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Facebook Thumbs Up CMYK / .eps


An Opening Letter
2 Executive from Facebook 1
Facebook Best
Practices 4
#1: Good Content Creation

14 Facebook #2: Ace Your Promotional Methods

Success Stories
#3: Measure Success

Department of Veterans Affairs:

Communicating authentically
with your fans
#4: Make Sure Your Page is Secure

Florida Department of Health:

Leveraging Facebook ads for
a tobacco-free Florida

Henrico County, Virginia:

Using Facebook for information
distribution during inclement weather
A Public-Sector
Burnsville, Minnesota:
How to host a virtual fire department
Facebook FAQ 28
ride-along on Facebook

Evanston, Illinois:
How to run a successful Facebook Resources &
Checklist 30
Q&A with your mayor

Menlo Park, California:

Let a Facebook video turn
a negative into a positive

32 About Facebook
& GovLoop

2 A GovLoop Guide
INTRODUCTION Providing a platform that enables direct For governments, Facebook can also be
interactions between governments and an effective channel to share prepared-
An Opening their citizens is an important part of
our mission to make the world more
ness tips and keep citizens informed with
real-time, location-specific information in
Letter from open and connected. With more than
188 million people on Facebook in the
case of an emergency.

Facebook United States, Facebook is an efficient

and effective place for governments to
Facebooks self-serve advertising tool also
allows governments to promote content
engage with their constituents. Thats why to people beyond their existing follower
weve created a variety of tools that make base and to those in specific geographic
communicating easy for local, state, and areas. This can be a cost-effective way
federal government. to reach more constituents with content
that is relevant to them. This guide
In partnership with GovLoop, we hope includes tips on advertising.
this guide helps you develop a winning
strategy for communicating on Facebook. How people consume information is
Whether you are providing information, constantly evolving, and for govern-
answering questions, or asking for feed- ments to be successful, they will need to
back, well help you find what works best continuously engage with their followers
for you. to understand what types of content
resonate the most.
Success on Facebook means posting
content that is interesting, useful, and We hope this guide serves as a helpful
engaging and doing it on a regular resource for you and your Page admin-
basis. We see the best response to posts istrator as you build and expand your
that include videos, behind-the-scenes Facebook presence. We look forward
photos, and posts in which a government to seeing some innovative ideas from
agency initiates a two-way conversation governments. Good luck!
with citizens.

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 1

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Think back to the state of social me- Finally, we surveyed the GovLoop
dia before 2010. In those days, simply audience to find out the most common
The Governments having a Facebook Page and posting
to it occasionally was enough for many
questions and concerns they had about
using Facebook. Weve turned these
Guide to organizations and the public sector. In
fact, in many cases it meant that you were
questions and answers from the team
at Facebook into a handy FAQ for you
Facebook at the cutting edge of public-sector social
to reference.

Today, to reach your citizens, you need to

But today, just having a social media pres- be tactical and strategic. Applying the ad-
ence is no longer enough. You must be vice in this guide to your use of Facebook
smart, strategic and ever more creative will help guarantee youre reaching your
in order to gain the attention of your audience there and encouraging them to
audience and reach the right people in take action on community issues.
your community.
To get a sense of the current Face-
And thats what were here to help you do. book government landscape, GovLoop
GovLoop and Facebook have partnered surveyed 451 members of our audience
to create this resource, The Governments comprised of government employees,
Guide to Facebook, to help you use Face- industry leaders and public-sector work-
book to better reach your constituents in ers. Here are a few of our findings:
exciting, innovative and effective ways.
87 percent of respondents said
In the following pages, well explain and their organizations already have a
detail myriad Facebook services that align Facebook Page.
with public-sector users needs and goals.
91 percent said the No. 1 objective
Well also give you several best practices
of using Facebook was to keep
on how to create great content, use paid
citizens informed.
advertising and ensure your Page stays
secure. 80 percent said photos are the most
popular content posted.
Well then hear from those on the ground
57 percent of respondents are NOT
in the public sector who are using
currently using advertising tools,
Facebook with interesting and successful
while 23 percent are and 20 percent
applications. Weve interviewed several
are unsure.
citizen engagement experts including
folks at the Department of Veterans Text updates, photos/images and
Affairs and Henrico County in Virginia links are the types of content most
and well offer up six case studies of frequently posted.
excellent and creative Facebook uses that
will inspire you.

2 A GovLoop Guide
87% 91%

Percent of respondents who said their Percent of respondents who said the No. 1
organizations already have a Facebook Page. objective of using Facebook was to keep
citizens informed.

Percent of respondents who are NOT currently

Percent of respondents who said photos are
using advertising tools, while 23 percent are
the most popular content posted.
and 20 percent are unsure.

80% 57%

Photos/images, text updates and links

are the types of content most frequently posted.

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 3

Want to make your Facebook Page the best it can
be and get more engagement? Follow these tips.
We break down everything from how News Feed
works to why you need to be using Facebook video
for more engagement.

4 A GovLoop Guide




The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 5

TIP # 1 Good, authentic and interesting content Thats why News Feed ranks the stories
is the heartbeat of Facebook. You can and shows you what is important and rel-
Good Content post as often as you like or boost posts
constantly, but nothing will gain you more
evant to you based on the things youve
engaged with most on Facebook. For
Creation success on your Facebook Page than cre-
ating thoughtful, interesting and relevant
example, if you tend to post, comment
on, and watch lots of videos then videos
content whether its a simple, consider- will show up higher in your News Feed.
ate text update or a beautiful image.
The goal of News Feed is to deliver the
Remember: Most people will see your right content to the right people at the
posts in the News Feed, not on your right time so they dont miss the stories
page. In your content, creativity and that are important to them, said Katie
authenticity will be rewarded. Succinct- Harbath, Global Politics and Government
ness, timeliness and great visuals are all Outreach Manager at Facebook.
hallmarks of successful posts.
With so many stories, there is a good
Here, well detail best practices from chance people would miss something
Facebook on how to make sure youre they wanted to see if Facebook displayed
posting the best content that will get you a continuous, unranked stream of infor-
the most engagement from your fans and mation.
In fact, testing has shown that when Face-
But first, we wanted to delve into infor- book stops ranking and shows content in
mation about something relevant to all of chronological order, there is a decrease
you: Facebooks News Feed. in the number of stories people read
and engage with people actually miss
How does Facebooks News Feed work? more stories when everything is shown
Of all the questions weve received from
the GovLoop audience about Facebook There arent enough hours in the day for
tips, we hear this one the most. people to spend the time it would take
to read everything in their News Feed,
Naturally, everyone who manages a Page
and the volume will continue to grow as
on Facebook wants every single thing
people add new friends and interests.
they post to reach each of their fans.
But the fact is, every time the average As a result, Facebooks algorithm ranks
Facebook user visits their News Feed millions of posts a day to determine
there are 1,500 potential stories for them which ones will be most relevant and
to see from their friends or Pages they interesting to every single reader.
follow. Most people dont have enough
time to see them all.

