How to command attention with your content on Facebook

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How do you feel when you view your competitor’s Facebook fan page? Are you happy because you are doing better than he or she is? Or do you wonder what the person is doing that you are not? If it’s the latter, it’s time you started evaluating your Facebook goals. emineo media_facebook likes

Identifying Facebook marketing goals

Small and midsize businesses need to have a clear picture of what they want to achieve from Facebook. Almost 20% of company profiles here were made even before their official websites were launched, so their goal could be to provide customers with a means to contact and get to know their business. It could also be that a business’ use for Facebook is to interact with customers. In this case, it is important to make regular posts and reply to people’s comments on your wall. If your goal is to use Facebook as a marketing tool, follow the strategies listed below to get your posts more attention and “likes” from the social network.

How do you get Facebook love?

Because almost everybody has a Facebook account, businesses can easily reach out to loyal customers and connect with new prospects. Business owners may create and manage a fan page or account on their own; but, if they have hired an effective SEO company that’s well versed in social media optimization, they will have a better chance at making their Facebook marketing campaigns successful and keeping their social media presence palpable.

Post it right!

Now, about creating posts and status updates in Facebook. While it is understandable for small and midsize businesses to talk about products and services, it isn’t wise to limit your posts to them. According to an internal study conducted by Facebook, posts related to and not necessarily about a product/service/brand are often the most successful.

Let’s face it: People don’t have the time or inclination to keep on talking about your products and services all day. They would much rather talk about subjects that interest them. It’s your job to focus on their interest, while tying your posts with your niche in some manner.

For example, let’s say you run a local cafe. You might create a virtual one on your Facebook page by offering interesting gossip and news — the kind people would like to read about with their morning coffee. Start discussions and debates about the latest developments in your community, encourage women to share fashion advice, recommend deals, etc. — basically do everything that people would do over coffee in your cafe. Or, if you own a clothing line, you could create a post about New York Fashion Week, or Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek, post pictures of your favorite designs and encourage fans to share their views.

Be seen; get heard!

If you want to maintain a constant presence in Facebook communities and want your posts to be widely shared and liked, you need to make them as interesting as possible.

How? Facebook algorithm EdgeRank Checker is designed in a manner that tracks users’ behavior on Facebook and presents their feeds as per preferences they have displayed. So, if some of your fans have shown a preference for clicking on video links versus images and text, posts with video will get more priority in their news feed. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a good mix of these key elements in your posts.

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Plain-text posts
  • Magazine or article links

The idea is to offer something for everyone, so that your updates don’t show up in the news feeds of only a certain section of your fans. It’s also important to monitor the time of your posts. The older your post gets, the farther south it goes in your fans’ news feeds. Track your feedback and make a note of the times when your posts are seen by the maximum number of people. This way, you can ensure that your updates appear among the top few stories when you fans log in.

Engage with fans

Often, people on Facebook respond to a post when they are encouraged to. So, make sure you add a call to action to all of your posts. These are some of the most recommended engagement strategies.

  • Ask questions associated with your posts. For example, let’s say you run a travel portal and you want to spread awareness about a new location. You could post a still from a Hollywood movie shot in the location and ask your fans to guess the place.
  • Start a debate by making a divisive statement, then ask for fan opinions. For instance, going back to the travel-portal example, you could make a statement such as, “Isn’t a beach holiday more fun than one in the mountains? What do you think?”
  • Hold contests (with prizes, of course). Several companies offer applications to conduct contests on Facebook. This is a strategy that can work wonders for new businesses seeking to build a fan base on Facebook. If the prize is attractive enough, people will spread the word.
  • Give away free prizes. Everyone loves freebies, and giveaways can bring a lot of word-of-mouth publicity your way. Make sure you spread the word about your free giveaway through other social forums and niche networks as well.
  • Initiate a Facebook campaign for a good cause (the charity your business supports, if applicable). This will build your credibility, earn you some involved fans and get you quite a bit of free word-of mouth-publicity.

Source Smart Blog

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5 essentials for an efficient social media workflow

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Do you sometimes seem to get lost in handling your social media activities? Here are five ideas that can save you time — and a lot of nerves!

