Facebook pages have become one of the most important ways for public agencies to connect with their constituents. But for all of their communication benefits, Facebook pages present a big challenge for those who function as administrators: how do you keep your personal life private while maintaining a public page? Before we tackle this issue, let’s take a moment to understand why it exists.

Facebook was founded on the principle of “real identity,” meaning people should be identifiable online and should not hide behind anonymous handles. While this thinking has evolved over time, the platform still puts a heavy emphasis on the ability of users to know who it is they are communicating with. In practice, this means one profile per person, and all pages must be tied to personal profiles representing real users.

Here’s the rub — since you need a real profile to create a page, and you need to be friends with someone to make them an administrator on your page, many people find themselves in the awkward position of having to expose their personal life in a professional setting. Let’s be real —  your teammates might be fantastic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want them to see just how often you post about your dogs.

Note: While there was a point in time that you could create a page using something called a Business Account, Facebook has since phased this out (we’ll cover this topic in another post).

The most common, and riskiest, workaround we see here at ArchiveSocial is for agencies to create “dummy” profiles to manage their Facebook pages. On the surface, it seems like an easy solution. The dummy profile can be set up as the administrator for all pages within the agency allowing for easier page management. No one feels like their individual privacy is at risk. No friending your boss either!

It’s easy to see why so many government agencies are tempted by this method to manage their Facebook presence. However, this approach can quickly turn into a huge headache for your agency. Facebook actively looks for fake profiles and shut them down when they find them. If this happens, then your agency could lose access to that page and not be able to get it back.

Another issue we’ve seen with dummy profiles is that it increases the risk of losing access to the page, even if Facebook doesn’t terminate the dummy profile. We’ve seen situations where a dummy profile was used to manage a page and the employee who set it up ‘went rogue’ (i.e., changed the password and quit) essentially holding the associated government page hostage.

With all of the risks associated with dummy profiles, what is the best way to manage the Facebook pages across an agency while keeping your personal and professional lives separate?

We recommend using Facebook’s Business Manager.  Facebook Business Manager allows you to manage your pages without having to “friend” your co-workers. While it was originally designed as a way for companies to manage ad campaigns, we’ve seen many government agencies effectively use it as a way protect employee privacy and maintain control in the event of employee turnover.

Facebook Business Manager helps circumvent one of the more uncomfortable aspects of managing professional pages: having to friend your colleagues in order to set them up as  admins or editors on the page. When you set up Business Manager, you use your personal profile and invite your collaborators via their work emails (not through their profiles). Collaborators are then able to verify themselves to Facebook via their own personal profiles, but their profiles are not exposed to each other or to you. Best of all, the initial setup is really easy and takes just a few minutes. It’s also easy to add and remove users as needed.

Setting up Business Manager takes just a few minutes. First, go to business.facebook.com and sign in using your normal Facebook profile. Then, search for your page and enter your name and work email. Once your page is claimed you’ll go through a short onboarding flow and at the end be able to add more users and choose their permissions levels. Setting up Facebook Business Manager for the ArchiveSocial page took about five minutes, including adding coworkers.

Unfortunately, for all its benefits, there is one big downside to using Business Manager: you need to use the Pages Manager app if you want to update your page from a mobile device. The reviews of the app aren’t great and describe a rather clunky user experience. However, Facebook changes features quickly, so we may see improvements to this user experience before long.

We’d love to hear from agencies who are using Business Manager to see if their experience matches ours, or if there is another solution out there that works for you. Let us know about your experience in the comments or join in the discussion in our #GovClub.

 

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