Tag Archives: facebook pages

What I learned from the Facebook Page experiment – and what happens next

Paul Bradshaw Facebook page

Cross-posted from the BBC College of Journalism blog:

Last week my experiment in running a blog entirely through a Facebook Page quietly came to the end of its allotted four weeks. It’s been a useful exercise, and I’m going to adapt the experiment slightly. Here’s what I’ve learned:

It suits emotive material

The most popular posts during that month were simple links that dealt with controversy – Isle of Wight council talking about withdrawing accreditation if a blogger refused to pre-moderate comments; and the wider issue of being denied access to public documents or meetings on the basis of blogging.

This isn’t a shock – research into Facebook tends to draw similar conclusions about the value of ‘social’ content.

That said, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions because the Insights data only gives numbers on posts after June 9 (when I posted a book chapter as a series of Notes), and the network effects will have changed as the page accumulated Likes.

UPDATE: Scrolling down the page each update does have impressions and interaction data on it in light grey – I’m not sure why these are not included in the Insights data (perhaps that service only kicks in after a certain number of Likes). But they do confirm that links get much higher traffic than Notes.

It requires more effort than most blogs

With most blogging it’s quite easy to ‘just do it’ and then figure out the bells and whistles later. With a Facebook Page I think a bit of preparation goes a long way – especially to avoid problems later on.

Firstly, there’s the choice whether to start one from scratch or convert an existing Facebook account into a Page.

Secondly, there’s the page name itself: at first you can edit this, but after 100 Likes you can’t. That leaves my ‘Paul Bradshaw’s Online Journalism Blog on FB for 1 month‘ looking a bit silly 5 weeks later. (It would be nice if Facebook warned you that this was happening)

Thirdly, if you want write more than 420 characters, you’ll need to use Notes (ideally, when logged on as the Page itself, which will result in the Note being auto-posted to the wall). And if you want to link phrases without leaving littering the note with ugly URLs, you’ll need to use HTML code.

Next, there’s integration with other online presences. Here are the apps I used:

  1. RSS Graffiti (for auto-posting RSS feeds from elsewhere)
  2. Slideshare (adds a new tab for your presentations on that site)
  3. Cueler YouTube (pulls new updates from your YouTube account)
  4. Tweets to Pages (pulls from your Twitter account into a new tab)

There’s also Smart Twitter for Pages which publishes page updates to Twitter; or you can use Facebook’s own Twitter page to link pages to Twitter.

Finally, I was thankful that I had used a Feedburner account for the Online Journalism Blog RSS feed. That allowed me to change the settings so that subscribers to the blog would still receive updates from the Facebook page (which also has an RSS feed) – and change it back afterwards.

It’s not suited for anything you might intend to find later

Although Vadim Lavrusik pointed out that you can find the Facebook page through Google or Facebook’s own search, individual posts are rather more difficult to track down.

The lack of tags and categories also make it difficult to retrieve updates and notes – and highlight the problems for search engine optimisation.

This created a curious tension: on the one hand, short term traffic to individual posts was probably higher than I would normally get on the blog outside Facebook. On the other, there was little opportunity for long term traffic: there was no footprint of inbound links for Google to follow.

This may not be a problem for local, hard news organisations which have a rapid turnover of content, no need to rank in Google News, and little value in the archives.

But there are too many drawbacks for most to move (as Rockville Central’s blog recently did) completely to Facebook. It simply leaves you too isolated, too ephemeral, and too vulnerable to changes in Facebook’s policies.

Part of a network strategy

So in short, while it’s great for short term traffic, it’s bad for traffic long-term. It’s better for ongoing work and linking than more finished articles. It shouldn’t be viewed in isolation from the rest of the web, but rather as one more prong in a distributed strategy: just as I tweet some things, Tumblelog others, and just share or bookmark others, Facebook Pages fit in somewhere amidst all of that.

Now I just need to keep on working out exactly how.

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How to create a Facebook news feed for a journalist (or anything else)

James Ball articles Facebook page

I’ve been enjoying The Independent’s individual Facebook feeds for journalists, football teams and other ‘entities’ of their news coverage. So much so that I wanted the work of journalists on other news organisations to be brought to me in the same way.

But other newspapers are not offering the same functionality, so I thought I’d do it myself. Here’s how you can do it too:

Create a Facebook page for the journalist

Go to the Facebook Pages page and click ‘Create Page‘ in the upper right corner. Continue reading

‘UGC’ and journalism: the Giffords shooting and Facebook page moderation

SarahPalinFacebook

The Obama London blog has a post looking at the moderation of comments on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page (following the Giffords shooting) which raises a couple of key points for journalists dealing with user generated content.

Editorially selected, not UGC

The first point is that it can be easy to assume user generated content is an unadulterated reflection of one community’s point of view, but in many cases it is not. A political page like Palin’s is, in many ways, no different to any piece of campaigning literature, with quotes carefully selected to reflect well on the candidate.

Political blogs – where critical comments can also be removed, should be subject to the same scepticism (MP Nadine Dorries’ claim that 70% of her blog was fiction is a good example of blog-as-political-pamphlet).

Taking a virtual trip to a Facebook page, then, is not comparable to treading the streets – or even a particular politician’s campaign team – in search of ‘the feeling on the ground’.

Inaction can be newsworthy

The second point, however, is that this very moderation can generate stories itself.

The Obama London post notes that while even constructively critical comments were removed almost instantly, one comment was left to stand (shown in the image above). And it appeared to condone the killing of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green:

“It’s ok. Christina Taylor Green was probably going to end up a left wing bleeding heart liberal anyway. Hey, as ‘they’ say, what would you do if you had the chance to kill Hitler as a kid? Exactly.”

Drawing on the campaign literature analogy again, you can see the newsworthiness of Palin staffers leaving this comment to stand (even when other commenters highlight its offensiveness).

Had Obama London been so inclined they could have led more strongly on something like: ‘Palin staff endorse comments condoning killing of 9-year-old’, or chased up a response from the team on why the comment was not removed.

But regardless of the nature of this individual example, you can see the broader point about comments on heavily moderated Facebook pages and blogs: they represent views that the politician’s camp is prepared to condemn or condone.

Comments

By the way, the extensive comment thread on that post is well worth exploring – it details how users can flag comments for moderation, removing them from their own view of the page but not that of others, as well as users’ experiences of being barred from Facebook groups for posting mildly critical comments.

Dylan Reeve in particular expresses my point more succinctly for moderators:

“The problem with the type of moderation policy that Sarah Palin (and others) utilise in places with user-contributed content is that they effectively appear to endorse any comments that do remain published.”

In the case of Facebook pages, admins are not named, but security lapses can lead to them being revealed and recorded, as is the case with Palin’s Facebook pages.

Oh, and on the more general thread of ‘analysis’ in the wake of the Giffords shooting, this post is well worth reading.

UPDATE: More discussion of the satirical nature of the comment on Reddit (thanks Mary Hamilton)

h/t Umair Haque