Last week I talked about how the only social media strategy that works is to think about your target audience and then post stuff that would interest them–rather than just posting stuff about you or that you find interesting. It has to start with the people that you are trying to reach.
Today I want to talk about how specifically to use Facebook to do that.
Facebook has three main ways that you can connect with people: you can set up your own personal profile, you can start a page, or you can start a group.
If you’re thinking of starting a group, stop right now. They’re annoying. So many people have added me to groups and I hate it. The notifications drive me insane, and you have to specifically turn them off. So don’t do a group.
The question most people have is between a Fan Page and a personal profile. What do you do if you have a mixture of people in your personal profile, some of whom are your neighbours and your cousins and your dog walker and your pastor’s wife, and others who just know you from speaking? Or do you even need a Page? And what about the new Facebook changes? Let’s try to take these things one at a time.
1. A Page is more Targeted
On a Facebook Fan Page you can specifically target those who are interested in hearing about your ministry–and not turn off your dogwalker or your cousin who isn’t a Christian yet. It’s easy to set up, and it looks like a personal profile. The difference is that you can have unlimited fans (a personal profile can only have 5,000), and you can have multiple people administering it, if you want.
I have both a Page and a Personal Profile, and whenever anyone sends me a friend request, I usually accept it but then also send them a message pointing to my page. I don’t tend to post as much on my personal profile about “work” type things as I do on my Page, and I don’t want them to miss it.
Try to only update your Page 2 times a day maximum. People don’t want to get overwhelmed with stuff from your Page. If you are going to do it more often, spread it out throughout the day. But it is a good idea to update every one or two days.
2. Divide Friends into Lists
Then, on your personal profile, make sure that you add EVERYONE to a list. If you have to go back and do this with friends you already have, go do it now. Go. Now. Don’t wait.
Why? Because then you can make sure that you don’t overwhelm your ministry acquaintances with personal stuff, or your personal acquaintances with business stuff.
For instance, let’s say that you wanted to write this as a status: “I’m on a cruise and loving it!” You may want your sister to know, and your cousin, but likely not everyone in the world. That’s like saying, “My house is empty! Come rob me!”
So what you can do is post that status, but then clarify who can see it. That’s where lists come in.
Usually Facebook shows a status update to “everyone”, but you can choose to make it visible to only a subset of your friends. Just click on “Everyone”, and then choose custom.
Now you can either choose to show it ONLY to certain lists, or Exclude certain lists. Just type the name of your list, and you’re set! So if I want to show something only to close friends and family, I’ll choose those lists. Or if I want to exclude something from family, because I don’t want to inundate them with ministry stuff, I’ll exclude them.
Note: for this to work, make sure that your personal profile’s privacy settings are such that your wall is not visible to anyone who is not your friend. If your wall is visible to everybody, then even if you choose to exclude certain people, strangers can still see it.
Now you can treat your personal profile like a Page, putting ministry up there, but not inundating your church family or your distant cousins with all of it.
So everytime you add someone on Facebook, put them in a list (or multiple lists). Then, when you make a status update, decide how many people you actually want to see this, and mark them accordingly.
3. Don’t Rely on Networked Blogs
A lot of us post to our personal profile and our Pages using NetworkedBlogs, a Facebook app that lets you add your blog, and then the blog post shows up without you having to specifically do anything.
If you’re not already using NetworkedBlogs, you can disregard this point, because I’m going to tell you why Facebook’s recent changes make NetworkedBlogs useless.
First, new blog posts used to show up in people’s news feeds. Now, if someone is subscribed to a bunch of blogs, they simply get a notification that there are 32 new blog posts, and most don’t click on it. So while my average post on my Facebook Page has about 1000 impressions, anything posted by Networked Blogs has only about 40, because they’re not in news feeds anymore.
So I’ve gone back to manually posting my blog posts, and bingo, they’re back at 900 impressions again.
All of Facebook has gone wonky with the new changes, because you can’t count on being in news feeds anymore with the way we used to do it. You have to manually enter stuff. It’s harder, but it’s the only way for people to see it.
4. Remember that Engagement is the Key
If you want to keep people seeing your stuff, then they have to interact with you. They have to click a like button, or leave a comment, or follow a link that you posted. When they do this, Facebook counts them as being interested in you, and you’re more likely to be a “top story” in their news feed.
Thus, the key to people seeing your stuff on Facebook is to post stuff that people are more likely to hit the “like” button about, or leave a comment. So ask a question every now and then. Post a pithy saying. Post a funny video or a funny status update, just so they will hit “like”.
When they hit “like”, that will then show up in all their friends’ ticker tape feed, the part that is now on the right hand side of the Facebook interface. And that may get you more traffic!
In sum, you should have a Facebook Page, but don’t ignore your personal profile, either. Lots of your friends won’t be fans of your page, so you should post in both. Just use lists to manage who sees what in your personal profile, and you won’t inundate people with too much information that isn’t helpful.
The most important part of keeping people interested in you, though, is the old truth that we can’t escape: post stuff that people actually find interesting and helpful. Do this, and people will interact with you, which will increase your visibility. Post only about yourself, and people will tune out.
I hope that helps! Tell me of your experiences with the new Facebook, and with Pages, and let’s see if we can help each other!