6 A GovLoop Guide
So how does that algorithm work?

In short, these are the measures by which

Facebook ranks posts:

How recently has each of your fans Avoid images covered in text or that
engaged with your past posts? PHOTOS arent visually interesting.
Photos are one of the best ways to
How much engagement is the post Bright, colorful images depicting
increase engagement and likes on your
getting overall from people who human interaction are particularly
Page. In fact, Facebook photos receive 50
have already seen it? successful.
percent more likes than non-photo posts.
How engaged has the viewer previ- An example? Check out this image
ously been with the person who is Great images stop you as you scroll from the city of Manor, Texas, which
posting the content? through your News Feed, especially when shows policemen helping stranded
theyre authentic and accompanied by motorists. Its a behind-the-scenes
Does the type of post (status up- text to deliver a clear message. Addition- photo that shows people getting
date, photo, video, link) match what ally, people simply love great visual con- services from the city and it
types have been popular with the tent. Government social media managers received nearly 50 likes.
viewer in the past? can increase post quality by creating
Heres another example: Marylands
How recently was the post pub- quality photos.
Department of Natural Resources
Here are some tips on posting photos: AccessDNR posted a photo of some
So there you have it that is how News beautiful scenery that received more
Feed works. According to Facebook, Try posting photos of sneak peeks than 300 likes. Consider posting
though, nothing matters as much as cre- or behind-the-scenes content that natural scenes and landscapes from
ative, relevant and thoughtful content. So give your audience on Facebook a your state, city or county.
in the following sections, well tell you how viewpoint they dont normally get
to provide just that on your Page. to see.

News Feed Visibility*


Interest of the user This posts perfor- Performance of past Type of post (status, How new is the
in the creator mance amongst posts by the content photo, link) user post
other users creator amongst prefers
other users
The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 7
* This is a simplified equation. Facebook also looks at roughly 100,000 other high-personalized factors when determining whats shown.
VIDEOS Consider interviewing a government Schedule posts for when most of
Facebook now has an option to directly
employee who has an interesting your audience is online.
add videos to Facebook Pages instead of
and relatable story to tell on camera.
linking to them from another hosting site. Highlight days for major events or
An example? Check out this news.
Uploading directly to Facebook is the best three-minute one from Federal Stu-
Create targeted messages that tell
way to post video content because of its dent Aid. It explains what happens
your story.
faster load time, auto-play in the News after you submit the Free Applica-
Feed and more detailed statistics in Face- tion for Federal Student Aid. It has Dont post too little or too much.
books Page Insights. By adding videos received 16,730 views and 286 likes! How much you should post de-
directly to Facebook, you make it easy for pends on every Page and the size of
Another example is this moving vid-
users to find old videos from your page. its audience; its impossible to give
eo from the Washington, D.C., Fire
Need help? Head here for instructions on one-size-fits-all recommendation.
and Emergency Medical Services
how to add video to Facebook. You need to walk a line between
Departments page, in which work-
informative and annoying, and only
ers recall the devastating effects of
Here are some ideas on posting videos: your own experience and tests will
a house fire. Its gotten more than
tell you where that lies. That said, we
Keep them short. Videos of less than 82,500 views and 390 likes.
recommend that smaller govern-
three minutes generally perform ments post anywhere between once
best. TEXT POSTS a day and three times a week.
Make the video informative, original Videos and photos are wonderful ways to
Post timely content. For example,
(uploading something you dont own engage your constituents, but a simple text
post about issues that are in the
could get it deleted) and compelling. post can still be powerful. Here are several
news or if people are celebrating
ideas and tips for optimizing text posts on
Dont create a video just for the sake a holiday.
Facebook to get the most responses and
of creating a video. Is the informa- Use conversational language. Leave
engagement from your fans:
tion you want to share truly best the formal press release behind.
conveyed in a video format or is text Post consistently. Being consistent Facebook is about a more casual,
better? in the quality and types of posts friendly tone.
You dont need to be Ken Burns to you create can help people know
Respond quickly to comments on
create a good Facebook video. If what kinds of messages to expect
your posts to let fans know youre
the video is short, interesting and from you and how they tie into your
listening to feedback.
educational, it doesnt have to be organization. A content calendar can
help you plan ahead and make sure Break news. People like using Face-
produced professionally. That said,
posts use a similar message each book to let their friends know about
do make sure the image and audio
time. You can: important events happening in their
are clear.

