Winning the Internet

We Spent a Year Monitoring 10,000 Facebook Pages: Here’s What You Should Know

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Brandon SilvermanAs we gear up for Netroots Nation 2013, we’re taking a closer look at some of the convention’s hottest training sessions. We’re interviewing the trainers and taking you inside some of online activism’s most popular and elusive topics.

Today we’re interviewing Brandon Silverman, who’ll be leading We Spent a Year Monitoring 10,000 Facebook Pages: Here’s What You Should Know.

NN13 Training Session

We Spent a Year Monitoring 10,000 Facebook Pages: Here’s What You Should Know
A handful of progressive organizers have built a new tool for finding the absolute best social posts on the web. We’ll both talk about how to use the tool to improve your own feeds but also share all the best practices we’ve learned from monitoring nearly 10,000 Facebook Pages for the last year. Hint: There’s a secret from Ebony’s Facebook Page that you should be using every single day.

Interview

Q: Tell us about yourself and your experience with Facebook.

A: In 2012, I left my position at the Center for Progressive Leadership in order to start a new project that designed to help progressive organizations leverage Facebook’s massive reach more effectively. We had a number of ideas when we first got started and in the process of exploring them, we ended up spending over a year buried in the Facebook API, playing around with different ways to use it and having some close partners test out each idea we came up with. In January of this year, though, we started inviting groups to use what we were calling our Discovery App. It was designed to make it much easier to find the best content being posted by Pages around specific issue area. Since our soft-launch of the app, over 50 groups are using it now and we’re tracking over 15,000 total Facebook Pages and regularly seeing what content works the best inside of the Facebook ecosphere (in dozens of industries).

And in the process, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t on Facebook.

Q: In your opinion, why is the most common mistake that organizations make when posting on Facebook?

A: Most organizations treat Facebook as a platform for delivering a really narrow set of content.

That means exclusively sending people to their website for announcements, calls to action or donation requests. But in doing so, they end up failing to really take advantage of the potential of Facebook as a platform for their causes. For a lot of progressive groups, more often than not, this just a matter of time and resources. They don’t have time to create original images or in some cases, even just spend the time it takes to regularly find and post shareable content in their sector (which is completely understandable). But it means that the overall engagement numbers are low and as a result, their EdgeRank score stays unnecessarily low, keeping a lot of their fans from seeing any of their posts. It ends up being a vicious feedback loop that keeps Facebook from being a powerful social platform for organizations. The key is mixing up both mission-specific content with softer, more shareable content that can drive up your overall engagement numbers. And ideally a mechanism for easily finding good content.

Q: What are the two most important things to keep in mind when posting on Facebook?

A: I’ll talk about two things we’ve seen but to hear the rest you need to come to the session. First, Facebook success has an enormous amount to do with tapping into the social zeitgeist at any given moment. At the end of the day, it’s just a very topical environment and finding a way to shape your content & messaging in a way that captures some of the most relevant conversations already is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to increase your overall reach. And second, I’d say that most organizations simply don’t post enough. Again, for progressives, that’s largely an issue of resources and capacity. But thankfully, we have a solution to fix that. In fact, we think it can increase your reach and actually save the overall time you spend on it at the same time. Seriously.

Q: Why should folks attend your session at Netroots Nation?

A: In the process of building this tool, we’ve been watching over 10,000 Pages for just over a year. We’ve seen far, far too many Facebook posts. But it’s meant that we’ve picked up a lot of tricks on how to generate viral posts and keep your overall engagement numbers up. And most importantly, we want to share everything we’ve seen.

 

To attend this training, or one of the 39 others at Netroots Nation 2013 in San Jose, register now.


About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.