Even with the mass migration of businesses to Facebook over the past few years, many of them have neglected Facebook’s central values; community and connection.
Instead, they perceive it as just another advertising channel. Facebook’s advertising campaigns are tailored specifically for that goal, but many businesses still treat their own pages as a billboard. This ignorance creates barren pages, dry of any type of personality or real engagement.
To vanquish these ghost-town pages, let’s jump into some effective ways to establish both personality and engagement on Facebook business pages.
1. Use Your Current List as a Base
As business owners, chances are high that your clients or the company for which you work have some sort of database – an email list or other compiled unit of customer information that could be utilized to build an initial Facebook page following. Now is the time to reach out to them. If you don’t have an email list, now is the time to start building one.
Let your list know that you’ve ventured into the world of Facebook, and that you couldn’t do it without the support of your most loyal customers or past clients – which includes them!
Thank them for their support over the year and make it easy for them to find you by including a link. If you have promotions or Facebook-specific content, include that in your newsletter to funnel more traffic.
The bottom line: always have a call-to-action in your emails for a Facebook initiative, even if it’s just a “like.” For example, here’s a screenshot from a recent email I received from Tout:
By starting with customers that you’ve already done business with, you’re taking the initial follower search and simplifying it.
2. Encourage Sharing
Give your fans and followers a reason to share your page.
According to the Pew Research Center, the average Facebook user has 338 friends, this means that if just one person shares your page, you could be reaching 338 people you would never have been exposed to otherwise.
This number grows exponentially with each share. Offer an incentive, a discount or contest for sharing or something else that increases the excitement surrounding your brand. The larger your community becomes, the higher your chances for engagement rise.
Additionally, over 1/3 of Facebook users dislike people who share too much information about themselves. Even though our subject is business pages, the medium is Facebook so the format of posts mimic any typical user.
Think of it like this; a business that shares too much propaganda or too many direct links back to their site will be more disliked than business that posts “likeable” content.
What is likeable content?
From memes, jokes, high-resolution images, and short stories to contests, games, and open-ended questions, there is a lot of wiggle room in the realm of likeable content. Go on your personal Facebook and just look at the type of posts your friends like. Maybe it’s a satirical headline article from The Onion or a beautiful picture of stars from NASA.
3. Start Discussions
One of the best ways to spark an online conversation is to ask questions. Your followers are looking for ways to join in on your page’s conversation, but finding that way in can be difficult. By asking questions, you’re making it easy for them. You’re encouraging participation and demonstrating that the opinions of your followers matter to you. Ask questions relating to your business, a specific event or a product line.
This shows that the opinions of those that are part of your group matter to you. Take it one step further by thanking those who answer and by following up on how their input was implemented into your business plan down the line.
Alternatively, brands can display a friendly personality by asking fun, community-involving questions. For example, the well-known Mosquito Magnet frequently asks trivia questions to engage their fans:
Another great example comes from the Taste Daily Facebook page:
They hosted a book chat on their page by asking questions about the book “Orange is the New Black” – simultaneously building awareness about prison reform and even slipping in a note about one of their contests. This is a very creative way to spark discussions and instill community values.
While you don’t have to start a heated political debate to foster engagement, you can always ask open ended questions about breaking news.
“What do you guys think about Facebook’s new feature: Nearby Friends?”
“Did anyone else see James Franco lash out against the New York Times movie critic on Instagram? Here’s the [link]”
You can also evoke discussions on hot topics by expressing yourself with imagery. Custom memes are always a funny way to approach it, but almost any visual that sends a message should work. Maybe you just want to express happiness when new business comes in, like the band Yukon The Archer:
The goal is to make users respond and feel a certain way. In this case, it’s basking in shared victory, while in other cases it might be sharing frustration with the next internet privacy breach.
4. Share Staff Stories
Remember, brand personality matters, especially online. Customers don’t want to do business with a logo or a product; they want to know about what goes on behind the scenes, to find out who makes a company into what it is.
