Gone are the days when businesses and bloggers could grow their fanbase and traffic by maintaining a light presence on Facebook. As Facebook has changed their algorithms, brands have reported declining numbers of followers who actually receive their posts in their feeds. And yet, participation in the mammoth social network remains essential to a well-developed social media plan. Our Facebook tips fit like a tailored t-shirt, so huddle ’round.
Good content trumps all
Resist the temptation to treat your Facebook like free advertising, because it isn’t. It’s a chance to engage with your audience, to cultivate a genuine personality. Good content is your first priority, and it shouldn’t always be about your brand or product. Facebook master and our friend Charlie at HowToBeADad.com weighs in:
Self-obsession kills content on Facebook. If companies think posting “buy now” and corporate news is the way to attract an audience, they should rethink their social identity. We live in a time of curation and social artistry. If your brand matches a particular point of view, cultivate content matching that ideology.
You a pizzeria? Dish out a tutorial on homemade pepperoni, or the shortcomings of your corporate competitors! For those of you branding yourselves, share what inspires you. Offer some behind-the-scenes snapshots into the path that brought you here. Who doesn’t love getting something special, a glance behind the curtain of professionalism and promotions? Facebook is all about the sneak peeks.
Positivity goes a long way
Here at PicMonkey headquarters, we’ve found that sometimes the simplest messages get the most uptake. Social Media Strategist Jenn Wells remembers this year’s Fourth of July post, a quick ‘Happy Independence Day’ message with a fun picture: “Sweet and honest: boom! It let us stand out and have fun with the festivities.”
Rule at engagement
Facebook favors posts that have high engagement, so if you want to reach people, you’ve got to think in terms of shares, likes, comments, and conversations. Ask questions, troll for opinions, provoke discussion. Most importantly, dive into the stream and respond to your followers’ comments. If things turn negative, don’t feed the trolls, and don’t mind the haters. Any negative responses to confused or angry comments will only make you look bad. You’re operating in a public forum, and no one wants to watch an argument unfold.
Play the long game
One way to turn the energy around a single post into momentum for continued engagement is to create serialized posts. Humans of New York is a great example — visual, frequent, short enough for readability and long enough for legitimately interesting content. This model is great for chronicling the development of a product, or stockpiling related content for periodic release. F’rinstance, if your business was hustlin’ sweaters, maybe you’d post a weekly photo highlighting notable atrocities:
From panoramas to selfies
Posts with images are proven to be more successful, so keep an eye out for meaningful photo ops in your work. Unlike Twitter, it’s pretty easy to album-ize your photos with projects, events, launches, or any major event. But beware! The internet latches on to images and shares them without credit. Not only is PicMonkey the place for creating perfect Facebook cover photos and profile pictures, it also allows you to watermark your stuff, lest you find yourself witness to your own image’s unidentifiable success. Speaking of social image dimensions.
A hundred likes, a thousand likes, a million likes, hooray! It feels good to be the king, we won’t lie, but numbers aren’t everything. Growth comes naturally when you make something awesome and create a community around it. Avoid giveaways and contests that artificially spike your follower numbers. If people weren’t genuinely interested in your content to begin with, they won’t be engaging with your posts, and your page will become a ghost town.
Watch the clock
For you number-crunchers, Facebook provides some handy dandy analytics tools for your page. Monitor your analytics and, who knows, you may find useful trends in your page. If your posts are DOA on Tuesdays (maybe everyone’s at bingo) consider posting the next morning. Take advantage of your fans’ habits to give them what they want, when they want it. Don’t see any major anomalies? Don’t sweat it. Facebook “insights” are sometimes oblique.
The bottom line? There’s no golden chariot that will take your page to the top of the social Mt. Olympus, or without which you’re guaranteed to fail. You just have to be in the game and play it for reals. Common sense and a sense of humor prevail, as HowToBeADad’s Charlie points out, “Being serious is overrated.”