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What to consider before moving your website to Facebook

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  Jenn Webb's Photo
Posted Jul 05 2011 05:55 AM

<p><img src="http://radar.oreilly.com/upload/2011/06/0611-rockvillecentral.png" alt="0611-rockvillecentral.png" width="260" style="float: right; margin: 3px 0 10px 10px;" />Businesses, from <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/can-social-media-save-mom-and-pop-124701063.html">mom and pop stores</a> to <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0629-cable-trends-20110629,0,5960290.story">cable TV</a> to <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/media-lab/social-media/136218/how-you-can-use-social-machinery-to-power-personalized-news-delivery/">newspapers</a>, are dabbling on the social side to reach consumers. Some, however, aren't just dabbling. In March, Maryland's Rockville Central news site moved their <a href="http://rockvillecentral.com/">entire web presence</a> to a <a href="http://www.facebook.com/RockvilleCentral">Facebook page</a>. </p>

<p>According to a <a href="http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/rockville-central-is-set-to-become-a-facebook-only-outlet/">post</a> on the Nieman Journalism Lab, Rockville Central doesn't put a lot of focus on profit:</p>


<p>Profit, [co-founder Cindy] Cotte Griffiths notes, isn't itself the site's overall goal: She and [co-founder Brad] Rourke see the outlet not so much as a money-making vehicle as an experiment in civic engagement ... Then again, Rockville Central isn't, you know, <em>opposed</em> to turning a profit. And building a strong, committed community on Facebook, Cotte Griffiths points out, could be a means toward developing non-ad-based revenue streams in the future, from hosting conferences to staging community events.</p>

<p>The revenue thing is a big deal. Put bluntly: When you move to someone else's platform, you limit your revenue streams to whatever that platform offers.</p>

<p>But if, like Rockville Central, profit isn't your priority and/or you're comfortable with what Facebook has to offer, then a Facebook approach may work for you. In the following interview, Rockville Central's Cindy Cotte Griffiths digs into the pros and cons of going "all Facebook."</p>

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<p>What challenges have you faced moving operations from a website to a Facebook page?</p>

<p><img src="http://radar.oreilly.com/upload/2011/06/CindyCotteGriffiths.png" alt="CindyCotteGriffiths.png" width="75" style="float: right; margin: 3px 0 10px 10px;" /><strong>Cindy Cotte Griffiths:</strong> Facebook lacks the means to effectively archive information, and we can't tag or categorize posts when using Notes on Facebook. If readers want to find information on a particular issue, the content is not organized. Although you can find our Facebook page with a search engine, individual posts and links are difficult to locate even when you know the information is there. The shelf life of posts on Facebook is really only a few days before the content fades out of people's news feeds and doesn't show up in Facebook's search. </p>

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<p>What does Facebook allow you to do that you couldn't achieve on your website? </p>

<p><strong>Cindy Cotte Griffiths:</strong> Facebook lets us easily link to the many news sources available in Rockville, such as the regional newspapers, local television and radio stations, other Rockville sites, and the city website. When Rockville Central was formed in 2007, very little news was available about the area. The city website was not as comprehensive as it is today, and the only other news source was the Gazette paper that was thrown on your lawn once a week. Now a tremendous amount of information is produced, and we realized we shouldn't be duplicating these efforts. As a community hub using Facebook, Rockville Central brings the coverage from these many other sources together and provides a valuable service for readers.</p>

<p>Facebook brings our active community of readers together in one place. To us, the conversations and opinions around each story are as important as the story itself. On the website, people couldn't start conversations. Now, Facebook provides a different and better kind of participation. Readers can post photos, questions and links on the Rockville Central page, and other people can respond to them directly.</p>

<p>Since Facebook is so mobile friendly, people also can post first-hand news accounts. When news is breaking, the community provides details, often from the scene. In this way, the community is helping to report the news as it happens, which rarely occurred on the website.</p>

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<p>How did the switch affect your workflow? </p>

