Reaching Your Potential on Department Facebook Pages

Guest blogger: Katie Nelson, Social Media and Public Relations Coordinator, Mountain View, California, Police Department

In the ever-uphill climb to maintain a presence on Facebook, department Pages are facing the difficult task of not only reaching their followers, but making their content shareable.

Once, a good metric for your efforts was your follower base. It showed you how many people followed your Page and who were likely to interact or at least see your content.

That has since changed. As the platform has continued to advance for individual users, Facebook has started to label followers on Pages as more of a “vanity number.” In other words, that metric is no longer entirely reliable when it comes to assessing your success on Facebook.

Yes, those with more followers are more likely to have people react to their content, but what Facebook truly analyzes is the reach – organic, paid, and total — on a particular post. So, if an agency with a small follower base posts a viral video that has an incredible reach on the same day as a larger agency with a bigger following posts content that is unlikely to be shared, guess which agency is more likely to be promoted to individual feeds based on Facebook’s rationale?

Organic reach, as defined by Facebook, is “the total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution.” Paid reach is the total number of people who saw your post through a paid ad. Total reach, according to Facebook, is “the number of unique people who saw your posts, regardless of where they saw it.”

So, how do you ensure that your content has as much chance as possible to be seen by not only your follower base, but by anyone who could be potentially be impacted by your content?

Captions. If you have a video that you are sharing, add captions. Facebook now allows you to add captions to produced video content so that people who are either hard of hearing or prefer to watch a video without audio can still understand what is being conveyed. Captions, according to Facebook, actually give you 20% more reach on your content.

Cover Videos. Facebook recently launched an option to turn your cover photos into cover videos. It’s no secret that Facebook is pushing produced videos to the forefront of their sharable content. By changing your cover photo to a video, you increase your chances of people landing on your page, staying engaged with it and watching what else you may have on your page.

Events. When you have events that you would like to promote, such as the upcoming annual National Night Out, Facebook has suggested creating a Facebook Event to increase engagement options with users and followers. Facebook Events have become particularly successful on mobile platforms, so move away from stagnant event posts with photos and use this as an opportunity to get people excited about an upcoming interaction with their local law enforcement. While Facebook suggests at certain times even paying to promote an event, many of us do not have a budget or cannot justify spending money on something such as promoting a Coffee with a Cop. But, knowing that Facebook Events is particularly successful on smart phones (which most of our community members have) is a great start.

360 Photos and Videos. Finally, though these options have been out for some time, Facebook is increasingly pushing for both individual users and pages to start utilizing 360 photos and video. A 360 photo has far more reach potential than a stagnant photo. A 360 degree photo or video is a panoramic shot that can be taken on your smartphone and then uploaded to Facebook to allow users a total view of a particular scene or scenario. To learn more about how to create a 360 photo or video, visit:

Overall, the goal is to be likeable and shareable. You should be aware that at least on Facebook, you are sharing and providing information and content for well beyond your follower base. It is time to start thinking globally about your audience reach, while still making sure you speak to your residents.

With two billion users worldwide now on Facebook, it’s time to realize that Facebook isn’t just about connecting you with your neighbor, it’s about showcasing your department to the masses.

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