You can foster this sense of personality by sharing staff stories. If something amusing happens in the office, make it public! Consider adding staff bios that do more than stating business credentials – share likes, dislikes, passions and other important information that make each member of your team unique.
Better yet, combine numbers 3 and 4 by allowing followers to ask specific team members question – an online Q&A session that encourages personality and participation.
Another great example of staff stories comes from the Moz team page:
If we click on one of the profile pictures they open up an extended profile, packed with personalized job descriptions, recommendations, achievements, and “unusualities”:
Facebook is a great medium for short storytelling. Show that your business values the personal lives of their employees:
- birthday parties
- charity events / fundraisers
- a new pet!
- a new hire
This gives your brand flavor – an edge over any competitor who is consistently posting “Save 10% of now – click here.” Bland advertorials do not connect with fans – stories and sentiments do.
5. Create a Game
Nothing forces interaction like a game that requires said interaction. Creating a game that’s available on your Facebook page gives your followers a reason to return time and time again. It’s also something to make you stand out among the competition. The most successful games are multi-level progressions that save user progress for future visits.
Want to up the ante? Include prizes for top scorers and most active players. Work with the Facebook Games Developer tool to get started. One of the most remarkable games created by a brand was the famous “Do us a Flavor” contest by Lays, where anyone could sign into their game app on their Facebook page and customize a new flavor for one of the most popular potato chip brands:
Realistically, many businesses might not have the technical chops or budget to tinker with the Facebook API. Instead, you can “hack” together a contest of sorts. For example, Havahart created this fun contest on their facebook page:
This not only provides incentive for fans to participate, but it created a cute/funny thread of people sharing unique pictures of animals they spotted. This is what a Facebook business page looks like when they aren’t shoving propaganda rich content down their fans throats.
6. Learn the Tricks of the Trade
Tiny tactics can make a big difference when it comes to engagement on Facebook pages. Below are a few stats compiled by Quicksprout.
- Posts with fewer than 80 characters receive 23% more interaction.
- Emoticons increase interaction by 33%.
- Asking questions (see number 3) increases engagement by 100%.
- Quotes receive 26% more likes and 19% more shares than static material.
- 35% of Facebook users “like” business pages because of contests and the chance to win prizes.
- Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays than the beginning of the week and 32% higher on weekends.
These tips might seem small, but integrating them into a daily checklist can boost engagement significantly over time.
Here’s an example from Lowes, of a post that combines these tips for engagement:
They kept it short, asked an intriguing question, provided a clear URL, and simple call-to-action – not to mention two topical hashtags and fitting photo to wrap it all up.
7. Never Underestimate the Power of a Call to Action
Speaking of call-to-actions…
Calls to actions are no less important on Facebook than in standard blog content. If users are not motivated to act, they probably won’t – it’s that simple. Posting content and hoping a certain response results isn’t good enough.
Instead, post content with a simple call to action: “Share your similar story below,” “comment with your choice,” “like if you agree,” “visit this link to take the survey.”
It’s not rocket science: putting a call to action increases the likelihood that your Facebook fans will respond in the way you want them to. In the Skittles example above, they subtly write “If you post a photo to this page, you might become…”
This call-to-action encourages fans to both share the post directly with their friend networks and submit unique photos themselves.
Alternatively, we can run advertisements and sponsored stories on Facebook’s publishing platform. These are paid options for a handful of deliverables, such as likes, website clicks, and offers.
In the example below, Infusionsoft runs a News Feed ad that includes a mini story / testimonial, along with a call-to-action, Unicode arrow symbol, safe URL, and high resolution image.
This feels less like propaganda and more like an event. We’re won over by Casey’s story, testimonial, and friendly image. This ad has a built-in CTA button “Like Page” plus a direct link to their website. That’s how you knock out two birds with one stone.
Personality and engagement are critical for a successful Facebook presence, especially for branded business pages. Consider the strategies listed above for best results.
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