Facebook is one of the most popular kinds of social media, with roughly half of the UK population having an account. It’s an online platform primarily used by individuals to keep in touch with friends, but also used extensively by organisations of all sizes, community groups and youth clubs to promote events and exhibitions, attract new participants and as a way to enter a two-way dialogue with their supporters.
When you sign up to Facebook, you can create a ‘profile’. This part of the site is about you personally and includes information about your hobbies and interests, photos, etc. You only need to upload as much information as you feel comfortable with – please note that you can adjust your privacy settings to limit what other Facebook users can see of your profile, but your name, profile picture and any cover photos will always be publicly available for anyone to view, whether they are logged into Facebook or not.
After establishing your own Facebook profile, you can add ‘Friends’ who are also on Facebook and engage with ‘Pages’. Organisations, small businesses and community groups create Pages to showcase their work and keep people up to date with their most recent news. By ‘Liking’ these pages, you will be able to interact with the Pages by posting photos, creating your own posts, commenting on the posts of others, etc. You will also receive updates from Friends and Pages you Like on your News Feed, the main page you see as a logged-in Facebook user.
You can also Like the SUP Facebook Page to keep up to date with all our latest news.
Using Facebook pages
With your own profile on Facebook, you can create a Page for your community group. Multiple people can manage a Page, but they all need to be registered on Facebook. It is very easy to set up a Facebook Page and less daunting than creating your own website.
To get started, visit www.facebook.com/pages and click on ’Create Page’ at the top right. Choose your Page name very carefully, as you cannot make any changes to the name of your Page after you reach 100 Likes. You will then be able to invite your Facebook Friends to Like your Page, promote your events, post photographs and share updates with the people who Like the Page.
The cover photo is a large image at the top of your Page and often the first thing people see. Help visitors figure out who you are and what you do by making your cover image eye-catching and relevant to your community group or research project, but keep text to a minimum. The image should be at least 851 x 315 pixels for the best quality. Remember that anyone can see your cover image and that you must have permission to use it.
This is very important, as Facebook users will see your profile picture every time:
Profile pictures are displayed in a variety of square sizes, from 180 x 180 pixels to 43 x 43 pixels, so check that whatever image you choose is clear at the smallest size.
This is where you can tell people what your Page is about. As a minimum, we recommend you complete the ‘Short Description’ and add a link to your website or blog, if appropriate. In the Short Description, you are limited to 155 characters, so be clear and concise
Facebook works on a sophisticated system that calculates what its users want to see, based on how much people have engaged with your previous posts. Stay relevant to your fans’ interests and post plenty of images and links to interesting websites, news stories and blog posts. Text-only updates have been shown to be less popular with most Facebook users, but do experiment and see what your audience is most interested in. Remember, if you are going to upload images to Facebook, check you have permission to use them first.
Through your Page, you can create ‘Events’ on Facebook as a way of advertising upcoming events you are planning. You can invite your friends (who can, in turn, invite friends they think would be interested in your event) and indicate whether or not they are planning to attend. This can be a very helpful insight into expected numbers when event planning. Your Events can also feature a cover image.
An alternative way to create a Facebook presence, Facebook Groups are very simple discussion boards which can be as private or public as you want. If you are looking for a digital space for your community to discuss topics and research rather than promote events or share resources, this may be a better option for you than a Facebook Page.
To create a Group, click ‘Create Group’ from the left side menu on your home page. A new window will appear where you can add a Group name, add members and select the privacy settings for your Group.
Please note that if you post an update through a Facebook Page, your own personal profile will not be displayed in connection with this post. In a Facebook Group, however, you will be posting through your personal profile.
For more information on the differences between Pages and Groups, visit Facebook.
If you are interested in monitoring the success of your Facebook Page, explore the ‘Facebook Insights’ tab on at least a monthly basis. This will reveal useful information, such as what your most popular posts are, statistics about your fans and what times of the day/week you should post.
When you include links to other websites in your posts, you can also use a trackable URL from services like bitly.com. Bit.ly enables you to turn long website URLs into short links and record how many clicks that link has received.
