New Facebook tool to give local government broadcasting capability


As of Wednesday, March 11, Facebook announced the launch of its new feature –local alerts–available to all local governments, public health agencies and first responders in California.  

Local alerts is a free tool that allows local government, public health agencies and first responder Pages to broadcast essential updates to people in their community by marking a page post as local alert, which sends out a notification to page followers who live in the community.

If you don’t already have access, you should find instructions on how to sign up in an email to your Facebook Page administrators. An administrator for your Page will need to view the instructions before you can send your first local alert. Facebook recommends doing this on a desktop computer (rather than using a mobile browser or app). Facebook also recommends doing this as soon as you can to ensure you have full ability to send local alerts when you need them. If you don’t see either of these, please complete this form and let Facebook know.

Step-by-step guide

  1. Go to your Facebook Page while using a computer (not a phone or tablet) and select the “local alerts” button in the page composer experience (where you go to make a post).
  2. When you do this for the first time, you will be prompted to go through a short onboarding experience. Once an administrator from your Page has completed the onboarding experience, you will have the option to post a local alert, which will:

1. Allow Page followers to see the “local alert” indicator on that post in News Feed (⚠️)
2. Cause that post to appear on Today In, a new place on Facebook for local news and community information.
3. Send a notification to Page followers living in the affected area, as well as to people who have opted in to receive regular local updates from Today In.

Local alerts are meant to be used sparingly to communicate important information to people living in your community. Local alerts can be used in emergencies as well as in less critical situations where timely information is valuable. Specifically, local alerts are meant to help you communicate the following information:

  1. Urgent and time-sensitive. Speed matters. 
  2. Need-to-know. Very important. 
  3. Actionable. May lead people to take action. 
  4. Local. Matters for people living in a specific area (vs. of national importance).
  5. Relevant to the public at large. Broadly applicable.

To help you learn more about how to use local alerts, please see:

  • Facebook Help Center guide on how to use Local Alerts
  • A Facebook blog post on Local Alerts and how they’ve been used in emergencies.

Sign up to learn more through Facebook’s tutorials.

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