A Warning to New Facebook Page Users

During the Coronavirus pandemic, one of the most interesting things I’ve seen is that brands (for-profit companies, non-profit orgs, schools, churches, and more) are all using Facebook Live to stream services, classes, speeches, and more. This is good. I’m glad to see it.

However, there are some potential issues that brands that are new to Facebook Pages aren’t thinking about. These include issues regarding security, privacy, moderation, and etiquette. Here are a few thoughts and observations I’ve made over the past few weeks. Note: these are partially-formed, and I may update it over time. (Last updated: 04/06/20).

#1: Make sure you have multiple Facebook Page administrators.

Facebook Pages are like a “corporate” Facebook account for your business. Some Facebook users struggle to understand this. What I want to point out about this is: if you have a Facebook Page for your brand (company, nonprofit, church, school, etc.), you’ll want to make sure that more than one person is listed as an administrator on the account.

If there’s only one person who has permissions to add/edit content on the Facebook Page, you’re at tremendous risk if anything happens to that person. I highly recommend you have at least two other people in addition to the main administrator who have the right privileges to add/edit users, post/modify status updates, videos, etc., and to delete/ban users from commenting on the page.

Please, please, make sure your Facebook Page doesn’t have a single point of failure. If you have only one page admin, and that person gets sick or falls off the face of the earth, it will be very, very hard for you to get control of the account again.

Also, make sure all your Facebook Page admins know who they are! I’m astounded at the number of times I talk to companies and ask who the admins on a Facebook Page are, and they say: “Uhh, we don’t know. Trevor? Mary? Tim? I can’t remember.”

Learn more: Tips to Keep Your Facebook Account and Business Page Secure.

#2: Make sure you’re not commenting as the “Facebook Page” accidentally.

If you are a Facebook Page admin, there is a chance that if you’re scrolling through your newsfeed or looking at other pages, when you comment, like, or share a post, you will do so as the page itself, and not your personal account.

For example, let’s say your name is John Smith, and you’re an admin on a Facebook Page for your company, called “Sunnyside Farms Cage-Free Eggs.” Let’s say you log in to Facebook and share a photo of your hens laying eggs. That’s all fine and good. But then let’s say you go to “Zach’s Liquor Store” and leave a comment on a post from that page. It may be that your comment will be attributed to Sunnyside Farms Cage-Free Eggs, and not your own personal account.

This may be a problem, or it may not, as long as you know who you are commenting as. But if you don’t know, that’s a potential risk for all kinds of confusion.

Surprisingly, this actually happens somewhat commonly. Whenever you’re a page admin, you HAVE to be sure of “which hat you’re wearing” when you’re online.

One common mistake I’ve seen brands make on Facebook is that a person who “likes” a page and is also an admin on that page forgets who they are when posting. This happens most commonly when a page admin, posts, say, a video on Facebook. Then a different person who “likes” the page comments on it. Then the page admin will also comment (thinking he or she is now speaking for himself/herself). But what happens instead is something like this:

  • Sunnyside Farms Cage-Free Eggs (posts video): “Check out this cool Facebook Live video of our hens laying eggs.”
  • Sarah Jones: (comments on page): “I think those hens look happy!”
  • Sunnyside Farms Cage-Free Eggs: (comments on her comment): “I do too!”)
  • Sarah Jones: ? (wonders who the “I” is in the comment posted above).

See what I mean? If you look in the animated GIF below, watch how you can control “who” you’re commenting as by clicking the icon in the top right to toggle back and forth between yourself and the page you manage.

Animated gif showing how to change the Facebook user from a page admin to a personal account before commenting
Make sure you select the right user before commenting!

#3: Make sure someone is moderating comments, and quickly.

Facebook, like YouTube, is an online platform where essentially anyone can post essentially anything. That means moderation is required. If you post a comment, video, link, or picture on Facebook, nearly anybody on earth can comment on it.

If you have a particular belief, or business model, or philosophical perspective that some people disagree with, they may comment on your posts in a way that is less than polite. In fact, if you’ve been managing a Facebook Page for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the fact that some people post nasty, angry, hateful, or profane comments.

