When Facebook shut down news pages in Australia during a dispute with the federal government about digital platform regulation, non-media pages were caught in the crossfire. The Queensland Health Facebook page was one of them.
Some behind-the-scenes work saw our page restored in just over five hours. But it could have been longer, and the situation prompted a quick assessment about how well we were prepared if one of our major channels disappeared without notice.
Here’s four quick ideas to help you strengthen and diversify how your content is delivered in case Facebook (or anyone else) comes for you one day.
Own the channels or the channels will own you
Key content needs to live on assets you own. It’s that simple.
Queensland Health has a website, we have a wonderful blog, we have a chart-topping podcast and we have an electronic direct mail service that has a burgeoning subscriber base. None of these channels are subject to the whims of monopoly traditional media owners or billionaire technologists. We own the content and the place where the content lives.
Ensure your richest content lives on an asset you own. And use that content to inform your social media posts, even if your meme-game never moves beyond Tik Tok or Instagram
Have a plan for SEO and paid search
If you don’t have a plan to produce and refine content that improves search engine optimisation (SEO) and you don’t know how to deploy paid search in a crisis, now’s the time to get one.
SEO is the passive income of the content world – it sits in the background silently generating income (traffic). How would your audience find your key content if Facebook vanished off the face of the Earth tomorrow? If they turn to Google, SEO matters. Not understanding the basics of SEO does your content a disservice.
Understanding paid search is just as important. Had we remained invisible to our Facebook audience for more than a day, we would have deployed some paid search activity to help boost the number of people getting the COVID-19 information we needed them to receive.
You can switch it on very quickly. It’s ultra-targetable. It’s easy to optimise. And it’s generally cost efficient. Start exploring how you might use paid search in a crisis.
Understand who and where your audience is
Here’s the good news – there were no adverse patient outcomes from Queensland Health being removed from the platform for a short time. Why? Well, that’s not how we communicate with our patients about their individual clinical needs. Our biggest communications asset remains the 100,000 dedicated staff who work for the organisation, especially frontline clinicians.
What’s the lesson? Understanding the audiences on different platforms and the kinds of content they want to engage with there is vital. We have large audiences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We engage with them differently.
Do you know where your audiences live? What percentage of your customers do you reach only through Facebook?
Don’t get me wrong, losing our Facebook audience for good would have hurt and it would have hurt bad. Our first post back after the lockout was removed was a big warm hug to our audience telling them we missed them. But the whole episode has us thinking much harder about reaching more people in more ways. There are other ways to reach them.
Content, content, content
Creating and sharing poor content is worse than being banished from Facebook for a few hours or even a few weeks.
How engaging is your content? How understandable is it? How well does it pull the levers of the behaviour you’re seeking to change? How visually appealing is it? How shareable?
Getting the basics right is the best way to bolster your audience, get the right information out there and reduce your reliance on individual channels. Having great content means you can deploy it in different ways quickly when needed.
I’ve left this to last because it’s the most important – when a channel disappears, it’s quality content that will see you through.