Facebook: Tips on profiles, reader comments on pages

Got some good questions recently from Sun Media staffers about Facebook recently. Thought I’d share what I passed on to them with the rest of the class.

Q: I’m wondering how common it is for reporters to have separate, more work-related Facebook profiles. Was thinking of creating a second Facebook account, for work. (i.e. finding sources and making myself available to contact) Do you have any advice on this?

My answer, with a few additions: Most experts used to argue that reporters should have one Facebook profile, serving as a personal/professional hybrid. I’ve never bought that. A few years ago, when I was still reporting, I set up a separate Facebook profile that I use just for work to share stories, journalism quips, search for sources, etc. In my view, it made sense at the time. I didn’t really want my work contacts to see my wedding photos, for example. That’s just for friends and family.

Facebook now offers a one account solution that’s been around since fall 2011: Faceboook subscribe. This allows anyone to “subscribe” to you to see your updates, pics, etc..

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Once you allow subscriptions, you have the the choice to make updates public or private. Subscribers only see posts you make public. Posts you mark as friends, only me, etc., stay reserved just for your inner circle.

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To follow you, readers just need to hit the subscribe button on your profile.

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For more information: Facebook blog post: subscribe button and Q & As about the feature.

NOTE: I recently converted my old work Facebook profile to a page: https://www.facebook.com/monique.beech.1. It made the most sense for me. I wanted anyone from the Sun chain and beyond to be able to see my social media posts. Some drawbacks: I lost all my previous posts. pics, etc. It’s less personal. I’m not able to “like” other pages and searching seems to be a problem. I wouldn’t recommend this for individual reporters. Fan pages remain the best option for newsroom accounts. If you’re still curious, here’s how I made the switch.

Q: I plan on posting a story to our Facebook timeline in a few days which could generate a lot of comments. I know to remove anything blatantly libelous, but how do I keep from silencing people who are just angry and want to express their opinion? Does Sun media have any Facebook moderating guidelines?

My answer: Our company has no official Facebook moderating guidelines per se. Are you allowing comments on this story on your website? If not, then you probably want to rethink posting the story to Facebook. There’s no way of switching off comments there.

But in general, treat comments on FB the same way you would on your website. Here’s a link to our general commenting rules: http://blogs.canoe.ca/moniquesmorningminute/netiquette/
Things that are libelous you take down. Things are are fair comment you keep up. In my experience, people tend to be a little more civilized on Facebook because posters generally go by their real names. Keep a close eye after you first post the story. If things start going south, add a comment to the thread asking people to be respectful. Share the nettiquette link above. Say if things continue you’ll be forced to take down the story and comments. That’s a warning. If trouble persists, take down the post and explain why. Social media is about transparency.

For more guidance on staff posting guidelines see my previous entry on the company’s social media guidelines.

 

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