Facebook. When you think you've cracked it the algorithm goes and changes. So we've gathered some pearls of wisdom ahead of a Twitter chat.
by Dan Slee
Every organisation needs to be aware of Facebook but very few do it well. So, we decided to stage a chat on Twitter about tackling it better and we asked a number of people to be on a panel to chip in.
Across the UK, more than 30 million people have Facebook accounts with the platform emerging as the most popular.
But how should an organisation use it?
We believe that ideas are transferrable and inspiration in one sector can work elsewhere. So, we asked two people who run charity pages, two who use local government and one fire service to be a panel for the Twitter chat. Here are some of their pearls of wisdom to get the ball rolling.
The Twitter chat itself will take place on the hashtag #BetterFB15 at 12.30pm on Monday November 23. Pop by and chip in. We've got a panel of Mark Morton from Epilepsy Action, Matt Murray from Redland Council, near Brisbane, Australia, Pawan Dhande from West Midlands Fire Service, Tim Clark from Wolverhampton City Council and Eleanor Dean from Refugee Action.
Mark Morton, whose Epilepsy Action Facebook page has more than 54,000 likes, said:
Engage, don't broadcast. Ask questions, listen, talk.
Aim your posts at your core audience. Learn who they are through Facebook Insights. Don't post stuff that only a small fraction of your audience will be interested in. Facebook will use the low engagement rate of such posts to decide you're not good at Facebook and restrict the organic reach of later posts.
Don't be afraid of Facebook advertising to reach segments of your audience and to reach new audiences. It can be a low-cost but successful way of reaching people, geographically or by interest.
Be aware of the power of the silent video. Videos where as it auto-plays with the sound off on the mobile app, the user can still get the information or experience or at least easily understand what's happening in the video so they're more likely to click on it and watch it.
Make sure you know how many characters you can use in a post before the 'read more' link appears when your post appears on both the desktop version and mobile apps of Facebook. Try not to go over that character limit.
Eleanor Dean, communications co-ordinator, looks after Refugee Action's Facebook page which has more than 11,000 likes. The organisation is a leading UK refugee charity, helping survivors of war and persecution to live again with dignity and build safe new lives in the UK.
Facebook Insights are great. Use them to find out what your audience likes best so you can do more of it. Also, use it make sure things that aren't what your audience likes best - like your new campaign they've never heard of - are as appealing and exciting to them as possible.
Remember that most people use Facebook to keep in touch with their families and friends. Try not to interrupt that by posting too often. One post a day works for us, and I really try hard to make sure it's worth people's time. This is a good argument to use if anyone is asking you to post something really boring!
There's lots of debate about what sort of content (photos, links with photos, text only) works best on Facebook. I've heard a few people say that links with strong associated images are best, but we've had amazing results from great stories told in plain boring old text. It's good to listen out for rumours about Facebook changes, but at the end of the day always concentrate on making your content as strong as possible. You can write a great story really well, but you can't make a boring photo less boring.
If you have a strong community around your page, trust them and appreciate them. We make a big effort to reply to messages, thank people for their comments, answer questions, like comments and posts, etc. As a refugee charity we get a fair few negative posts on our page and our community are brilliant at responding to and debunking them. One of the most valuable things I've learnt to do is to give them the space to do this - whilst also making sure that things stay friendly and don't get personal.
Even when you think you've done everything right, some posts just won't work. Sometimes running a Facebook page is a bit like looking after a stubborn toddler. You can't reason with it, you can't predict its behaviour and sometimes it just won't do what you want it to. Don't get disheartened.
Matt Murray looks after social media for Redland City Council, near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. He is also a respected blogger who runs the @commsgodigital blog. Matt looks after the council page with almost 12,000 likes. He has blogged on the subject here.
Use holding statements. Quick replies are appreciated on social media, so if you can’t provide an instant answer, at least acknowledge questions or issues by using holding statements.
Post when your fans are online. Use Facebook Insights to work out when your fans are online and plan your posts for those times
Create content segments. Create regular content segments that support your corporate goals. Some of our segments include FlashbackFriday: using historical photos in social media, environmental segments (Magpie Monday, Weed of the week) and #RedlandsAnyDay: using crowdsourced photos of our region.
Get notifications. Most people don’t understand how the Facebook algorithm works: users are not automatically shown every post by pages they like.
Pawan Dhande is digital communications officer at West Midlands Fire Service and co-ordinates social media for the brigade including more than 90 Twitter accounts alone. The brigade Facebook page is here.