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You have a Facebook business page and enough fans so you don’t look totally desperate, and now every day, along with making sure the phone calls get made and the to-do items get crossed off the list, you’ve got to figure out what to put in that horrible empty status box.
It mocks you, all possible 63,206 characters.
But you can barely come up with fifteen (“Good morning” maxes out at thirteen, even with an exclamation point) and even when you do have a brilliant idea, you hear nary a sigh from your fan base. It’s as if you don’t exist at all.
Isn’t the point of a Facebook page to engage? How’s a business person to engage the silent masses? And honestly, you’re not looking to rewrite the Constitution.
Fear not, faithful Facebooker! There are strategies you can use to engage even the most reticent fans. Here are five you can try for yourself. I’ve used these on client pages with fewer than 100 fans and still elicited a response, something many smart marketers will tell you to forget about attempting with fewer than 500.
So put on your creative cap and see how you can make these work for your business.
1. Ask A Question
From “How are you today?” to “What’s your biggest marketing challenge?” a question is like a mini call-to-action. The important thing to remember when you ask a question is that you need to make it short, relevant and easy to answer with only a few words. In fact, if you can make it answerable in one word, all the better. When you compose a question, consider how you might respond if you saw a similar question pop up in your news feed asked by another brand. Is it something you would answer? Would you answer in your head without bothering to put it into the comment box? Is it just too taxing to consider?
Asking your fans to “Share their favorite childhood memory” is more worthy of a blog post than a comment. “Did you play dodge ball as a kid?” is harder to ignore than answer. Of course you did! You remember with a cringe every time you got smacked dead in the face. The latter question can be answered with a simple “yes” or “ouch” or even a click of the Like button (akin to a “yes”).
A question that’s easy to answer and appeals to someone personally and emotionally is far more likely to get a response than one that’s vague, requires an explanation or is overused or dull.
Try it now: come up with a question you can ask your fans. It doesn’t necessarily need to be related to your business, as long as it’s relevant to your audience. In other words, don’t ask your young teen audience how their kids are today.
The human brain doesn’t like unfinished business. Think “closure” and the angst we experience until we get it. A blank space is almost cruel. It compels the obsessive in us to answer. You can use this to your advantage. Come up with a sentence and leave a blank space, preferably at the beginning or the end. “Today I feel _____.” Doesn’t your brain automatically come up with something, whether happy, tired, or you-must-be-joking-what-a-crappy-day?
A good fill-in-the-blank also appeals to the clever in us. Who doesn’t want to come up with the most interesting, unique, funny thing? The same rules apply as they do to questions: make it easy to answer and emotionally, personally relevant.
Try it now: compose a fill-in-the-blank that would get your audience thinking (and answering). Keep it short and simple and make sure you can answer in one or two words. More than that and you lose the point.
3. Click The Like Button
A super easy way to get your fans to respond is simply to ask them to click the Like button. Make an if-then statement and ask your fans to click. “Click Like if you want a chocolate chip cookie.” No thought required. You’re practically eliciting a Pavlovian response. The important thing is that you’re getting a response. It may not seem like much at first, but you’re building a relationship and ultimately a habit. People will start to expect interesting and interactive content from you and clicking Like will become part of their routine.
Try it now: think of something that would be interesting to your fan base and generate at least a few clicks.
4. State The Obvious
I’m always amazed by how willing people are to engage on the most mundane topics. Inevitably, someone will say “What a beautiful day!” and 435 people will click Like, 10 will say, “Sure is!” and a few more will add, “And I saw a rainbow, too!” Mundane or not, it’s something you can use to your advantage. Comment on the beautiful weather if you must, or come up with another innocuous statement. They key is to keep it positive. Nobody wants to click Like if you complain about the pain in your left pinky knuckle.
Try it now: think of something simple but universally relatable. It’s just as easy to make this business-related by saying, “Looking forward to the three-day weekend!”
5. Make A Happy Statement
Although mass media (namely television and newspapers) would have us believe otherwise, people are not in a constant state of road rage, domestic unrest or existential angst. People like to be happy and they like to be around other happy people. Much like the Obvious statement, the Happy statement generates a slew of Likes, agreement, well-wishes and support. “Great day at the office today. Joe brought in six boxes of chocolate donuts!” People who don’t know you, have never been to your office and don’t know Joe from a blue sock will click Like in affirmation of your happy donut day.
Try it now: think of something that happened recently and turn it into a positive statement. Sound excited when you write it. In this case, an exclamation point won’t hurt.
Disclaimers, Cautions And Admonitions
Please don’t open up your Facebook page right now and start asking how everyone likes the weather. Plan first, post later. Consider what’s interesting and relevant to your audience, your business and your industry. If you run off helter skelter talking about cookies and rainbows you’re just going to raise eyebrows. Know who you’re speaking to before typing a single character in that status box.
Remember that it’s only engagement if you’re involved, too. You don’t get to throw a question out and leave. If someone answers, that’s your cue to talk back. If three people click Like, that’s your cue to comment on it. Especially if you’re just starting out or have a small fan base, it’s crucial that you nurture and coddle your newfound engagement.
Finally, try not to be random and flippant. Unless there’s a good rationale for asking your fans if they want a cookie… don’t. Not every question or comment has to be about your business, product or industry, but remember why you’re on Facebook in the first place. You should have fun with your fans, as long as you can also do business with them.