<p><strong>Cindy Cotte Griffiths:</strong> Since we don't want to duplicate efforts, we are not writing as much daily, original content as we did on the website, and we are linking to other sources more. Although we could post links to other news sources with the website, the process was cumbersome. We would need to download then upload a photo with proper credit, then write a description and include a brief quote from the source. With Facebook, the process takes about two minutes versus the 20 minutes required with the website. </p>

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<p>Do you have any concerns about tying yourself to an external company with its own terms of service? </p>

<p><strong>Cindy Cotte Griffiths:</strong> When you post on Facebook you retain the copyright to your content, so this has never been a concern. We know from managing Rockville Central for more than four years that changes in policy are often necessary as you grow and expand. We understand what it means to make it up as you go along Not every decision is the right one. I've heard Mark Zuckerberg joke that they've made every mistake possible, but I think Facebook responds to user concerns. I'm probably more willing to believe that terms of service matters will be sorted out satisfactorily if it ever becomes an issue. We clearly agree with the current terms of service. </p>

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<p>How about on the audience side — is the content available to folks who don't have Facebook logins? </p>

<p><strong>Cindy Cotte Griffiths:</strong> Our Facebook page is public, so anyone should be able to view the information even if they don't have a Facebook account. We have heard that some workplaces block access to Facebook, so those readers might need to wait until they are home or use a phone or a tablet.</p>

<p>Although everyone can read Rockville Central, a Facebook account is necessary to comment. We required a full name and email address in order to comment on the website as well. </p>

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<p>What do you wish Facebook could do that it currently can't? </p>

<p><strong>Cindy Cotte Griffiths:</strong> Besides wishing for an enhanced Facebook search function and a way to categorize posts, my number one wish would be for a better dashboard to create notes. Now, in order to include links, you need to use an outside HTML program or type the code directly into a post. I'd also like to be able to tag a person in a note when I'm posting as Rockville Central, especially when the person has contributed the article.</p>

<p>Although I see others criticizing the uniform design of Facebook pages, I don't share this view. I think one of the best features of Facebook is the consistency of the design. People know where to find information on every page because the setup and navigation is the same. Since March, the tab feature allows innovative custom pages within a Facebook page. For instance, I created a 2011 Election tab that will be regularly updated as election content becomes available. If you are resourceful, the sky's the limit with these new tabs.</p>

<p><em>This interview was edited and condensed.</em><p>

<br />
<li> <a href="http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/06/facebook-events-syndication.html">Why Facebook isn't the best home for your public events</a></li>

<li> <a href="http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/01/facebook-marketing-tips.html">Pages before ads and other Facebook marketing tips</a></li>

<li> <a href="http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/01/vc-funding-lolcats.html">Venture capitalists embrace humor, technology and social media</a></li>

<li> <a href="http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/09/rss-never-blocks-you-or-goes-d.html">RSS never blocks you or goes down: why social networks need to be decentralized</a></li>

<li> <a href="http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/05/news-organizations-still-party.html">News organizations still party like it's 1899</a></li>

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2 Replies

  Jim Jacques's Photo
Posted Feb 15 2013 04:48 AM

Generally if you have an existing website, then I wouldn’t recommend that you delete it overnight and switch over almost entirely to Facebook. There’s a number of reasons why that’s a silly thing to do - one of which is that it rips the heart out of your search engine profile, leaving customers searching and finding nothing, or at best a PAGE NOT FOUND..
According to me, for a social-networking site to be useful in marketing, it's got to "stimulate" the customers,
and plan to respond to very public criticism. "If you ignore [criticism], it's the worst thing you can do," he said. "Be prepared for it, because it will happen."
  Basim's Photo
Posted Feb 05 2014 12:21 AM

Generally if you have an existing website, then I wouldn’t recommend that you delete it overnight and switch over almost entirely to Facebook. There’s a number of reasons why that’s a silly thing to do - one of which is that it rips the heart out of your search engine profile. <a href="http://fiverr.com/basim_khatri">Blog Commenting Service</a>