October 9, 2009

How to build a Facebook community

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Old Tractor

Here are 14 ‘levers’ you need to be pulling

John HaydonLike any social tool, Facebook needs to be worked in order to achieve specific marketing, event or fundraising goals. Yes, you need to have a an effective Facebook Page where fans can easily interact (see “11 Quick Tips to Enhance Your Facebook Fan Page” by @franswaa). And yes, you need to have compelling content.

However, even with all this, if you don’t consistently nurture your Facebook relationships, you’ll end up with visitors — potential fans — wondering, “Are they still in business?”

What you get by working your Facebook levers

  • You’ll grow your fan base organically, which means they’ll stick around.
  • You’ll be able to identify your biggest supporters.
  • You’ll stay current on what’s important to your fans (also called “market research”).

Facebook levers (manual)

Many of the levers you pull on Facebook require time, attention and consideration. You can think of these as the manual levers.

1. Messages

Facebook Pages and Groups allows you to send messages to fans. Treat this feature the same way you would an email marketing service:

  • Your best fans are busy fans. Be sensitive about sending too many messages.
  • Make the message personal – and use your human voice, not “marketing-speak”.
  • Make each message count by making it about them — not your organization.
  • Always include a specific request for action that creates value for them.
  • Cool tool: Use bit.ly measure how many folks clicked on your ask.
  • See how Danny Brown uses messages in the 12for12k Group.

useful messages

2. Encourage sharing

If people are real fans (meaning they feel good about you and your organization), they’ll want to share what you have (PDF) — either through messaging their friends, or posting to their profile. All you have to do is ask.

encourage sharing

sharing from your facebook page wall

3. Discussions

Hildy Gottlieb does a great job engaging members of the Community-Driven Institute Facebook Group in meaningful discussions. She’ll share an article and then ask a specific question for folks to discuss. Participants learn, share and get to know each other – all because of Hildy’s efforts!

engage fans with discussion

4. Rotating photos

Your Facebook Page has an incredible main image, I know. But try rotating out a different image — kinda like Google does with their logos. Fans will take notice when they see the new image in their stream.

change Page photo frequently

5. Profile statuses

If it feels good (not forced), share news about your non-profit in your status. And yes, please share good stuff from your “competing” non-profit friends. The karmic boomerang will always return!

share a lot

Tag! You’re it!: Tag relevant friends in your status updates as well:

tag friends in your status

6. Facebook Page Wall posts

Make a habit of posting videos, links and photos on your Page’s wall. Share the best stuff and lots of it.

share video photos links

7. Facebook Page and Group Wall comments

When people comment on a your wall post, please comment back. They’ll feel a stronger sense of belonging when their thoughts and feelings are valued. If you don’t have time to comment on posts, keep planting seeds by liking comments.

join the discussion

Facebook levers (automatic)

Many Facebook levers can be automated, although you still need to invest time, attention and consideration. You can think of these as the automatic levers.

8. RSS blog feed

Make sure you’ve set up the Notes Application to import your blog posts. This is an easy way to automate a stream of great on content on your Page and drive traffic back to your blog.

notes2

9. Facebook toolbar for Firefox

The Facebook toolbar for your Firefox browser lets you save time and effort with your Facebook actions:

  • Search Facebook from anywhere.
  • Get notifications about friend requests, messages, event invitations, and group invitations.
  • Check your friends’ profile pictures and statuses and interact with them on Facebook.

Facebook Firefox Toolbar

Take 90 seconds and download the Facebook Firefox Toolbar!

10. Seesmic Facebook Page feature

If you use Twitter, you should know about Seesmic, an incredible desktop tool that allows you to easily manage relationships on Twitter and Facebook. Recently, a feature was added that allows you to hand-pick Facebook Pages that you want to connect with better.

Facebook Page interactions using Seesmic

Take 5 minutes and download Seesmic! (Also watch these video tutorials on using Seesmic).

11. Multiple administrators

Do you know who your biggest fans are? Is there someone you trust who wants to do more? Give them administrative rights to your Group or Page. You’ll be able to focus your energies elsewhere. Plus, your new admin friend just might teach you a thing or two about Facebook.

multiple admins

12. Landing page URLs

Each tab on a Facebook Page has its own URL, so you can target a precise landing Page for off-site promotion. For example, if you are promoting a fundraising event, you can target a Tab containing FBML promoting that event. You can also choose which tab to set as the default when users find your Facebook Page vs. when they visit as a fan.

13. Know your nodes

It’s easy to aquire 1,000 Facebook fans on a Page who doing nothing, proving that bigger is not necessarily better. The power of your Facebook community depends on the relationships that you have with key influencers (relationship marketing). These are folks that can sway a group of friends with a post, a tweet or a video. You already know who they are, and have already developed sincere friendships with many of these influencers (don’t forget – they’re friends first!). Facebook lists allows you to organize friends into groups so that you can more effectively nurture these friendships.