  1. Know your editing status. Once a comment rolls in via Facebook or Twitter, you should react within reasonable time. Needless to say, it’s great to have more than emineo media social-media-workflowone employee who can potentially respond. However, once several people start working on the same matter, things tend to get a little confusing. It is crucial to know if one of your teammates has already followed up on a request — and how. This way you can avoid contacting people several times, or even sending out opposite messages. Establish a workflow that lets you keep track of the attention a post has already received by your colleagues.
  2. If you like the two-man rule, stick with it. Double-checking those pieces of information that leave the confines of a company’s own four walls is common and quite sensible, since it makes people more comfortable about external communications — bosses and employees alike. Social media, contrary to what many people think, does not force you to say goodbye to this principle. But you need a workflow that adapts to the quick response cycles in social media. Waiting for three weeks for an OK to post a Facebook comment is not reasonable. A good workflow should allow the boss to quickly review and approve suggested posts — and force him to do so on a regular basis! — so your social communications aren’t running too far behind.
  3. Establish push alerting. You might not want to know what’s happening on your social media profiles at all times. But if an upset critic starts to really stir things up, you should know immediately, no matter if it’s Sunday afternoon. Many problems are easily solved if you react early enough, so don’t miss out on that chance. You can set up push alerts that inform you via e-mail, desktop alert or SMS, and you can tell them when to stay silent and when to ring the bell. This way, you can enjoy your time off, but you won’t encounter bad surprises when entering the office again.
  4. Use automation processes. Automation can go beyond push alerting. Take, for example, posts that violate company rules, the netiquette or basic rules of good conduct: It is perfectly legitimate to erase those posts, and the procedure shouldn’t take up too much of your time. Also, you can make sure that troublemakers won’t get far enough to agitate the rest of your community — since offensive comments won’t even show up on your public page.
  5. Ensure revision security. Take Facebook as an example: If a post is deleted here, usually you won’t be able to prove it was there later on. This is important, though — for example when problems arise. Let’s hope you never have to block a user and erase his or her posts. But if it comes to that, you should be able to document why your decision was necessary — internally, but also to everybody else if they ask.

Most of these principles don’t require extra tools and software to begin with. You can start by working with cloud solutions such as Evernote or Google Docs, and, for example, simply take pictures to ensure revision security. For basic workflow automation, IFTTT (If This Then That) is worth looking into. But keep in mind that you never know how long free services and tools will be around (for free). If you decide to use a professional social media workflow tool, take a close look at included features such as multiple user dashboards, four-eye-publishing, alerting and automation functions.

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Build a Start Up Community

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The Lean Startup model created by Eric Ries has been applied to a lot of different industries. Turns out, it’s the most efficient way to approach community building as well.

I’ve been taking a lean approach to building community after 4 years of learning from things that worked and, more importantly, things that didn’t work.

Just like the Lean Startup, the Lean Community framework allows you to accomplish validated learning early on in the community building process and avoid wasting time Emineo Media Lean-Startupand resources down the line. It helps you to prove or disprove your assumptions about what your audience wants in a community.

The best way to explain the Lean Community model is with an example…

How We Applied the Lean Community Model at Zaarly

At Zaarly, I was asked to join the team as the Director of Community with the goal of converting the growing audience into a community.

When you have a large audience, you don’t want to just invite everyone to a community. I’ve tried it. Doesn’t work. People feel like they’re being marketed to, instead of feeling like a member of a community.

A much better approach is to start with an minimum viable community, test your assumptions and go from there.

In this case our assumptions were:

  1. Our users have common interests that they want to discuss.
  2. Our users want to interact in a Zaarly branded community.
  3. Our goals would be accomplished. By becoming a part of our community:

A. Our users will become more active on Zaarly
B. Our users will become ambassadors for Zaarly

So using the Lean Community model, we want to create as simple of an experiment that would allow us to prove or disprove these assumptions.

Step 1: Build

At its very core, to build a community you will need 3 things:

  1. Platform
  2. People
  3. Participation

1. Platform

We created a Facebook group called “Zaarly Nation”.

I almost always recommend to start off with a Facebook group.  A Facebook group is amazing for the Lean Community model because:

  1. You can set one up in 30 seconds
  2. It’s a very basic platform with minimal features that focuses on conversation (healthy conversation is the most important feature of a healthy community)
  3. People are already using facebook, so you can reach them where they’re already present.

Instead of spending a lot of time and resources putting together a forum (even 3rd party platforms can take a long time to integrate), convincing people to come over to yet another platform and adding a ton of features without knowing if your community will actually want them, you can have a community up and running in one day.

Actually, most the communities I run are still primarily in a facebook group to this day. Turns out a lot of the features that seem really cool to include in your community aren’t all that necessary in the end. If they are, people sometimes get creative and use the docs feature in the group. Only when you get to the point where these basic features are no longer sufficient for the growth of your community should you even consider using your own platform.

So we had our platform.

2. People

How many people should you start with? At Zaarly, we started with about 10 users and 3 employees. Then we slowly added another user, and another until we started to see interaction happening a bit more naturally.

Remember, you don’t want to just add 100 people all at once to a brand new community. It takes away any sense of exclusivity. You want the first people in your community to feel really special, because they’re appreciated and were chosen first.

