Whether your University office, program, or department has already started using Facebook or if you’re interested in creating a page, here are some guidelines and best practices to keep in mind.
Head to Facebook and create that page! (Note: A page is different from a personal profile and different from a group. Under no circumstances should you create anything other than a “page.”)
Be sure that the page has:
- A wall (for users to comment on and for you to engage and respond)
- “Info” details (be brief and accurate!)
- A profile photo and Timeline cover photo (brand it with a logo if you can, and if not something that clearly is identifiable and appropriate)
- A searchable and identifiable name (if users can’t find your page to “like it” or comment on it, you’re in trouble before you begin)
Take a look at the guidelines Facebook sets out for education users who want to create and manage an effective page. Our notes and suggestions will have a lot of similarities to Facebook’s proposed strategies.
You’ll also notice, going through this document, that some of the questions to ask yourself when creating a Twitter account are similar to questions to ask yourself when making a Facebook Page.
Is it prospective students? Is it current students? Is it a general interest community (e.g. people interested in entrepreneurship/business, etc.)?
Identify your audience and direct your content towards them. Keep in mind that your audience may change over time. Be conversational – reposting a flyer or speaking in jargon will not engage users, especially students. The best success that the official FDU pages have had in reaching a diverse audience including parents, students, alumni, staff, faculty and the public has been through the use of photo albums. Everyone clicks on a photo. Not everyone clicks on long text passages.
Be aware that since the page is affiliated with the University, you may be contacted by people in the University community who are not your intended audience (e.g. prospective students contacting the library, etc.). Do your best to answer these people and if you can’t help them, direct them to someone who can.
While it is possible to have a team of people maintain a Facebook account, not to mention ideal in case of emergency or job change, make sure you have one person who is ultimately in charge of it and takes responsibility for it. This administrator should be a trusted staff or faculty member and not a student.
“Like” all FDU Facebook Pages (click on “Likes” on the lower left hand side to see a list of FDU pages at http://www.facebook.com/fairleighdickinsonuniversity). Do a keyword search once a week to see if you can find any new pages to follow (they’re always cropping up!). Search words and phrases including “FDU” and any combination of “Fairleigh Dickinson University.” You can also search key groups, departments and names related to the University.
Be aware of “liking” dead pages. That is, pages bearing an FDU connection, but with no new or relevant content. “Liking” these pages make you look out of touch, as though you are not monitoring what’s happening on the other FDU pages. Luckily, you can just as easily “unlike” a page as you can “like” it.
All official University Facebook pages should link back to the University by having “Fairleigh Dickinson University” or “FDU” in the name (e.g. FDU Veterans, FDU Department of Communications Studies and PublicMind at Fairleigh Dickinson University).
Also, use the link area in the “info” section to put your fdu.edu department website.
Visually, your Facebook page should reflect your department and the University as a whole. University logos, department identifications, campus images, or portraits of the profile administrators are all acceptable. Do not use the University seal or old University logos under any circumstances. Also, do not use Devils/Knights logos if you are not representing athletics organizations. Lastly, make sure your image choice fits in and fills the allotted area without leaving white space or stretching the image to make it fit. Only displaying a portion of the logo or image is unacceptable.
Be sure that the icon you pick for your profile picture is readable and shrinkable for the “thumbnail” image that will appear around the Facebook site. It’s most notably visible when posting content to any Facebook web page.
All questions regarding branding compliance should be directed to the Office of Communications.
In the name section of your profile, put your full department name. In the “info” section of the page note that your feed is the official Facebook page of your department.
This depends on who your audience is. In general, notes about upcoming events, department news, photos from University events, articles about you in the media, etc. are appropriate. Don’t be afraid to show school spirit and generally allow emotion when appropriate. This shows that posts/photo albums are created by a real person and encourages readers to respond in kind (and may make them more likely to respond).
Keep in mind that social media is supposed to be social—that is interactive. Facebook is not a one-way information channel, it is supposed to be a two-way conversation. Engage your audience by asking questions and collecting feedback as well as by answering their own questions. Facebook is supposed to be fun and it doesn’t have to be as formal as other forms of University communications. Feel free to post pictures, short videos, interesting articles, etc. Try to engage your followers as much as possible.
When you post a link, be sure to write a descriptive comment in the post about the link so people will click on it.
