Facebook is a social networking site where users can create posts, share photos and videos, leave comments, and chat live. Content can be made public, shared just with a small group of friends or relatives, or shared only with a single individual and organisations can set up a page or create a group as a way to stay connected to their audience.
Many archives use Facebook as a way to engage and communicate with their audience but with an ever-changing social media landscape, sustaining engagement can be difficult and time consuming. This guide offers insight into creating Facebook content and tips for keeping your content engaging.
If you are using Facebook for the first time consider reading the following guide for beginners:
Museum Next – Tips to get your museum started with social media
If you are familiar with the platform but are interested in learning more before approaching storytelling on the platform, then these guides may be useful to read:
Sprout Social – The ultimate social media for museums guide
Museums Association at Saskatchewan – Facebook page management 101
Across the Digital Engagement Toolkit, we are looking at who engages with a particular platform by generation. You will find more detail on this within the platform finder. When looking at audience engagement by generation it is important to keep in mind it is not definitive of everyone’s behaviour. However, understanding the broad trend of a generation’s approach to a platform is useful to understand the audiences you are most likely to find there. For the purposes of this toolkit, we are using terminology that defines audiences with the following demographic terminology: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z.
Facebook is one of the largest social media sites, but in recent years younger people and digital natives are not engaging with Facebook and are beginning to turn away from the platform. Nevertheless, it remains popular amongst Baby Boomers and Gen X who make up some of the most consistently engaged with the platform.
Alongside keeping up to date with friends and family, audiences on Facebook follow particular pages of interest, explore video content, find out about events and even sell goods and services on the site.
How you decide to use your Facebook page may vary depending on how your audience likes to engage with you. Facebook is a platform that continues to change and adapt and keeping up to date on what is best to post to your page can often be difficult. There is no easy solution to the ever-changing nature of social media. However, by applying storytelling techniques and keeping an active relationship with your audience, you will naturally develop and respond to change. In this guide, you will find some tips and ideas that can keep you telling interesting stories on Facebook.
Make your content engaging
When posting on social media, studies suggest you only have around seven seconds to grab someone’s attention and so considering the clarity and impact of your post is vital.
Consider how you utilise graphic design or clear imagery to hook your reader in; Facebook has a ‘see more’ feature on longer posts which means they are shortened and users decide if they want to see the full post. Don’t assume audiences who follow you will always click ‘see more’ or be instantly interested in what you have to say. Work hard to get their attention and draw them into your story. Utilise the text limit before the ‘see more’ button with a clear headline that engages your audience and makes them want to read more.
Support this approach using graphics, photos or media to give your story the most potential to grab your audience’s attention. What you include in your post, whether graphics, images or emojis should have a meaningful connection to the story you are telling.
Involve your audience
Don’t post only about what you are doing, it’s very easy to fall into a repetitive cycle of just using Facebook as a place to update because you feel you need to post something. Consider how your audience gets involved with your posts and how you can utilise a call to action around what you are posting.
Call to action
A call to action might be inviting audiences to comment with their thoughts or respond to a particular piece of content. This might be asking your audience what they remember about a particular time or if they can help identify something in a photo or document from your collection. But a call to action can also be about sharing memories, stories or feelings around a particular part of your collection. This will make the page feel alive and have a sense of community.
A Facebook post that includes user content receives ten times the number of views as organisation generated content so discovering ways to engage your audience actively is vital. You will receive more potential for user-generated content from any call to action posts. User-generated material might be someone sharing how your organisation made a positive difference in their life or it could be positive reviews or about sharing the comments and feedback you have received across your social media accounts. It could also include sharing photos or memories about a specific event, location, topic or theme.
Use language that speaks directly to your audience and consider the level of familiarity you want to employ within the voice of your Facebook content. For example, do you consider them friends of your archive or users of your archive? Small changes in the language can allow audiences to feel more connected and thus more likely to get involved.
Tell your story
Letting an audience know who you are, how your archive was founded and how collections came into your possession has great potential for storytelling and will be easy content to generate.
People respond to honesty and transparency and engaging audiences in this way opens up opportunities for comments and dialogue. When people are aware of an organisation’s origins, it becomes more familiar and approachable to them.
When telling your story remember to connect directly with your audience and use emotive language that engages people in what you find important about your archive’s story.
Examine this brief example and the difference emotive language can make:
Example One: We hold over 100,000 records that are in the public domain.
