taken off admin to the Facebook page.
You have flagged-up the risk.
You have shared the risk.
When Facebook catch you – note, not ‘if’ but ‘when’ – you have an audit trail without which you’ll be pretty exposed. Who knows. The process may even get some movement.
It sounds drastic, but it’s not as drastic as access to your corporate Facebook page being lost overnight.
Picture credit: Michael Coghlan / Flickr.