Facebook Group

5 Tips for Facebook Engagement

In my previous post on Facebook, I talked about the big question of whether to use Facebook pages or groups for your community. Now that you’ve set up your Page or Group, here are five strategies that you can use to make your content professional, useful and promote engagement with your followers:

1) Watch other pages.

Are they good at engaging? Do they have engaged followers? What are they doing that works well? What doesn’t work as well? You can get ideas for your own Facebook strategy by watching what works for others. One size doesn’t fit all, so if a technique doesn’t work, move on and try something else.

2) Link to Content

Here’s a little secret - the content doesn’t have to be yours every time! Do you have a question or opinion based on something you read? Link to it! Make sure your FB followers can see what prompted your query so they get the full context. If you want people to give opinions about something, link to it so they don’t have to go looking for it. The easier you make it for your followers to engage, the more likely they are to jump into the conversation.

3) Post to your page daily.

If you’re wondering when, you might be interested in this article from Mashable. Or this one from Social Times. All I get from these, and countless other similar articles, is that the perfect time is a moving target and probably depends on your audience anyway. Who are you targeting? When are they most likely to be on Facebook? Answer those questions and then do your own research of the trial and error variety.

4) Don’t spam your fans.

The average lifespan of a post on twitter is 10 minutes (this can vary a great deal based on how many people you’re following). Facebook doesn’t move nearly as fast. I can see posts in my feed for hours. Some Facebook pages can get away with quite a few posts by updating followers with up-to-the-minute information (news organizations). Most other pages don’t need to post updates more than two or three times a day.

5) Ask questions.

What’s the best way to start a conversation? Ask questions:

  • Input about products and services.
  • How your fans’ day is going.
  • How they spent their long weekend.
  • Topics, current events or news items relevant to your page’s purpose.

But whatever you ask, be sure to show an interest in the answers. Interact with your audience and be engaged.

There is no magic formula for growing your page following. Pages grow at different rates, but having good content and an actively engaged page will go a long way toward growing your audience.

Facebook Part 1: To Page or To Group?

There are at least 1,836,972 “experts” out in the world to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do on Facebook. Strategy is important, but it’s not one-size-fits-all, so I’m going to focus on a few tips and tricks in this series that anyone can do to help improve your Facebook experience – for you and for those who follow you.

Should you set up a Profile, Page or Group for promoting content on Facebook?

 Facebook profiles are for individuals. Anyone who is representing an entity shouldn’t use them. Profiles are limited to 5,000 friends, so if that’s the route you take, you’re automatically setting a limit on your Facebook reach. Sure, it may take a while to get to 5,000 fans if you’re not Starbucks, but dream big! What you have to say is valuable, so don’t sell yourself short by starting out with a profile. Facebook recently added functionality to convert profiles to pages and friends are supposed to transfer, but I’ve heard of cases where they don’t so proceed with caution, i.e., read instructions carefully.

That’s reason enough not to have a profile for an entity, but there’s more.

Profiles can see private information about “friends” that Pages and Groups cannot. Facebook already has so many privacy issues that many users will balk at “friending” an entity. So, by creating a profile for your entity, you’re once again limiting your reach for those who are concerned about privacy.

Now that we’ve established that profiles for entities aren’t a great plan, the biggest question now is whether your content is best presented by a page or group.

Pages are good for broadcasting messages. You can use apps like Networked Blogs or RSS Graffiti to syndicate your blog content via RSS feed to a page automatically. Depending on the content you generate and questions you ask, lots of discussion can be facilitated through a page. However, your page followers will not receive notifications of new content on a page. The lifespan of your content can be minutes or hours depending on how many other pages/friends your followers have whose content goes into their feed.

Groups are well-suited to discussion. They can be “open” with all content accessible by anyone – member or not or a group can be “secret” and various levels of restriction in-between. Your RSS feed can also be automatically posted to any group in the same way they’re posted to pages. The difference is that group members will receive notifications of new posts. Within a group, members can set up and edit documents that all members can access. This is particularly useful if group members are adding to a collection of resources for all to use. Facebook just recently added group chat to Group pages, so any online members can all chat with each other in real time. There is rich functionality in groups that, used wisely, can be incredibly helpful for facilitating high levels of engagement in group members.

So which one is right for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you selling a product or service?
  2. Will you be generating your own content to disseminate to followers?
  3. Do you want to control – as much as possible – the information that followers see?

If you answered yes to these questions, then I would generally recommend going with a Facebook Page.

  1. Do you want followers to be able to post content for other followers to see?
  2. Is the content community-based and of interest to a wide audience?
  3. Are members actively engaged in supporting the followers as a whole?

If you answered yes to these questions, your content may be well-suited for a Facebook Group.

Put simply, Pages are ideal for information dissemination and Groups for discussion and support. While it may be tempting for every entity to want to tap into the engagement power of Groups, it is best to think about how you envision the flow of information. Will it be community-based or primarily one-sided? Now that groups are becoming more prevalent (again) on Facebook, entities from blogs to businesses need to carefully evaluate how they choose to promote their content before actually jumping in. Why? Pages and Groups can’t be converted, so switching mid-stream could mean losing followers.

What are your thoughts about the Page versus Group decision?