Organize friends with Facebook Lists

14. Measure, rinse and repeat

Facebook Pages provides many ways to measure the results of your actions so that you can quickly decide what’s working and what’s not. These reports enable you see what types of content your fans prefer and how they like to engage with that content.

Here are three of my favorite reports:

measureing media consumption

fan growth rate

see how fans like to interact

Bonus: How to use Facebook for business

If you’re interested in learning more about using Facebook for your business or non-profit, download Hubspot’s free ebook, How to Use Facebook for Business

What levers are you pulling?John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then connect up: Contact John by email, see his profile page, visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment.

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  • http://www.HowToRelay.blogspot.com Mark

    Great post here! I especially like what you noted under Messages and Discussions – "Make each message count by making it about them – not your organization". Facebook exists for people to connect with the people and things THEY care about… not what you care about. Make sure to provide relevant materials and VALUABLE CONTENT – it is the foundation of building a successful Facebook community.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  • http://twitter.com/LindaSherman @LindaSherman

    Thank you very much @JohnHaydon. I found this thanks to @loic.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/walteradamson walteradamson

    Every one of the "14 levers" very useful – thanks, really helpful.
    Walter @g2m
    http://xeesm.com/walter

  • http://twitter.com/Twitt_Faktor @Twitt_Faktor

    A very good Instruction! Thank you very much for that.

  • http://www.openendedadventure.com Cephalopod

    I guess it depends on what you're doing with it. I never spent my time on my site's facebook page, but I think it depends on the nature of what you're promoting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peterfletcher Peter Fletcher

    Great job. And well done on getting a mention in Loic's Seesmic newsletter. You're now an official rock star.

  • http://www.neotericuk.co.uk/web-design-lancashire.php Web design Preston

    Good instruction to make better online relationships i am not aware of many things that you mentioned here but now i will seriously do something better for my facebook page @Jamesneoteric

  • http://just.roger-it.co.uk Roger

    I agree, Facebook is the number 1 underrated marketing tool by most companies. Few even realise you can now set up pages and groups for organisations and companies. It's a great way of sharing your headlines and updates with users you know will care about your content.

    Fantastic stuff!

  • http://www.searchengineoptimizationjournal.com Nick Stamoulis

    It really takes a great deal of interaction to start building up a Facebook account. The most important thing to remember is that you need to take a quality approach to any Facebook marketing otherwise your account will get shut off.

  • http://tusharvickkie.blogspot.com Tushar

    This is just fantastic post for creating a facebook community. I really appreciate the work done for the post.

    Thanks, I will follow the advice mentioned in the post.

  • http://www.siteexpert.net/ Pratik

    very informative post and detailed information about facebook,, i am using facebook but didnt had that much information to optimize my profile, now i can utilize this processes and can be able to go and get more connections. thanks

  • http://www.seo.ba/ Nedim Sabic

    Great artciel Gray. Amazing, what I didn't know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jmctigue John McTigue

    This is very helpful. I'm very active on LinkedIn and Twitter but have been struggling with how to optimize for Facebook and getting new friends for business. Great suggestions.

  • http://www.siteexpert.net dani

    very nice and informative post,
    I have just seen today that facebook is #2 on Alexa rank. I want to take more time in facebook techniques

  • http://www.simplycast.com/ Michael

    I have been looking for a post just like this. Thanks for putting it together in a way that is easy to follow.

  • http://www.DowellTaggart.com Chris Dowell

    This is an extremely very good short explanation of how to use Facebook.

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  • http://www.freemarketingtoolsandtips.com Byron

    Great tips, I just started a facebook page for my latest site.

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  • http://www.haisamergem.ro iany7

    "Give in order to receive back" … I'm so happy there are still people who do that :)

  • http://www.lisiousmakeup.co.uk Beauty Representative

    really good post, just the information i need for facebook. I have just found facebook notes today and was wondering if the links added on each note were dofollow?

    http://www.facebook.com/notes/lisious-makeup/rimmel-scandal-eyes-mascara-review/290107011034103

  • http://www.lisiousmakeup.co.uk Beauty Representative

    really good post, just the information i need for facebook. I have just found facebook notes today and was wondering if the links added on each note were dofollow?

    http://www.facebook.com/notes/lisious-makeup/rimmel-scandal-eyes-mascara-review/290107011034103

  • Terence Milbourn

    Isn’t it about time that you updated this article? It looks like a valuable resource but much has happened and changed at Facebook, in the last couple of years since it was written. And that’s the problem really. It looks like a valuable resource but when its read folk trying to learn, chances are, what they learn, won’t help them.