8 A GovLoop Guide
community, so make sure your Maggie Hassan that got 234 likes. menu at the top of your Timeline
organization takes advantage of She wasnt afraid to be conver- and then click Start a Q&A from the
opportunities to post breaking news sational and cheer on her local dropdown menu. Add a photo of the
quickly. Dont wait for the press sports team, and her engagement person hosting it and responding
release. And keep people updated skyrocketed! to the questions to personalize the
as the story develops. When organi- post and prove authenticity. You can
zations posted multiple updates in call for questions on a specific topic
quick succession during a breaking or leave the Q&A open for your
What is a Facebook Q&A? Its basically
news event, they saw a 10 percent audience to ask anything.
what it sounds like a way for you to host
increase in engagement.
a live question-and-answer session with Answer away. Audience questions
Be concise. People scroll through your audience on your Facebook Page. Its will appear in the comments below
the News Feed quickly, so the chanc- a simple way for you to engage with your your Q&A post. To answer, simply
es theyre going to stop and read audience directly from your posts. Think reply to the audience comments.
anything longer than a few lines are of it as a virtual town hall and encourage Answer as many as you like the
slim. Stick to important information your mayor, the head of a department or pace is up to you. You do not have
and pay attention to your word anyone, really, to participate in a Facebook to respond to every question.
count. Try to get to whats relevant Q&A to show that you are interested in
Moderate. Page admins are able to
in your message before the text is talking directly with your constituents.
moderate Q&As just like any other
post on Facebook. You can remove
Heres how it works: Your audience will
Try crowdsourcing. Your citizens are comments or ban participants.
ask you questions in the comments below
smart use the power of Facebook
your Q&A post. Questions that you answer An example? Whitehall, Ohio, hosted
to ask for help when you seek to
will appear higher in the comments so a Facebook Q&A with its mayor, Kim
address their concerns. Effective
your audience knows youre listening. Maggard. You can see the post and
crowdsourcing raises awareness
the conversation here.
about government initiatives while Heres how to host a Facebook Q&A:
promoting civic engagement. Another example is this Q&A from
Pick a time. You can host a Facebook the mayor of Evanston, Ill. Head
Ask a question. With text posts, your
Q&A anytime on your Page. We to page 26 to read a detailed case
main goal and motivation should be
recommend announcing when study about it.
to get people to comment and join
youll be doing the Q&A a few days Dont see the Q&A option on your page?
the conversation. The best way to do
beforehand so your fans know when E-mail to get access to it.
this is by asking short questions that
to tune in.
require a short answer.

An example? See this one-line post

Start the conversation. To get start-
from New Hampshire Governor
ed, click the Q&A icon in the share

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 9

TIP # 2 Your goal with Facebook is to reach the Be specific about the audiences for
right people: your citizens and constitu- different ads; people are more likely to re-
Ace Your ents. At times, you may want to use it to
boost engagement with and awareness
spond to a message crafted just for them.

Promotional of a particular campaign, such as a new

public safety drive or the launch of a
To make sure your ads look great wherev-
er theyre seen on Facebook, check out

Methods website, or you may want to encourage

people to take a particular action, like
this ads guide for detailed specifications,
such as image dimensions.
sign-up for a new program.
In the following pages, well detail some
One of the best ways to achieve those tips and tricks to maximize your ads
goals is through Facebook advertising. and your return on investment. However,
You can do this with any budget size, the process for running effective ads is
large or small. Advertising on Facebook different for everybody, so we recom-
allows government agencies the ability to mend that also you check out this Face-
reach a specific audience with messages book page on advertising capabilities, and
that are tailored to them. also get in touch with the Facebook team
at for personalized help on
You can either drive people to your Face- running campaigns.
book page to learn more information,
or you can drive people off-Facebook
to your website. Whats more, Facebook FACEBOOK ADS
ads allow you to reach people beyond Step 1: Pick an objective.
your fans meaning that you can target The first thing youll want to do when
people with a message, even if they dont launching a Facebook ad campaign is to pick
like your page. your objective. You can build an ad campaign
around any of the following goals:
For example, government officials may
decide they want to run a Facebook ad Send people to your website.
campaign to drive people to a new web- Increase conversions on your
site about flu prevention. Then, the page website.
manager can select the relevant target
Boost your posts.
audience in this case, people in areas
with high instances of the fluand if Promote your Page.
youre in that audience, Facebook shows Get installs of your app.
you the ad.
Increase engagement in your app.
You can create an ad right from the Reach people near your business.
admin panel of your Page or you can use
the Ads Create Tool, which walks you Raise attendance at your event.
through the steps. Get people to claim your offer.

Get video views.

10 A GovLoop Guide
1. Location: When defining your 5. Custom Audiences and Lookalikes:
audience, youll start by selecting With Custom Audiences, you can reach
where you do business or where lists of people you already know by
the people you want to reach are. targeting based on email addresses or
phone numbers. When you use Custom
Tip: Facebook will default to your Audiences, you can choose to create a
ad accounts country, but be Lookalike Audience that targets people
sure to narrow your location to who are similar to your Custom Audi-
the cities or regions that match ences list. Lookalike Audiences help you
your audience. Remember, if you reach people who are similar to your
target more than one location, current audience for fan acquisition,
your ads are optimized for your site registration, off-Facebook clicks and
campaign objective and may brand awareness. Lookalike audiences
not necessarily be served evenly can also be created off of the fan base of
across locations. your page.

2. Demographics: Next youll

need to define the age and gen- MOBILE ADVERTISING ON
der of your target audience. FACEBOOK
As discussed earlier in this guide, Face-
Tip: Head to page 20 for a case study Tip: Facebook will default the
book is a mobile-first company and as
from the Florida Department of Health on audience to all ages. If your ad is relevant
such, its mobile advertising options have
how it launched a successful ad campaign only to people in a certain age range, you
increased significantly. In fact, of the 1.32
that helped smoking cessation rates. should change it.
billion people who use Facebook each
Step 2: Choose your ad creative and write month, 399 million, or roughly a third,
3. Interests and behavioral targeting:
your ad content. log in only with their phones. Addition-
These choices let you focus on the people
Youll have the option of uploading up to ally, Facebooks monthly user base has
who will be most interested in your mes-
six images so you can easily see which ad grown 14 percent year over year, while its
sage. Select a few interests that describe
performs best and gets the most out of mobile user base has grown much more,
your audience.
your advertising budget. The best image at 31 percent. So if youre conducting an
size to use for your ad depends on what Tip: Put yourself in their shoes. Are they advertising campaign on Facebook, its
type of ad youre creating. Before you interested in public safety? Do they like smart to deploy mobile ads as well.
create your ad image, please visit the the outdoors? You can also define your
The best thing for you to do? Since most
Facebook Ads Guide for specifications audience based on their behaviors, such
people these days are viewing Facebook
around the recommended ad image sizes as digital activity, what devices they use,
on their mobile devices, you should
for each ad type. past or intended actions, or travel.
always make sure to run ads in the News
When creating ad content, follow these For example, if youre advertising a Feed as well as the sidebar so you can
guidelines from Facebook: healthy living app thats available only on guarantee your audience is seeing them,
iOS, you can choose people interested in no matter the platform.
Include a clear action you want your health and people who use an iOS device
audience to take in the body text of to access Facebook. This way, youre
your ad. focusing your budget to show ads to INTEGRATION OF
people who would be able to download MARKETING COLLATERAL
Use a simple, eye-catching image Paid advertising campaigns are just one
the app.
that is related to your ad text. way to raise awareness of your organiza-
If youre advertising a website, 4. Advanced connection targeting: Think tions Page. To make your investment go
include your organizations name about whether you want people who further, make sure your Facebook Page
or other key information in the already know about your organization on URL is on all of your external marketing
headline. Facebook to see your ad. For example, if collateral: Link your Page to your website,
youre running ads to generate aware- place the URL on printed marketing
Step 3: Pick your target audience.
ness about an initiative, the fans of your materials and mention your Facebook
Before creating an ad, know who your
page might already know about the ini- URL in TV and radio ads. This seemingly
target audience is. Think about whom you
tiative. You can exclude fans in advanced basic strategy can go a long way in getting
want to reach, where they are, what their
connections targeting. more people to like your Page.
interests are and what their common
behavior patterns might be.

