There's been a debate of late of how Facebook groups and pages are being overlooked by comms people. So, we thought we'd ask some people who look after them to suggest how comms people can better connect.
by Dan Slee
There’s been a bit of a debate fired of late as to how comms people should be using Facebook.
Squeezed by Facebook’s algorithm the solution page admins are finding it harder to reach an audience. Good content is half the battle but the reality is that most of the people you want to talk to aren’t coming anywhere near your bit of real estate.
Where are they? They’re talking to their friends and maybe talking to other people in groups and pages.
Some of these are pages run by the traditional news media. The Manchester Evening News, for example, has almost 1.2 million people liking their page. Even smaller news organisations like the Fife Free Press has 12,000 people liking the page, for example.
But elsewhere, without being noticed tens of thousands of pages and groups have sprung up across every corner of the UK. I’ve blogged here about how villages, towns, estates and cities have their own ecosystem on Facebook with groups and pages.
Five or six years ago hyperlocal blogs driven by WordPress sites looked like filling the vacuum left by shrinking newsrooms. In many communities they have. But the real strength in numbers has been on Facebook. Rarely deliberately being journalism pages and groups have replicated many core elements of a newspaper. The buy and sell page is the small ad. The village page is the parish pump. Sometimes the hyperlocal site has a Facebook page. Sometimes a resident will just start a free standing page or group.
What’s a page and what’s a group?
To use Facebook you need an account in your name. You can’t have more than one under Facebook’s t&c’s. Anyone armed with an account - otherwise known as a profile - can start a page or group. Facebook likes organisations to have a page. It’ll reward you with insights and data. But it has cut how many people see the content. A group? Anyone can start a group. You’ll get no insights but you’ll reach more people who joined the group compared to a page.
How to connect to Facebook pages and groups
But how to connect with them? We asked some leading hyperlocal bloggers and Facebook page and group admins.
Go to where they are and ask nicely
Will Perrin, founder Talk About Local and founder of the Kings Cross Environment blog:
“If you want to talk to people about something, go to where they are already talking about it and ask nicely if you can join in the conversation. As I say to my four year old daughter. This also holds for comms. People often choose to talk naturally and openly about their place in open or closed FB groups. One has to be very polite, sensitive and tactful to get an 'artificial' comms message into that setting, but it's worth the effort - you can see a self-defined motivated and interested audience.”
You need to be involved
Ben Black, founder Cwmbran Life:
“Whenever I read a story about Facebook use falling I open my Cwmbran Life page and count the number of notifications I’ve had that day. There are times when I can’t keep track of the likes, comments and shares. Facebook community pages simply bring people together who are interested and care about a place. If you work in communications and have relevant information to share with those residents you would be crazy to not get involved with them.
Contact the page or group admin first
Admin, Telford Live
“Using Community Pages on Facebook will help you reach people that will not usually tune in to your message. For best results contact page admins and make it easy for them to share your content. Tweak your PR to fit their style so they just have to copy & paste. Always supply an image or two, and don't get upset when they chose not to share it.
“If the group allows you to post content directly, asking before doing so will increase your kudos with the admins and rarely result in refusal. For reach, on an average week we can engage with 3,500 people which is only a few hundred behind the Shropshire Star the local newspaper."
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0.
Picture credit: US National Archives / Flickr