How effective is Facebook in engaging audiences?

“Facebook is like a pub, strangers looking for shared values and interests in order to engage in meaningful conversation”, sums up Kristian Lorenzon, senior social media manager at telecommunications, internet and financial services provider O2 UK, when discussing the right PR strategies to use on Facebook. Lorenzon adds: “In order for brands to build successful communities they must listen and use insights to understand the communities’ cultural systems – what are the common assumptions, beliefs and interests of the groups. From there it becomes much easier to establish what content, topics and products are relevant to them and when. We at O2 understand that our community has a shared interest in technology and humour; therefore we ensure that there is a balance between product-driven messages and relevant humour on Facebook.”

Establishing a conversation is key, but before you do this, you must be clear about your objectives. Paul Dalton-Borge, head of digital at agency, Consolidated PR, says: “It absolutely goes without saying that the first step in building a community on Facebook is to ask yourself, do we have a purpose? Will we keep it up for the long term? And will anyone actually care? If the answer to any of those is ‘no’, then stop right there.”

Once you have decided what your aims are, the next step is to put a content and engagement plan together and a set of community management guidelines. Dalton-Borge explains: “A bit of structure will help keep your community on track and give you (and anyone else that gets involved, like marketing, PR and customer services), focus as your community grows. Put some goals in place – proper ones aligned to business and marcomms objectives, not just the number of fans and ‘likes’ you generate.”

Last, but by no means least, you must monitor what is working and what isn’t. Dalton-Borge says: “Listen and learn as you go. Get a feel early on for what works and what doesn’t when it comes to content, engagement tactics and conversation, and evolve your approach as you go. Top tips are to keep posts visual, enticing, positive and personable – and prompt people into discussion not just with you but with each other. Above all though, if you enjoy yourself that will shine through and inspire your community to enjoy themselves too.”

Five top tips

Leila Thabet, managing director, from social media agency, We Are Social US, offers these tips for building communities on Facebook:

  • Understand your audience. Before reaching out to your fans, you need to understand who they are. Use Facebook Insights to find out details, such as age, numbers of males and females and where they are located.
  • Represent your brand. A Facebook page should be a “calling card” for what the brand represents. Give your fans pertinent information about the latest news, promotions and products available.
  • Make it a social-only experience. Reward fans with content they can only find on your Facebook page, such as exclusive content, coupons or contests.
  • Ensure there is two-way communication. Provide questions for your audience, ask their opinions and spur them to participate. Show consumers you value their input by responding to insightful comments, answering questions and following up with fans who have problems.
  • Post timely, engaging content. Understand the topics, themes and events your audience is talking about, and relate them as appropriate to your brand. This could take the form of celebrating holidays with them or commenting on current events.

Written by Daney Parker