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10 things I learned from the facebook for the public sector conference

by Dan Slee and Dawn Groundsell

Despite everything the Public Sector has some brilliant people doing some inspiring work.

That was in plenty of evidence at the rather brilliant Facebook for the Public Sector event in Birmingham earlier this year.

If you missed the event you missed out. Part traditional conference and part unconference the event gathered some of the best thinking in local government.

We're a bit excited that we're joining forces again with Public Sector Forums to stage Facebook for the Public Sector in Scotland in Glasgow on Thursday June 21. 

I'm a bit of a fan of the innovation that's taking shape in Scotland in the public sector. I'm delighted to say that local government blogger and Tartan Tweet-Up innovator Carolyne Mitchell will be social reporting.

The comms professional without a solid understanding of Facebook is walking towards irrelevance. Which is why we think it's well worth going to.

To whet your appetite, here's a guest post from Dawn Groundsell, of Friends of the Lake District, on what she learned from the Birmingham event. 

  1. Go out onto Facebook – your page is a really small corner of the vegetable patch. Use Facebook as your page. Post on other people’s pages. Comment on other people’s pages, comment on other people’s status updates. Look at other similar organisations’ Facebook pages, and like them, then follow their updates in your newsfeed. Once you’ve liked someone’s page, then you can post on their page, then people looking at that page will see your post. If you comment on another organisation’s status update, then all their followers will see your post.
  2. Don’t copy your press release onto Facebook as it won’t work – use the language of the platform! Short and simple, do many people want to ‘read more’?
  3. Don’t leave comments unanswered – it looks really bad! Be interactive and social – make it a conversation. People like to think someone’s read their comment and responded. Acknowledge positive comments. For really bad negative comments you can delete a comment or ban a user, but it could be more beneficial to respond correcting a misunderstanding, or an incorrect fact.
  4. Post out of office hours to Facebook – that’s when most people are on it. Simple really but maybe not so easy to do. Find out how to update your Facebook page from your phone.
  5. Email signatures – research from Coventry council suggested 50% of the new followers came from direct links from email signatures, 25% from Facebook suggestions. What about a Franking machine campaign mentioning your Facebook page? I send ‘Thanks for following, did you know we’re also on Facebook?’ messages on Twitter, with a link.
  6. Share it. Ask people to share it – challenge them to share it 101 times. Share things from other people’s Facebook pages. And hopefully they’ll return the favour.
  7. Change your profile pic every Monday and get people to guess where it is. Fun if you’ve got enough pictures… ask your fans for some?
  8. Images are gold dust on Facebook. Show, don’t tell. A picture of a pile of muddy gloves ready for a team of volunteers to go out tree planting:
  9. Archive photos – people love old photos, very useful in the new Timeline – tell your organisation’s story or history. Look at the Man U Facebook page , Coca Cola , or Friends of the Lake District.
  10. Tell stories, especially emotional ones - eg. about the kitchen staff at a hospice, progress of stray dogs / new police dogs. People love a nice animal story. Here’s some fell ponies cooling off on Friends of the Lake District’s land in a recent heatwave:

Dawn Groundsell is a communications officer for Friends of the Lake District

Picture credit: West McGowan


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