Stuck in Facebook page jail …
Hello, I’m Andy. I’m a journalist.
The job is pretty obvious: I talk to people. I listen. I observe. I find out what people are talking about and then I try to separate fact from fiction for a story.
That’s what the job was before social media. That’s what the job is since social media.
So why does Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 750 million members, encourage journalists to create pages that basically leave us on the outside looking in?
When I had a work-only profile, I befriended nearly 2,000 members of my community, glanced at their updates and photos, exchanged direct messages and even, in a couple of spontaneous midnight sessions, received tips during facebook chats. The experience built trust and helped me connect with many reliable sources.
When I made the knee-jerk decision to convert to a shiny and new journalist page earlier this year I quickly realized that a page gave me none of those options. I can’t reach out to anybody. I can’t message anybody. I can’t even tell them I’m there. I just write on my wall and wait for someone to visit. If I’m really lucky they’ll “Like” me or my posts. It’s Facebook page jail.
(To make matters worse, the conversion didn’t work properly, leaving me with some weird and dysfunctional profile-page hybrid that I had to scrap entirely and start over again. I learned the hard way that it’s very difficult to get your friends to follow you over to a page.)
I like and appreciate what the folks at Facebook + Journalists do but all of the helpful tips in the world aren’t going to overcome woeful infrastructure that seems completely arbitrary. Facebook needs to address these issues or someone else will.
Actually, someone else already has. Not only has Google+ surmounted the problem, they made it look easy. Using the circles, I can post new pictures of my children to just my relatives in Indiana and then turn around and post breaking news to everybody. No switching accounts. No special, inexplicable rules. I’m a member of the community, just like in real life.
I am keeping my Facebook page for now, mainly because my newspaper is focused on expanding our presence there. The page will allow me to share and promote more with my coworkers. But, so far, that’s really the only advantage (oh wait, I can also create polls, yay) over blowing up the page and starting a new profile.
I’m also holding out a little hope that Facebook will address the issues, but now that it’s busy catching up to Google+ on multiple other fronts, who knows …
Do you have a fan page? What are your thoughts?
Filed under: Social media and journalism | 23 Comments
Tags: Facebook, Google+, journalists
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