Ah, Facebook. Possibly my all-time favorite time-suck, and definitely my favorite social network. I could spend hours on it every day, reading articles, commenting on posts, sharing memes and pictures, and managing my pages. If you’re anything like me, you could, too. The problem with doing that, though, is that then you’d never get anything done.
Like everything else, social media is most effective when it’s done in moderation and with a plan in mind (well, almost everything else–barbecue, ice cream sundaes, and Las Vegas excluded). It’s hard to know how to best wield social media, though, and what approach is best.
Here’s the deal–your goal when attempting to maximize your social media time should be twofold: To engage your audience and to learn about your audience. Keep those two aims in mind as you streamline your Facebook interactions and pages. Here’s how:
- Get pretty. The first step when it comes to any social media profile, but particularly when it comes to Facebook (given how visually driven it is), is to pretty up your profile. Yes, that means putting up a cover photo, having an engaging profile picture, adding a few Timeline life events, and completing as much of your “About” information as possible. Does this seem like it will take a long time? Sure. Will it actually take a long time? Not really. In any case, even if takes an hour or two (or more), the benefits you will reap from having taken the time to make your profile as engaging as possible will more than outweigh any time you spent doing it. By adding pictures and information to your profile, you are telling those who stop by that you are an engaged user worth getting to know. You are also greatly increasing the chances of having others interact with you, because there will actually be images and information there for users to interact with.
- Post consistently—but not overmuch. Unlike Twitter, where you can post pretty much all the time and get away with it, Facebook and Facebook users are a lot less forgiving of those who update all day, every day. When it comes to Facebook, I typically recommend that you update or share no more than 3-4 times a day, and no less than twice. Update any less, and you run the risk of losing relevance with the Facebook algorithms (which will result in your posts being seen by fewer people, therefore resulting in lessened engagement)—update any more, and you run the risk of potentially oversaturating your audience, causing them to simply scroll past you without taking the time to like, comment, share, or otherwise engage with your posts. The best times of the day to post, I’ve found, are early in the morning (typically between 7am and 9am), and in the evenings (usually after 8pm and before 10pm, when the majority of people have finished dinner and are taking some time to watch TV and catch up on their email). Play around with different posting times to see when you get the most response.
- Bring the funny. Remember, one of the primary goals you should have when it comes to Facebook is to engage your audience. Nothing engages an audience on Facebook quite like humor. If you’ve seen George Takei’s Facebook page, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Funny images, quotes, and memes are prime Facebook sharing fodder—and the more your audience shares your posts, the greater their engagement with you. The greater their engagement, the more likely it is that they’ll see your posts in the future (thanks to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which decides who sees what and from whom based on their past interactions). Embrace your sense of humor and share what you find funny, and you are more likely to increase your audience’s engagement with you.
- Get graphic. At the risk of trotting out a tired old adage: A picture is worth a thousand words—and nowhere is this more apparent than on Facebook, where images and graphics get shared and commented on at a rate that absolutely puts plain-Jane verbal status updates to shame. Want to make sure more people see and potentially interact with a post? Add an image! It only has to be tangentially related to the content of the post itself (and, if it involves cats doing something cute, it often doesn’t have to be related at all. Mee-ooow!).
- Ask questions. When you ask questions, you invite answers. Answers on Facebook take the form of comments and likes, and the more comments and likes a post gets, the more engaged an audience is with the post, and the more likely it is that they’ll see your posts in the future. It also shows that you actually care about what others have to say.
- Interact. When someone comments on one of your posts, comment back! Facebook pages now have the nifty “reply” feature on comments, which lets you interact cleanly and directly with anyone who comments on one of your posts. Replying to comments shows your audience that you’re listening, paying attention, and enjoying what they have to say. It shows you care. When you care, they care. And when they care, they’re engaged.
- Enable followers on your profile. If you don’t have a Facebook Page and are instead using your profile as your fan page/business page, make sure you enable the “follow” feature. Followers are people who are not your friends, but who follow your profile on Facebook and can see any updates that you’ve marked as “public.” Whenever anyone sends you a friend request, they are automatically added to your followers, even if you never add them as a friend, and people can become your followers without having to send you a friend request. To enable people to follow you, go to your account settings, click on “Followers” (on the left menu), and then make sure the box next to “Turn On Follow” is checked. NOTE: Some profiles might still refer to followers as “subscribers”—this is the same thing as “followers.” All profiles will eventually switch over to “followers” instead of “subscribers.” Learn all about following and followers here.
- Create interest lists. The previous seven tips were all about engaging your audience. This one is about learning about your audience. The more pages you like and the more people you befriend on Facebook, the harder it becomes to keep track of all the activity that takes place. Facebook is a fast-paced world where information is shared quickly and news feeds are crowded and moving at breakneck speeds. The easiest way to control what you see and avoid getting overwhelmed is by creating interest lists. Interest lists are a way of organizing your friends and pages on Facebook. You can create interest lists for whatever you want, and can put pages, profiles, and people you follow on them. Once you have created an interest list, it will show up on your left navigation bar under “Interests.” There are a number of perks to creating interest lists, but here are my top three: Other people can subscribe to them (which adds to your overall reach and Facebook influence), you can quickly and easily keep up with different people and pages without having to scroll endlessly through your newsfeed or go directly to each profile or page, and (and this is the best one, in my opinion) the content of the interest lists is not affected by the EdgeRank algorithm, which means that you see all posts from everyone on that list. WEE!
- Share knowledge. A great way to engage your audience and learn about them is by sharing content—particularly articles. Articles, especially when accompanied by a few brief sentences giving your take on the content, are great conversation starters and shareables—and they let you see what your audience thinks of the topic. They’re a one-two punch in the Facebook world, engaging your audience and allowing you to learn about them all at once.
- Know when to step away. This last point is the hardest one to enforce—keep your social media time to a reasonable amount! Turn it off when you’re writing, and use it only a few times a day. It can be tempting to leave the browser window open (all the interest of keeping in touch, of course) but it can be a tremendous distractor and time-suck. Like all good things, Facebook must be used in moderation.
Facebook can be a wonderful marketing and networking tool. Knowing how to maximize it can make you a social media powerhouse, increase your audience engagement, and, in turn, help you publicize yourself, your brand, and your product–whatever it may be. The tips above work for both pages and profiles (except for tip number seven, which works only on profiles), so don’t be afraid to implement them on both your personal profile and any brand pages you may have.
- Facebook Edgerank: Casey Gollan Reveals Eight Ways Companies Can Reach More People With Posts (prweb.com)
- 12 Social-Media Mistakes That Entrepreneurs Make (news.terra.com)
- Make the Most of Your Online Presence: 8 Tips on Networking (epicafinance.com)
- Top 10 Social Media Mistakes To Avoid (weblogbetter.com)