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 11

TIP # 3 You can achieve a lot on Facebook Using Audience Insights, you can get ag-
with thoughtful content and strategic gregate anonymous information such as:
Measure Success advertising, but how do you know if youre
succeeding? How do you use data and Demographics Age and gender,
information about your audiences habits lifestyle, education, relationship sta-
to your benefit? Two words: Facebook tus, job role and household size.
Insights. Specifically, you should take Page likes The top Pages your
advantage of Facebook Page Insights and fans also like in different categories.
Facebook Audience Insights.
Location and language Where
Use Page Insights to understand how people live and what languages they
people are engaging with your Page. You speak.
can: Facebook usage How frequently
people in your target audience log
View metrics about your Pages
onto Facebook and what device(s)
they are using when they log on.
Learn which posts have the most
And you can view this information for
three groups of people:
See data about when your audience
is on Facebook. People on Facebook (the general
Facebook audience).
With this information, you can look at
each of your posts and see which have People connected to your Page or
the most likes, comments and shares. event.
You can use this information to create People in Custom Audiences youve
more of the types of posts your audience already created (an audience made
is interested in seeing. You can also pub- up of your current fans).
lish your posts at the time of day when
Audience Insights is different from Page
youre likely to reach more people.
Insights because it looks at trends about
Facebook Audience Insights, on the your current or potential customers
other hand, provides metrics that let you across Facebook, whereas Page Insights
understand your fans and the kind of looks at the interactions with your Page
posts that will interest and engage them. (i.e., likes, comments and shares).
For example, you might be interested in
Used in tandem, Page and Audience
learning more about the age and gender
Insights give you powerful metrics and
breakdown of your fans and the posts
information to discover what your most
that have received the most engagement.
popular content is, and if its reaching the
With these metrics, you can get to know right people.
the people who matter to your agency,
In addition to measurement tools
so you can understand what matters to
mentioned above, Facebook also has a
them. Youll be able to learn about their
partnership with Nielsen, which allows
specific locations, interests and behaviors,
advertisers to measure whether youve
so you can create messages that will help
reached your intended audience or
your Page reach them more effectively.
whether your messages resonated with
your target audience.

12 A GovLoop Guide
TIP # 4 As you set up your Page, its important to If your Page does get hacked despite tak-
make sure the account is secure. Here ing these precautions, it may mean that
Make Sure Your are seven things you can do to help keep
your account safe:
your personal account or the account of
someone who works on your Page was
Page is Secure 1. Pick a strong password: Use a

combination of at least six numbers, If it was your account that was hacked,
letters and punctuation marks. head to this link to secure it. If you think
someone else who works on your Page
2. Make sure your e-mail account(s) is was hacked, please tell that person to go
secure. to the Hacked Accounts section of the
Help Center to get immediate assistance.
3. Log out of Facebook when you use a
computer you share with others.

4. Run antivirus software on your


5. Add a security question to your


6. Use extra security features for your

account, such as login approvals.

7. Think before you click or download


The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 13

Tips from federal, state and local govies on how
theyve achieved Facebook success

14 A GovLoop Guide






The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 15

SUCCESS STORY The Department of Veterans Affairs looks With nearly 800,000 fans and a mission of
to engage Facebook fans with a mix of connecting with and honoring Americas
Department of content. Here are three tips from VA for
great posts.
veterans, The Department of Veteran
Affairs Facebook Page must serve many
Veterans Affairs 1. Educate and entertain. We like to
masters. First and foremost, it must ed-
ucate veterans about important services
Communicating authentically with call our approach sugar in medi- and news without boring them or turning
cine, said Reynaldo Leal, VA Public
your users them away with too many irrelevant links.
Affairs Specialist. A little bit of a
sugar, a little bit of medicine. You So when a team needs to distribute
have to give them the information, important but somewhat dry information
because thats what youre there how does it keep the audience enter-
for, but you can also give them daily tained and coming back for more?
content that your audience looks
forward to. The team running the VA Facebook Page
has developed a successful strategy. Its
2. Post at different times of day. Were found, through trial and error, that hu-
addressing veterans on a national manizing posts, making content personal
level, so we have to find out what and analyzing Page metrics comprise the
time are our veterans on, what time most successful approach.
is our audience on, Leal said. Lets
say our last post went up at 3 p.m. We were never looking to be viral in any
ET. Well, weve just ignored everyone way, or do any specific campaign, Leal
on the West Coast. said. We just wanted to see who our
audience was, and find out what they
3. Keep experimenting with what wanted, and try to give them that on a
makes a successful post and what daily basis. So, by having our audience
reaches your audience. Its an art, engaged on a daily basis, when we do
not a science, said Megan Molo- have to distribute important information,
ney, VAs Director of Digital Media the fans are already coming to our page
Engagement. Weve taken a lot of because they like the other content were
pieces of like metrics and insights putting out on a regular basis.
and weve sort of just put it into a big
equation and sort of tried to do the One of the ways the VA Page makes sure
best we can around it and experi- to be an interesting content destination
ment. for veterans on Facebook is through a
daily post called #VeteranOfTheDay.

