This was originally posted on the UNYSLA blog by Jeremy Cusker and is reposted here with permission.
Many otherwise well-informed, technically savvy librarians can miss important details when it comes to Facebook. This is especially important when librarians consider setting up Facebook pages for their institutions.
1.) Not everything (perhaps not even most things) you post on Facebook will reach all subscribers. This is especially true for a page with many followers. If your whole experience with Facebook is communicating with friends and family, this fact can take some people by surprise. It simply is not possible for a Facebook page with many, many followers (perhaps more than 50 or 60) to receive every update made to a given page. The sheer volume of data would be unmanageable.
Instead, Facebook’s algorithms determine what makes it through to each user based on a joint consideration of that users’ expressed interests, the nature of the post (see below), and the volume of posts made by your page (also see below).
If you want all posts to be seen by all subscribers, every time, then what you want is either Twitter or a blog with RSS, not Facebook.
2.) It is especially unlikely that your posts will make it through to the majority of users if you do not make regular updates. When deciding whether or not to start up a Facebook page for your library, be advised that for it to work well, it will need to be constantly updated–at least once every day or so. As described above, failure to regularly post content will cause updates to your Facebook page to become that much less likely to make it through to individual users. Facebook’s algorithms will ‘de-privilege’ your updates and posts to appear in the feeds of fewer and fewer of your followers.
3.) If you do not regularly interact with followers who like or comment on your updates, it becomes more unlikely that your posts will make it through to your users. Again, if you are looking for a way to merely make announcements about what is going on in your library, then Facebook is probably not the tool you want. Facebook’s algorithm improves the likelihood of your updates appearing in people’s feeds based not only on how often you update, but on how often you interact with your followers. Do you ‘Like’ their posts? Do you respond to comments?
Again, it bears emphasis: Facebooking is, if not a full-time job, then certainly not a light time commitment.
4.) It’s better to post or re-post things from within Facebook itself than from ‘outside’. Want to pass along an interesting news item to your followers? Go to that news source’s own Facebook page, find that article and cross-post it from there. Facebook consciously de-privileges posts of content that come from sites outside of Facebook itself, making it that much less likely to show up. It does this both because such cross-posts eat up more memory and also because it adds more clicks and fractional revenue to Facebook itself.
5.) Overall, consider what you want your Facebook page to accomplish for your institution and how much effort you want to devote to it. It’s easy to create a Facebook page, hard to keep it going on a daily basis, reaching users. A Facebook page is not a perfect analog for a traditional organizational website, nor as a straightforward means of publicizing news and events. Consider Twitter and/or a traditional site with RSS tagging if those are your goals.
Have questions? Contact Jeremy Cusker at Cornell University Library, jpc27(a)cornell.edu.