What does Facebook’s new Notes mean for crisis communications?

Notes, the long-neglected Facebook feature has been given a makeover to become a new and interesting blogging option within the Facebook platform.

In time of crisis, blogs provide immediacy and a sense of transparency and personality that helps safeguard a positive image of the company. And since Facebook is increasingly aiming to keep users within its platform for speed and convenience rather than linking out (think Instant Articles) blogging on the platform may be a key channel for reaching consumer audiences with longer-form updates.

New Facebook notes

New Notes pages offer a Medium-style environment for Page owners to write at length with more flexibility in formatting and sharing

With an average 968 million daily active Facebook users (Source: fb.com, 30 June 2015) and more than 54 million organisation pages, Notes in its new form may well become a preeminent tool in crisis communications.

What does the new Notes mean if you’re running a corporate Facebook page?

  • Notes offers a way to post longer and better-structured responses than a regular Facebook update, let alone a tweet. It lets you choose the layout you feel most appropriate for your message, upload pictures and use bullet point lists along with quotes for enhanced clarity and credibility.
  • As soon as it is published, a Note is immediately visible on the company’s main timeline. It can be pinned to the top of the feed and highlighted in order to appear as the latest source of information.
  • Like a blog post, a Facebook Note is a great place to show that your organisation is made of thoughtful human beings. Stay in line with your brand personality and leave the corporate jargon for the traditional press release.
  • Notes could be used as a reservoir of draft ‘fast facts’ pieces, readily available for journalists to get their teeth into. Whether it is a timeline of the company’s history, a customer testimonial or case study, a reactive statement or an outline of resilience protocols in place, Notes can be prepared in draft, signed-off ready to publish when appropriate, in lieu of a dark site.
  • As Business Insider highlights, authors can choose to share their Notes with the public, their friends only or a selected number of profiles. You therefore have the possibility to target a segment of stakeholders or to test your message on a reduced set of your customers, including potentially targeting by country on a global page.
  • With Notes, your company can make the most of its existing relationships, especially with its active supporters who could be willing to share the Notes on their timeline and help spread your message.
  • If you would rather not draw excessive attention to localised issues on your public timeline, you could opt to remove some Notes from the timeline afterward. Notes will remain accessible from the menu on your profile page.

What does the new Notes mean for customers?

As much as Facebook Notes can ease the first steps of a crisis response process, it also poses a threat. Facebook users – customers and protestors – can now blog on their profile. That’s 1.49 billion monthly active users potentially blogging about your company’s latest misstep. One more reason for your company to be there and give its side of the story.

  • Unlike a traditional statement on the corporate website, Notes allows people to leave a comment, just like on any regular Facebook post – with more limited moderation control than you might have on a corporately-owned blog.
  • Facebook Notes makes blogging more accessible to anyone, including people who do not usually blog but wish to share their views or someone else’s on selected topics with their Facebook audience.
  • The new feature layout let authors tag your organisation and other public pages – such as defence groups or regulations bodies – along with their content, which you have no control over.
  • According to Wired, Facebook is also working on adding tags to people, hashtags and links, potentially driving more attention to customers’ posts whether they are detractors or supporters of the company. But, let’s face it, the former are usually the loudest.

In a networked world, companies cannot expect to give out tidbits of information online and hope a brewing crisis will die away: it’s smarted to prepare to give the whole story. From now on, companies that are well established on Facebook can use Notes to share their crisis response, as they would do on their corporate blog, and capitalise on their existing, supportive pool of followers to spread their message.

When doing so, remember the rules of blogging in a crisis:

  • Respond quickly
  • Stay focused on facts
  • Be human and professional
  • Use the platforms smartly: links, comments, moderation, sharing options are your friends
  • Ensure corporate approvals and policy are fit for purpose, and teams adhere to them

 

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