16 A GovLoop Guide
For Womens that is customer service. And we really
History Month, try to do good customer service to serve
we will include our veterans. For example, if people post
a lot more a concern or a negative thought, if we
women veterans can, well take their information, screen
The VA team started these posts about a
and their histories of famous women [capture] the issue, and send it over to
year ago. They feature a photo of a vet-
veterans, like the first female Marine, our counterparts, and see what we can
eran and a paragraph telling the story of
Leal said. do for follow-ups.
how, where and why that veteran served.

Despite the extremely positive responses The daily veteran feature is helping
Its our most popular segment, said Tim
to this and other editorial features that transform a bureaucracy into personable
Hudak, Staff Writer at VA. A recent #Vet-
VA has put up, the Page is not immune to communicator. VAs Facebook Page has
eranOfTheDay post received more than
negative comments or criticism. succeeded among the veterans commu-
14,600 likes and more than 3,400 shares.
nity as a reliable destination for informa-
That feature is content that people look We do have a social media posting tion and inspiring content.
forward to and are also engaged with, policy, Moloney said Anything that is,
say, bad language or racist we take down. You just have to give your fans content,
Leal said. And in fact, its content thats
But anything else negative sentiments, good content, Leal said. And you have
often audience-generated from people
or things we disagree with we keep to keep that conversation going and try
who are submitting veterans to be a part
up. Thats important to keep up there as best as you can to understand where
of the feature. So if we consider that our
because in a way, thats your customer your audience is coming from.
foundation of content for the day, and
its so popular, and people are returning feedback, and even if it is negative you
daily to see it, then everything we share need to display it.
on top of that, it is much, much more well
Obviously there are trolls out there,
people who are going to say whatever
The team often bases the #VeteranOfT- they want to say, Leal said. But if you
heDay content around an editorial look at social media more as a one-way
calendar, keeping in mind military communication, which is outbound, and
anniversaries, dates of note and other then turn it into something thats more
important events. of a two-way form of communication,

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 17

SUCCESS STORY Want to run a successful paid advertising From sharing weight loss tips to encour-
campaign on Facebook? Floridas hugely aging public safety initiatives, Facebook
Florida successful Tobacco Free Florida cam-
paign offers three important tips:
is a great place for organizations to
encourage healthy lifestyles and many
Department of 1. Clearly define your advertising
state health departments are looking to
use it as a platform to encourage citizens
Health goals. The team knew exactly what
it wanted from the campaign and
to make healthy decisions regarding
personal care.
Leveraging Facebook ads for a how it wanted Facebook to serve
that purpose. One such state agency is the Florida
tobacco-free Florida
Department of Health (DOH), which has
2. Target, target, target. The campaign successfully promoted its Tobacco Free
made sure to zero in on specific de- Florida initiative through a Facebook
mographics and made the content advertising campaign. So, whats made
relevant to that audience. the Facebook venture so successful? We
sat down with Shannon Hughes, Tobacco
3. Dont forget evaluation. The team
Free Florida Bureau Chief, to find out.
consistently evaluated its results,
which were especially useful because To run a successful Facebook campaign,
they were diverse and quantifiable the first step is having a clear idea of what
and eventually helped the campaign your goals are, Hughes said. In this case,
gain buy-in from leadership. the goals for the broader Tobacco Free
Florida media campaign were straightfor-
ward and well defined from the outset:
The bureau wanted to prevent youth and
adults from starting smoking; to promote
quitting; and to eliminate secondhand
smoke for all Floridians.

DOH officials realized that Facebook

would be a highly useful tool in furthering
their campaign goals. Overall, their social
media plan positioned Tobacco Free
Florida as trusted, relevant, and thorough.
This strategy not only reached a larger

18 A GovLoop Guide
audience, but also engaged the audience in that way, we
and advanced the campaigns initiatives can ensure that
using dynamic, multi-dimensional online our brand re-
conversations that were unattainable with mains relevant,
traditional media. and that what
DOH, the metrics that were relevant to
were doing is engaging. It makes our
So, their next step was to define judge engagement were diverse video
campaigns more efficient, because were
Facebooks role and contribution to views, clicks to its website, comments and
only targeting those who will be interest-
the campaign goals. The team decided shares.
ed in our content.
it wanted the Facebook campaign to
The other form of results the team looked
increase brand awareness, drive people Additionally, the Tobacco Free Florida
at were tobacco use statistics among
to the Tobacco Free Florida website, and team collected data and analyzed the
the Florida population to see how the
educate the audience about tobacco-re- results of the Facebook campaign as it
message was being received. Florida has
lated facts. progressed. The team examined a variety
seen a massive drop in smoking rates
of metrics, rather than looking only at the
Having clear objectives of what they were among youth and adults. As of 2013, the
number of likes or website hits. Team
looking to do through Facebook helped year with the most recent data available,
members chose to look at statistics that
officials know what their actions needed the adult smoking rate in Florida is 16.8
measured active engagement, not just
to be on a very specific level. percent of adults and 4.3 percent of
audience size.
youth, which is significantly lower than the
So, what did they do next to achieve Repeatedly testing their efforts also helped national average: 17.8 percent of adults
these goals? the Tobacco Free Florida team under- and 23.3 percent of high school students,
stand what was working and what wasnt. according to the Centers for Disease
First, Hughes and her team specifical- Control and Prevention.
There was no magic formula for hitting
ly targeted their Facebook audience.
high markers on the statistics, Hughes
Although they wanted to appeal to a wide Whats a big bonus for an obviously suc-
explained rather it was important to
variety of demographic groups, their pri- cessful government Facebook campaign?
experiment and look at the outcomes.
mary target was the cessation audience Massive support from the top. Im happy
adults 18 and up. Facebook offers that The results came on various levels. On to say that we have done such a great
kind of granular targeting, Hughes said. one level, the team collected Facebook job with this program that theres a high
statistics to see its reach and the level of level of trust from the Media Marketing
Well-targeted campaigns succeed on a Manager for Tobacco Free Florida all
engagement beyond the amount of likes.
number of levels. We can be certain that the way up to the State Surgeon General,
The team also made a lot of progress
the content were creating is hitting the Hughes said. Theyre really pleased with
toward the campaign goals by encourag-
people who are going to find it the most this program.
ing its audience to actively engage with
relevant, explained Hughes. By targeting
the content on the Facebook Page. For

