Building your Facebook community without being a try-hard

One of the most fun places for me online is my travel blog’s Facebook page. It works just how I want it to and I get to chat with a gorgeous range of fellow travel-lovers there.

I know a lot of my clients complain about Facebook and the way they keep making it “harder” to play … but I think that building your Facebook community (without being a try-hard) can be one of the most rewarding parts of your business or your blog. I regularly reach more than half of my Facebook likers and quite often my posts are seen by substantially more people than the number that like my page. Beyond the numbers, I also feel that it’s a real community of people who are getting to know each other. I thought I’d share some tips to see if I could help you love your Facebook page even more.

Building your Facebook community

Think of Facebook as a friendly place to catch up

The first part of feeling good about building your Facebook community is to take a good look at what Facebook is really all about. More people use it than any other social media and the reason is that they want to know what their friends are doing.

That, of course, creates a challenge for business pages. People are not really in the mindset to think about a business or a blog they follow when they log in to Facebook – they want to see their friends’ kids and some funny memes.

But as a business page you can use this to your advantage. Be like a friend! On my travel blog page I use a super-friendly tone, I share photos and posts with a message that makes it sound like I’m sitting next to you showing it to you, and I make sure I let my followers know that I know what they like and what kind of people they are. Sometimes I even address them by name!

Building your Facebook community

The corollary of this, of course, is to make sure there’s something personal about what you post. Depending on what kind of business page you run, this can be more or less difficult, but think about how you can make it work for you. I have a strict boundary on what I share and what I don’t from my own life, but for example, I’m not bothered by showing my son’s photo (just not his name), and mentioning him in any non-embarrassing way. And note: cute kids with teddy bears is a good posting strategy!

Know your Facebook followers and remember what they’re like

So if Facebook is a friendly place to catch up, you want this catching up thing to go two ways. It’s true that I sometimes will include the names of my Facebook followers in a post – for example, recently I wanted to know if other travellers had come across (annoying) flies in Iceland, so I named a couple of Facebook fans in the post who I knew had been to Iceland and were likely to know. You see the value there? – I remembered something about them (from their comments in the past) and made them feel special (but genuinely – because I really thought they would have an answer).

You’ll see some pages asking super-directly to find out about their followers (I saw one yesterday asking people to post the suburb they live in!) but I prefer to do it more naturally, and see what arises out of the topics we talk about. I don’t have a scary database or anything, I just have this info in my memory from past discussions and comments, but I do tap into it and really think about what kind of people my audience are and create my Facebook posts with them at the top of my mind.

Ask questions, but not just for the sake of it

The typical Facebook advice to get good engagement with your community is to ask your audience questions (preferable easy ones with short answers). You know the kind you see when you kind of inwardly groan because it’s really clear the page owner is just trying to get high engagement?

Don’t do that – but do ask questions when they seem appropriate, and don’t be afraid of asking complex questions. In my experience, people love to give their opinion when they can tell that it’s valued (related: try to reply to every comment you get).

Building your Facebook community by not asking questions
If your Facebook community is used to being engaged, they don’t need a question to start talking – this question-less post got heaps of comments (and clicks to my old post).

If your community is used to being interactive (because you’ve asked engaging, interesting questions and kept the conversation going – and perhaps referred back to it in future posts) then they will become talkative without the need for a direct question.

Vary your posts, but not just for the sake of it

The Facebook algorithm seems to work better if you mix up your posts – sometimes photos, sometimes links, sometimes just text, sometimes a photo album, sometimes a share from another Facebook page.

I see some Facebook pages taking this advice to the extreme. Depending on your niche, it might be that link updates don’t seem too natural, or you don’t have many images to share. Figure out what your Facebook audience likes the most and stick to perhaps three kinds of posts most of the time. And then throw in something different just to see if they’ve changed!

Share links, but not just for the sake of it

(Starting to see a pattern yet?!)

