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.