Mastering the Facebook Fundamentals

By Brooke Shelby Biggs, Managing Editor of Independent Lens
Posted on July 7, 2011

Brooke Shelby Biggs runs through some best practices on how to create and maintain an effective Facebook page.


One of the biggest mistakes people make with Facebook is presuming that their page (for a program or a station or a film) is basically an online brochure for the brand. In fact, your Facebook page is much, much more than that — it’s an information source, a conversation, a customer service center, and a content platform. Getting the most out of your Facebook page requires attention to detail, especially at the beginning. 

Here are a few basic rules when you’re starting out: 

Post enough, but not too much. Posting on a Facebook page is a delicate dance. You don’t want to be so quiet that people forget about you, but you don’t want to be such a blowhard that they tune you out (hide your posts from their newsfeed or “Unlike” you). Once or twice a day seems to be the sweet spot for new pages. Opinions and research differ on the optimal times of day to post, but it is common wisdom that you’ll do best if you space your posts out liberally.

Don’t post only about yourself. It is tempting to see your fan base as a rapt audience hanging on your every word. But remember that most people use Facebook to communicate with their friends and family, and being peppered with marketing messages in that space is disruptive and off-putting. If people are interested in your film or your station, they are probably interested in similar subjects as well. Posting what is interesting to you and related to your brand but not stark salesmanship, and you can quickly boost goodwill among your fan base. Consider yourself a curator with expertise in a few subjects related to your brand. 

Use the tools properly. You can do damage to your brand reputation by failing to use Facebook’s basic tools correctly and making yourself look careless or clueless. When posting a link to something, click the Link icon above the text field instead of just pasting the link into your status. Leave the status field for contextualizing your link for your fans. Like this:


Not like this:


Share and tag generously. When you’re starting out, be sure to “like” pages of related brands. For example, for Community Cinema, we “like” the pages of our national partners, non-profits, and community groups who help us with our free screening series. Once your page “likes” another, you can tag them in your posts by placing an “@” before their name in the text (Facebook will automatically narrow your liked pages to the ones it thinks you mean so you can select). Also, if you see news or links in your newsfeed you think your fan base would like, share the posts using the share button under the post to put it on your own wall. This breeds goodwill and a sense of cooperation, which makes it more likely those pages will share your content in kind. 






Be present. Facebook is a place to interact with your followers. Often they will ask questions, express a complaint, or deliver a compliment on your wall or in your comments. Respond! You don’t have to respond immediately, but you ought to respond consistently. Be of service, address concerns, answer questions, react to comments. The sense that there is a human being behind the page cultivates a sense of a personal investment in your brand. For this reason, unless you are a massive brand with 100,000 fans or more, I would caution against exclusively using auto-post tools such as HootSuite or activating cross-post features that automatically post your Tweets on your Facebook wall. These tend to seem impersonal and disengaged. 

Next week: Did you know that your average fan only sees about 25 percent of your posts? Find out what you can do to improve your odds. 

Read Brooke's previous entry on how to pick the right social media platform.

See Brooke's tips in action and LIKE the Independent Lens Facebook page.


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