It was 12 years ago yesterday when this online polling contraption called “The Facebook” was developed by a Harvard undergrad named Mark Zuckerberg.
And now that everyone gives a crap about what’s in his closet and his opinion on child vaccinations, we have a platform that has changed the way we do business. Our clients demand it. We dream about it. And consumers expect it.
That said, we got to thinking about how Facebook enables traditional and digital public relations. So, in commemoration about that pre-teen birthday, here are 12 things PR pros should know about Facebook:
1. The coveted influencer.
Every industry, every client, everyone has a group considered “influencers.” These are people who are desired for their attention, ability to sway others, and have considerable clout in any given field. Facebook allows your client’s brand to connect with these people — as well as everyone else. What they like, share, and discuss matters because you know they trigger action and emotion. Understanding that will force you to share only quality content instead of the random ‘we’re hiring’ post with no pictures or links. Those influencers are impatient. Take it seriously. They do.
2. Jargon still sucks.
We all know buzzwords only sting. Consumers don’t use those words, so neither should brands. On Facebook, jargon is frowned upon the most — arguably, more than any other social media platform. When planning content for Facebook, think simple and not like Apple (“Think Different,” in case you missed that). Or as a journalism professor once told me, “Think USA Today rather than The New York Times.”
ICYMI: Blanket BCC pitches are so 1990s. Journalists hate that. Trust me, I was one. They are awful because there is no attempt to form a relationship and tell a story. Those are “flacks.” They only send the email to shill and not to share. Journalists are learning to use Facebook for ideas for news stories because those dumb emails can be overwhelming. Facebook gives you a tailored audience. If the timing is right, they will find your client’s post and possibly create an earned headline.
4. Different trends.
Every time a client wants to search for the trends, he or she logs onto Twitter. Because when they think “trends,” they think “trending,” which is a word that has been owned by the little blue bird. However, Facebook is a completely different social platform, so why wouldn’t Facebook have different trends? Different people like to discuss different things. So they do it on different platforms. Next time, your client or team is searching for trends, give yourself more options.
5. Profiles matter.
Much like dating apps and the wrinkles on one side of your face, profiles do matter. Several PR pros and clients alike fill a Facebook profile with fluff, market speak and those dreaded, aforementioned buzzwords. Facebook fans want to know precisely what you stand for, and what you believe. If they have to work for that answer, they will simply stop working. There’s only one thing worse than a negative comment — no comment at all. Be transparent. Be authentic. Be real.
No one on Facebook likes going to a fan page for a brand they enjoy and seeing that the page hasn’t been updated in a couple of weeks. “Well, we just don’t have time” is an excuse for not being committed to social media. It’s also the reason no one seems to care about your brand to the magnitude you wish. If you want to be on Facebook, be on Facebook. Be serious about posting content that works — at least one or two times daily. Mix up the posts because they don’t all have to be cheeky lines with a stock photo. If your timeline is all the same, it will look like Zuckerberg’s closet.
7. Learn tags and hashtags.
It took Facebook too long for adoption, but the platform finally figured out that this hashtag thingy isn’t going anywhere. And there is a difference between a hashtag and “tagging” another company. The hashtag is everyone talking about the same party. The tag is inviting someone to the party. See the difference? From giving credit to a source or sending someone a shout out, both of these can be effective on Facebook, like they are on Twitter. If you’re willing to learn.
Think about how you use LinkedIn: You post updates, add portfolio pieces, and like other posts because you want to be seen. Facebook is no different. You want journalists, friends in the media, and other peeps to know you are there, so you visit a profile, like a picture, and leave a reply. But what about links? Sometimes, visitors to your website will miss the social icons, so you need to provide links in many places to your Facebook page to garner those visits in the first place.
You work more than eight hours a day, so we understand you want to rest. However, your client wants to sell their widget and that means you keep the store open seven days a week — not five. Did you know that the interaction rate for posts on weekends is 14.5 percent higher compared to weekday posts, however only 14 percent of posts are published on Saturdays and Sundays? Your weekends are sacred but then again, so is making that money. Encourage weekend activity because there’s magic to be experienced on Saturday and Sunday.
Do you want to be known as a PR pro by your client? Give that client some motion on Facebook. If there was ever a place to shamelessly promote your client and whatever that client sells, Facebook is the place — namely with Facebook Groups. These are great tools geared to managing membership relationships for any organization. If you’re just starting a group, you will find cool things like the ability to manage communications to your members, post an events calendar, or provide additional networking benefits. Sounds like PR to us.
This is a near sacrosanct best practice on Facebook.
50 percent news: Include a custom blend of third party, non-competitive content from sites about your industry — it may or may not have something to do with your client but at least you aren’t “all about you.” That’s what thought leaders do.
30 percent personality: What interests your client? What stimulates the industry? What would cause that client to laugh? Facebook is a place where a personality can shine or be blotted out. Content that is prepared and acts as real-time journalism — this is what fans are looking from your client’s Facebook Page.
20 percent business: Now that you have sung a few chords of ‘Kumbaya’ with your fans and showed them how huggable your client really is, now you can think about yourself. Then — and only then — can you develop branded, self promotional content that clients expect.
This is a platform with at least 1.5 billion users. If you think Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat are huge, Facebook has more users than those… combined. Did you know that more than 70 percent of journalists use social networks to assist with reporting? What your client can do on Facebook starts with imagination. If you have traditional media relations, you have to have digital PR — and that usually starts with Facebook.