Some Facebook pages I follow churn out a lot of content but most of it is links (both to their own posts and to posts from others) without much thought given to why their followers would want to read it. This is one of the most important moments when you need to know a lot about your followers and figure out what links they would find interesting, and what kind of introduction to the link might be needed.

And don’t let all this take up hours of your time

The next most common complaint from my clients about Facebook is that it takes up too much time. It really doesn’t have to. You just have to get a bit systematic and organised about it.

I use a regular schedule to plan my Facebook posts – it varies over time but for example, it might be to post a photo at 9.00am, a link at 1.00pm, a share at 7.00pm and a link to my own content at 8.00pm. I use a simple grid for the week (sometimes for a fortnight at once) to check off what I’m up to when I sit down to write all these Facebook posts at once (remember batching your work? It works!).

Building your Facebook community - Facebook page scheduling

Finding enough content to cover that schedule becomes easy when you know you need an image for every morning, a link for every afternoon – because in the course of your normal work you are no doubt coming across all this stuff, and you just need to remember it (bookmark it, file it in a special folder, whatever works for you) until the time you sit down to schedule out your comment.

To reply to comments, I nearly always use the Facebook Pages app on my phone, and do it on the run. At the moment I have notifications turned on so I know when I need to have a look; sometimes I turn these off and just check in a couple of times a day.

So go forth and build your Facebook page’s community!

I hope something here has sparked an idea for you to get your Facebook page’s community really buzzing. I’d love to hear how you go.

 

 

 

 

How to use our Facebook group for Perth bloggers – WABAK

One of my blogging students had the fabulous idea of starting a Facebook group for Perth bloggers who met in my courses, so that they could all keep in touch and follow each other’s blogging journeys. WABAK: Western Australian Bloggers Amanda Knows was born in a hurried fashion as a result, and the odd name seems to have stuck. In fact, Rae from I Opened My Mouth and It Ran Away Without Me told me one afternoon we should absolutely change it but then came back the next day saying the opposite, with this justification:

So here’s why I don’t think it should change:
Western
Australia – not discriminatory includes country WA
Bloggers – proud to be a blogger that is who we are
Amanda – Amanda is our founder and fearless leader
Knows – Amanda brings us together, gives us the opportunity to share and discuss via this group, alerts us as to what is happening in our blogging world
Sounded out Wayback – was way back when we started
I think that we should share and contribute as individuals such as what we are doing and how it has hleped us to either improve/change/direct/focus our blogging world be it either business or pleasure/hobby. Sharing journeys allows other members who are interested to see how we/they can develop should they be interested. I like being nosey!

And I think Rae sums up exactly what I’d like this group to be all about. (Although I am not sure about being a fearless leader.) The only thing she failed to mention was that one of the key results of coming together in our Facebook group is the ability to organise physical meet ups, which must include cake. Very important!

WABAK blogger meet up in February 2014

How to use our Facebook group for WABAK

Now, I know that some of our members have never had the cause to be involved in a Facebook group before, and I promised to give a bit of a how to guide to help them out. To start with, if you haven’t joined the group yet, head to WABAK on Facebook (assuming you have a Facebook account) and hit the “Join Group” button – I’ll be notified that you’ve asked to join and will approve you, unless I don’t know who you are, of course!

So, what can you do in this group?

  1. Respond to posts in the group – some of them are from me, some from other group members. You can “like” or comment just like any other Facebook post. However, only people who are in the group can see it (it’s a “closed” group).
  2. Post an update, a question, a link or an image yourself. Stick to posting stuff that is useful for other WA bloggers (if anyone gets too self-promotional we will get out a big stick). When we have meet ups I definitely encourage you to post any photos you take afterwards. Makes the fun last longer! 
  3. Edit files. Yes, we have files! Facebook groups give you the ability to have basic documents. See the image below for the spot where you can click “Files” – at the moment, we have just one document, a list of the blogs written by group members. When you open the document, there’s an option in the top right to “Edit” – click that and edit away, then click “Save” at the bottom.

