Facebook has 500 million users, which makes it a good place to meet people. Facebook is also very good for sharing information with a lot of people very quickly, as you can easily post links, videos and more on your profile page.

It is a good idea to create a Facebook Page for your branch or campaign, and to keep it updated with relevant information. You can also use Events to invite people to meetings. Facebook should be used for publicising your campaigns and activities, not for organising.

If you’re using it for publicity, it’s also important to set up as a Page, and not a Person. Pages are visible to people who aren’t on Facebook as well, whereas if you set up as a Person only your “friends” will like it.

Remember that if necessary – for instance, for a campaign that is running in different regions – you can set up several separate pages. Later, you can merge these if you want to.

How to set up a Facebook page

If you don’t already have one, create an account on Facebook. If you’re worried about security, use a unique email address and pseudonym.

Video tutorial: how to create a Facebook page

In the sidebar on the left of the screen, there is an option to Create Page. Click this. It will ask you what kind of page you want to create. Unless you’re creating the official page for your union, we suggest you select Cause or Community.

FB create page

Give your cause a name, and get started. Choose something clear, simple and spelled correctly that communicates what your campaign is about. It could be GMB Young Members, Unison NW International, Blacklist Support Group or whatever is appropriate. Once your certain you’re happy with the name, go to the Settings tab and choose a unique identifier. For instance, we are https://www.facebook.com/unionsolidarity. This makes it much easy for other people to find you and mention you in posts.

You will be invited to upload a logo or image – source something striking and eye catching, and that people will remember. This is your visual identity.

Publicise your page widely and encourage people to “like” it. If they like your page, your updates will show up in their media stream.

Managing your page

It’s important to keep your page updated. Post regularly, but not so often that you will bore or drive off users. Post useful and relevant information, and try posting at different times of the day. People use Facebook more in the evenings, so post things then. Remember you can schedule posts to go live whenever you like – a great way to keep a page active over the weekend.

Use a banner, and change it regularly to reflect the issue that is most important. This helps to keep the page fresh, and to highlight important issues.

USi Facebook banner, reflecting a current campaign

USi Facebook banner, reflecting a current campaign

How to post to Facebook

This may seem obvious, but there are a lot of tips to posting on Facebook that many people miss.

Video tutorial: how to post to Facebook

 

Let’s go through the process:

1. Paste your link in the update box. In a few seconds, Facebook should load images and text from the article, like this:

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2. Delete the link. This looks cleaner, and it won’t remove the article. Add some descriptive text, and mention relevant campaigns in the post. Do this by using the @ symbol in front of their Facebook name. Add hashtags like #FastFoodGlobal if there is one associate with the campaign.

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3. If the post has more than one image, you can click the arrows to choose the one you think looks best, or upload your own. Images work really well on Facebook – try to post content with a clear image and a message that is easy to get across quickly.

4. You can edit the headline and description text too, buy clicking on it:

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5. Here is an example of what the finished post could look like. The organisations you have mentioned show up as links. Hovering on a link brings a pop up description, and in invitation to Like the page. This is a great way of building community.

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Here is what a Facebook post looks like on the page – interact with it, and click the links.

 

Here is another example of a post on the USi Facebook page. Note the important elements:

  1. The removal of links and unsightly elements.
  2. Use of an image
  3. A short description of the content, with a suggestion of action to take
  4. Mentioning people and linking to their Facebook page – this helps build community

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Warnings

You should not use Facebook as your primary organising tool. Here’s why:

  1. Not everyone is on Facebook. You exclude people who don’t use it
  2. Facebook use has peaked in most Western countries, and use has started to fall
  3. There are major privacy concerns. You are leaving all your crucial organising contacts in the hands of a company that will be all too happy to hand them over.

Facebook has a number of serious pitfalls. The most important of these is privacy. Because Facebook’s privacy settings are complex and changing all the time, it is almost impossible to guarantee that messages will remain private, and there have been numerous cases of employers disciplining people for messages posted there. Facebook can also be very distracting, with constant requests to play Farmville, look at your friend’s holiday snaps or cyber-stalk some one you fancy.

Facebook makes its money from data mining user information and selling it to advertisers – it is not a very union friendly environment. Use with caution.

Also, Facebook is decreasing in usefulness as it prioritises paying advertisers over ordinary users. At USi, we have seen a number of our stories “go viral” due to being shared on Facebook. However, this is happening less and less, and our stories are reaching fewer people. Typically, only about 5% of our fans see something we share. This is because Facebook has taken the decision to prioritise what it calls “high quality” content , usually that from paying advertisers and mainstream media sources.

Security and privacy

Security in a Box guide to Facebook security