Yesterday I wrote about the importance of engagement. It’s what sets Social Media apart from other media and online properties, and is the most important part of your online presence. I’ve been working my way through Brian Solis‘ book Engage and have been spending a lot of time thinking about what we do online, and how we do it.
Engagement is important because it keeps the conversation going. It lets you know what your customers are thinking and how they feel. It allows you to provide better customer service.
So just to get you thinking, here are a few ways to increase your engagement with those who are fans (or who “like”) your Facebook business page:
1. You’re only as good as your last update – If you don’t update, you don’t exist. The only thing that keeps you in the news feed of your constituents is adding things to your page. At least one status update a day at minimum.
2. Ask questions – Not all status updates need to be statements. Ask questions. Not just for the sake of asking, but because you want to know the answers. Open ended questions can help get a discussion going.
3. Act and react – Don’t just update your status; make sure you comment on comments. If someone takes the time to write on your wall or comment on your status, take the time to respond. Sometimes it might be a simple “thank you,” but other times you might be answering a question. Face to face this is what we call “conversation.” It’s what you want. Every response you give to someone else’s response is a form of engagement that allows for further engagement.
4. A picture is worth a thousand words – People love visual media. Photos and videos draw people to your page and give them more reason to comment. A recent photo one of my clients used as their profile picture is responsible for most of the comments on their business page in the past week. Plus, this media is taggable. If you tag the people who are in the photo, they will be notified, and their friends will see it.
5. Write a note – The note function of Facebook is one of the most under utilized features. The beauty of the note is that you can write compelling content, provide relevant information, and include photos and links. You can even include simple HTML (or FBML in the case of Facebook) commands. And the beauty of notes is that they are shareable. Each note has a “share” button, allowing anyone to post it on their own profile page, thereby furthering your reach.
6. Create events – If you are hosting any sort of event with your business or organization, create a Facebook event for it. These are made with interaction in mind. People can be invited and they have the ability to RSVP. Each person who says they are attending furthers your reach. Plus, like the notes, the events are shareable. Plus the events include the ability to comment, creating yet another place for discussion and engagement.
7. Post links and articles – Not all of the content has to be original to you. If you find something interesting online, post the link. This is a great way of providing relevant content that might be of interest to your community members.
8. Run a contest – This is a tricky one since Facebook now has to approve all contests, and all of them must be run through third party apps, but if you have the time and money, they can be quite effective. Not only do they engage your community, but have the added value of bringing in new community members. But if you venture into these waters, make sure you read Facebook’s promotions guidelines. If you choose to run a contest, your best bet might be to check out Wildfire, one of the best and most cost effective apps out there.
9. Link everything – Social Media doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so don’t treat it as if it did. All of your online properties should be linked to each other. If you have a website, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…make sure they all point to your Facebook page (and vice versa). Cross pollination allows for multiple touch points and increases engagement across platforms.
10. Capitalize on the new Facebook open graph – Facebook has upped the ante by moving out beyond the confines of its own walls. Facebook now has the ability to encompass the entire web. By adding a “like” button to your website, or one of the other social plugins, you are allowing Facebook engagement to take place OFF of Facebook. In other words, all roads lead to Facebook.
11. Make your blog available on Facebook - If you’re going to spend time researching and writing blog posts, why not get the most bang for your buck. With the Networked Blogs application, you can publish your blog on your website AND on Facebook with the click of one button.
12. Cross-tag on other Facebook pages – This is a tricky one. By using the status tagging function (by using the @ sign) you can promote yourself on your page and other pages all at the same time. The key here is to be thoughtful and genuine without becoming spammy. If you are going to tag another page, there must be a legitimate reason. This is why it’s important to collaborate and form partnerships. Any tagging you do must make sense and be primarily for promoting the other page, not your own.
13. Don’t be one dimensional – Feel free to veer off topic occasionally. If you’re a plumber, is plumbing really all that you ever talk about in real life? So why do that on your Facebook page? The occasional funny updates shows that you have a sense of humor and is great for getting comments. It helps to let people know there is a real human on the other side, not just someone writing out ad copy.
14. Just ask! – Once you have a strong fan base, there is nothing wrong with asking your community members to help you out. You shouldn’t go to this well too often, but every few months, why not ask your constituents to use the “suggest to friends” and “share” functions. If they are truly fans of you or your business/organization, many of them will actually WANT to tell others about you. But sometimes they need a bit of a reminder. I would suggest 2 or 3 times a year at most. Sometimes your biggest fans are your best brand advocates.
15. Be a good citizen – If you expect other people to “like” your business page, you should make sure you “like” other pages as well. And if you truly “like” them, talk about them. Promote them. Tell others. You should do this genuinely out of a desire to help others, but you never know when they might return the favor.
How are you trying to engage the members of your Facebook community?