I was standing in a cluster of entrepreneurs at a recent networking function and one of them said, “Do we really need to use Facebook in business? I never know what to say…”
I can’t answer for everyone, but at least half of my business (including corporate clients) comes through Facebook now, and I posed the question on my page: ‘Where do businesses get Facebook right and wrong?’. Here’s what people said:
Provide a window into your personality – including your fears, doubts, joys and confusion. People want to know the real ‘you’ – not a reiteration of your website’s ‘About Page’. It’s not about sharing the minutiae of your life (your meals, your workouts, your cat) – but snippets from your life that resonate with your audience and build rapport.
One of my most ‘engaged with’ recent posts was an image of the pendant I ordered as a gift to myself for my upcoming 40th, and the query: should I wear it now or save it for September? I’d ummed and ahhed about posting it (is it really relevant?), and within minutes the post had been swamped with well over 100 Likes and 70 comments.
You’ll soon get to know what your audience likes and doesn’t like. Scroll back through your posts to check business engagement with different kinds of posts and learn what works best for them.
Post regularly and often – with good stuff. Use Facebook Insights to work out when your people are online and post then. Is it on the train in the morning, at lunchtime, on the way home from work, in the evenings or weekends? When do they most want to hear from you, and what is useful to them at that point?
After speaking with a Facebook ‘guru’ who said my once-a-week sharing of the newsletter link wasn’t nearly enough, I now post between three and five times a day. Since I took her advice, the numbers of people joining my page rose rapidly from a crawling 200 to over 2000 and rising quickly.
If consistency is a challenge, schedule posts ahead of time.
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People don’t need to see the same quotes or memes shared by hundreds of pages. Take the quote and build a story of your own, about what it means to you or how it applies generally. Create your own images for Facebook using a free service like PicMonkey. The time taken to develop a meaningful post is worth it in the highly competitive real estate that is the Facebook wall – and your aim is to have people Liking, commenting and sharing your posts with like-minded friends.
Experiment with a variety of post types: images, videos, tips, humour, personal anecdotes, links to articles on your website. Think of your page as a mini magazine that you’re editing, and shake up the content to keep people interested.
Always be on the lookout for snippets or experiences that would make a valuable or intriguing post – news articles that might prompt a conversation, interactions that you have with people, inspirational everyday stories that you encounter. Jot down ‘post’ ideas for the times when it’s harder to think of something to say.
Don’t ‘post-and-run’. Write something that begs for some interaction and then spend time interacting.
It takes time away from the other aspects of your business but, if you do it well, that time helps you build a motivated, engaged audience of people who know and trust you. In your interactions, you’re able to showcase your expertise.
Most people resent Liking a page that focuses on selling.
Post at least four or five times with ‘free value’, before marketing a product or service. People hang out on Facebook with the mindset of engagement and communication, so offer tonnes of free value before inviting them to join your mailing list or purchase from you.
A few don’ts:
- Don’t swamp news feeds by machine-gunning several posts in a row. Have at least an hour between posts, or you’re diluting your own market.
- Don’t use Facebook to spread a political message (unless politics is the focus of your page).
- Don’t share pleas for Likes using images with heart-wrenching content. Often, pages sharing these images use the pictures without consent, and are aiming for high-volume Likes with a view to selling the page in the future.
- Don’t assume that what you’re doing is working for the people on your page. Ask them! People love offering feedback.
- Don’t treat your Facebook page as the same as your ‘mailing list’. It is more important to have people’s email addresses than their Like, so periodically encourage them to join your list by offering an enticing opt-in offer (mine is an eBook on the ‘7 Types of Busy’.)
What are your tips for engaging your Facebook audience?