Editor's note: The Department of Energy's official use of Facebook is still evolving. We welcome feedback and suggestions to keep processes and best practices current and up-to-date.
If you are thinking about requesting a Facebook page for your office or program, read this guidance document carefully. Like any externally facing communications activity, proper management and audience development for Facebook pages is a commitment of time and resources. Think carefully about whether your social media goals could be adequately met by working with the Digital Office to promote your content and programs on the Energy Department's preexisting enterprise social media accounts, whose posts regulary reach audiences of hundreds of thousands -- and sometimes millions -- of users.
For more information, read our social media policy.
What is Facebook and why should I use it?
Facebook is an online social networking website on which users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages. Additionally, users may join groups or fan pages of common interests. There are roughly 135 million Americans and 500 million people worldwide using Facebook.
Facebook provides the Energy Department with a platform to share news and questions and gives people interested in our issues a place to connect and share with each other.
Most importantly, since so many more people use Facebook than would normally communicate with a government agency, the platform greatly expands the number of people likely to interact with the Department of Energy on a day-to-day basis.
Account Setup and Management
Develop Your Strategy
- Define your goals for the account. Who's your audience? What message do you want them to hear?
- Determine what you have to offer through your Facebook page, on a regular basis, to the people you're trying to reach.
- Decide if you have the capacity, resources and expertise to actively engage your community and maintain your Facebook page.
Request an Account
Fill out a social media request form on Energy.gov to apply for a new official Facebook account. The Digital Office, located in the Office of Public Affairs, will review your request and get back to you within a reasonable timeframe. For more details on establishing an official Energy Department social media account, visit our Social Media page.
Create Your Account
Once the Digital Office approves your request to create a new account, you can start the process of building your page by following these steps:
- Join Facebook by creating a free account, if you have not already done so, at http://facebook.com.
- While logged in to Facebook, go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.
- Choose "Company, Organization or Institution," and select "Government Organization" from the drop down box.
- Before you enter the name of your page, make sure the name is approved and final. Once the name is set, it cannot be changed.
- Agree to the Facebook Pages Terms and click "Get Started."
- Follow the prompts to enter additional information. Be sure to choose the option that prevents the page from immediately becoming publicly visible.
- Enter remaining information to create your (not yet public) Page.
Initial Setup and Configuration
There are several steps to setting up your page. We provide some basic details below, but you may need to search the Facebook help system for additional assistance.
Change the Photo
- Mouse over the photo in the upper left corner and choose to change the picture.
- Use an image or icon that has been approved by your Public Affairs contact to represent the page.
Adding "Liked" Pages
- Navigate to the page you wish to add and click "Like."
- Add the Department of Energy and Secretary Moniz to your page's "Like" list, along with pages from other national labs, field offices or programs, as appropriate.
"Write Something About Yourself" Section
Use this space to present a biography or mission statement. Click the small pencil icon in the upper right corner to edit it.
- Allow comments but disable the ability to post links, photos and videos to avoid potential spammers or advertisements.
Publish and Manage Your Page
Once you have finished setting up your page, select the "Settings" option and change "Page visibility" to "Page published," which means your page is now publicly visible. You may change this setting back to "Unpublished" later if you need to.
As soon as you've published your page, you must begin the process of removing third-party ads from the right sidebar by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email you should provide your page's URL. Do not actively promote your page until this process is completed and your page is ad-free. (Note that Facebook's own ads will still appear.)
Get a Facebook Username (Short URL)
Once you have 25 fans, get a short, easy-to-remember URL by going to http://www.facebook.com/username. Once there, you'll see the link "Set a Username For Your Page." Choose your page and then enter a simple name that will be easy for people to remember, or is what you think they would logically search for (example: http://www.facebook.com/energygov).
Promote your Page
People can elect to follow your page, but only if they know about it.
- Identify contacts who would otherwise benefit from the information on your page, and invite them to like the page. Send a short note explaining what the page has to offer them (answer the question, "What's in it for me?") and include a link to the page.
- Promote your page everywhere you're active online. Send out an email notification, add a link to your email signature and/or put the address on your business cards. Use other social media channels and online platforms to promote the page to your stakeholders.
- Work with the Digital Office to promote your new page across the Department's enterprise social media accounts.
Rules of Engagement: Dos and Don'ts
- Plan your content to coincide with a major outreach moment, but also post when you have something to say.
- Share links, photos and videos on your page. It's best to provide links back to your website with each update, but when appropriate, you may also link to other sites per Energy.gov's external link procedures.
- Write as if you're talking to a friend, not writing a news release. For example, instead of writing, "The Department of Energy announces new program to provide benefits," write, "Hey, sign-up to get benefits! We just started a new program." Or instead of, "The Department of Energy will be providing individuals with a new service," write, "We'll give you new services."
- Ask questions to encourage a conversation. Make sure the questions are open-ended to avoid Paperwork Reduction Act concerns.
- Ask for your community's thoughts, experiences and stories.
- Listen to what people are saying and respond as appropriate. For more guidance on how to respond, please consult the Digital Office staff.
- Regularly review Facebook metrics via the Admin Panel at the top of your page.
- Don't add any applications before you have done research to ensure they are safe.
- Don't collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or invite other security risks.
- Don't delete comments unless they are in clear violation of the Department's online commenting policy (your followers will often deal with problem users on your behalf, anyway).
- Don't get into an argument with a follower. This reflects poorly on the organization and can often lead to negative publicity.
- Don't create a "Group" (our Terms of Service only covers pages).
- Don't use your personal Facebook account to speak on behalf of the Department, unless previously authorized to do so.