One of the questions I hear all the time – perhaps even most frequently – is whether or not every department should have its own Facebook page.
The question typically comes from staff responsible for coordinating the agency’s social media presence (commonly they reside in the executive office, public communications office, or web/IT). They keep getting requests from various departments that want to start their own Facebook pages. It seems like a good thing and a bad thing all at once.
On the one hand, it’s awesome that a department wants to engage with the public and they see the value in the social platform. On the other hand, there are so many other variables in play. Here are a few considerations the keeper of the social accounts must keep in mind:
- The more staff managing social accounts, the more people you have to train and keep trained (on best practices, laws, etc.)
- The more Facebook accounts an agency has, the fewer fans you appear to have on each page. If your primary account only has 800 fans, the public assumes your agency is not very interesting – when actually you have 12 other pages that add up to 6,000 fans total!
- Will the departments have enough content to post regularly? Regular content is not once a week – it’s up to 3 times a day.
So, what do we do?
One technique that I always advise agencies to do is to invite departments that want to have their own Facebook page to contribute to the primary agency account for 1 month to ‘see how it goes’. Give them a quick ‘best practices’ tutorial, or have them send content directly to you if you don’t want to make them a page contributor right away. If they have time to post something engaging every single business day for a month (and respond to comments), then they might be good candidates for maintaining their own page.
If, however, they post for 3 days then their excitement fizzles out, explain to them that they have an open invitation to post on the primary agency account, but their content consistency just doesn’t warrant another page.
Departments that typically do well with separate Facebook pages
- Public Safety (police, sheriff, fire, emergency management)
- Parks & Recreation (they typically have A LOT of content)
- Tourism Commission/Bureau (typically have MANY followers. Different mission, too – typically less focus on feedback and more focus on why this is a great place)
- Departments of Transportation (their updates are usually plenty, and their content doesn’t typically make sense on another state agency’s page)
- Animal Services/Departments of Wildlife (people love animals – enough said)
Possibly their own Facebook page? (If the volume of their messages warrants it)
- Health/Human Services
- Public Works/Local Streets/Maintenance
Usually don’t have their own Facebook page (But at times have great content that should be included on the primary agency’s page)
- Human Resources (make sure job opps find their way to your primary account)
- Information Technology (not typically at the local level, but some state agencies do well with their own page)
- Engineering Departments
- Internal agencies like Operations and Accountability Offices
- Very specialized units of Public Safety (like the bike patrol unit, water rescue, special forces units, etc. Typically have very small audiences)
Remember to take all requests on a case-by-case basis. You certainly don’t want to diffuse any excitement over social media – but understand that social media management involves setting up and running accounts in a strategic way – to best meet the needs of both your organization and your citizens.
Do you agree? What is your own litmus test for deciding if departments should have their own Facebook page? Has it worked, or do they do their own thing anyway? Please leave a reply!