Facebook Unveils Verified Government Pages, Offers Best Practices in Social Sharing

The company will soon roll out a verification system for all government pages, and offers tips on how to place higher in news feeds using the Facebook algorithm.

by / April 30, 2015
Katie Harbath, Facebook’s lead for politics and government outreach, teaches government attendees how to harness the Facebook algorithm. Jason Shueh

RENO, Nev. -- Many are familiar with Twitter’s blue badge that verifies official profiles of celebrities, governments and the like, and Facebook is continuing the trend — the social media company will soon roll out its own verified mark for all government pages.

Speaking at the Government Social Media Conference & Expo on April 30, Katie Harbath, Facebook’s head of politics and government outreach, said the Menlo Park, Calif., company is on the verge of updating its code so more governments have a verified page complete with Facebook’s signature circular blue icon with a white checkmark inside.

Currently, this feature — which helps social media goers discern between official pages and fan sites — has been limited to larger business, organization, celebrity and government pages. For instance, while the White House is officially recognized with the icon saddled next to its name, San Francisco’s city and county page isn’t — despite its status as a tech Mecca and its 252,000-plus likes.

To improve this — and potentially use verified pages to generate more followers for governments — Harbath said Facebook is working to create a link so officials can request verification themselves.

“As soon as we have that live," she said, "I will make sure to find a way to get it to [governments] to request verifications for your pages."

Decrypting the Facebook Algorithm

With or without the coveted checkmark, however, savvy posting practices are the keys for more page likes and more community engagement, Harbath said.

Breaking down the Facebook algorithm, she said the company prioritizes the importance of posts in news feeds based on a five-level judging criteria. From most important to least, these the criteria are:

  1. User Interest: The first and most dominant factor is a user’s — or in the case of government, a citizen’s — interest in a page or profile. This is determined by how recently they interacted with the page.
  2. Post Performance: The second attribute is the performance of a post with other users — likes, shares and comments.
  3. Creator History: Third is a page’s overall track record as far as engaging its audience and drawing interest from followers.
  4. Post Type: Fourth are the types of posts that are published — is it an image, video, text, link, etc. — and how often a user interacts with that kind of content.
  5. Timelines: The last category is a basic measure of how new the latest post is.

To harness Facebook’s algorithm for wider reach, Harbath suggested varying the types of posts to engage multiple kinds of users, to post both local and national content to take advantage of trending topics, to upload video directly to Facebook instead of linking to YouTube, and to tastefully find opportunities to ask for followers.  

Finally, when it comes to social media metrics, she said to focus in Facebook analytics on the weekly reach measurement, which is the amount of unique visitors that have engaged with a page in the last seven days. This metric, she said, shows the real influence a page has beyond the relatively slow-moving tally of page likes.

Jason Shueh former staff writer

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.