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4 Ways to Write Engaging Updates on Facebook

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engage your Facebook fans “How can I get more people to engage with my fan page?” It’s the first thing people ask me when they find out I wrote Facebook All-In-One For Dummies. But that question about engagement is a pretty big one and has many facets. It would take a few posts (or, you know, a book) to tackle every aspect. I can give you some advice to get you started, though.

Every platform has its own best practices. Twitter is great for sharing concise information and links. Your blog is great for sharing more in-depth philosophies and discussions. On Facebook, people move quickly. They constantly scan their News Feed or lists and only interact with the most attractive or easily accessible content. The updates you post to Facebook can make or break your community because without good updates, you get lost in the feed. The key is to share the right information to establish yourself as the authority in your niche. Your goal is to be the go-to Facebook Page for information related to your niche. To do that, you need to

  • solve a problem
  • educate your audience, or
  • entertain your audience.

That means your updates are going to be a mixture of things. I’m going to discuss four ways to increase your status update engagement:

  • Use strong calls to action (and provide the means to follow through)
  • Post photos and video
  • Ask questions
  • Extend an invitation

Give a Call to Action and Provide a Way to Follow Through

People skim Facebook and it’s likely they’ll skip interacting with your updates unless you tell them what you want from them. If you want fans to click a link, Like your update, or buy something, tell them. And then be sure they can follow through. For example, if you talk about your new product or sale, then ask your fans to buy something, be sure you link to the website page where they can do that. Or, if you want your fans to sign up for your newsletter, install an app on your Facebook Fan Page (so your fans can sign up right from Facebook), then link to that tab.

TIP: Each of your custom app tabs has its own URL. Using the newsletter example, if you have a newsletter sign up app on your Facebook fan page, it may be overlooked since few people visit your actual page after they’ve Liked it. To remind people to sign up for your newsletter, write a status update asking fans to sign up for your newsletter because you share important information or unveil products there first, then link to the newsletter sign up tab. That kind of status update does three things. It tells your fans

  • what to do (sign up for the newsletter)
  • why they should do it (you’re giving them privileged information), and
  • how to do it (click a link to the newsletter sign up app on your Facebook fan page)

Post More Photos and Video

Facebook is incredibly visual. Anything that is eye-catching (e.g. photos or video) trumps text because it’s easily digestible. Keep in mind, too, that when people are visiting Facebook, they don’t want to leave — they want everything right there at their fingertips. Clicking on a text link may take them away from Facebook, but clicking on a photo or video doesn’t interrupt the overall flow of browsing information.

TIP: Facebook updates with photo or video are 5 times more engaging than link updates, but what do you see in your News Feed? Text. That’s because typing is the easiest way to update. Instead of typing your next update, take a little time and create more engaging content that resonates with your core audience by sharing a photo or asking a question via video.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is the go-to solution for encouraging engagement. Ask anyone how you can garner more engagement on Facebook and they’ll tell you to ask more questions. The problem is that you can’t ask just any kind of question. Some questions work better than others and how you ask a question is important. Remember that Facebook isn’t the place for philosophical discussion. It moves fast and people are ready to move in and out. Instead of asking questions that include “why” or “how do you feel about” ask questions that fans can answer quickly — yes/no, either/or, or use the Facebook Question feature to create a quick poll. As people respond, be sure you’re part of the discussion. As the discussion gets going, you can ask more in-depth questions within the comments. If you want your fans to engage with you, you have to be present and visible.

TIP: For text updates like questions, shorter is better. Keep updates to about 80 characters. Buddy Press did a study that showed shorter Facebook updates perform 66% better than longer updates.

Extend an Invitation

As a community manager you have to see your fans as more than a Like or a number; you have to view them as your community and take a real interest in what they’re doing. When you do, you’ll see your engagement increase.

Extending an invitation to my readers is my favorite way to encourage engagement. I ask people to share their links in the comments. My goals when I do this are to help drive traffic to my fans’ sites, introduce my fans to each other, and introduce them to new sites. It takes some time on my part because I really do go through everyone’s links and follow them or comment on a blog post, but the result is that I have a stronger bond with my readers. They feel like I’m available to them and interested in what they’re doing — and I am. I usually ask my readers to share their own links, but sometimes I ask them if they’ve read anything by someone else they can share. That opens a whole new window of opportunity.

TIP: Not sure what to invite your fans to share? You can ask your readers to share links to their:

  • Pinterest boards
  • G+ accounts
  • Twitter profiles
  • Blog
  • Facebook fan page
  • Most popular post of the month on their blog

At the beginning of the year I asked my fans what their goals or resolutions were for their blogs, then in July I revisited that topic and asked how they were coming along.

Regardless of how you update, my best advice to you is don’t set it and forget it. Don’t automate all of your posts. Take the time every day to interact with your fans and share things with them. Respond to their questions and comments; invite them to engage. Be a part of the community you’re creating.

Do you have advice about how to encourage engagement on your Facebook fan page? Please share with us in the comments.

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