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.
Late Saturday night just as I was going to bed somethingremarkable happened.
Shortly after midnight, my timeline was filled with people sharing live streams from US airports. Pop-up protests were taking place. People angry about a ban on people from hand-picked Muslim countries were making their voice heard.
As a former journalist and as someone is interested in the changing media landscape this was fascinating. Protest has made Facebook Live come of age just as protest in Iran eight years ago helped embed Twitter.
An unscientific snapshot at the time showed short clips and commentary on Twitter and live streaming on Facebook.
For previous generations the route for moving images was TV news. Now, protestors as well as online media were just filming what was going on. In this case, they look like they were using their own web-enabled devices rather than an outside broadcast truck.
This one stream from Rewire News recieved 1.2 million viewers within 24-hours. You can watch here:
The live experience is different
While the footage viewing back on Facebook Live above looks clean and straight forward the livestream on mobile was also showing a feisty battle in the comments box between those in support and those against. You can watch here:
Mainstream media picked-up the footage
Channel 4 news in the UK picked-up the footage and repackaged it in an edited short news video. You can see it here:
- It’s ephemeral. A day after the live footage was hard to track down on Facebook and on the Periscope Live. Once it’s gone, it’s pretty much gone.
- Your smartphone is like an outside broadcast truck in your pocket. Live streaming is powerful and an instant way to beam pictures so long as you have a good WiFi connection.
- It can spread the word quickly. By plugging into the networks of social media the link with the video can be widely shared.
- The experience live and later is quite different. With live viewing you get the cascade of likes and comments. Looking back later once the broadcast is over you don’t.
- The role for mainstream media is as aggregaters. With dozens of streams and lengthy broadcasts the role of the journalist is to spot, share then aggregate and explain.
- The quality of the footage doesn’t matter... the value is to see what is happening at that particular moment in time.
- The echo chamber still exists. As widely shared as it is it is still likely to be shared within a network of like-minded people.
- The corporate comm, policy maker and emergency planner needs to keep man eye on what is going on. Live insight is needed to help shape decisions.
- There’s a lesson from history. Public mood turned against the Vietnam war after protests at Kent State University saw protestors killed. What happens next will be interesting to see.
- Crisis comms and emergency comms need to take account of Facebook Live – and Twitter’s Periscope in their forward planning.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.