Twitter has over 500 million users worldwide. Twitter is a form of ‘microblogging’ which limits your posts to 140 characters. These short, instant posts are called ‘Tweets’ and they can contain text, photos and videos. Millions of Tweets are being created and shared in real time, every day.
You can follow Twitter accounts of celebrities, organisations and friends, and see what they are Tweeting about. When you follow people, their Tweets instantly show up in your timeline. Similarly, your Tweets show up in your followers' timelines. Sharing other people’s Tweets is called ‘Retweeting’, or ‘RT’ for short. Sometimes adjustments are made to someone else’s post before Retweeting, which is defined as a ‘Modified Tweet’, or ‘MT’. You can also ‘Reply’ to Tweets if you want to respond publicly, or send a private message if you mutually follow one another.
It is very easy to set up a Twitter account and less demanding to maintain than keeping up a Facebook presence.
If you are new to Twitter, spend some time seeking out relevant accounts to follow (such as museums, other community groups, family history researchers) and see how they manage their account. You’ll see how many times they Tweet in a day, how they structure Tweets and how they carry out conversations through Twitter.
First impressions count
As with Facebook Pages, your profile picture and cover images are often the first things people will see of your accounts. Make sure that your profile picture (recommended as 400 x 400 pixels) is still clear when it is just a tiny image in the Twitter News Feed.
Think before you Retweet
Before you Retweet something, consider if it is in keeping with your account, group and your communication goals. Nothing guarantees getting ‘unfollowed’ faster than Retweeting things which do not resonate with the reasons why people followed you in the first place. Be consistent and remember that your Retweets also appear in your followers’ News Feeds, so use them wisely.
Use hashtags (#)
The # symbol is used before keywords or topics in a Tweet, turning the word into a link known as a hashtag. Clicking on a hashtag will show you all other Tweets that use that keyword. Using existing hashtags, or creating new ones, makes it easy for people to follow and contribute to conversations. Organisations often create new hashtags to allow attendees at conferences to discuss talks.
One of the most popular hashtags used worldwide is #FF, which is short for ‘Follow Friday’, a weekly tradition where users recommend accounts that other people should follow on Twitter. If you are included in a #FF Tweet, you may see your number of followers increase.
We recommend using no more than two hashtags per Tweet.
Search and refine
Twitter’s search tool is powerful, enabling you to look through its billions and billions of tweets and narrow down results to exactly what you are looking for. The Advanced Search feature allows you to refine your search by the words used, who Tweeted, who was mentioned, locations, date ranges, and even if the Tweet is positive or negative. You can also search for hashtags. When you have perfected your search parameters, you can even save the search criteria for future use.
While most people will talk about your group, research or website by mentioning you in a Tweet (using the @ symbol), sometimes people will not know you have an account. Do a search in Twitter every few days to see if anyone is talking about your group and let them know you are also on Twitter.
Share stories, pictures and videos
If you are using Twitter as a promotional tool for your group, Tweet relevant content and Tweet often. Try posting a variety of interesting information about your project. Consider the milestones you’ve reached, any interesting or humorous discoveries you’ve made along the way or the difference this project could make to your community.
Let people know about your upcoming events – and update them if any events are cancelled, postponed or have changed venues (though we recommend you notify people using other forms of communication too).
High-quality photographs and graphics can bring your project to life – and generate a lot more interest than text-only posts. Always include a link to your project website or blog in your Tweets so that people can discover more.
Research has shown that the best times to Tweet are from Monday to Thursday, 1pm to 3pm.
Twitter offers in-built analytics, allowing you to monitor the success of every Tweet and account in general. As with Facebook analytics, this will allow you to see what your most popular Tweets have been, statistics about your followers and how many ‘impressions’ your Tweets have had.
Impressions are a measure of the number of times a post has been seen, without taking engagement into account. For example, someone may see your Tweet many times on their News Feed, but never click on it, leading to a high number of impressions, but low engagement.
While you can monitor clicks on links through Twitter analytics, we do recommend you also use a trackable URL from services like bitly.com. Bit.ly enables you to turn long website URLs into short links and record how many clicks that link has received.
Social media are constantly being updated, and new features may alter the way you create accounts and manage profiles. If you find the following information no longer applies, please do let us know by emailing Bryony Jackson, SUP Events and Communications Officer, at email@example.com.