Facebook is a powerful way to reach out to your existing customers, and create new ones. When you start out, it’s exciting to see people “liking” your content and leaving comments, and it’s easy to look at the numbers on a Facebook post and think, “I got so many “likes”, I must be doing great!”
We don’t want to worry you, but, there is a lot more to Facebook than simply collecting “Likes” – especially if those “likes” are not translating into brand recognition and higher sales. So, how do you do it? How do you aim beyond the “Like” button and really engage in meaningful and memorable conversation with your customers? It’s easier than you think.
1. Keep it short
People don’t read anything word for word, they scan for the most salient and relevant points based on what they are looking for, and move on. When writing a Facebook post, treat it more like you would a “tweet” on Twitter. Be concise, say what you mean, and let people react. If you have more to share, link to it on your website.
2. Use short links
Long links in Facebooks posts are not only unsightly, they are hard to read and distract from the message of your post. Use a free service like Bitly to shorten the links.
3. React to comments (the good and the bad)
Every Facebook post is a chance to interact with your audience – but many businesses don’t, they talk at their customers and don’t respond to comments. While Facebook isn’t about face-to-face connections, it’s still about connecting. You don’t have to respond to every comment, but if someone takes the time to write something more involved than, “Wow!”, you should acknowledge it. This is especially true if you receive negative comments: address them as soon as you see them. Let the user – and all the other users – see that when issues crop up, you deal with them in an upfront and professional way because your customers matter.
If you’re looking for a really great example of how not to handle negative comments, this article regarding ‘Amy’s Baking Company’ is a good read.
4. Use more (relevant) photos and link thumbnails/cover photos
Facebook pages and posts that use photos generally get more “likes” and shares than pages and posts with no photos (or bad/irrelevant photos). Use clear and well-lit photos that are relevant to your page (in terms of your cover photo) or post.
Ideally, your picture should be original, but if it isn’t, give full credit to the photographer or artist – and don’t forget to obtain permission to use the work if it isn’t licensed under Creative Commons. Facebook can give the illusion that everything creative can be freely used, but using other people’s work without permission or credit is plagiarism.
5. Create chances for user participation
People love to share their opinions about things: what they like, what they don’t like, how they feel, what they want… so use this to your best advantage when creating posts. Ask questions, conduct a poll, run a “caption this photo” contest – not only will this engage your audience, they’ll feel like they matter to you as individuals.
6. Use real people
Facebook is used by real people to look at real things made by, or about, other real people – so why not share their stories publicly? Encourage people to post photos and comment – you could even hold a contest. Ask for their stories related to your product. Don’t forget about the people you work with – they work hard to make your business great, so why not share some of their stories and pictures too?
7. Offer advice
There’s more to business than charming dollars out of wallets: what problems or issues are you solving for your customers? What can you help them accomplish? What are you offering them that enhances their lives, well-being, happiness etc.? How does what you offer resonate with them on a personal level? Once you can answer those questions for yourself, share your answers on Facebook.
8. Use a conversational tone
As mentioned previously, Facebook is about connecting real people to other real people – but if you hold people at arms length with stiff and formal language, it will be a lot harder to engage with them. Sounding professional doesn’t have to be stuffy and boring.
9. Sneak peek/exclusive content
Everyone likes to feel special and like part of the “in” crowd, so give your audience that feeling by sharing a little hint of what’s to come for your business. Thinking of adding a new product? Developing something really cool? Tell your Facebook fans about it – and let your excitement and enthusiasm shine through.
10. Ask for likes and shares, but be creative
It’s OK to ask people to “Like” or “Share” your posts and page on Facebook, but you have to be clever about how you do it. Flat out requests such as, “Please ‘Like” this post!’ will generally be ignored, or clicked on quickly with no user retention (i.e., easily and quickly forgotten with no further interaction). Phrasing the request as a chance to offer an opinion, or participate in something is far better.