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 19

SUCCESS STORY Trying to grow your offices Facebook For many organizations, Facebook is a
reach, but dont know what to post? Hen- place to celebrate big wins and share
Henrico County, rico County, Va., officials have three pieces
of sound advice on what type of content
events or causes that people are excited
about. Its not generally seen as a place
Virginia will increase the size of your audience: to advertise the negative aspects of
conducting daily governing affairs. Theres
Using Facebook for information 1. Include good news as well as bad a natural tendency for many Facebookers
news. People appreciate useful to downplay lifes difficulties no one
distribution during inclement
information, even if its regarding wants to seem like a downer.
weather difficult predicaments such as
inclement weather. But it can be highly useful to share
the negatives and the positives, and it
2. Be active on Facebook every day, will serve your organization well in the
even if its not with original content. long run to be honest. Cristol Klevinsky,
The county office found that even Management Specialist in the County
by sharing or liking posts from other Managers Office for Henrico County, Va.,
Pages, the audience grew. shared with us some insights into why its
good for government to include all news
3. Dont worry if you have a small staff
on Facebook.
and cant micromanage your Face-
book Page. Being active once a day Henrico County wanted to grow its Face-
is still helpful, and drawing on other, book presence, and Klevinsky took charge
related offices Facebook Pages will of making it happen. Eventually, the Page
help bolster your content without achieved strong growth and increased
requiring much time of your staff. its following at an exponential rate. The
winter of 2014 especially incited growth
at a level the Henrico County Facebook
team had never seen before. In January,
it had 86 new followers, in February that

20 A GovLoop Guide
number was 57, and in March and
April combined, it was 68. According to
Klevinsky, these numbers were unusu-
And this finding doesnt apply only to Electronically supporting other organiza-
ally high.
weather-related incidents, but also other tions looks good on your locality. Its karma!
She said that her first inclination in types of posts. In a day where everyones
trying to be somewhat of an open book, I But at the same time, the Henrico County
tackling the goal of growing the audience
think its good that you can post or share team has to balance the frequency of its
was to publish fun posts exclusively. The
good news and bad news related to your posts. Local governments dont always
county office found that her audience
local government, Klevinsky said. have large staffs, which can make it
was responding well to positive, good-
difficult to monitor and respond to a vast
vibes content. Pictures go a long way.
What other factors allowed Henrico number of posts.
For instance, the police division has a
Countys Facebook Page to flourish?
rabies clinic a few times a year, so I always Overall, Klevinsky has great hopes for even
Klevinsky had some additional tips on
put their information and a picture of higher levels of Facebook popularity for
how to grow an audience.
a dog and a cat up there, and that of Henrico County. Being manned by a very
course has a really good reach, she said. Because she represents a relatively small small staff, I think were doing pretty well.
local government, theres not always Im happy with our progress, she said.
But then when the notorious winter of
something of urgency or huge signifi-
2013-14 hit, the county office found that
cance to post on the Page. But thats OK,
serious posts helped grow the audience
she said. There are other ways to engage
as well. Some of it was very positive good
daily and engaging each day is import-
news and people would like or share, and
ant, even if its not original content.
then it did draw some new followers,
Klevinsky said. But a lot of it was related I go about either liking or sharing other
to the weather incidents we were having organizations posts. And that in itself
in the area. People appreciated the infor- generates a lot of reach. It can come back
mation because although it wasnt fluffy and provide likes to your page, she said.
and fun, it was useful.

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 21

SUCCESS STORY Thinking about a real-time day-in-the- Firefighters and other public servants have
life campaign on Facebook? The city of an undoubtedly alluring profession. But
City of Burnsville, Burnsville, Minn., made some key points
gleaned from its hugely successful virtual
very few people know whats it actually like
to be a firefighter or a police officer on
Minnesota ride-along with the local fire department: an everyday basis. Day-in-the-life social
media campaigns can be a great outreach
How to host a virtual fire 1. Plan in advance. The team pro- and engagement tool for government of-
moted the campaign in advance fices looking to showcase the ins and outs
department ride-along on
and assembled facts, quotes and of government and public service jobs.
Facebook snippets to post in case the day of
the event was uneventful. We sat down with Carissa Larsen,
Communications Specialist for the City of
2. Use videos, photos and trivia. These Burnsville, Minn., to talk about the virtual
types of post generated much more ride-along with the local fire department
attention than did plain text. that she spearheaded.

3. Think about what knowledge youre First, Burnsville officials decided to invest
trying to share, and use the campaign in this campaign in the first place in order
to educate the public. The Burns- to educate people about the department.
ville team wanted its audience to Specifically, they wanted people to know
understand that the medical and fire that the fire and medical services were
response units were tied together. one unit. This is useful information for
citizens to have, because people had
been confused when they called an

22 A GovLoop Guide
ambulance and firefighters came to their
door. They also wanted people to know
First, the city advertised the event for The trivia especially encouraged the audi-
that as opposed to a volunteer-based fire
only three or four days leading up to it. ence to interact.
department, theirs was a full-time, career
We didnt do a big lead time to promo-
tion because social medias so fast that This virtual ride-along clearly took a lot of
it didnt make a lot of sense to remind work and a great deal of advance planning,
Additionally, the city was trying to increase
people, or let people know weeks in but it was worth it in the end, and the
its engagement on social media. Its goal
advance, she explained. Burnsville results show that.
has been to conduct one interesting social
media campaign every year, and officials
Also, the virtual ride-along didnt exclude Between the time we started promoting
had identified Facebook as an effective
anything. Larsen posted about everything through the end of the event, we got 11
way of communicating with constituents
that happened for the firefighters from 8 new followers on Facebook and 20 new
and developing reach. A virtual day-in-the-
a.m. to 5 p.m. one day, including what they followers on Twitter, Larsen said. So for
life campaign seemed like an interesting
did for lunch and how they responded to a an event that only lasted a day, it increased
and educational way of engaging with the
911 call from a man in cardiac arrest. our followers by 1 percent on Facebook,
public and building their audience.
which doesnt sound like a lot, but it was
It happened to be an eventful day in the one day. For us, that was huge.
The process to execute this day in the
field, but Larsen told us that the team had
life campaign was harder work and more
prepared facts and text ahead of time to Although it took a great deal of effort, the
hands-on than other daily social media
post in case there were lags in activity. extra work paid off. Larsen is hoping to
activity, but Larsen wanted to draw our at-
duplicate the campaign for other depart-
tention to a couple of key features that she
Larsen published a variety of updates and ments such as police and recreation, and
thought made it a successful undertaking.
found that trivia and photos got the most for city construction crews.
attention and engagement, as opposed to
just text updates on what was happening.

