12 Most Creative Ways to Engage Friends and Fans on Facebook
So, most of us can agree that social media is still in its infancy stages. I hear about a revolutionary start-up, it seems, just about every week. Some are intrigued by the influx of social media sites and tools, while others are put off by it. “It’s all just a fad,” they say. And, for the most part, they’re right. Social networking sites come and go. Apps come and go. Most platforms amount to nothing but short-lived hype.
Facebook is not one of those platforms. Facebook is not a fad. Regardless of how much of a novice you are in social media, you must have at least heard of Facebook. Most people and business owners, even if they have not bought into the social media model as a whole, have created accounts on Facebook. Whether you are simply trying to strengthen your personal network or trying to reach out to your customers, it certainly is clear by now that a Facebook account has become just as necessary as email. Facebook is essential.
So, you’ve created an account. You’re done, right? Not at all! And, yet, that is what most people do. They create a page or profile and then just leave it alone. That isn’t going to fly! To be successful with Facebook, you have to actually interact with your friends and fans—thereby giving them a reason to interact with you. So, you’re staring at this box at the top of the page, asking you the question, “What’s on your mind?” To make the best use of Facebook, what do you type? How do you navigate Facebook to achieve the greatest level of engagement with your connections? Here are a few tips:
1. The fill-in-the-blank
Make a statement, but leave one part of the statement blank, allowing your friends/fans to complete it. Why do people bother to comment on it? It’s because the statement is about THEM, and not about ME. The “fill-in-the-blank” is so powerful (and I use these once a day), because it enables your audience to share something about themselves. Experiment with this: use humorous subjects and thought-provoking ones. Trust me, it’s often hard for your friends and fans NOT to comment.
2. The random fact
Post a completely random fact. People are thirsty for information and like finding out interesting things. Your friends/fans love opportunities to express their creativity. Posting a “random fact” and inviting a reaction enables them to do so.
3. Name that song (or movie, author, etc.)
I see people post song lyrics all of the time on Facebook. Largely, these postings are overlooked–sometimes even annoying. Occasionally, someone will “Like” a song lyric but rarely do people see it as an opportunity to interact. How about posting a song lyric and asking the audience to name the title/artist? Or, posting a quote from a movie and asking your audience who said it and in what movie? Certainly, this works. It makes your audience think about your status and also establish common ground in pop culture that both of you are familiar with.
4. Article with a “teaser” caption
Every time I post an article, I add a caption that hints at its content but doesn’t quite reveal it in its entirety. The purpose, of course, is to get people to read the article. But, more often than not, it also causes people to react to the article. People post links all of the time. Who really has time to click through everything? Make it tempting: give them something juicy to respond to.
5. Picture or video with a witty caption
Just like articles, pictures and videos are ubiquitous on Facebook. To get someone to react to a picture or video, you have to get them to view or watch it. How do you do that? With a clever caption. Take a look at this screen shot. What could I possibly mean by asking why my vacuum’s pants keep falling down? It isn’t until you click on the photo that you discover the belt broke! But, when you see the caption, don’t you just have to look at the photo? And, once you’ve seen the photo, don’t you just have to comment?
6. Updated profile pic
This one is simple but often overlooked. Your friends and fans crave novelty. And, when they are browsing their respective “walls,” what they notice before the names are the profile pictures associated with them. You want to get noticed? Change your profile picture religiously. And make it interesting–not just portrait of you or of your business’s building. Make it a cartoon character, a bulletin-board, a street sign, a group of people doing something interesting, anything that is eye-catching and out of the ordinary.
7. Comment on the statuses of others
It’s not enough to spend time on your own page or profile–you’ve got to meet your audience where they are. Just like you, they are sharing interesting things and they want people to respond. Give their egos the attention they deserve. Go to their “walls” and respond to their “statuses.” Post the witty reply that they are soliciting. There is no better way to make an impression on someone than to acknowledge their creativity. Posting is about being creative. Acknowledge what your friends and fans post.
8. The power of the like button
So, it can be time consuming to go through the “walls” of your friends/fans, leaving comment after comment–especially if you have a large audience. The alternative? The “Like” button. With a click of the mouse, you can signal to your audience that you are appreciative of their material. “Liking” something they post gets your name in front of them. I recommend “Liking” what your friends/fans post several times a day. It’s easy and doesn’t take much thought but can go a long way.
9. Form groups with various circles of friends/fans
If you have a specific subset of friends or fans that you interact with, you might want to consider adding them to a group. There, you can send targeted messages that only those people get. It works great for relaying inside jokes (like this “Groups” screen shot) and making people feel included. Your friends and fans want to be part of a community: that’s why they’re on Facebook. “Groups” enables a community within the community–driving deeper connections.
10. Thought-provoking quote
A famous, thought-provoking quote will make your audience think and, usually, when someone starts thinking in social media, they will start typing! It’s hard to read something inspiring and not respond to it positively. Inspiring quotes make people want to give you a high-five. This is a great way to get “Likes.”
11. Post a photo and ask for a caption
Instead of adding the caption yourself, ask your friends and fans to create one for you. Take a picture of something and try to get your audience’ interpretation of what’s going on. If you do this, your audience will feel compelled to look at the picture, spend some time thinking about it, and finally post a creative comment. Again, you want to tap into your audience’s creativity.
12. Tag friends/fans in posts
“Tagging” in Facebook is a great way to bring people into the conversation. People love the sound of their own names. Mentioning someone draws them in like nothing else. It acknowledges that they are important to you and have influenced you in some way. Rarely have I ever seen someone who was “tagged” not respond to the person who “tagged” them.
While many social networking platforms are still in infancy, it can be argued that Facebook is full-grown. Tech-savvy people are even losing interest in favor of emerging platforms like Google Plus. Nevertheless, it cannot be ignored that Facebook still has powerful reach and influence over the average Internet user. People I never would imagine using social media have Facebook profiles. It is, at this point, ubiquitous.
You’ve got to meet your audience where they are. Regardless of how you feel about Facebook, it’s clear that hundreds of millions of people find it as a great platform for engagement. Your friends and customers are on Facebook. You should be too. And, don’t just be there. Dominate it! Make your account an active, engaging one. Make sure all of your friends and fans know who you are. Reach out and make something happen!
I would love to hear your ideas about how to become more engaging on Facebook. These are just the tip of the iceberg. What else can make you more interactive on FB? Did I leave something important out? I’m open to suggestions.
Featured image courtesy of GOIABA (Goiabarea) licensed via creative commons.