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Facebook: Tips and Tricks

by shackbarth

Facebook is the giant of social media with more than 500 million active users in the world. Here are a few tips to make it a useful online space for your boss’ constituents and where your boss can talk to the public and get useful feedback.

Like Twitter, create a separate Facebook account for your boss and use this page for official businesses. Congress on Facebook has resources and tips to get set up.

It’s all about the news feed

Don’t agonize over how the page looks and all the tabs and features you can add to it. Facebook is not like an ordinary website or blog. Often your boss’ fans will consume content through their news feed and never visit the page other than liking it in the first place.

Pick a good profile picture. Change it occasionally to keep it fresh–holidays and special events are perfect for this. Use the profile picture to promote a particular issue. If a bill your boss sponsored is coming up for a vote, upload a graphic telling fans the status. Such changes will be seen in fans’ news feeds.

Create a positive feedback loop

When you visit Facebook your news feed is divided into two parts. The “Most recent” lists updates in reverse chronological order. “Top news” is the result of a proprietary Facebook algorithm called EdgeRank that tries to figure out you what updates you will be most interested in. Only Facebook knows exactly how it works, but TechCrunch put it simply, “if you want your posts to show up in News Feed, make sure people will actually want to interact with them.”

Your goal is to give fans interesting content to get your boss noticed in other peoples’ feeds so they interact with the content. That will get your boss noticed in more feeds, which creates a positive feedback loop.

One trick is to simply ask your fans to “like” a piece of content. Set a goal by asking: “Can we get 15 likes for this video?”

For a better chance to improve visibility in the News Feed urge greater participation by getting people to comment. Ask an open-ended question to start a conversation. For example, link to a news story about fraud in the health care system then ask fans, “What are some ways to root out this kind of waste and abuse?”

Encourage more comments by replying, answering questions, and thanking them for their feedback.

Unlike Twitter, don’t make it a goal to send out as much content as possible onto Facebook. You want to get your boss noticed in others’ news feeds, but at the same time, you don’t want to annoy your boss’ fans with so much content that they unlike the page. Start out with a few updates a day and watch the reaction. Study the weekly Facebook Page Insights to figure out what amount of daily content works best in growing your fan numbers and interactions.

Be interesting, useful

Your boss will have lots of things to say after votes and breaking news stories and events. Linking a press release is ok, but don’t be boring when describing it. A status update like, “My statement following today’s unemployment numbers” is a snoozer. Why would anyone want to click on that link? Pull a good quote from the statement. Then people will be more willing like it, share it with friends, or leave a comment.

Videos of floor speeches and television hits are ok if you tell fans what is interesting about them. What works well is to post the best, most sound bite-worthy parts. Give fans nuggets they want to share with their friends. Also, upload exclusive videos to Facebook instead of YouTube. That’s a way to draw new fans to the Facebook page.

Find creative ways to offer useful information. One idea is to hold a Facebook town hall where an entire day is devoted to answering fans’ questions. That conversation will get noticed on fans’ news feeds and will grow the number of Facebook fans.

Another idea is to stream your boss’ teletownhalls. Using Livestream you can take that event to another level and offer exclusive content.

Post pictures and video from district town halls, visits to local businesses, and constituents who visit the DC office. Use Facebook to build a community around constituents’ concerns and how your boss is representing them.

Integrate with other channels

Don’t leave Facebook in a vacuum. Use all your communications channels to tell people your boss is on Facebook: official website; Twitter; email; franked mail; YouTube videos; and local events.