- Did you hear? FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management ranks #4 out of 250 hospitality programs across the country! (link: http://inside.fdu.edu/prpt/hospitalityranking.html)
- Share the love FDU — Happy Valentine’s Day! Check out this heart-shaped pizza made by alumni and food-truck owner Peter Lombardi. (shared picture: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lombardi-Pizza-Co/164731256918891)
- Alum Marc Chalom discusses his FDU education, career as a television producer and creating A&E’s “Biography.” Who would you like to see profiled on “Biography?” (link to FDU video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST83-HLv5lc&feature=youtu.be)
Lastly, remember that everything you post is public record. Although there is an option to delete posts, they can never be fully scrubbed from the Internet.
Don’t be afraid to engage negative users. Reach out publicly to them and then ask them to message you directly (or take it off Facebook and go through email) to try and resolve the issue. Try to fix their problem if possible, and if not, at least provide the courtesy of listening to them.
Do not under any circumstances engage in a full-fledged argument on Facebook.
It’s critical to remember that, like Twitter, social media is not a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. operation. People are always on and always hungry for more content. Using a management platform like Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts, which is especially useful for “off-hours” posting. With Hootsuite, you can manage both Facebook pages and the Twitter feeds from the same dashboard, streamlining the process.
Because of Facebook’s design, it has the unique ability to be both a social network and a news service. People use Facebook to talk to friends but they also use it to get news (local, national, and international).
Never ever, ever link your Twitter and Facebook accounts together such that an update from one is automatically published to the other. If you have both a Facebook and a Twitter account for your department, write unique posts for both platforms. The writing required for each platform is different (e.g. hashtags on Facebook just look silly).
You can post links to the same content on both platforms, but take the extra minute to write a different sentence for each platform, otherwise you are negating the usefulness of multiple platforms.
Be careful about posting from your personal account. In the upper right hand corner, there is a little arrow, to the right of the “Home” button. Learn to use the little arrow – it will take your from your personal profile (so that you don’t have to create a dummy account) to your public page. Any posts you put up will appear as though “FDU example department” posted it, not Jane Smith.
There is no magic number of how many posts you should put up in a given time. In general, post when you have something to say and don’t when you don’t. Still, try to post new content a few times a week as a minimum.
It’s a good idea to post multiple times a day, especially during the Page’s infancy. You’ll need to build a presence and it’s more than just if you build (a Page), they will come. It’s if you post often, they will come. Facebook is stream-based, meaning that people rarely ever go to a brand’s Page, but just read their posts as they pop up in their newsfeed. If you don’t post often, you are invisible to fans.
Exceptions to posting frequency include emergencies and live posting events. In an emergency, post as often as necessary to get the message out. If you are live-posting an event, post as often as you would like (e.g. play-by-play for a sports game).
With all social media, immediacy is key. This is especially true when it comes to posts directed at you. If someone mentions you or direct messages you, do your best to respond as soon as possible. Many people expect answers within minutes. While this is not necessarily a reasonable expectation, the expectation does exist. You should always respond within 24 hours. For this reason, it is a good idea to check your Facebook account at least a few times a day.
Checking Facebook doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Skim over the new content, add something new, respond to a comment, “like” a new page and sign out.
An easy way to become known among the FDU community is to “like” all other official FDU Facebook pages. “Share” and mention other University Facebook pages to cross-promote each other.
Link your Facebook to all your other communications (put a link on your department webpage, in your email signature, brochures, etc.).
You can also send an announcement email out about your Facebook feed.
Having many “likes” is nice, but not an effective means of measuring success. What is more important is the engagement of your followers. How many conversations are you having? How many questions are you answering? How often do your posts get “shared?”
Use the Facebook Insights, located on the left hand side of your page, to gauge engagement, likes, etc.
After clicking on the Insights link, you’ll be redirected to a Facebook web page that shows your “Total Likes,” “Friends of Fans,” “People Talking About This,” and “Weekly Total Reach.” Focus on the last two. “People Talking About This” indicates interaction—everything from a user clicking “like” on a post, to a user creating their own post from your post, to comments and shares. “Weekly Total Reach” is the number of people who have seen content on your page within a span of seven days.
Below the line graph, you’ll find details on your “page posts.” You can sort the posts by date, title, reach, engaged users, talking about this and virality. We mostly look at date, reach and virality (the percentage of people who have created a story out of your post) for numbers.
More help on Insights can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=122407381175085.
In the end if you remember these tips, courtesy of Facebook, or ask for help (the Office of Communications and Marketing is here for you), your page will be a success.
Tell your story (in your own unique voice).
- Share rich content (including photos, video and links)
- Create a dialogue (through posts and tools that allow supporters to share and engage with your message)
- Amplify your impact (when your supporters share your content with their friends)
- Measure and refine (your message by using Facebook Insights to understand your audience)