Facebook: lessons I’ve learned about using it

Recently those of us who work for Newsquest have been taking part in some best practice social media workshops (main lesson learned so far: no two twitterers are alike and they all think their way is the right way!).

As a result of chatting with fellow web types about Facebook (main lesson learned there – no-one really knows how best to use it!) I’ve made some changes to our pages and profiles, which have doubled the number of the clickthroughs we’re getting.

They were really straightforward changes, so I thought I’d outline them for anyone who might be interested.

First: RSS Graffiti for Facebook – the best way to feed your news to Facebook, whether you’re cheating with a profile (of which more in a second) or using a fan page. It looks pretty and it doesn’t dump all your stories at once, but in relatively real time to when you post them.

Second: we had been using a profile, simply because the only way to actively find and friend people on Facebook is to have a profile. We’d set this up in the paper’s name, not mine, because I wanted the paper online to be it’s only personality and not connected to a specific person. However. This is generally frowned upon and people who are sussed out can have their accounts closed down without warning.

So I invited all our friends to “like” our page. Almost all did. I changed the name of the profile to Bournemouth Echo Sam (the name change had to be approved by Facebook) and started using it to share news links fed through to our fan page.

I also turned off the link that fed all our Twitter updates to our profile page, to stop all the news stories being replicated.

The page changes have been massively successful, although I’m finding that the best way of generating interaction with our posts is to comment or like them myself.

The profile changes have changed the way other people on Facebook treat me – because they can see I’m a real person now I’m being approached a lot more, on chat and by email. It’s more time consuming – if I want a story from the paper to appear on my profile I have to remember to manually post it – but with more than 70,000 potential fans in the Bournemouth network, it’s got to be worth the effort.

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