By Brittany Chisholm
At the end of July, Facebook introduced a new "Local Alerts" tool allowing local government, public health agencies, and first responder pages to send out urgent information to people on Facebook. All other pages are not eligible for this feature at this time, and that includes elected officials and public works pages.
Don't worry though! Facebook is going to expand access soon, and you'll be able to benefit from this awesome tool!
I'm going to walk you through setting up this feature and tell you how it works.
The "Local Alert" option can be found in the same area you would normally make a post, but the option will only be available for page admins. No other page role will have access to this feature.
The alert can be set to send to all Page followers that live in the City or State or if it's a more specific alert, for example a power outage only affecting part of the city or state, you can localize the alert to individual neighborhoods, cities, or counties. You can also set the alert duration for up to 24 hours. Once the post is live, the duration cannot be changed, so keep this in mind when setting it up.
Once the alert is live, an alert indicator (⚠️) will appear on the post in the News Feed for everyone that follows your page-- not just the local people who were notified. The indicator will also be shown to people who do not follow your page if someone shares it. Once the alert has expired, the indicator will disappear, but the post will still be available.
Facebook also has given state election authorities and some local election authorities and county/municipal government agencies access to another set of local alerts called "voting alerts". These pages can have access to this type of alert but not the standard "local alert" that I talked about.
As you can see, this is an incredibly powerful feature. If there's a local/state emergency and you need to send out an alert, Facebook now makes that possible.
Of course this feature can be used for non-emergencies. Here's an example of a Local Alert I posted on the City of Canton's page to let citizens know the City was giving out free masks (note the screenshot was taken after the post expired, because there's no indicator).
Now, we just have to wait for Facebook to expand access.
If you run a city government, county government, fire/emergency services, or law enforcement Page on Facebook and you would like access to Local Alerts, you can fill out the application form here: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/690830581713186