Why use Facebook?

Facebook pages are easy to set up and maintain.

They are designed to be interactive and anyone who is a Facebook member can instantly “like” your page or content and comment on posts.

Social media is fundamentally about engaging your audience in a dialogue.

Facebook is the easiest social media platform on which to conduct that dialogue.

Facebook makes it easy to target your key audience.

Facebook Basics

Ten things to do with your trust Facebook page

  1. Make your profile as interesting as possible.
  2. Write your profile for your target audience in plain English.
  3. Comment or add new material at least once per day.
  4. Don’t post your press releases to your FB page – use short, sharp summaries instead.
  5. But, do pick a key issue from the press release to start a discussion.
  6. Once you have enough Fb friends, you can ask Questions to stimulate interest.
  7. Use your Fb page for any issue that your trust wants to consult about (office opening hours, IOM locations etc.).
  8. Set your Fb posts to tweet automatically to drive your Twitter followers to your Fb content.
  9. Use Fb’s multimedia capacity to the full – post videos and before and after Community Payback photos.
  10. Get your profile pics right (see designing your Facebook page – below).
Update 10 May 2012 – a very handy 10-point checklist for public sector Facebook pages published on the comms2point0 website.

Managing your Facebook page

One of Facebook’s great strengths is that you can set it to notify you whenever anyone comments on your posts.

Make sure you engage with them when they do.

Once your Facebook page becomes successful and your trust has many friends, it is likely that you will receive some negative comments from time to time (potentially from current or ex-service users).

When responding to these comments, use a simple three step process:

  1. Engage with the criticism. if it is fair, acknowledge this and show how your trust is seeking to improve matters. If the criticism is unjust, still try to engage and present an alternative viewpoint in measured language.
  2. If this does not work, take the discussion off-line and tried to resolve it by telephone; if appropriate, encourage the individual to use your complaint process.
  3. As a last resort, you may delete the comment and warn the individual that they may be banned from the page in future.

Of course, any abusive comments should be deleted immediately. Get in touch with the individual and encourage them to make their point in more appropriate language.

You may wish to create a short “comments” policy and post this on your Facebook page.

Designing your Facebook page

In March 2012, all Facebook pages will go over to the new “timeline” design which has already been implemented for personal Facebook profiles. The timeline gives you more design opportunities and helps you to pin key messages to the top of your page as well as use a proper banner.

It also allows organisations to put some of their history on the page which may be attractive for long-established Probation Trusts.

Mashable have done their usual very thorough and helpful guide. They have also produced a separate guide on getting the best out of the New Admin Panel which I have found very useful.

I also found this Business2Community guide very useful.

Promoting your Facebook page

This is the one thing that most trusts and many other public sector organisations are not so good at.

@Danslee put out a really helpful blog post on Facebook pages and the new timeline design which included a specific focus on how to promote council Facebook pages on 26 March 2012.

He pulls together nine helpful tips:

  1. Put your a link on the bottom of emails. Tens of thousands of emails get sent every week. They’re mini billboards.
  2.  Tell people about your page via the corporate franking machine. Tens of thousands of items of post go out every week. They’re mini billboards too.
  3.  Put your Facebook page on any print you produce. Leaflets, flyers and guides.
  4.  Put posters up at venues with QR codes linking straight to the page. I’m not convinced QR codes are mainstream but I am convinced its worth a try.
  5.  Tell your staff about a page – and open up your social media policy to allow them to look.
  6.  Don’t stop shouting about your Facebook page face-to-face. If people enjoy a visit to a museum tell them they can keep up on Facebook.
  7.  Use your school children. Encourage schools to send something home to tell their parents about the Facebook page.
  8.  Create a special event for Facebook people. For events and workshops create something special only for the very special people who will like your very special page. Like a craft table at a family event.
  9.  Stage on offline competition. Get people to enter via Facebook. That’s just what Pepsi are doing with a ring pull competition. Send a text (25p) or add to the Pepsi Facebook page after you like it (FREE.)


Probation Facebook people

As yet, although many Probation Trusts have Facebook pages few have attracted a great following although the Staffordshire and West Midlands and Greater Manchester pages are growing steadily. London Probation added their page in late February and have some good multimedia and case study content.

For examples of successful public sector Facebook pages, try your local police service.

West Midlands and Leicestershire have particularly vibrant examples.


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