Ekaterina Walter is a social media strategist at Intel. She is a part of Intel’s Social Media Center of Excellence and is responsible for company-wide social media enablement and corporate social networking strategy.
Once your brand is on Facebook, the question becomes: How you engage those fans and sustain a meaningful online dialogue with your customers. Facebook fans will only want to engage with us if we serve up relevant content and truly participate. We also forget about EdgeRank — Facebook’s News Feed algorithm that helps display “relevant” stories. The News Feed only displays a small subset of stories generated by the friends and brands users engage with the most. The more popular your story, the more likely it is to show up in people’s News Feed. News Feed optimization becomes as important as your content strategy.
Let’s explore ways we can create updates that are optimized for the News Feed and engagement. Below are some dos and don’ts to remember each time you tackle that all-important question, “What should we post to our Facebook Page today?”
1. Don’t Automate Your Status Updates
Don’t automatically feed your blog posts or your Twitter updates into your Page. Often, automated content doesn’t make it into users’ News Feeds. Your fans can also distinguish between “auto” posts and customized ones. For a lot of brand pages, auto posts do not engender engagement.
Don’t share the exact same content across all networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) in exactly the same format. We all understand the value of saving time, but respect your customers enough to manually post customized copy. You will get far better engagement and show your fans you care. Some folks who use Facebook don’t really like Twitter and get irritated when they see hashtags or other Twitter-specific content in their Facebook stream.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Show You’re Human
Thank your fans for their replies and for sharing their opinions with you. From time to time, talk about things other than your products. Wish them happy holidays. Ask them fun questions or to share their personal stories.
If you make a mistake — admit it. Everyone knows you are human, and no one expects you to be perfect. You will actually score points for admitting that instead of trying to hide it.
Don’t be afraid of negative comments or people posting on sensitive topics. You’ll find that most of the time your fans will jump in and defend you or address these comments for you. And that carries much more weight than you trying to chime in. And at the end of the day, this is your opportunity to turn haters into loyalists by providing timely responses and great customer service.
3. Do Post More Photos and Videos
Media like videos and photos always perform well on Facebook. Not only do they seem to be a favorite of the News Feed algorithm, but they just grab people’s attention in a feed full of text updates. A lot of web users choose to watch more than they read.
Facebook also offers you a nice little feature that helps bring more fans to your Page. If you post a video and a non-fan of your Page sees it, a little non-intrusive call to action will pop up in the top-left corner that invites them to Like your Page.
4. Do Put Your Fans in Charge Every Now and Then
Not afraid to crowdsource? Your Facebook Page is a perfect place for it. Not only will your fans feel valued and heard, but some of their decisions might help your content strategy in the long run. Let’s face it — sometimes we don’t always make choices that resonate with our customers.
My favorite example of this was Budweiser. They let their fans choose the commercial that would run during the 2010 Super Bowl.
5. Do Target Your Status Updates
If you are a global brand, make good use of targeting. We sometimes forget that not all of our fans want to know about campaigns or contests we are running in a specific region or country. Target your updates by country or language as necessary. In the U.S. you can even target by state and city.
6. Do Ask Questions and Involve Your Fans
Want your fans to express their views on a topic? Ask them. Want your fans to share their favorite content with you? Ask them. Want your fans to share your content? Ask them. You get the point.
If you want your fans to participate more, just ask them every now and then, you will be surprised how many of them respond. Multiple experiments by other brands and yours truly show that the posts where you include a call to action get better than average engagement.
7. Do Watch Your Post Frequency and Timing
Don’t overwhelm your fans with too many posts. I suggest posting once a day to start with and potentially moving to twice a day, especially if you have great news to share. As far as timing goes, many people catch up on their Facebook activity at the end of the day and during weekends. However, this trend varies, and might be different for your target audience. Be patient, watch the response trends on your Page, and identify the frequency and timing that works best for you.
8. Do Have a Unique Voice
It is important to know your voice. Skittles does a good job maintaining a consistent brand voice on their Facebook Page. It’s entertaining, funny and refreshing.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t experiment and step outside your comfort zone to see what else might work for you. Find a voice and tone that is representative of your brand and yourself.
9. Do Diversify Your Content
Change up your content every now and then. Often, people are not sure what to post on a regular basis. You could try adding how-tos, trivia about your company, breaking news, polls, fill-in-the-blanks, relevant third-party content, multimedia, or even experts to speak about your field or business.
10. Do Track the Performance of Your Posts
Do you know your average number of comments and Likes per post? Watch for trends on your Page and feedback from your consumers on topics/programs/discussions and adjust your content strategy appropriately. Don’t become complacent.
Hopefully these tips will help you gain an edge on EdgeRank, and put your brand on top.
Interested in more Facebook resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.
Image courtesy of Flickr, smemon87
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