You may have read that Facebook recently has announced a shift in missions for the ubiquitous social platform.
“It’s not enough to simply connect the world,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced via Facebook. “We must also work to bring the world closer together.”
Facebook is at its best, he said, when people are using it to stay connected with their friends and family while also reaching out to new people and new communities.
He continued: “Communities give us that sense that we are part of something greater than ourselves, that we are not alone, and that we have something better ahead to work for.”
Of course, Facebook has always been about community, with particular focus on connecting friends and family. Now, that focus has swiveled toward connecting the world.
How do businesses fit into all this?
The same way as ever: by providing value. Let’s look at a four specific examples.
Provide great content, and then engage: This is probably old news for everyone. But it bears repeating, because engaging over valuable content is the best way to go from having an audience (one-way communication) to a community (two-way, interactive communication). If you want to build a community on Facebook, step one is to consistently produce valuable content that makes life better, easier or more fun for your community. And when they like, comment on or share that content, be quick to respond in a genuine, friendly manner.
Your task: For the next month, create a publishing schedule that you can keep, and stick to it. Once a day, once a week, whatever. Then, without fail, produce something that will help your community and publish it on time. Also, set aside 20 minutes every day to respond to comments on your own and respond to content on other companies’ business Pages.
Start a Facebook Group: They’re not for every business, but for some, they’re perfect. Starting a Facebook Group can be a wonderful way to create conversation about a topic in which you have some experience.
The conversation shouldn’t be all about your business, of course; instead, use the group as an opportunity to share your knowledge to help those around you. The benefits can swing back your way in big ways. If you’re a bookstore, perhaps you create a local about great literature. If you’re a design firm, perhaps you create a local Facebook Group aimed at helping members learn new design skills and brainstorm ideas with others.
The whole purpose of community is “to bring people together to do things we couldn’t do on our own.” Social platforms are perfect tools for crowd-sourcing solutions to problems that a business can’t solve alone.
Your task: Research your local area and determine whether there’s an existing Facebook Group focused on your area of expertise. If there is one, join it. If there isn’t one, consider starting one.
Conduct listening sessions: Many businesses are of the mindset that just getting something online is enough. Post a cute photo, and people will find you and follow you. But it doesn’t always work that way. The whole idea of building community is to serve a valuable purpose, to fill a hole that few other people are filling.
Instead of telling your customers what to think, take a step back and listen. On your own business Page, post questions you’d love answers to. On other company’s Facebook Pages, look at the comments and learn what issues customers are struggling with and what supports would make their lives better.
Your task: This week, write down two questions you’d most like your customers to answer. Next, post them on your Facebook Page. You might get some amazing results.
Grow your community through Facebook advertising: Another way that Facebook has changed in recent years is that communities don’t grow organically as easily as they used to. If you’ve been noticing a slowdown in the rate of growth of your Page or in interactions with your content, now might be the time to experiment with bringing in community members via paid Facebook ad campaigns. You can boost your best posts or create native Facebook ads, targeting them to just the kind of people you need in your community. Facebook provides useful reports and analytics that explain exactly how an ad is performing, so it’s a great way to explore the effectiveness of digital advertising.
If any of these steps sounds too difficult or time-consuming, or if you’d like a little help to make the process easier, reach out to us at PR Consulting. With our years of experience in building community on Facebook, we can help!