Karl Elliott

A Facebook page is complimentary and should not replace your website

Should you have a Facebook page for your non-profit? Absolutely – as long as you know how to manage it properly, use it as an ongoing communication tool and know who the audience is that you are communicating with. It serves a very useful purpose.

But should you ONLY have a Facebook page instead of a more traditional website? My opinion is no.
Many people are on Facebook, see all its’ positive aspects, note that it’s ‘free’ and consequently argue the case that charities, smaller businesses and voluntary or community groups can manage with just a Facebook page to get online.

But I suggest that Facebook and a website are different things. Complimentary to each other, both useful (for different purposes), but not one to the exclusion of the other.

Some of my reasoning:

  • Facebook is not under your control. It’s their tool, they structure it, manage it, design it and change it as they see fit. You don’t own or control your web presence via Facebook in the same way you can with your own website.
  • You have no ‘brand’ control. Certainly you can adjust your profile, but it’s still a Facebook page mentioning you, rather than tying in with any other aspects of your organisational branding..
  • Don’t forget that Facebook is not totally ‘free’ anyway. The tool is free (but so is WordPress for building a website). But you need to invest (potentially significant) amounts of staff or volunteer time in order to ‘feed the beast’ and keep the Facebook page alive and valuable to your visitors. If you’re using Facebook for that conversation then this is time you certainly need to invest. And, yes, building a website needs a different upfront and ongoing investment of time, but don’t get confused over the concept that Facebook is free.
  • Facebook is a closed system. Not everyone is on Facebook. If your audience is there, then fine. And you can make sure your Facebook Page is public, but there are many people who won’t visit Facebook – you become invisible. Your website is open to all.
  • In fact you might be totally invisible to many people. In public bodies and businesses large and small, Facebook (along with many other sites) may be blocked or hidden away behind that pesky firewall. Your website isn’t. So if you’re only on Facebook, you may well not exist (except until those employees get home or mobile away from that IT imposed firewall).
  • Noise vs message. There’s a lot of noise and stuff going on in your visitors time lines. Is your message getting through to them at all or is it being swamped. Your website can keep that message clear, focused and as permanent as you want. Yes, you need to plan your messages well for your website, but at least it’s you controlling the message distribution, not Facebook.
  • In Facebook you rely on your visitors continuing to be interested in you. Start slipping in your ‘news’ or your focus and they may lose interest in you. Very quickly your news disappears from their timeline and they start forgetting you… You still need to remain interesting on your website – keeping attention is not simple, but don’t make assumptions that your Facebook posting is being ‘seen’ either.
  • Where in Facebook can you control your background information? Those downloadable documents, the forms you need visitors to complete, the information that promotes your organisation. On your website that’s easy – but where can you post it via Facebook.
  • Search engine optimisation. Yes, Google might possibly find that information or content from your Facebook Page. But that’s highly ineffective and totally out of your control. Your website gives you the power over SEO (to some extent at least). It helps you get ‘found’.
  • Reputation. Just like the mechanic with a faulty vehicle or the web designer with the ‘website under construction’. Just having a Facebook Page and no website ‘tells’ your audience something. What does your funder think of that? Do they think you’re more amateur and only interested in Social Media? Your Facebook Page better be pretty impressive to overcome that perception as to why you’ve chosen to not have a website.

I’m not saying building a website is easy or ‘better’. It’s simply that you must not ignore the issues and factors that surround that possible over assumption or over reliance on Facebook. Yes, use it – in fact embrace it if your audience is there and needs you to interact and communicate with them. But where’s the harm in complimenting it with a decent website? Think it through before you assume.

#article #socialmedia #facebook

Karl Elliott

Too much spam

We all know there’s too much email spam in the world. (Take a look at this monitoring map here as just an example. Currently 70billion spam emails circulating the world.).

But as an organisation you need to be aware of this critical issue and take steps to make sure it doesn’t affect you.

Spam seems to be increasingly clever. Emails look very like reputable companies with the right logos, images, adverts, wording etc. If you’re not vigilant then the spam will get through. When enough emails are sent out that look like they come from Apple, Amazon, Tesco, Natwest, Royal Mail or travel companies and so on, then occasionally they will reach a customer of one of the ‘real’ businesses who can be fooled by the spam. I increasingly need to double check many more emails myself to check whether they are real or not!

Some things to consider:

How do emails get into your organisation? Do you have hosting, a cloud email provider, an email service such as Exchange Server running on your server? Do you use Gmail or outlook.com online? How do emails get to your computers, PC’s, laptops, tablets, phones etc?

By asking this first question you can look for the places that you need to be checking for spam. So which of these services have good and robust email spam protection running on them? How do you check or test it and know that it works?

What about your staff, volunteers, trustees, committee members etc. Are they all aware on how to identify spam if it gets through your filters and protections and what to do about it? This is a training and support issue. Most spam relies on tricking the reader into believing enough about the email to do something or click on something.

Remind staff that you should only be opening an email if you are expecting it and it’s from someone you expect to get emails from. If you’ve already opened it then double check an entire email before clicking on links or files. Attachments that are .exe or .zip are generally bad. Don’t click.

Attachments can be deceiving though. A .doc, or .docx or .pdf might really be a .exe which could contain a program, virus or infection. Think before you click.

Check the email address that the email came from. It might say it’s Natwest for example, but hover over the link – does it now look real or does it look like it’s from somewhere more dubious.

Overall, be cautious. If in doubt, make sure you ask your IT support to check if it’s spam. If you are that IT support then do you know yourself how to check for spam?

If spam does get through then is your anti-virus working on ALL your machines and devices? Is it setup correctly and up to date? Does it scan emails too or just any attachments?

Conclusions

The issue here is that spam is here to stay. No matter the size of your organisation you need to know you are dealing with and managing the spam risk (at the business level) and that ALL your staff and volunteer team know how to deal with spam. Don’t let spam win.

#spam #article #bulletin #security