Category Archives: Facebook

Facebook Pages Switch To Timeline

Facebook has announced that on March 30, 2012 all Facebook Pages will be switched over to the new Facebook Timeline design. Right now Facebook is giving you an opportunity to preview how your page will look with the new design prior to the conversion date.

Here’s a video from Facebook regarding these changes:

Here’s a few of the things I see as a benefit to the new Timeline design for agencies

  • A more visual layout focusing on photos
  • The ability to document your agencies history
  • The possibility of putting Events more front and center
  • A better admin area
  • Using the Cover Photo as a billboard to recognize your extraordinary responders

What do you think of the new Facebook Timeline design? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…

Resolving a Facebook Fan Rant or Complaint

David and I were both quoted in this article, Social Media Provides Direct Channel to Engage the Public. The other experts provide timely and interesting advice. I was struck by the contribution of the legal expert that follower comments and remarks on an organization’s page could be protected by 1st amendment rights and removing those comments might be a violation.

I also advocate for not removing user comments, questions, or complaints. Instead try this strategy.

1. Try to resolve the complaint publicly. Provide information or links to other online resources that resolve the complaint or question. Other readers/users/fans may also aid in your defense with their own successes having questions answered and complaints resolved.

2. Next (or this could be done first) provide information on how the comment writer can privately contact you by phone or email at their earliest convenience to discuss the matter further. When the comment writer or another fan uses this contact information respond to them promptly.

3. Simultaneous to either of the above actions contact the comment writer privately. If the comment was on your Facebook page send them a private Facebook message, Google for their other online contact information, or (gasp) look them up in the local phone book. In your message invite them to contact you to resolve their complaint.

Generally, your organization should have a method for handling customer complaints regardless of how they are heard. What do you do when you receive a hand written letter complaining about service? That should give you guidance on how to handle the online complaints.

Start a New Conversation

Don’t let the unsatisfied customer and exchange of complaints linger at the top of your Facebook feed.

  • Post other content of recent events, training completed, or links to useful resources.
  • Add photos as those draw interest and traffic.
  • Ask fans questions that will facilitate a positive question.

Most Facebook visitors don’t scan through all of your posts. They just look at the most recent. Provide content that is useful, relevant, timely and interesting on a regular basis. Invite interaction rather than shying away from it. Most people are satisfied with the service you provide. Give them opportunities to share that satisfaction.

How does your organization handle complaints on your Facebook page? Share your lessons applied in the comments. 

Why It’s Important To Remain A Trusted Source Of Information

There has been a lot of talk over the changes made at Facebook. Change is not necessarily a bad thing, and has in fact become a necessity in the way we do things. It is important to understand how change will in fact effect you and your agency when the changes are made.

Undoubtedly spurred on by the coming changes,over the weekend I noticed an inordinately high number of friends who posted this message (or one similar to it) into their Facebook status:


The actual factual truth is that Facebook is NOT charging. They even say so directly on the homepage that you use to sign in:

It is important to try and verify the actual facts before redistributing a status or a story. Neither you nor your agency want to be viewed as an unreliable source of information. Why?

As for those friends of mine who posted the status update? I have now placed them on the Acquaintance list and will no longer see their updates unless I choose to look at them. As for those organizations that helped to perpetuate the falsehood, I un”Like”d them. I don’t have the patience or the time to deal with untrustworthy friends and even less tolerance for untrustworthy organizations.

I am not the only one who feels that way, which is why its important to verify information as best you can before disseminating it. By not being a trusted source of information you risk any support you may have gained in social media.

Do you verify everything you share? Have you ever not shared something because you couldn’t verify it?

DHS Announces New National Terrorism Advisory System

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has unveiled the new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) that replaces the old color coded Homeland Security Advisory System. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano noted that the color coded system provided “little practical information” when she announced earlier this year that it would be replaced.

NTAS Alerts are being piped out through a number of different channels, including Social Media conduits Twitter and Facebook. The alerts will warn of either an Elevated Threat or an Imminent Threat. Each alert will provide information about the threat including a potential the geographic region, mode of transportation, or critical infrastructure possibly affected by the threat. Additional information where available will include protective actions being taken by authorities and action items that individuals and communities can take to protect themselves and their families in an attempt to help prevent, mitigate or respond to the threat. A long form sample alert can be found here.

National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) check current statusElevated Threats warn of a credible terrorist threat against the United States. These will be the broadest threats with no true specifics.

Imminent Threats warn of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the United States.

Full alerts can be found posted at and there are a number of web resources for developers to display the latest information on their sites.

What do you think of the new National Terrorism Advisory System and its ability to provide information through Social Media channels?

