As part of the Facebook Journalism Project, which was launched in the wake of the last U.S. Presidential Election (and the surrounding discussion of Facebook's growing role in news dissemination), The Social Network has launched a new 'Facebook for Journalists' certificate program which aims to educate journalists on how to utilize the platform to best effect.
And while the course, as noted, is aimed at journalists and news media professionals, it provides some interesting lessons that would be of value for all Facebook users, making it worth a look.
The new curriculum contains several modules, each of which covers specific elements of the Facebook experience.
Each section is relatively short - when you 'Enroll' to each you're given an overview of the full module, along with an estimated completion time for each segment within it.
And once you do click through, they've provided a range of insights on each aspect, with useful advice for anyone looking to make better use of the platform.
For example, in the 'How Journalists can Best Utilize Facebook and Instagram' section, it includes a Facebook audience overview with some useful stats.
They've also provided some pointers on how to make your content more engaging, which, again, apply to more than just journalists.
- Make your posts timely - Make your mark while the story is topical; unless you're doing an exposé or investigative piece, don't hold off too long to post on a trending topic.
- Build credibility, relevance, and trust with your audience - Ask yourself, "Would people share my story with their friends or recommend it to others?"
- Post frequently - Don't worry about over-posting. The goal of News Feed is to show each person the most relevant story so not all of your posts are guaranteed to show in their Feeds.
The second note highlights a particularly interesting consideration when looking to boost your Facebook reach, as opposed to writing the story within itself, while the last note is also a key consideration that goes against much of the common Facebook posting 'best practice' advice.
Before the introduction of the algorithm, it was definitely considered bad form to post too often, but as Facebook notes, algorithm-defined distribution means there's no way all your followers are going to see all your posts, every day, which means you can post more frequently than you might have done in the past. In another section, Facebook suggests that some people post up to 80 times a day - and while posting at that volume is probably a little excessive, your response data will ultimately tell the tale. It may be possible to reach more of your audience, and generate more response, by posting more often than you are.
The new course also includes some interesting, quick notes on how the News Feed works, which are a great reminder of what Facebook looks to emphasize.
There are also recommendations on hashtag use on Facebook, and emoji use on Instagram, which are worth considering.
As noted, there's a range of helpful insights included here, many of which are applicable to all users looking to get more out of their Facebook and/or Instagram experience. There's also a couple of helpful videos on how to maximize search on both Facebook and Instagram to help locate relevant content and trends.
Facebook's making more effort to better ingratiate themselves with the media industry - just last week, they introduced new call to action ad units within Instant Articles to better enable publishers to maintain direct connection with their audience through the option. This latest course is another step in that direction - but as noted, even if you're not a journalist, the insights provided have value.