Engaging with Facebook

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This past week, I had the opportunity to chat with a community group who wanted to learn more about how to spread its message on Facebook.

And, for most emergency situations, we don’t ever worry about how to spread our messages because people actively crave information during times of crisis.

This means that good information about emergency responses spreads quickly, but how does one spread messages on Facebook when there isn’t an active emergency?  What about those public education campaigns about preparedness? Do you ever feel frustrated that your non-emergency messages aren’t seeming to get much traction?

Let’s chat about a few ways to ensure that your messages will reach as many people as possible.

First and foremost, if you are administering a “fan page” on Facebook, spend some time building your Facebook community.

  • If you have employees or volunteers to your agency, ask them to follow your Facebook page. Be sure that those you work with most closely know that you are actively sharing key information on Facebook.
  • If you follow or “like” a Facebook page, spend a few minutes to invite your Facebook friends to also “like” the page.  In the left hand side of any Facebook page, you’ll see an option that says “Invite Your Friends to like this page”

Then, as a follower of a page, there are 4 basic actions that you can take:

  1. You can “like” the posts of a page.  This important because when you like content on Facebook, it will show up in the activity column that shows up on the right hand side of your desktop view of Facebook.  Friends are often snoopy and may click on your actions to see what you are liking.
  2. You can comment on posts of the page.  Comment also show up in both the news feeds and activity column, thus sharing your activity even broader than just “liking” content.
  3. You can “click-through” to the articles and links posted by the page.  This is important because Facebook is actively calculating whether or not the links being shared by the page are interesting to its followers. Because Facebook is actively trying to weed out spam, it is looking for pages that getting likes, but may not be posting quality content.
  4. You can “share” posts by the page you are following. By sharing interesting posts to your friends, you broaden the reach of an initial post.  When you click the “share” button, look at who you are sharing the content with.  To the left of the “cancel” button on the share window, it may say “Friends.”  Change this to “public” so that not only your friends see the content, but friends of friends see the content.  This allows your posts to have a much broader reach than just your friends.

The other important thing to consider is that these 4 actions don’t have to be done all at once. If you are participating in a public education or messaging campaign, mix it up a little. Choose to do these actions at different times of the day.

Behavioral research suggests that posting on Facebook between 3p-7p is a popular time to share information AND towards the end of the week is more active than the beginning part of a week.

If you are an administrator of a public page, you can also schedule posts by clicking on the little clock at the bottom of your posting window. This can be important if you are targeting your audience during the more popular hours of the day to engage.

The other important thing to consider when engaging with Facebook is to make your content interesting. You essentially only have 1-2 seconds to engage with people who are actively scrolling down their Facebook feeds.

Video and images are generally much more popular than word. Keep the videos as short as possible and make your images interesting.  It is no secret that pictures of pets, food and travel are some of the most popular images on Facebook. Why is this? Images of these items are specifically not divisive. Content that is religious or political items will directly divide your audience in ways that you might ultimately regret.

Have fun with your campaigns and encourage your community to actively participate so that your messages can be heard and seen throughout Facebook.