A good friend of mine recently made a deal with his 6 year old son, he told him if he could keep a plant alive for 3 months, they could get a dog. The son had been begging for a St. Bernard for months. A lesson on care and feeding I can definitely relate to and one that is highly relevant for investing in social media platforms. Every platform has it’s own built in commitments and expectations from the community. Twitter takes a bit more timely attention than Facebook for the most part. Just like a puppy takes more of your attention than a plant. Either way, the point here is that you DO need a plan. To build a healthy and engaged community, you need to be there consistently.
Create Clear ExpectationsIf your brand wants to start building a larger Facebook community, you need to create clear expectations. As a starting point commit to 30 minutes, twice a day, every Monday through Friday. This is a solid starting place to truly build a community of fans on your Facebook page. Being there every day replying to comments and posting content creates the activity needed to grow a Facebook page community. It also builds a rapport with your community, a rhythm, a comfort and expectation of interaction. Simply put, the more you are there, the more a community responds. This of course goes both ways. If you know you can only commit to an hour a day and can never participate on the weekends, then hold true to that. If you are on Facebook for 11 hours one day and none for the next three, the inconsistency will cause confusion. People who received immediate replies one day will wonder why it is taking days the second time they comment.
Build A ChecklistFor these 30 minute segments you need a checklist of activities. Make sure you write this checklist down. Ultimately it will become old hat and you will not need a written list to review each time you manage the page. But it is important to have the plan written down so that others can learn from it and so that you can review it and make improvements in the future. While your specific social media strategies will determine the hard details of your checklist, it should cover these 4 areas:
1. Consistently RespondOr as I like to call it, putting out fires and connecting the wires. Putting out fires is a simple first step for all of the platforms you are managing. You want to review the community conversations on your Facebook page for spam and trolls and deal with them accordingly. These are the annoying fires. When I say “deal with them” this may mean delete, or flag, or respond to them depending on your response policies. Next, handle potential fires, look for the smoke. Look for and respond to comments that need to be dealt with first such as complaints, service issues, and anything that looks like it might escalate into a larger negative issue. It sucks to put this type of negative clean up at the front in of your task list, but these types of things can cause the most harm to the brand. Connecting the wires is next. Think of your Facebook Page community as a telephone switchboard. There are all sorts of calls coming in and going out. Calls for attention, questions that need answers, and sometimes just simple hello’s or accolades. Again, have a response policy and this task going much smoother. I suggest you look for the most timely response items first. These would be questions, comments form brand champions or influencers, and suggestions from fans. All of these should be replied to if you are able. Your replies in these instances keep these calls coming back to the switchboard and show other fans, that may not be engaging yet, that they can expect timely responses directly from the brand. If every time you made a phone call the phone just rang because the switchboard was only occasionally there to connect your phone call, you would likely stop using the phone and find another outlet. Note that your editorial and response policies are unique to your business. Maybe there are too many comments to reply to them all, maybe your policy is to let your community thrive with little interference. That is fine. Just have a system so that your time is well used on your brand’s priorities.
2. Create EngagementOne of the most crucial steps for Facebook Page management is creating response from your fans. Without any engagement there is little need to respond. You have to give them a reason to contribute. The more a specific fan likes things on your page, responds to items posted, and posts their own status updates — the more they will continue to see activity from your page in their stream. How you choose to create engagement is a different conversation, but make sure you are devoting time to this in your Facebook Page management plan. And be specific. On the Social Fresh Facebook page, our strategy is pretty simple, we ask questions. Sometimes they flop, sometimes we get a couple dozen replies. Which is great for us. You learn as you go. We also post engaging photos or images we create to encourage commenting. One key with photos: be funny. It goes a long way. Contests are always a great option. Asking the audience to get involved in creative ways is great. Oreo asked their Facebook community to post photos of their pets that resembled Oreo cookies. Sharpie simply asked what Sharpie their fans were using today and got over 500 responses. Simply asking for likes or shares also helps sometimes. Though don’t overdue it.
3. Share ContentSharing content is tricky on Facebook. It should be very little of your activity, at least at first. If you are spending most of your time, say 80% on responding and driving engagement, things are running smoothly. Do not worry about pushing too much content or product right away. When you do want to post content or a call to action, it will get better response with a nice reservoir of community investment. Posting content all the time, as a Facebook page tactic, does not work. Most people do not go to Facebook to digest news or business content. They are there to reply to comments, answer questions, and comment on funny photos. There is always an exception. I have seen a few curation and publishing based pages see success from sharing links as an ongoing Facebook page strategy. But even if your business is a content business, I suggest focusing on engagement first. Whatever your Facebook content strategy, make sure it is thoughtful and intentional. And add specific tasks to your checklist. Some examples:
- Share 5 top stories of the week every Friday
- Post a question about a recent blog post every Monday morning to encourage responses and curiosity.
- Highlight user photos once a month
- Post a goofy video from Youtube once a week that relates to your industry
- Link to a top discussion going on in your forum
4. Research DataFacebook has free built in insights that help you easily track the progress of all this activity. You may not need to review this information daily, but at a minimum include a list of Facebook Insights stats that you will review once a week. Some suggestions:
- Likes, comments, status updates/page mentions
- Total Facebook fans
- Total fans hiding your content
- Changes in your demographics
- Engaged demographics