How we are using Facebook events at Bradford Council

We have had some success with Facebook events at Bradford Council recently. I’d like to share with you what we’ve been doing and some of the things that we’ve learnt.

For several years I had mostly disregarded Facebook events. The number of people ‘going to’ a Facebook event rarely translated into people turning up to the actual event, and a lot of people ignored all invites anyway.

But Facebook events have quietly become more relevant again. Events have become so useful for our City Park Facebook Page that we have refocused our content priorities in favour of events. Facebook events now account for three quarters of all our posts on the City Park Facebook Page.

While you can create events as an individual, or in a Facebook Group, all our recent events have started life on Facebook Pages. Here are a few things we’ve done that you might like to try.

Encourage people to subscribe to event alerts

As the admin of a Facebook Page, you can’t invite people who like your Page to an event. But you can encourage people to subscribe to your Page’s events. If someone subscribes to your Facebook events, they will get a notification every time you add a new one near them.

The Facebook Page for Bradford’s City Park has 10,000 likes, but just as importantly it has 1,000 event subscribers. That’s 1,000 people who will get a notification whenever a new event is added.

Considering how hard it can be to get organic Facebook content into people’s newsfeeds, it is a real advantage to be able to notify people every time an event is created.

We have also stopped automatically publishing new events to our timeline and to our followers’ newsfeeds. Our event subscribers will get an immediate alert for new events, but we have control over the scheduling of how new events are shared publicly to people who like the Page. This helps us spread out our Page posts, but also adds an extra incentive for people to subscribe to our events alerts. Subscribers will find out about new events a day or two earlier than people who simply like our Facebook Page.

How to change whether new Events will be published to your Page timeline
How to change whether new events will be published to your Page timeline

You can also use other channels to encourage people to subscribe to your Facebook events. You could include a subscription link in newsletters, blog posts or on Twitter. Our City Park Twitter account has this Tweet pinned to the top of our profile:

As well as promoting events subscriptions through other channels, we have also promoted specific Facebook events in other channels too. For example, our blog post about events remembering the Battle of the Somme included links to several Facebook events. Continue reading How we are using Facebook events at Bradford Council

Periscope vs Facebook Live: a comparison

As Periscope or Facebook Live become more dominant in live streaming, it’s sometimes hard to know which to use.  Tap into your Twitter audience with Periscope, or just broadcast to your Facebook audience?

During two recent events in Bradford we used both Periscope and Facebook Live at the same time. This helped us reach different audiences, and was a good opportunity to directly compare the two platforms. Here’s what happened and what I have concluded from the experiments.

The Queen’s 90th birthday celebration event in Bradford

Periscope

Duration: 15:20

Live viewers: 183

Replay viewers: 106

Offensive comments: 4

Facebook Live

Duration: 33:00

Total views: 2,600

Reach: 6,046

Maximum concurrent viewers: 12*

Vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting

Periscope

Duration: 48:50

Live viewers: 641

Replay viewers: 233

Offensive comments: 12

Facebook Live

Duration: 48:00

Total views: 2,100

Reach: 15,400

Maximum concurrent viewers: 15*

Conclusions

Reach

With my two experiments I found that Periscope (linked with Twitter) was particularly good at reaching an audience specfic for an event, sometimes people in different parts of the world who had no prior relationship with our accounts.  Whereas Facebook Live is good at reaching a large number of people in an existing audience and their friends.

Continue reading Periscope vs Facebook Live: a comparison

Video subtitles are essential, not just an optional extra

We all know how video is taking over the Internet, and this is opening up lots of exciting possibilities. But sadly, closed captions (or subtitles) are often thought of as an optional extra, if they are thought of at all. The truth is very different.  Unless your video makes perfect sense without sound, you really must add captions.

Think of a deaf person, or someone without a working soundcard, or someone looking at their phone on a noisy bus. Adding captions instantly makes your videos more accessible to more people. And those people will thank you for it. In fact, if you work in the public sector, it is illegal to make services online inaccessible to disabled users..

How to add subtitles on YouTube and Facebook

There are several ways to add subtitles to a YouTube video. The most fiddly, but the way I recommend, is to create and upload an SRT file.  I say “fiddly”, but it is not difficult, and is worth the effort. You can make an SRT file using a text editor like Notepad.

If you have the patience to do it this way you will actually be saving time, because you can then reuse the same subtitles file elsewhere, such as for Facebook video captions. By the way, you are publishing your videos directly to Facebook as well as YouTube, aren’t you?

If you don’t add your own captions to YouTube, they have software that “listens” to the audio and this makes a pretty good attempt at adding captions to your videos.  But these automatic captions are nearly always littered with errors. Not only is this a problem for people who rely on captions, but inaccurate subtitles will also make you look unprofessional, or even a little foolish. For example, count the errors on this by Nestlé:

Going back to our friend sat on a noisy bus, Facebook has clearly given this person some thought too.  If you are using Facebook’s mobile app and a native video crops up in your newsfeed, subtitles will automatically be shown. That’s a simple, yet very smart move by Facebook.

Continue reading Video subtitles are essential, not just an optional extra

Facebook video – enjoy it while you can

We have all seen organic reach falling on Facebook, but I’ve had remarkable success with Facebook videos recently.

This video of Victorian tunnels in Bradford reached over 50,000 people, being shared 300+ times, within its first five days:

That video didn’t take long to put together. I filmed it on an iPhone and edited it on an iPad. It was online within a couple of hours of me donning a hard hat to enter the tunnels.

To put the 50,000+ reach of that video into some sort of context, Bradford Council’s Facebook page has fewer than 2,000 likes, and other recent posts have an average reach of just a few hundred people. The tunnels video has been by far the most successful Facebook post Bradford Council has ever published.

But even before that freakish success, I had observed a trend, with videos on our Facebook page outperforming other post types:

Another recent video that did well was one announcing the sudden closure of one of our customer service centres due to wind damage. It was a far from brilliant video, but that didn’t matter. It seems that using Facebook video for news items is working well.

Continue reading Facebook video – enjoy it while you can