What The NLRB Settlement Means For Current Social Media Policies

The recent settlement of the NLRB lawsuit against American Medical Response over comments made by an employee on Facebook has many people scratching their heads. The company insisted that the Facebook comments were not the sole reason for the employee’s termination but they quickly became the focus of the case. Because there was a settlement, there is no definitive legal ruling. However the terms of the settlement indicate how the NLRB might rule should the matter appear before them again.

So what does this mean for your current Social Media Policy? It means that it is time for a policy review. Specifically you want to reconsider having broad prohibitive stipulations regarding:

  • Comments made about your agency while off duty
  • Comments made about working conditions at your agency
  • Comments made about wages at your agency
  • Depicting your agency in anyway over the internet
  • It’s important to understand that this settlement does not give responders free reign to post whatever they like in Social Media. Information about patients, situations, and scenes are still considered confidential information that should not be shared, and that should be specified in your policy. Additionally the usage of the internet and Social Media creation devices during working hours and assignments can still be governed by the agency and should also be outlined in your policy.

    What changes are the legality of the vast draconian blanket policies that are often the knee jerk reaction of agencies when they don’t understand something entirely and therefore deem it automatically as bad or a liability. As this settlement shows, it is a greater liability not to take the time to understand something and create a responsible and reasonable policy than to just issue a prohibitive draconian blanket policy.

EMS Worker Wrongly Terminated For Facebook Comments

There is an interesting story coming out of Connecticut having to do with an employee’s termination of employment from comments made on Facebook. An initial ruling of the National Labor Relations Board says that the employee was improperly terminated.

The woman, who’s identity has not been disclosed, criticized her supervisor on Facebook after being asked to respond to a complaint from a customer. The company, American Medical Response, reportedly has a policy that prohibits employees from making negative remarks about the company and company management.

While on the outside this may look like a sudden swing for responders who have crossed the line in social media, it is important to understand that the reason behind the actual decision was because the NLRB found the company had failed to allow the employee union representation and that conversations with coworkers about what is happening at the workplace is a protected activity both offline and online. This initial ruling does not address the issue about the visibility or participation of those online conversations by those who are not also employed by the company.

There will be an additional hearing in Hartford in January on the matter where the company will be able to present their side and the union representing the woman will also be allowed to present arguments.

We’ve already written extensively about consequences to employees for using social media, your First Amendment Rights and social media, and whether or not employers can stop employees from blogging. Our position remains the same in that agencies need to have a Social Media Policy, educate their responders on the policy, and promote good online conduct.

Source: EMS World

Facebook Bids Farewell To Fandom

Facebook has made quite a few announcements regarding changes to their site layout and the way their users interact with the content.

The biggest change is they are bidding farewell to the term Fans for Facebook Pages and have replaced it with Like. Facebook had originally been considered progressively aware enough when they used the term Fan as opposed to Twitter‘s use of the term Follower when creating page functionality. Now users who once were perhaps Fans of a page, such as the page on Facebook, have been converted to having Like it.

According to a post on their blog, Facebook is partnering with websites across the internet to integrate the Like feature on their sites natively. In addition, they are integrating Activity Streams for sites like CNN where you can see news stories your friends Like and also integrated Recommendations that are again being based on the preferences and actions of your friends. Facebook is quick to point out that your personal information is NOT shared with these third party sites that they are partnering with.

So what does this mean for you and your agency’s Social Media efforts on Facebook? From initial information and appearances your calls for your community to become “Fans” needs to be changed to asking them to…

While I fully anticipate versions of the Activity Feed and Recommendations to be available as widgets for independent publishers shortly after the conclusion of the developer f8 conference, how these changes and new features will affect current Social Media best practices is still to be determined.

I was mistaken. The existence of these widgets has already been announced

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Facebook Fan Pages for PIOs and Responders

Below is a list of resources and agencies with a Facebook Fan Page presence:


Disaster Communications and Response

Back to the top

Emergency Medical Services

Back to the top

Fire Service

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Law Enforcement

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Using Facebook Fan Pages To Tie Your Audience To Your Hub

25_social_media_presenceFacebook is the current king of the Social Network heap with over 300 million active users. What is a more important statistic for agency PIOs to consider is that more than 2 billion pieces of content are shared each week. This content includes links to websites, Facebook Notes, and blog posts.

So the big question is how do you introduce your agency’s message in the form of content into that sharing trend?

Profiles vs. Fan Pages

facebook_your_doing_it_wrongA presence on Facebook can come in one of three forms. The gateway for all users onto Facebook is the Facebook Personal Profile. Designed for individuals, this provides users with the full ability to add and distribute content to those who link their accounts as friends and it offers the widest range of application options. Unfortunately quite a few agencies make the mistake of trying to establish themselves with a Personal Profile.

