International News: Journalism festival presenters give top tips for successful Facebook engagement

Editor’s Note: The article below is a sample of the Facebook program that is also available with SPJ and the Facebook Journalism Project in the U.S. In 2018, the Facebook Journalism Project partnered with SPJ to train a network of professionals to teach Facebook tools for journalists at conferences, workshops and newsrooms around the country. SPJ and the Facebook Journalism Project are committed to creating opportunities for journalists everywhere to learn about the ways Facebook tools can help create and share incredible works of journalism, as well as engaging the public in the stories about their communities. For more information go HERE.

The International Journalism Festival was held in Perugia. It is an Italian city and the capital of the Umbria region. It’s known for its defensive walls around the historic center. The medieval Priori Palace exhibits regional art from the 13th century onward. Wikipedia photo

By Muhammad Ittefaq, SPJ International student/contributor to

Perugia, ITALY — One part of the 2018 International Journalism Festival  on April 11 addressed and highlighted the importance of news feed values on Facebook. Both Strategic Partnership Manager for News at Facebook Sarah Brown and Strategic Partnership Manager Media at Facebook Livia Lacolare led discussions on how to engage communities on a larger scale and understand the authentic value of Facebook communication.Facebook logoSarah Brown addressed:

  • Sarah Brown Facebook
    Sarah Brown

    The Facebook news feed is to inform and communicate with your Facebook community and sometimes users on a large scale.

  • The entertainment section of the news feed should be taken seriously since many people are interested in entertainment news.
  • Facebook is global. It is not only for certain individuals, governments or organizations.
  • Users of Facebook enjoy their freedom to post and share their ideas equally on the Facebook platform.
  • The company is working to control the ability to filter information individuals may not be interested in receiving or may be annoying.
  • Facebook believes it takes quality time to seek specific information you are seeking on the site.
  • It is important to recognize who is the target audience you are trying to reach.
  • Don’t engage yourself in baits” — vote baiting, react baiting, share baiting, tag baiting, and comment baiting
International festival 7
Sarah Brown conducting Facebook training at the International Journalism Festival. Photo by Muhammad Ittefaq

There are positive aspects to community engagement, for example, a moderator and an administrator should focus on meaningful interactions through important issues and engage audience with live sessions:

  • Show your face.
  • Live videos receive six times more interactions and 10 times more comments than regular videos.
  • Before going live with a video, use “schedule live” to tell your followers and fans you are broadcasting ahead of time.
  • Make sure your internet has a strong connection.
  • Write a catchy description.
  • Make sure your audience can see you and hear you properly.
  • Interact with your audience during a live session, if possible.
  • Interact with your audience by replying after the live session.
  • Give your audience members plenty of time to join you.
  • Invite friends to go live with you.
  • Ask other related pages to share your video.
  • Manage conversations with pinned comments.
  • Save the video so more people can watch/share after.
  • Update group description to make it understandable for audience members.
  • Download the video and review your live content strategy.
  • Use native tools like drawing and stickers during your live sessions.

Livia Lacolare specifically addressed building informed communities with Facebook groups:

  • Livia Iacolare
    Livia Lacolare

    Engagement of individuals into Facebook group includes the creation of a FB group, how to add people, how to welcome them, engage them and thanking them.

  • Facebook facts and figures — there are one billion people who use a Facebook group monthly and 100 million members of meaningful groups.

How can Facebook groups be successful?

  • Always welcome new members in the group
  • Help the members understand the description of the group
  • Encourage group members to invite their friends offline and online
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your Facebook group members questions
  • Ask group members for topic suggestions
  • Encourage journalists to interact with group members

Why is it important to follow privacy measures?

  • Add group rules, turn on membership approval
  • Involve moderators and administrators if the numbers of members grows large
  • Turn off commenting if conversations get too heated
  • Encourage members to complain on objectionable posts and comments

Muhammad Ittefaq horizontal photoMuhammad Ittefaq is a Graduate Fellow at the Institute of Media and Communication Science, Technical University Ilmenau, Germany. He received his first MA from the Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab Lahore, Pakistan. He is a co-founder of The Educationist, an English monthly newspaper of Pakistan and the Asian Journalism Network.  His research interests are social media, health communication strategic communication, public relations, journalism culture, and development communication. He is Deutschlandstipendium (Germany Scholarship) holder for 2017-18. His other publications can be found on and You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.

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