Menu options for the WABAK Facebook group – using Files

So, those are the three main functions you can use in our group at the moment – simple, right? Oh, and before you ask, the arrangement of the members’ profile pictures across the top (you can see them in this graphic) is based on who has previously left a comment or made an update – the most recent updater is on the left. So it’s constantly changing.

Have you got some more questions about using our Facebook group? Let me know in the comments and if there’s something important that I’ve missed I’ll add it in to this blog post.

Social media haters: what to do when people say mean things on Facebook or Twitter

When I’m helping clients set up their social media platforms, one of the most common questions I get asked concerns crisis management. What do we do when people leave horrible comments? they ask, nearly always. They’re really scared of opening up the possibility for disgruntled clients or customers or nasty members of the general public to say something bad about them.

So far the only disgruntled client comments I’ve had have been from hungry bellies
wondering when the chocolate cake will be served at our workshops.

My answer usually goes something like this:

First of all, I tell them that if people have complaints about your business, they’ll very likely talk about you online anyway, on their own profiles or platforms or wherever, so you’re definitely better off having an online presence so that they can talk about you where you can see them and and do something about it.

Next, I tell them that they’d be surprised at how infrequently this happens. I’ve worked with all kinds of clients in all kinds of industries over the years and do you know how many have come back and actually said somebody had commented nastily on their Facebook page or sent them a mean tweet? None. Not one! That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. And in certain industries, of course, it’s more likely to happen than others. I’m talking about unnecessarily nasty stuff, not just a complaint about service or product with some kind of legitimate (or at least vaguely reasonable) cause.

But, if it happens, then I tell them that the best strategy is not to engage with the content of the comment online, but to politely thank them and give them a way to take it further offline (like giving them a way to contact you by email or phone so you can talk to them privately). I’ve always said that deleting the comment is likely to get them further annoyed and do it again, whereas if you’ve acknowledged them and given them an opportunity to continue the conversation elsewhere then they look pretty stupid if they keep commenting. The other bonus of a social media community, assuming you’ve kind of been taking care of them, is that your advocates/fans will often jump in and tell them to shut up, basically!

(It’s probably better not to use Basil Fawlty’s methods of dealing with complaints, as in this video …)

However, at the Problogger Event I heard a different answer from two very experienced people – Amy Porterfield (my favourite Facebook guru) and Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs. Amy started off saying that she used to say pretty much exactly what I’ve just said – but that recently she’s changed her mind. Kind of to my surprise, she says these days if nasty comments come up on her page – people who have said nothing constructive but just nasty or hateful things – she just deletes them – and bans them from the page! Trey Ratcliff agreed although he had a great alternative if you were after some more fun – let them stay on and “your community will have great fun tearing them apart!”

So basically, it’s up to you. Reply or delete – that’s the two basic choices – but the best news is that for most of you, you’ll never actually have to decide.

But have you ever had anyone leave a nasty comment? What did you do?

How to: Link Instagram to your Facebook profile or page

I started the #businesspics prompts on Instagram for several reasons, but a key one is to encourage both my clients and other Instagrammers to use the images they produce to support their business – Instagram pictures can be a fantastic way to give your followers a glimpse into the everyday life of your business, especially if you share them beyond Instagram to, for example, your Facebook page.

And then one of our participants said – wait – how do I do that? And so of course I realised that I’ve missed a step. Fortunately it’s not tricky but it can take a bit of hunting to find the connection so here’s the method:

The first step is to head to your profile (the bottom right button in Instagram, which always reminds me of a microwave oven) and tap the cog wheel at the top right.

If your version looks a bit different to mine, fingers crossed it functions in the same way! I’ve updated to iOS 7 which might explain the difference if you’re on an iPhone.

 The next trick is to find the share settings – scroll down first through the Options page first (keep going!):

Then find and tap on “Share Settings” under Preferences.

You’ll get a few choices on the Share Settings screen but for now tap on Facebook (if you haven’t connected yet, it’ll be greyed out).

To configure it you’ll need to tap “Share to …” to take Instagram through to your Facebook login. You’ll need to log in (even if you want to use a business page, you will log in to your personal Facebook profile and later you get the chance to choose to share to a business page if you want).

