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UK Parliament's first ever Facebook strategy

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Be where people are, Community, Content design, Open, Social Media

Person using Facebook on a smartphone

The UK Parliament Facebook page has one of the strongest follower bases across all UK government and Parliament Facebook accounts. We share a wide selection of content covering public engagement campaigns, 'On This Day' history posts, visitor information, Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), and more.

But we face a challenging 2018 due to Facebook’s news feed algorithm update. Facebook will now prioritise friends, family, and groups, and will show less from Pages in the news feed. Due to this, our research shows that our engagements and clicks in the last half of 2017 took a significant hit.

Working with my colleagues in the PDS content team, I've written the first ever content strategy for our Facebook page so we can proactively meet this challenge. This blog post summarises the main strategy, and sharing it is all part of PDS's aspirations of being transparent, open and inclusive.

If you want to read the full strategy then get in touch – anybody can take a read.

Our six-point content strategy for 2018

  1. quality over quantity will balance our content
  2. using Facebook Live will allow our audiences to engage with us in new ways
  3. launching Groups for Pages will grow our communities
  4. building the links between social media and internal communications will help promote Parliament as a great place to work
  5. sharing our own Instagram content and content from our followers on Facebook will grow engagement on both channels
  6. a Facebook Messenger chatbot will help us to improve public engagement with Parliament

I've explained each of these points in more detail below.

Quality over quantity will balance our content

Only one in five of our Facebook audience are in the UK. That means we need to balance the needs of Parliament and our messaging about what Parliament does with the interests and needs of our international audience.

If we post more than twice a day then the likelihood of our content being seen by followers will decrease. We want to resist any pressure to publish more so that we’re not out of step with best practice.

We’ll also be stricter about posting and re-posting content that doesn’t meet high standards or that our audiences would find irrelevant.

Some of our content attracts trolls and spammy comments. We’ll have to build genuine engagement, and we'll aim for at least one genuine question and answer interaction per post.

Using Facebook Live will allow our audiences to engage with us in new ways

We have lots of ideas for Facebook Live video content that we think our audience will love based on how they’ve engaged with content with similar themes. So we’re aiming for one piece a month.

We want to create good quality, well scripted and rehearsed live video content that our audiences love. Scripts will include an intro, outro, and 'emergency landing' script that hosts can skip to if we need to wrap up the broadcast for any reason.

The barriers to doing this include getting agreement from people across Parliament and reluctance in some teams to try the live format. We’re planning on overcoming this by planning and rehearsing, building relationships, and sharing analytics.

Launching Groups for Pages will grow our communities

We’ll identify three new potential Groups for Pages so we can grow "super-fan" communities. Early ideas based on the data include themes like ‘Big Ben superfans’, ‘History Secrets of Parliament’, or ‘Art at Parliament’.

Our Groups will be public but users must request access first. This should attract real enthusiasts and fans, and prevent spammy commenters. Managing moderation carefully will be a priority.

We also want to make the most of the knowledge and expertise of our colleagues around Parliament. For subject-specific Groups, we would plan the content with their input and guidance for accuracy.

Building the links between social media and internal communications

Employees can play a huge part in growing Parliament’s brand and visibility on Facebook. They can publicly celebrate our achievements and anniversaries. They can share job opportunities and bring new talent into our teams. If they feel passionate and proud of working here, they can show what it’s like to work in Parliament and why it’s a great place to work. As long as that messaging isn't too stiff and corporate.

We’ll find out if we can add a piece of suggested social media content to the weekly PDS newsletter and in other internal communications channels around Parliament to help with this approach.

We’ll also need to understand the security risks associated with this area of the strategy. We must take into account the restrictions on personal use of social media as set out in the social media policies for both Houses (for example, not being impartial on a particular policy or a political party).

Sharing our own Instagram content and from our followers on Facebook

Each week we’ll share a selection of our favourite images from Instagram on Facebook with strong calls to action that encourage followers to follow us on Instagram too. We want our audiences to share their Parliament and Westminster-related content with the right hashtags.

Part of our Instagram strategy will be around using a geo-search tool to engage with all Instagram shares of images of Parliament and Westminster. This will give us a bigger pool of user generated content to engage with and share on our Facebook page.

Facebook Messenger chatbot

UK Parliament's Facebook page could use a Facebook Messenger chatbot as a new and exciting way for our audiences to engage with us. We could use it for people buying something in one of our shops, buying tour tickets, engaging with e-petitions, or growing the public’s understanding of Parliament through quizzes and online courses.

Furthermore, we want to work with PDS colleagues through a hack day around the storyboarding and creation of a chatbot. We want to be strategic about it and understand what topics the chatbot should cover.

Let us know what you think about the strategy in the comments below or get in touch if you want to discuss it. 

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