Best practice indicates that agencies and organizations are better served by setting up a Facebook Fan Page. These Pages offer a unique feature set of analytics that PIOs will find valuable in their Social Media efforts and are designed for agencies and organizations as opposed to individuals.

If your agency is already on Facebook using a Personal Profile, then you’re doing it wrong.

How To Set-Up Your Fan Page

Setting up your Facebook Fan Page is actually really pretty easy to do.


  • Go to an established Facebook Fan Page such as PIO Social Media Training
  • Scroll down to Create A Page For My Business and click on it
  • You will now need to classify your organization. Some categories you can classify it under the Local setting is Health Service, Professional Service, or Other Service. By using the Brand, Product, or Organization setting you can categorize it as Government, Non-Profit, and Professional Service
  • Once you select your categorization it’s time to enter the name of your organization. I recommend entering the full corporate name of the organization and not use acronyms or abbreviations
  • Finally, you need to affirm that you are in fact authorized to create this Facebook Fan Page. The Facebook TOS is very clear that only an “official representative of this brand, organization, or person” is allowed to create a fan page. Creating an unauthorized Facebook Fan Page can lead to the suspension of your entire Facebook account, including your Facebook Personal Profile

Once you click on the Create Page button, you’ll be taken to your now blank page that has not yet been made public. Click on Edit Page on the left column to make changes:

  • SettingsCountry Restrictions and Age Restrictions will stop anyone who is in a country you list or anyone under a certain age from viewing your page. There really is no reason to restrict other users based in other countries from viewing your page, so I wouldn’t change any of these defaults. The last setting is Published Status and should be listed as Unpublished until you have made all the changes you want before publishing your page
  • PIO_Social_Media_Training_Facebook_Page_Wall_Settings

  • Wall Settings – Your biggest appearance defining option is Default View For Wall. This can be switched from Only Posts By Page to Posts By Page And Fans, which allows whatever your fans post to your wall to be integrated with your posts. While it may be nice in theory to allow your Fans to have their posts on the front tab, I don’t recommend it and I’m sure the producers of NBC‘s Trauma probably wish their Page Administrator hadn’t allowed it either. The option Default Landing Tab For Everyone Else is a useful feature if you want your non-fans to see a different Tab first, like a Welcome Page. If your not going to create something unique, leave it set on the familiarity of the Wall
  • PIO_Social_Media_Training_Facebook_Page_Appliaction_Settings

  • Application Settings – There are 6 default applications that are already loaded onto your Facebook Fan Page. While each application has it’s own settings available for the action it is to perform, they all have Application Settings that determine how the application is displayed on the page and what it is permitted to do when interacting with your Page‘s News Feed. The two options under Profile are Box and Tab. Box will add a small box with the application content either under a Boxes tab or you can move it under the Wall tab. Tab will display the application on an individual tab and it’s content on it’s own page
  • Upload Your Photo – Using the Photo Application, add a photo or a logo that you want to have representing your Agency on the page and in the News Feed
  • Publish Your Page – Once you’ve made all your setting selections, filled in the blanks, and uploaded a photo it is time to Publish your Facebook Page
  • Share Your Page – Be sure to share your page both through posting it to your profile as well as personal messages

3 Must Have Applications For Your Facebook Fan Page

Networked Blogs – While Facebook Notes is the default application to pull in your blog posts via RSS Feeds and works quite well, Networked Blogs does it better on three levels.

  • First, when it pulls the feed it also will pull in a thumbnail of any images in the post. This visual addition will make your post stand out in the newsfeed of your subscribers
  • Second, it will give you the ability to post it automatically or to post it manually to either your Fan Page News Feed or your Personal News Feed. Notes are automatically posted
  • Finally, when your readers click on the post from Networked Blogs in their feed they will actually be taken to your blog. Clicking on a Note will take you to an imported version of your post on the Facebook platform

FBML – This is a really simple application that can pack alot of power. It allows you to place a box or a new tab on your Facebook Page that you can render either HTML or FBML for customized content. Some uses for this application include a custom splash landing page, using Feedburner‘s headline animator, or providing a subscription form for e-mail subscribers.

Twitter – If you are setting up a presence on Facebook then chances are you are also setting one up on Twitter. The Twitter application will allow you to update your Twitter status simply by updating your Facebook status. One stop status updating is one of the benefits of using the same type of media across multiple networks.

Further information on the use of Facebook by government agencies you can check out and become a fan of Facebook Government

To get the most out of this series it is highly recommended that you sign up for our Free E-Mail Social Media Bootcamp if you haven’t done so already since we will be referencing techniques and terms introduced in that program

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