I highly recommend NOT agreeing to “Share Likes to Timeline” – this means that every time you like an image on Instagram this action will appear on your Facebook feed – yep, that would be pretty annoying for your followers or friends!

Once Instagram and Facebook have started talking (in other words, you’ve entered your Facebook log in details and Instagram remembers them) you’ll have the option of sharing to your Timeline or to a Facebook page you manage. You can see in the diagram below that I’ve got my Instagram feed set up to share to my Amanda Kendle Consulting Facebook page. Once you’ve selected the right page, you’re done, just hit another icon along the bottom (home, for example) and get back into Instagramming. 

Now that you’re set up, when you post an Instagram picture, you can tap on the Facebook icon on the page where you type in your caption and it’ll then share immediately to your Facebook profile or page (whichever you’ve set up).

One kind of annoying thing about Instagram is that there is no quick and easy way to change this – you have to go all the way through these menus if you want to change it and it’s not something that can be done mid-post. Sometimes I’d like to share some photos to my personal profile but it’s such an effort that I pretty much just leave it always set to post to my business page and only post some of my images (usually only one a day to my Facebook page – don’t want to overload people!).

So – does this make sense? Yell if my step-by-steps aren’t clear – it’s easy to overlook mentioning something that is clear to me but not to a normal person! And finally, if you want to join us for the rest of October’s #businesspics challenges, the prompts are below. It’s never too late to start and you don’t need to take part every day.

Social media for artists, because artists amaze me

I am one super-lucky girl because I get to meet and work with some truly inspiring and fascinating people. And one subset of these is artists.

I am not artistic. (If you want some proof, see some of my childhood samples on my travel blog – this was the *peak* of my drawing ability!) But I am in absolute awe of anyone who can paint or draw or sculpt. In fact, I confess, my husband was very smart to bring one of his incredible paintings to hang on an empty wall in my apartment shortly after we’d met – I was thrilled at the idea of hanging out with someone who could paint!

And I’ve also been thrilled to be able to work with some artists over the last few years, artists who have been looking for help with blogging and social media as a way to get some more (well-deserved) attention to their artworks. Obviously, social media is an ideal place for artists to hang out. Most social media platforms are extremely visual and if you’re an artist with beautiful stuff to show then you’ve got it made.

One of the artists I was especially glad to meet is Jennifer Sulaj. She was wanting to get more serious about making painting her work and life and realised that social media would probably help her out, and despite being really not too keen on sitting in front of a computer when she could be in her studio instead, she’s now doing a marvellous job of it – have a look at Jennifer’s Facebook page and I’m sure you’ll agree. What I think she is doing right, and what I have suggested to other artists I’m lucky enough to work with, is to post these kinds of things on social media:

  • Images of some completed paintings along with a story about how they came to be, what they mean to the artist or something unusual that happened while painting it.
  • Photos of works in progress, because the process of painting is fascinating not only to artists but especially to non-artists like me, who can’t imagine how anyone can produce something so beautiful.
  • “Life of an artist” type posts, for example, images and stories of exhibitions, sales and even a simple thing like where and how they buy their paint or other supplies. (One of my favourite recent posts on Jennifer’s page was the tale of the mishap when she bought a new van and it broke down an hour later, meaning her paintings were delivered late to a new gallery – nice to know that artists are human, too!).
  • Short tales of inspiration for starting a painting, for keeping on going, for getting back to work when it’s hard to be inspired.
  • Sharing posts from other artists who inspire, or who have an interesting or different style.
  • Images of a studio, because for us non-artists it’s hard to imagine what really goes on in an artist’s studio.
I think that every kind of business has a place on social media – of course for some businesses, LinkedIn might work better, or Twitter, or something else – but for artists, one of the best has to be a Facebook business page. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in being fascinated by the life of an artist and they’ve got so much pretty stuff to share. A perfect match.

