Face up to Facebook

Facebook; the pinnacle of any teenagers journey through the turbulent and hormonal terrain of the most important years of our lives. The place we come to tell and discuss with friends the night we had last night, how much we just hate our university assignments, and every other part of our extremely exciting lives.

But is that all that Facebook is for? You would be forgiven for thinking not. As organisations, and as PR professionals, Facebook can be a daunting prospect. Twitter, Linked In and blogs seem like safer ground which are easier to manage and monitor.

Facebook actually offers a wealth of benefits for your client. Nearly 3 billion of 6 billion people in the world are now on Facebook, so your pretty much guaranteed to reach various audiences you are trying to reach. Facebook allows a wider platform for creative content and information, allows you to monitor the audiences comments and reply to negative comment.

Once you’ve made the decision to go to Facebook, the most important thing is how to use it correctly. First things first, you have to decide who is going to manage the page. Would you rather have one person manage it, or a number of people? There a number of pros and cons that come with each decision.

One admin: Assigning one person to control the Facebook change means a consistent voice throughout the process and less confusion for users, ease of maintenance and decisions made quickly and simply (as they will not need to be passed through anyone else). However, if the admin decides to leave the company – his or her replacement may have a lack of knowledge which may cause gaps in information. Also, if the admin leaves the company or takes holiday, communication and engagement on the page may slow down – meaning less interaction from users and a decrease in site visits.

Team: By employing a number of people to manage the Facebook page, you can ensure multiple viewpoints and difference in content; keeping the page fresh and interesting. Knowledge transfer can also be maintained, meaning no gaps in knowledge and less time commitment for each member of staff involved. However, it may be difficult to assign responsibility for the page to each admin and this may cause a repeat or overlap or inconsistency with information or content.

Assignment of responsibilities
Once you have established your team, it is important to assign the responsibility and your role as ‘Facebook director’. To do this, there are a few important areas that need to be covered. These are

  • Outline how to handle complaints and negative comments – One of the things that people fear about Facebook is that negative comments can be posted from users for the world to see. But actually, this can actually be an advantage. If you respond correctly, with an apology and a solution (for everyone to see) it can actually be turned into a positive situation. Every business and organisation, no matter what industry they operate in, or what products and services are offered, will receive complaints – so do not be afraid of them. It is the way you handle them that counts, and if you handle them correctly in an open arena, you can show that you are willing to help and respond to your customers, and that you have nothing to hide.
  • Create strategy to build a community and cultivate relationships – The most important thing about Facebook is that it is a community, and this community should run and build into your page. To create your community, you need to establish your audience and what interests them – and then get talking about those things. Create discussion boards, and invite users to answer questions and talk about topics and issues in the industry which may interest them. Respond and create conversation to build relationships.
  • Should competitors be addressed? And how? It is inevitable that your competition will be on Facebook. And probably posting about the same things, and probably talk to the audience you want to talk too. So you must decide – should you address this competitor, or ignore them? The best way to use Facebook is to not get catty publicly, but to use the platform to monitor what your competitor is doing and what they are doing successfully.
  • Posts: Set your guidelines. What should or shouldn’t you post? What is off limits? When is the best time to post? When are your users most active on Facebook? Establish whether your messages actually add value to your aims and objectives, and whether it is applicable to your community and ongoing conversation. Do not post for the sake of it, the more you establish what the right and wrong messages are, the better response you will receive.

Monitoring and Measurement
One of the ongoing struggles as a PR person has been how we measure our effect on our audiences. The advance in social media has allowed us to do this better, and it is important to know how and what we should be measuring. On Facebook it is important to measure:

  • Trends that create feedback
  • What type of comments / content create engagement?
  • What events or content lead to ‘likes’?
  • What messages lead to unlikes? (By knowing this, we know what not to post)
  • Analyse and keep a record of the demographics of people that are engaging on the page, so we can expand and target our audience.
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