Example Two: We hold over 100,000 local memories, each a connection to the story of our town and the people that have lived here. These stories are waiting to be discovered. Who knows what you might find!
Huit Denim Co is a great example of an organisation that has a strong story to tell about their origins and how they operate. They are synonymous with their location, the people who work there and their product. They live by the mantra of “Do one thing well”.
“Our Town is Making Jeans Again.
Cardigan is a small town of 4,000 good people. 400 of them used to make jeans. They made 35,000 pairs a week. For three decades.
Then one day the factory closed. It left town. But all that skill and know-how remained. Without any way of showing the world what they could do.
That’s why we have started The Hiut Denim Company. To bring manufacturing back home. To use all that skill on our doorstep. And to breathe new life into our town.
As one of the Grand Masters said to me when I was interviewing: “This is what I know how to do. This is what I do best.” I just sat there thinking I have to make this work.
So yes, our town is going to make jeans again.
Creative thinking and exercises
Exercise one – make your content engaging
Scroll through your recent Facebook posts and explore if you have utilised an engaging opening to your posts. Take three posts that you think could be improved and apply the learning from the ‘Make Your Content Engaging’ section of this guide. Write down your new posts on a piece of paper and compare these with your old content.
Exercise two – involve your audience
Go through your recent posts to identify if you are utilising any call to actions within your Facebook content.
If you haven’t used a call to action, then find a recent post you think would have benefited and on paper write a new version of that post that invites a response from your audience.
If you have been using a call to action then take a look at:
- How often are you utilising this as a way to include your audience – could it be more regular?
- Is it getting the level of response you desire? If not discuss with colleagues why you think that might be
- Consider a call to action that is about asking your audience what type of content they want to see from you.
Exercise three – user generated content
Over the course of a month collect the content that is generated by your audience. In this time utilise some call to action posting and screenshot any comments received and save them to a folder. Use the content in this folder to help you plan out a series of posts sharing your favourite audience comments and interactions.
Archaeological Analytics have compiled what they think is some of the best digital heritage content on Facebook. Have a look and see what engages you and what doesn’t.
Humans of New York are great storytellers on Facebook. They use strong imagery and tell stories through their posts. Their posts are always written with the audience in mind and they focus well on the human experience and connecting through emotion.
Social Media handbook
Embrace Digital from the Heritage Lab – social media handbook for cultural institutions and professionals. This helpful free guide covers everything from developing a social media strategy to planning your social content.
Creative storytelling for social media
Scheduling your social media content is a great way to effectively manage your time and pre-plan content to a regular schedule. Facebook for Business now allows you to schedule posts on your business page within the platform. Here’s a quick how-to guide:
There are several platforms that enable you to schedule posts on Facebook and other social media sites. Some offer a certain number of scheduled posts for free but others charge a monthly fee to use their scheduler. Scheduling posts in advance can save time overall so it might be something that you want to consider:
Explore Your Archive
The #ExploreYourArchive campaign operates across three social media platforms; Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Using #ExploreYourArchive on any of these platforms will greatly increase the size and range of audiences viewing your posts. The Explore Your Archive team searches for the hashtag daily and reposts your content to further promote your posts.
How to measure impact
Similar to Instagram, Facebook offers an Insights tool that can tell you a lot about your engagement with your audience.
Facebook Insights can show you where your likes are coming from and who your audience is. This can be really useful for understanding who you are engaging on Facebook and who you are not. You will also discover ways to measure the reach of your post – the total number of people that may have seen your post. You can then compare this with how many people interacted with the post or clicked any links within posts.
Buffer have developed a guide on Facebook Insights about how to measure your impact within the platform to help your understanding of what content works and how to grow your Facebook activity. It covers Facebook page analytics from your Page Summary to a more detailed look at how to measure individual posts. It also shows you how to compare your page with other similar pages so you can better understand how your reach measures up.
In recent years social media companies have begun to make their platforms more accessible but it is important that when making content for a platform you consider and learn ways to make it as accessible as possible.
The Big Hack – How to make your Facebook Business page more accessible
Facebook Help Centre – Accessibility
Government Communication Service – Planning, creating and publishing accessible social media campaigns
Digital Pathways – Resource portal. This portal has aggregated useful resources from different organisations on a multitude of digital topics. Guides relating to aspects of digital engagement are included.
Mad Fish Digital – How to use ethical social media marketing to attract your audience