Basic but essential Facebook: Checking your privacy settings

Whenever I’m working with a client on their computer, or I have students in a computer lab and we even vaguely mention Facebook, I’m very vigilant on teaching them one thing: how to check their Facebook privacy settings.

Depending on when you set up your Facebook account, your privacy settings may or may not be private – if you’ve never done anything about it, then it’s well worth spending a couple of minutes checking, and this is how.

Thankfully, the system is much simpler than it used to be, and the “average” private setting is to allow only your friends – that’s the people who you approve to be friends – to see what you post. To do this, click on the little (almost hidden!) arrow at the top right of your Facebook page:

Yes, you should be able to find it with my huge big orange arrow pointing at it, right?! Once you click on that you’ll get a drop down menu, so choose “Privacy Settings” from toward the bottom of the list.

Your Privacy Settings screen will look something like this:

The important part is the second half of this image – Public, Friends or Custom. You can basically ignore Custom – it doesn’t offer anything that’s important to many people – but I strongly recommend you switch your Privacy Setting to Friends instead of Public, if that’s where it is.

During my courses, the only other tweak I strongly suggest to Privacy Settings requires a scroll a little further down the page to the second section labelled “Timeline and Tagging”. This can give you the option of screening stuff (photos or updates) your friends post before it ends up on your profile page. The default options are a bit less private than what I (personally) think is OK – of course, it’s up to you! But if you’re interested, these are the options I choose:

And one last word or two. Whatever you put on Facebook, make sure you’re theoretically OK with anyone in the world seeing it. I don’t mean that you should be paranoid and complain about Facebook, but you should realistically remember that once something’s “out there”, it can theoretically end up anywhere – whether your friend leaves their Facebook page open at work and someone else sees it or someone forwards your status or photos to a friend – anything can happen, even though it probably won’t, but just be smart about what you post online.

Thanks Facebook: A school reunion made even more fun

Over the weekend, I attended my 20th high school reunion. (Yes, go on, do the calculations, I already know the answer: that makes me OLD!). Five years ago, I went to my first reunion, having been overseas when the ten-year reunion took place. There was a huge difference between these two events, and funnily enough, the reason for that is simple: Facebook!

Back in 2007, Facebook was just starting up (it only opened up to the general public in 2006) and I had got in touch with a handful of old school friends there. In the vast majority of cases at the fifteen-year reunion, I knew nothing of the life and times of my old classmates and they knew nothing of me, so I felt like I spent the entire evening regurgitating my life-story-since-high-school and asking other people for theirs. To be honest, that got a bit exhausting and I ended up not saying hello to at least half of the people I would have liked to catch up with.

Twenty years ago … of course we all look just the same now 😉

Wind the clock forward to now, and Facebook is as invasive and pervasive as … something that’s really, really pervasive! The reunion itself was organised almost exclusively via a private group on Facebook, and I’ve become “friends” with nearly all of the classmates I could remember from high school. While we may not have physically seen each other for a long time – in quite a few cases, the full two decades – we knew quite a lot about whether or not we were married, how cute our various children were, and all kinds of other things that we’d gleaned from various Facebook updates over the years.

And I think this made the reunion extra-wonderful. I could go up to a long-lost friend and say hello and we could skip the boring “What are you doing now?” and cut straight to the “I loved the pictures of your Bali holiday” and “Did you decide what to do about that job offer?” kind of discussions. Conversations that mean a bit more than just regurgitating your CV. Conversations that were different for every person I spoke to. And there were even people who told me they often read my blog! I had no idea (and was so excited to hear it).

When I run Facebook talks and courses, there are usually a couple in the crowd who want to harp on about all the “bad stuff” about Facebook, and I counter with a big list of “good stuff”. The reunion on the weekend proved it to me again – there is definitely some really “good stuff” about using Facebook.

Save some time with Facebook scheduling

I work with all kinds of different clients, but increasingly, a whole swag of them have a Facebook business page, and complain that they don’t have time to update it as regularly as I’m advising them too. In the past, I’ve advised them to use scheduling sites like Hootsuite, but in most cases, I can already see their eyes glazing over as I’m explaining how it works, and I can see them thinking – *another* site I have to remember how to log in to?

