Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How to Succeed at Facebook Without Really Trying

          So, now a more positive spin on social networking.  All of this is me going off observations of my own page and also the old Creative Screenwriting page that I ran for a little over a year.  It’s what I’ve been doing for a while now and it seems to work well for me so far.

1) Be casual. 
            The more forced and regimented a page seems, the less people will enjoy it.  Facebook is all about casual connections and interactions, and people aren’t going to be impressed by the hard sell.  Try to sound more honest and sincere and less “fact-checked and approved by the legal team.”  I’m not saying ignore the legal team or common sense, just try to sound like you could.  No one likes the hard sell on Facebook.
            I’d guess at least half the posts on my fan page have nothing to do with my books or me as an author.  Maybe as little as a third. They’re just about other stuff I honestly find interesting and like talking about.  Other books, movies, television, LEGOS, etc.  A tiny bit of politics, but not much and nothing too divisive...

2) Post something every day
            May seem kind of obvious, but...  Considering that Facebook’s algorithms already affect the number of people who see each post, only posting two or three times a week doesn’t improve my odds.  Sunday’s pretty much the only day I take off (not for religious reasons—I’m just a lazy person at heart who likes having time off). 
            I also try to be careful when I post during the day.  Most people are using their computers right before or right after work (sit down, turn on computer, check Facebook before diving in—wrap stuff up at the office a little early, kill time on Facebook before leaving), so I try to time posts accordingly so they’ll be near the top of people’s home/ newsfeeds.  I tend to aim for EST or PST.
            Don’t have anything to post?  Well, there’s a chance to talk about other stuff, like I mentioned above.

3) Don’t make more than two or three posts a day. 
            I keep it at two and do three sparingly (maybe once a week).  Going for more than this on Facebook becomes spammy in people’s newsfeeds and they’ll block or ignore you.  Neither does any good.  No one likes the hard sell.  It’s not what Facebook’s about.
            This goes for Notes and Links, too.  Just don’t put up more than three things per day.  More posts also means it’s less likely people will like or comment on said post, so more posts actually means less chance of getting the posts seen (see below).

4) Likes, comments, and shares.   Posts, links, pictures.
            This is the big one.  The more likes/comments/shares on something, the more it shows up in people’s newsfeeds.  The more newsfeeds it shows up in, the more people find their way to the site, which makes it show up in more newsfeeds (and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and...).  This is one of Facebook’s little hidden algorithms (quality of posts over quantity of posts). 
            In this algorithm, it goes Likes < Comments < Shares.  So anything you post, make a point of liking it yourself.  If you’ve got extra information, add it as a comment rather than an extra-long post.  If you have two pages to post it on—or a page and a business profile (for example “Bob Smith” and “Bob Smith’s Author Page”)—post it to the main one and share it to the other.
            The same holds for links<posts<pictures.  For example, if I just want to say something today, post a semi-relevant picture and make your post the caption.  A picture with lots of shares is the most visible thing on Facebook.
            Worth noting that Facebook’s recently (as I write this) tweaked things to really push down the visibility of Amazon links and other “buy this” posts.  Really of links in general. So keep that in mind.
            Anyway, this leads nicely into two connected tips...

5) Ask questions. 
            Asking prompts people to answer questions, which means I'm getting likes/ comments (see above).  If you check out my fan page, I “crowdsource” answers about geeky things a lot.  A while back I asked everyone on the page a Transformers toy question.  Dozens of people leaped forward to answer, and their answers spawned more comments and likes.  Every Saturday morning I ask a “What’s your favorite...” question about something that's crossed my mind and it always gets a hundred or so responses.  This is also a great way to post things on the occasional week when you’ve got no relevant material to post about.
            Again, though, don’t go crazy.  I’ve seen pages that phrase every single post as a question

6) Answer questions. 
            I cannot stress how important this is.  Because of Facebook’s casual nature (much like the whole internet), people expect answers.  Nothing aggravates them more than to feel like comments or questions are going down a black hole.  That lack of response is what builds anger and resentment, which lead to the dark side.
            Note that I don’t need to know the answer to do this.  Just acknowledge the question and tell whoever it is that I'll try to find an answer for them.  You’d be amazed how much goodwill can build just off that.  Look over my fan page and see how many people became happy just because I said “I’ll look into that for you” or something along those lines.  And, yes, you'll be biting your tongue on a few of them to keep giving the answers they deserve.
            And, again, answers and responses are all more comments, which push posts higher in the newsfeed.

7) Keep it clean. 
            This refers to language and contoversial topics, but also to the page itself.  Don’t let lots of other people clutter your page with their unwanted/inappropriate posts and spam.  Don’t be scared to delete stuff, but make sure it’s delete-worthy.  Leaving up negative comments makes you look big and able to handle criticism.  Addressing said comments (see above), makes you look even better.  And—again—makes you show up on more newsfeeds.

8) Do NOT Pay For Ads or Followers
            Facebook is more like a high school cafeteria. The unpopular girl can say something twenty times and no one hears her. The head cheerleader can say something once and everyone in the room knows what she said. It really is a popularity contest.
            Facebook ads are doing the cheerleader's math homework in exchange for sitting at the popular table. I'll be on top for half an hour and then everyone will forget me again.
            Worse yet—it’s been pretty much proven that, when I pay for likes/ads, almost all the responses I get are from clickfarms in developing countries (yes, even when I pay Facebook for it).  And these “fake” likes will actually mess up the algorithms on my page and cause me to become less visible. Seriously. It’s because they don’t interact with my posts (they’re just clickfarms) so they cause that branching effect (point #4, above) to collapse.  The more fake likes on the page, the less my stuff is actually seen.


            And that’s it.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an easy formula for boosting your page’s visibility, which then leads to more likes, which leads to more visibility.  My fan page averages about four or five new fans a day, my average post is seen by about half my fans (usually 2500+ people) and I haven’t paid Facebook a cent to boost posts or any of that.  It takes time, but it builds a much more solid following.

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