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 23

Want to run a successful Facebook ques- Town halls and question-and-answer ses-
SUCCESS STORY tion-and-answer session with a member sions have long been a staple of democ-

City of Evanston, of your government? Evanston, Ill., offers

these three important tips:
racy in the United States. But how do you
engage with your constituents in a digital

world where they are harder to access
1. Promote the Q&A ahead of time and and your political leaders might be harder
encourage people to submit ques- to access as well?
How to host a successful Facebook tions in advance to fill any down time
Q&A with your mayor during the actual Q&A. The mayor of Evanston, Ill., Elizabeth
Tisdahl, decided to turn to Facebook. She
2. Have somebody typing responses and her team, including Luke Stowe, Digital
and somebody sorting questions, Services Coordinator at the City Managers
so the main participant of the Office, decided to host a Facebook Q&A so
Q&A can focus on coming up with citizens could ask her anything they liked.
thoughtful answers.
It was just a neat way to connect with our
3. Afterward, follow up with people audience and the residents of Evanston,
whose questions you couldnt get to Stowe said.
its a great way to show dedication
and responsiveness to engaged users. And the residents seemed to think so, too.
They asked several dozen questions on
everything from bike safety to the status of
a new grocery store development.

A few examples of questions and answers

are featured above.

24 A GovLoop Guide
The questions didnt come flowing
in on their own, though. Stowe
stressed that promotion ahead of
the Q&A was a crucial part of the
events success. He and the may- and then shared that on social media and wasnt having to wait for me to finish typ-
ors team also encouraged folks to submit on our website afterwards. ing my answer.
questions before the event.
Stowe said other tips for hosting a successful Use it as an opportunity for citizen fol-
We issued a news release, and we en- Facebook Q&A or town hall include: low-up. During the one-hour town hall, the
couraged people to submit questions in mayor couldnt get to everyones question.
Invite the press. We had at least one We followed up with them later, maybe
advance, so that way we would have sever-
reporter come to that particular Facebook e-mailed them or messaged them through
al questions to choose from to begin with,
town hall. So I think its just good from a Facebook to further answer their question
Stowe said. And then it would also give us
transparency standpoint to invite the media or do a follow-up or submit a service
time if its a question that needed some
to come. And they appreciate the ability to request.
data or some additional follow-up it
sit in on something like that as well.
gave us a little bit of time to prepare for
Stowe and the mayor are planning an-
that. And if there ever was a quiet moment Have a team at the ready for typing and other Facebook Q&A for 2015. Other city
during the town hall, that was a great time sorting questions. We had myself and one officials might do the same thing.
for us to insert a pre-submitted question. other person basically typing the mayors
responses, so we would read the question We might even conduct it with a depart-
The Q&A was a hit. When we took a snap-
to the mayor, she would respond, and ment head, said Stowe. Lets say the
shot right after the town hall was over, I
then I would start typing up the answer, police chief or the director of public works.
know the organic reach at that moment
and then my colleague who was also help- We think it would be really interesting.
right when we ended was over 1,500
ing me, she would ask the next question.
people, Stowe said. Then we Storified it
That sped it up a little bit, so the mayor

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 25

SUCCESS STORY From posting videos to keeping readers What happens when a Tree City USA
coming back for content, the city of Menlo community, known for its protection of
City of Menlo Park has several tips for how to maintain
and active local government Facebook
heritage trees, decides to take down a
popular, ancient oak?
Park, California page.
In most communities, there would be
Using Facebook video to turn a 1. Be mindful of the pace of posts. I long-lasting outrage and rebukes. But if
dont want to do 20 posts in one youre the city of Menlo Park, California,
negative into a positive
week and three the next, said Clay you might turn to a lively Facebook video
Curtin, Assistant to the City Manager. to change the course of the conversation.
Try to be consistent.
In October of 2014, a prized Italian
2. When posting video, try uploading stone pine in the citys Fremont Park was
directly to Facebook instead of removed because it posed an imminent
YouTube. We uploaded our video to hazard due to root failure and a severe
both Facebook and YouTube it got lean that gave the tree much of its unique
almost no traction on YouTube. character. The community was in uproar
about this removal.
3. Dont be afraid of paid ads, even if
you have a small budget. We boost Were a community that is very protective
posts and do paid ads more now, of its trees, said Clay Curtin, Assistant to
said Curtin. For instance, we recently the City Manager of Menlo Park, who runs
posted a family fitness event, so we the citys Facebook page. Normally we
targeted the audience of that ad give 15-day notice when a tree has to be
down to specific fitness and family removed, but in this case the danger of
groups and got good return. the tree falling was quite imminent and

26 A GovLoop Guide
we had to get it out of there more quickly The video worked to shift the conversa- The video was posted to YouTube and got
than normal. tion. Its since received over 4,100 views, 56 views and Curtin said where the con-
nearly 250 likes, and dozens of comments, versation really took off was on Facebook.
Curtin said this caused a great deal of including the following:
commotion in the community. We even We typically dont get too many com-
had a man show up and chain himself to I had been wondering why it had suddenly ments, but it really started a conversation
the tree before it was taken down, which been taken down, and am relieved to see on Facebook, he said. The Facebook
almost resulted in his arrest. art springing out of the remnant! video platform is great. I feel like by post-
ing there, people are much more likely to
Nevertheless, the tree came down, and This is such a cool video! Love the recycling interact with you.
negative comments started flowing in on of the tree, too!
social media. To help combat the problem
and start a more positive conversation, the Italian stone pines break away branches all
citys public works department brought in the time, so better to get rid of the hazard,
a chainsaw artist who carved the stump and make something good from it!
of the tree into a bench and whimsical
Curtin said the posting of the video using
artwork then posted a native Facebook
the Facebook platform was crucial to
time-lapse video of the work to the city
changing the conversation.
Facebook page.

