We have compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook pages for fire departments. Recently we updated our Western Pennsylvania Fire Department Facebook Listings page for the first time since 2014. The majority of fire departments in the region now have Facebook pages, and if you don’t have one you are behind the curve.
This article is to assist in helping you grow your department’s Facebook page follower count, to help avoid common pitfalls that can occur, and hopefully help those who don’t have a department page make the jump and create one.
So here are some tips to consider:
- Be complete when updating your profile – Make sure you fill in your location and About sections. Many fire departments share the same name and you want people to easily tell they are looking at the correct one.
- Answer questions and respond to posts – Facebook pages allow departments to have an open line of communications between the department and citizens. Answering questions and responding to posts helps inform the community about your department. Be sure to thank your followers often.
- Ask questions and ask for feedback – Once you have an established follower base, make sure you ask questions. Questions are the most responded to type of post on Facebook which helps grow your following. You can also get instant feedback just by asking..
- Post photos and videos – Don’t get stuck in a rut of just posting the same type of post over and over. Most people love to see photos and videos of things going on with the department.
- Tag people and other Facebook pages – Be sure to utilize tagging (tag by using the @ symbol while posting) when applicable. This helps grow your following as well. Tag your mutual aid companies if they assisted on a call, a member if there is a post specifically about them, etc.
- Have a social media policy in place – A social media policy or SOGs should be created to outline rules about the page. You will want steps on how to handle negative feedback and complaints, who is and isn’t allowed to post, what is allowed to be posted, and so on. In a sue happy world, the last thing a fire department needs is the hassle and aggravation over a things posted on a Facebook page.
- Post consistently – Post as consistently as possible to keep interest high. Not everyone knows this, but Facebook doesn’t show all posts to all followers of a page. They use some sort of algorithm based on likes, shares, and other interactions to determine who the post gets shown to. I have found the more active you stay, the more followers are actually shown the content.
- Use bad grammar – Remember, your Facebook page is representing your department. Spelling and grammar errors make your department look unprofessional.
- Post sensitive material – This should be obvious, but just a reminder not to post medical conditions, pictures of patients or victims, license plate numbers, or anything else that shouldn’t be public knowledge.
- Be slow to respond to questions – Answering questions was part of the Do list, however don’t take 3 weeks to answer questions either. Answer questions or concerns as soon as possible.
- Post irrelevant info – People are following you because they want to keep updated about your department. They didn’t follow your fire department page to see cat videos, news from across the country, or hear about your favorite sports team.
- Attack fellow departments, companies, or citizens – Another pretty obvious one as degrading, complaining, or attacking anyone else is just opening a can of worms and possible legal issues.
- Make it a group or friend page – Fire departments are like businesses, and your Facebook page should be a page, not a group or friend page.
Remember, your Facebook page is a direct reflection of your fire department. There is a risk of damaging your reputation if the page is run incorrectly, however if run correctly it is a valuable tool to help promote your department and stay in touch with your community members.
Are there any other Do’s or Don’ts that you incorporate with your department’s Facebook page?