Facebook seems committed to an ongoing series of updates to its Pages for businesses and organizations to improve their utility in several ways. They recently rolled out a new iPhone app called Facebook Pages Manager, which we wrote about revently, and which lets you access all your administrator functions even when you’re not at your computer.
Now Facebook has added a few more refinements, including scheduling posts, an option to pay to promote your posts, and finer grained controls for having multiple administrators with varying levels of access. They’ve also added post-level analytics and insights.
When you look at your status update box at the top of your page, you’ll see a new icon on the left of an analog clock. When you click on it, you’ll be able to enter the year, month, day, hour and a 10-minute increment within the hour. When I tested the function on June 4, 2012, I was only able to schedule as far out as December 1, 2012. I don’t know if that’s a moving date (incrementing one day per day) or if it’s a limit that will move forward arbitrarily.
You can also date items in the past, using the Timeline as an historical record. For your parish, you could put dates ike the parish’s founding or when the pastor was assigned, for example. When posting on an historical date, you have the option to hide from News Feed, so the historical updates don’t clutter your followers’ news feeds.
In the past, you could only get such scheduling functions from third-party tools, like [Hootsuite](http://www.hootsuite.com] or [Buffer](http://www.bufferapp.com], and while you still needs those kinds of tools to schedule updates that post to multiple social networks and accounts at once, this is a nice feature if you’re concentrating on just a parish or ministry Facebook Page, for example.
You can see your scheduled posts by clicking on “Manage” in the Admin Panel for your Page, then Activity Log. There you will see scheduled posts and be able to change the date and time for posting, tell it to publish now, or cancel the post.
You also now have the option to pray to promote an update if your parish or ministry Page has 400 or more followers/likes. The most important thing to note here is that it is completely optional. If you ignore this feature, your posts will still appear within your followers’ news feeds at the same rate and frequency as before. What you’re doing here is essentially making an update into an advertisement that will get slightly better placement.
Facebook will give an option of one or two dollar amounts and tell you how many people the post will potentially reach. Again, these are people who already follow you, not new Facebook users who don’t. Facebook explains it all in great detail. The short story is that we should recall that Facebook doesn’t put every activity by your friends’ and liked Pages in your news feed in chronological order. (Whether they should or not is a different story.) Instead, they try to use algorithms to determine the most relevant information for you based onmany criteria, some of which they don’t disclose. What Promoted Posts does is give much greater weight to your promoted posts in the news feeds of a select number of your followers. It doesn’t necessaerily mean they will click on it, however.
Is it worth it? It depends on what you want to accomplish. If it’s worth say, $10 to make sure your update appears prominently in the news feeds of 500 or 1,000 of your followers, then by all means give it a try. On the other hand if you want to reach people within a certain demographic (e.g. all self-identified Catholics who live in your town and surrounding towns) who are not yet followers of your Facebook Page, then a regular ad would be more effective.
You’ve always had the opportunity to have multiple Facebook users as administrators of your Page and at Pilot New Media, we’ve always suggested that you have two administrators at minimum on all Pages for what we call the “hit by a bus” contingency. Now with the new administrator permissions levels, there may be more good reasons for have two or even many more administrators.
As you can see from the chart, you can now assign others to assist you in administering your Page without worrying about training on some of the more advanced functions or being concerned at giving too much control.
The three levels you’ll probably be most concerned with are Manager, Content Creator, and Moderator. We’ll still recommend you have at least two Managers, yourself and another person who could take over all functions if necessary. The Moderator would be very useful especially if you need help reading, responding to, and deleting comments, if necessary.
The other recent update to your Facebook Page is that it now shows Insights, i.e. statistics on how people see and react to your updates. Keep in mind, that apparently it only works with posts you make on the Facebook website itself, not posts that come from third-party tools like Hootsuite or RSS Graffiti.
You get two different metrics. One is the total of people reached, broken down into Organic (“The number of people who saw your Page post in News Feed or ticker, or on your Page’s Wall.”) and Viral (“The number of people who saw your Page post in a story from a friend.”) Viral can be important because it refers to people who have not liked your Page and so this is your opportunity to reach beyond those who already know your ministry or parish to those who will potentially like your Page and become regular readers of your content.
The other metric is a percentage that refers to the percentage of people who like your Page who saw this post. If you paid to promote the Page, it will give you a percentage for those who saw it through promotion as well.
These can be useful indicators of how well you’re using your Facebook Page to communicate what’s going on in your parish or ministry, but don’t obsess over them, especially in the early days of your Facebook presence. They’re only numbers and since you’re not a business for whom sales is not the ultimate measurement of success, they’re less important than reachign the right audience.
Undoubtedly, we’ll be seeing more updates and changes to Facebook Pages in the future and we’ll try to keep up and chronicle them for you as they appear. Keep in mind that any changes usually roll out over time and don’t just show up for everyone at once, so if you hear about a new feature that you don’t see yet on your Page, be patient. It will be probably show up in the near future.