We started with the “early adopter” and “power user” types at Zaarly. These types of people are typically a lot more forgiving when it comes to bugs and lack of features in your product. They’ll also be more forgiving when it comes to getting a community started.

They’ll put up with the lack of features, the awkward quiet periods (you know what I mean, when you ask a question online and get 0 answers) and the growing pains of a new community. Also look for people who are outgoing, social and optimistic. I talk a bit more in depth about what to look for in a community member here.

3. Participation

Now you have to get the conversations started. This is where much of the learning will happen. Do people interact with each other?  What do they talk about?  What value are they looking for when they come to the group?

You probably already have some assumptions that you can use to guide initial conversations.

At Zaarly, we assumed that they’d want to talk about Zaarly, entrepreneurship, local commerce and tech. Based on our research, these were the interests of many of our early adopters.

So when we started to ask questions, we focused on those topics. We wanted to prove that they did in fact want to discuss these things, and so that would be the focus of the community.

Step 2: Measure

How do you know if it’s working?

Tracking the success of your community program can be a bit more difficult since it’s hard to get great metrics around user retention and interaction within your community. Facebook groups provide no metrics. I haven’t found a single community platform that really does community metrics well, if at all.

Actually, the only metrics you can usually find for communities are vanity metrics. For example, a lot of companies focus on number of members, number of posts, number of followers etc. These metrics can be very misleading when determining the health of your community.

The real metrics that you’ll want to look at depends on your goals. Remember, your goal isn’t necessarily to get more members or more interaction. Your goal is to learn. In the Lean Startup, this is called “innovation accounting”.

For Zaarly, I’ll reiterate our goals:

A. Our users will become more active on Zaarly
B. Our users will become ambassadors for Zaarly

We could test goal A by looking at users activity in your backend. Depending on how sophisticated your backend is, this can be a manual process.

We could test goal B by tracking our members’ social media activity and providing them with referral links.

When it comes down to it, you can tell when a community isn’t healthy. A good community manager can pick up on the ebbs and flows of a community, and work to keep it on track. Ultimately, a truly healthy community barely needs a community manager, as users will start their own conversations and will even self moderate.

Step 3: Learn

For the most part, we were right about their interests and our assumptions were confirmed. There were a number of things we learned very quickly though, that ended up shaping the future of the community program.

For example, we learned that our small business users weren’t very comfortable sharing a lot of personal information. Our community adopted a very informal and playful vibe that made some of the more professional members uncomfortable.

When a lot of members who were young entrepreneurs or tech adopters spoke about their personal lives and started conversations that were more edgy than professional, our small business members would tune out.

We’d make sure to speak with the members of the communities individually as regularly as possible. When speaking with these small business members, their feedback showed us that we’d need to provide a different community experience that appeals to their specific needs.

It’s really important to speak with your community members not just within the community platform, but personally as well. A lot of my time was spent on the phone with users or exchanging emails to collect feedback on our product and community.

Another value that you get from this approach is that is lets you lay the groundwork for what will ultimately become much more formatted and strategic community programs. For example, eventually, you may want to launch a program specifically for power users that ties in rewards, events and badges. Or maybe you’ll want to launch an ambassador program where members become “ambassadors” for more niche communities online, or in their hometowns.

By using the lean community approach, you can start to bring together all the different kinds of users that would be a good fit for these more specific programs. From there, you’ll learn if there’s even any interest in those kinds of programs, and what they’d like to see you include in those programs.

Within 1-2 weeks, if you follow this model, you’ll learn a great deal about what direction you should, or shouldn’t be taking your community. Like a startup, if the community program you’ve tested isn’t working, pivot to try another approach.

Pivot your Community

There are a lot of different types of pivots that you could take with your community. Your pivot shouldn’t just be another complete guess. Use the learning that you’ve gained from your initial experiments to help guide the next iteration. Here are some different kinds of pivots for your community:

1. Pivot the people: Perhaps you had the right idea for your community, but chose the wrong people to invite. Try again but invite a different audience this time.

2. Pivot the platform: It’s possible that you got the idea and people right, but the platform just didn’t cater to the type of community you’re building. Some communities are better run offline at events. Some communities are actually better for a forum rather than a Facebook group. The kind of content that members are sharing can be very important when choosing a new platform.

3. Pivot the program: There are a lot of different kinds of community programs. If you’ve tested one and it isn’t working, you may want to consider changing. Talk to your members and learn more about their specific needs, then test the proper program for those needs.

Eric Ries wrote an entire book on the Lean Startup model.  This was a high level breakdown of how the same methodologies can be applied to community building. If there are specific aspects that you’re curious about, let us know and we can dig in further.

Source Community Manager

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