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 27

GovLoop asked our public-sector audience for the
questions they most wanted answered by Face-
book. Below are the top 10 most-asked questions
about Facebook Pages by the public sector and
answers straight from Facebook.

1. Is it legal to ban users from Facebook on a public government page?

While Facebook permits the banning of someone from a Page, this is a question best put to your legal counsel. Remember
that when you ban someone from your Page, you arent banning him or her from Facebook. Just as you wouldnt allow a pro-
tester to sit in your office, but would allow them to protest on the sidewalk, you dont necessarily have to allow anyone to be
on your Page. But again, each government will need to work with its legal counsel to determine what works best for it.

2. Is there a way to approve comments to posts prior to them appearing?

There is not. Real-time engagement is part of what makes content on Facebook so successful. You can turn on the profanity
filter in your settings or put words in the moderation blocklist so they dont appear on your page. You can find out more about
that here:

3. How do you turn off ratings and check-ins?

To remove ratings and check-ins you must remove the address from your Page. You can do this by going to your Pages
About section and choosing to edit the address. Should you wish to keep the address, you can report any reviews that dont
have anything to do with your Page by following the instructions here:

28 A GovLoop Guide
4. What archiving capabilities does Facebook offer?

Facebook doesnt offer any archiving capabilities for Pages. However, there are a few other options to consider:

Dont do anything extra and just search for posts on the Page should you get a request.
On a monthly or quarterly basis, do a page post export in Page Insights, which offers links to every post done in that time
period as well as the text. Save this somewhere on your own servers.
Take a screen shot of every post and save it either in a folder or a Microsoft Word document.
Use a third-party source, such as ArchiveSocial. But know that there is a cost associated with this service.

5. How can Pages interact with other Pages?

Choose to use Facebook as the Page you manage and then comment on the other Pages posts. You can find instructions on
using Facebook as a Page here:

6. Why dont you allow the creation of a business or organization Facebook Page thats
not tied to a personal account?

Shared logins or logins not attached to a personal profile are very insecure and have led to many problems for Page manag-
ers. Because of this, we now require Page admins to use their personal accounts to manage a Page. If every admin has our
security settings turned on (more info here), then this is the safest way to manage a Page. Moreover, we offer many options
for admins to make sure they are using Facebook as the Page and not their personal profile.

7. Why cant the city claim the location page and when people check-in have it go to
the official site?

Location Pages are Pages created by Facebook to help users find all the information they might want about a certain location.
We dont allow any single person or organization to own these as there are many that could legitimately say they have a right
to the location Page. Instead, we ask each organization to be specific on who they are in their Page name.

8. Whats the best way for a government Page to get verified?

Submit a request to and we will evaluate it based on our criteria.

9. Why cant there be special rules or advertising rates for nonprofits or governments?

Facebook offers many free tools for organizations. We want to help nonprofits and governments understand the best practic-
es for sharing quality content that will help them reach more people.

10. How can I ensure the right people are seeing our content on Facebook?

Use your Page insights on a regular basis to see how many people your posts are reaching each week, and which individual
posts are getting the most engagement. Continuously test and refine the types of content you post to make sure its something
your fans want to see and find valuable. Facebook ads are a great way to ensure your content gets in front of the right people.

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 29

This guide is 31 pages chock-full of useful, relevant
and digestible information aimed at getting your
Facebook Page running at its full potential. But
we know that we arent able to cover absolutely
everything. To help you out a little bit more, weve
created this list of links to other resources that
will give you additional information and answers.

30 A GovLoop Guide
Are you doing everything you can to make your organizations Page the best it can be? Use
this easy 11-step checklist to make sure youre following our tips.

Make sure your Page imagery is on point (add an updated cover photo and profile photo that
are properly sized and visually interesting).

Rewrite your About section to be pithy and up-to-date.

Try out a content calendar to optimize posts.

New to Facebook ads? Try boosting a post.

Run an insights report. It will provide information that will help your posts by cuing you in to what
time your audience is visiting your Page, the top three most popular posts of the past month
and the basic demographic makeup of your audience.

Test out adding a video directly to Facebook.

Make sure youre responding politely and relevantly to citizen questions and comments on your
Facebook page even if the comments are not positive.

Check your security settings and update the password to your personal account.

Identify someone to be the focus of an upcoming Facebook Q&A. It could be your mayor, a de-
partment head or anybody of interest to your community.

Update your terms of service language and commenting policy to match your goals.

Download the Facebook Pages Manager app so you can access your Page, even on the go.


Facebook Media (this is officially a
Facebook Help Center
microsite geared toward news or-
Getting started building a Facebook ganizations, politicians and brands,
Page but contains many helpful tips for
Facebooks glossary of terms government Pages, too)

Facebooks glossary of ad terms Facebook resources for creating ads

More details on using Page Insights Facebooks newsroom (info about

latest updates and press releases)

The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 31

Founded in 2004, Facebooks mission is to give people the power GovLoops mission is to connect government to improve
to share and make the world more open and connected. People government. We aim to inspire public-sector professionals by
use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop
discover whats going on in the world, and to share and express connects more than 150,000 members, fostering cross-
what matters to them. government collaboration, solving common problems and
advancing government careers. GovLoop is headquartered in
CMYK / .eps Facebook f Logo CMYK / .eps
Washington, D.C., with a team of dedicated professionals who
share a commitment to connect and improve government.

For more information about this report, please reach out to

Thank you to Facebook for their support of this valuable
resource for public-sector professionals.

Catherine Andrews, Director of Content

Jeff Ribeira, Creative Manager
Tommy Bowen, Graphic Designer
Kaitlyn Baker, Design Fellow

DoD, Eric C. Gutierrez, Jaysin Trevino, National Science Foun-
dation, Nick Ortloff, Tom Woodward, USDA, Vadim Kurland,
The White House

32 A GovLoop Guide
The Governments Guide to Using Facebook 33
1101 15th St NW, Suite 900 | Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 407-7421 | Fax: (202) 407-7501 | @GovLoop

34 A GovLoop Guide