Thankfully, Facebook seems to have figured this out and have implemented a reasonably workable solution. It’s not perfect and it’s a bit cumbersome but it works (nearly all of the time …) and the post comes out looking how you want it to.

You can now schedule posts from within Facebook – and that means posts with images, links or just simple status updates – for up to a year ahead. This means you don’t have to log in to Facebook twice every day to post something, and you can sit down for a half hour or so at some stage during your week and schedule content for the days ahead (or up to a year ahead, if you’re super-keen!). If this sounds like something you need to try, here are some instructions:

1. Log in to your Facebook account and “Use page as …[your business page]” from the drop-down arrow at the top right of your screen.

2. Click in the “What’s on your mind?” box on your page profile and create a post as normal (add a photo, a link, write a status update).

3. Behold the magic schedule button: this small clock that appears at the bottom left corner of the status update box. Click it!

4. This part is the cumbersome bit, but it works – choose the year, then the month, then the day, then the hour, then the minute (I did say it is cumbersome!). You can spread our your content across the week and also try to post it at the optimal times for your “likers” to see it.

5. Ta-da! Done! And you have no more excuses for not putting out some at least semi-regular updates on your Facebook business page.

How do delete a friend in Facebook … and will they know?

“How can I unfriend my Facebook friend?”

If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked this question at one of my social media talks or courses, I would be quite a lot richer. I must say, it makes me giggle that people who are just learning how to use Facebook are already so keen to know how they can “unfriend” someone they allowed to be friends with them in the first place – but I know that in the flurry of seeing familiar old faces it’s easy to “friend” people who you later don’t really want to have so much contact with.

So, the simple answer is: go to your friend’s profile page by clicking on their name or searching for them. Under their cover photo, on the right, next to “Message”, you’ll see a drop-down arrow – click on it and you’ll get this box:

And then just click on “Unfriend”, and they’re gone!

“Will this person know that I have unfriended them?”

This is the second most popular question at my courses, always following close on the heels of the first. See, we’re all still wanting to be polite about this, and that’s fair enough!

Fortunately, the answer is – probably not. They don’t receive any notification that you have unfriended them. However, if they think of you (perhaps when they think they haven’t seen your updates for a while) they can go to your profile page, and they will then see that you’re not friends. That means if you’re considering “unfriending” someone who you know well or who has only a handful of friends so a missing one will be quite obvious, then you might need to reconsider. I save “unfriending” for people I don’t know, or who I’ve forgotten! – for example, former ESL students who I don’t have any contact with anymore (and they’ve probably forgotten me too), or primary school friends who I haven’t seen in twenty or (gulp) thirty years! There is another solution.

“Can I reduce what I see from certain friends?”

And finally, a lovely gentleman who came to one of my library talks on social media, Ron, emailed me recently to ask how he could “tone down” the amount of updates he sees from a friend who was flooding his news feed. You know those friends – either they update sixteen times a day, or they post every internet link they’ve visited, or worst of all, they’re playing some of those annoying Facebook games and have their every move posted for us to read. It’s an excellent question.

So, when you are looking at your news feed and you see a post from a friend you’d rather see less from, hover your mouse over the post until you see another drop-down arrow in the top right area of the post (you can see it below – it doesn’t appear until you hover over the post). Click on it, and you get the following options.

Choose from “All updates”, “Most updates” or “Only important updates” and you should see either more or less updates from that particular person. Similarly, if you don’t want to see updates from Facebook games, hover over an update in your news feed, click the drop-down arrow and you’ll have options for not seeing posts from various games. The best part about this solution is your friends have absolutely no way of knowing that they’ve been “toned down”, unless they steal your password and log in as you! PS, to my friend Anita, shown in the example above: no way am I unsubscribing from you! You’re just the example that popped up in my news feed 😉 We are definitely “All updates” kind of friends!