It’s important to make sure you’re moderating these comments, and quickly. If you post a video, for example, on a Sunday morning, and somebody leaves a nasty comment or inappropriate image or link, it could get hundreds or thousands of views in just a few hours.

Please, stay on top of content moderation. ESPECIALLY if your audience is younger people or more sensitive people such as older folks who don’t quite understand social media in the first place.

Learn more: Facebook Page Admin’s Guide to Moderating Your Page.

This is another reason to have more than one Facebook Page administrator: if the first person responsible for the page can’t moderate comments or responses in time, let the second, or the third. Which brings up my next point…

#4: Get a written social media policy, ASAP.

If you run a Facebook Page and post content to it, I highly, highly recommended you have a social media policy. Most large brands have had these for many years, but for smaller organizations that have suddenly been forced to use Facebook more than they ever have in the past, this might be a new concept.

It doesn’t have to be long or all-encompassing. You can quickly hammer one out in just an hour or two. But you should really have a policy that takes into account things such as:

  • Who is authorized to post content on the Facebook page.
  • What types of content are allowed (and what is not).
  • What happens when content that is not allowed is posted, both by admins, and by the public.
  • Who is responsible to moderate inappropriate content.
  • A crisis management plan if something inappropriate is posted to the account by a Facebook manager
  • A list of which people are authorized to “speak on behalf of” your organization. (Hint: just because you’ve authorized someone to post content to your Facebook Page does not mean they’re authorized to post their own opinions, or talk to the press or act as a spokesperson).
  • What kind of privacy is expected (can Facebook admins publicly name or tag your customers? Why or why not, and when?)

Learn more: check out HootSuite’s guide to writing a social media policy. It’s pretty good, and gives examples of social media policies for some large brands you may know (General Motors, the Mayo Clinic, and more).

#5: Know when to use a Facebook Group rather than a Facebook Page.

Everything posted to a Facebook Page, with few exceptions, is public. I mean public as in ANYONE ON PLANET EARTH can see it, view it, read it, or hear it.

If you’re a school teacher using Facebook Live for videos, be aware that just because you are a 4th grade teacher does not mean that only 4th grade kids will watch your video. Please be careful about what you say on video, and who might be watching.

Facebook Live video is especially sensitive because users don’t need to log in or even have an account to view it. Anybody can, regardless of country, age, parental status, etc.

This is what Facebook Groups were made for: they’re like a Facebook Page, but you can clamp down on the privacy settings so that only certain people are allowed in. You can set it to that it’s invitation-only, and people have to request to be allowed in to the group. You can also create a set of rules that people agree to abide by, and then you can kick people out of the group if they’re disruptive or break those rules.

If the content you’re sharing on Facebook is of a sensitive nature, or controversial, or private, you might consider using a Facebook Group instead of a Business Page.

Learn more: Get Started with Facebook Groups.

There are many more things I could say about using Facebook Pages, Facebook Live videos, and Facebook Groups carefully, but my overall caution is that it can be a minefield for those who haven’t used it a lot in the past. You can think you’re innocently walking through a grassy field, but you can step on a mine that blows up and causes damage you weren’t expecting.

Please, please be careful online and if you don’t fully understand how Facebook Business Pages work, read Facebook’s own instructions on how to understand and use them.

Note: if you’ve found this helpful, please let me know. If you have further questions, please comment or send me an email. I’m happy to help anyone I can as they navigate through using tools Like Facebook Pages… we’re all in this together!

2 thoughts on “A Warning to New Facebook Page Users”

  1. This was really helpful. I’m going to clean up my “who is commenting here” stuff, and get a good tight social media policy written up. I assume that’s something I add inside my settings and profile somewhere?

    • Good questions: a social media policy can be both public and private. Privately, it’s an internal document you use to govern who in your organization is permitted to do what on social media. But you can also post a “comment policy” publicly that tells people what you are (and aren’t) going to tolerate on your website, blog, and social media accounts. Here’s a great example of that: https://michaelhyatt.com/permissions/my-comments-policy/. Your organization, of course, can pretty much delete any comments or content at all… but it’s considered good etiquette to let people know what the rules are first.


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