Facebook is arguably the most popular and well-known social media platform in the world and allows users to share a host of content, including links, images, videos and general comments. Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has boomed and now boasts more than 1 billion users, a successful income revenue from its advertising service and has even had a film made about it.
There are two types of profile on Facebook – a personal profile and a business/organisational page.
Personal profiles are for use by individuals to connect with other individuals and are automatically created when a new user joins Facebook. They should not be used to represent an organisation. If you want to connect with another personal profile, you have to add that person as a ‘friend’, who then has to approve that request before you can connect.
Facebook pages are, generally, public-facing platforms that allow organisations to build a following, post content and interact with their fans. To interact with a Facebook page you just click ‘like’. This effectively means you have subscribed to updates from that page and are now following it. You need a personal profile in order to create a page. Pages are usually the most effective type of profile to create if you want something to represent a department/faculty/school etc.
Facebook also has the option to create groups and these can be either open access or private, whereby membership has to be approved by a group administrator. These closed groups can be an excellent way to create a platform for discussion that still has an element of control and is not entirely in the public domain and could be useful for people studying a particular module or who have attended a specific event. Anyone participating in a group does so using their personal account.
Groups are great for working on a personal level and for smaller scale interaction around a cause. Pages are better for organisations etc who want to interact with their fans or customers without having them connected to a personal account.
The business case
As of 1 January 2014, Facebook has 1.3bn active monthly users, and from 2012 to 2013 its membership increased 22%. These numbers are staggering, especially considering Facebook’s membership in 2008 was only 100 million. Facebook also comfortably takes up the lion’s share of social network traffic.
All of this means that there is a great chance that your audience will already be using Facebook, so you should be able to find people to interact with relatively easily. There’s also a good chance that you already know how to use Facebook, so you won’t have any difficulties working with the platform. Facebook is also fairly simple to use, pages are easily created and instantly give you a platform for sharing, discussing and analysing metrics.
When it comes to groups, Facebook offers you the ability to create a closed network in a space where it is likely the people you want to participate will already be. The groups also offer you functionality such as posting links and images, as well as discussion. This saves you the problem of having to build a space elsewhere and saves your audience the hassle of having to sign up to another platform.
Finally, Facebook is robust and, being one of the most visited websites in the world, it isn’t likely to disappear like so many failed social networks have done. This means it is a fairly safe bet for you to invest some time in.
Visual contentFacebook is really geared towards interesting, visual content that people will want to click and share. With that in mind, aim to share lots of images, share videos from sites like YouTube (they’ll automatically embed themselves into your Facebook page) and try to link to websites that have images on them, as Facebook will automatically pull these images to use as a thumbnail with your link.
Cover photoCarrying on with the theme of images, make the most of your cover photo. This is the large, letterbox shaped photo that sits at the top of your page and will be the first thing people see when they visit. Use the best possible picture you can find to represent your page, in a high resolution if possible.
A daily postDon’t post on Facebook too often, as users won’t appreciate you clogging up their news feed. In fact, you’re better off only posting one piece of content per day – just make it the best piece you have.
TimingVary the time of day of your posts to reach different parts of your following and also let you find out when your audience is most engaged.
Keep an eye on thingsActively monitor comments and posts and, where necessary, respond to them – you may also find it useful to add a disclaimer to your page about what sort of content is not permitted (e.g. racism, sexism, libellous statements) and make it clear that any such material will be removed without warning.
AdministrationIdeally, designate at least two people who will use their personal Facebook profiles to be the administrators of your page – don’t create a fake profile to set up your page as this would violate Facebook rules and could see your page deleted.
Get analyticalExplore the ‘insights’ section – this is Facebook’s built-in analytics and gives you interesting data about how well your posts are performing and the makeup of your followers and can help you ensure you make the most of your content.
Use #hashtagsHashtags are now supported on Facebook, so don’t be afraid to use relevant ones – one per post is plenty though.
Tell your history with milestonesYou can also add milestones to your timeline – these can be a great way of telling your department/school/organisation’s story, as you can add significant dates from your history, along with some commentary and images.
Facebook offers a built-in tool for advertising and these ads can be tailored for a variety of purposes, such as driving more people to your website or getting more people to like you Facebook page. You can also allocate a maximum amount that you are willing to spend, which means you can run an advertising campaign on Facebook on a relatively small budget, for example £1 per day.
One particularly useful element of Facebook advertising is that you can very easily target your audience by their interests – for example, you can be as specific as looking for women aged 18-24 in Edinburgh interested in chemistry, if you wanted to focus your advertising in such a way.
The process of creating and managing an advert is actually quite a simple one to follow on Facebook – just click on the ‘create advert’ link on the left hand side of your home screen to get started. However, it is useful before you get going to quickly look at the different types of adverts available to you, of which there are four:
Four types of adverts available on Facebook
1.Marketplace ads – these are the standard adverts that appear in a sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. Clicking them will generally take you through to either the advertiser’s website or Facebook page. They consist of a small image, a headline and 90 characters of text. You can tailor these ads based on demographics, location, specific interests etc.
2.Page post ads – these ads show up in the middle section of your newsfeed, just like any regular status update from one of your friends would. These ads allow you to promote images, videos, links etc (i.e. a particular post from your page) and are typically the most effective as they show up right in the part of the screen where a Facebook user is focussing most of their attention.
3. Sponsored stories – these ads show up in a person’s newsfeed if one or more of their friends engaged with a company’s Facebook page recently, for example, something like ‘Joe Bloggs likes Facebook page X’ above the ad. This is an interesting option as there is plenty of evidence to suggest that people will be more likely to trust a product or service if their friends know about it or have used it in the past. As such, a sponsored ad means that it will show up on the newsfeeds of the friends of someone who has liked your page, or interacted some other way, such as commenting, adding a review, posting a photo etc.
4. Promoted posts – one niggle of having a Facebook page is that not everything you post on the page will be delivered to all of your fans. However, by paying for a promoted post you can ensure that a large percentage of your fans, which you can choose based on how much you pay, will see your ad. This type of ad is charged at a flat rate, rather than the other types which are generally pay-per-click.