How to be engaging on Facebook
As a chronic introvert and non-social person, I’m probably totally not qualified to write anything on this subject, buuuuut … I am fairly observant. And I watch the conversations that get people involved and responding and replicate those tactics on pages I manage, with definite improved engagement. It’s trial and error but really not as difficult as you might think, especially when you know exactly how to do it.
Here’s what I’ve observed …
You know how you read everywhere that your social posts need to be more engaging? Well, I’ve observed that hardly anyone tells you exactly HOW to be engaging, what to say, how to say it. The word ‘social’ is all about being engaging but somehow as soon as people are online they forget how to be social and suddenly become formal (or complete a-holes).
On business pages and often in groups, people do what I call ‘shop-dropping’. All. The. Time. They just upload a post of their biz and then vanish. That’s like gatecrashing a party, running around the room shouting, ‘I sell shoes, I sell shoes, I sell shoes, R100 a pair’, and then running out again. It’s rude and a bit unnerving. But when every second person is doing it then it just becomes noisy and annoying.
But there are some posts that get more attention than others. That’s because they are written in a certain way and with a specific outcome in mind. They are conversational and want to hear what others have to say. This is how being social should work (from my non-social ‘outsider’ observation).
What, exactly, is meant by ‘engaging’? …
To understand this, you need to understand how Facebook works.
Only 1 to 3 % of your page followers will see your (unpaid) posts. But when a follower engages with a post, Facebook shows them more of your posts. So, not only will engaged followers see more of your future posts, your posts will also become more visible on Facebook in general.
My favourite formal definition of ‘engaging’ is ‘charming’ (Collins). Being engaging is literally charming online viewers so that they stop scrolling and participate in what you’re saying. You just have to shift your language very slightly from speaking to writing, but the process is the same as if you were engaging in a real conversation. For a post to be considered engaging by Facebook, your followers need to do one or more of the following:
- share your post
- click an emoji other than the like button
- comment on your post with more than just one word
The more the above happens on a post, the more visible your page becomes to your followers. It’s that simple.
Before you go crazy composing engaging posts, you do need to know a bit about your followers and the sort of content that would get them to stop scrolling and interact in your post.
Engagement online is the same as in real life
I‘ve already said this but I’m going to repeat it because it is so obviously important. Engagement on social media works the same way that it does in real life. Think about when you’ve been at a social function and the person you’re talking to is droning on about themselves and what they do, and the price of their products. Your jaw is sore from yawning with your mouth closed, and are totally more concerned about the chip-n-dip getting finished before you can secure some than what that dude is mumbling about.
But, if the person you’re conversing with enlightens you with a juicy bit of gossip or some ‘secret’ information, or a fascinating or horrific fact (true or not), then you’ll be all ears, won’t you? See where I’m going with this? No-one wants to know about your shit. They want to know about other shit, but not yours. It’s the same on Facebook. You need to know what ‘other shit’ will get people fascinated and weave it into your brand story.
Get into their heads
No one is going to share and comment (in a good way) on your spammy posts. It’s all about psychology and how people think. If you share a really fascinating bit of content on your Facebook business page that energises your ideal client in some way, your biz will be etched into their mind (consciously or sub-consciously).
It sounds intrusive, but that’s just the nature of how our minds work. And it’s not ‘subliminal advertising’, it’s ‘engaging advertising’. People know when they’re engaging in something because they get excited about it. Serotonin happens when they get excited. Getting the brain working activates extra neurons. And the more neurons we spark during an experience, the stronger the memory of the experience.
So, cutting to the chase, is there a magic formula for an engaging post? There is, sort of, and it goes like this. Make sure that 60% of your posts are either …
But in a way you can relate back to your business.
We know this about most people …
- they are social given the opportunity
- they like giving their opinions on anything and everything
- they like to feel good, laugh and make others laugh (or cry)
- they like sharing things that will get their connections annoyed, shocked or laughing
Here’s the gold
You should be posting on your business page 3 to 5 times a week. 60% to 70% of those posts should be engaging. The thing that most of us miss is that you need to tell people what you want them to do. We are auto-conditioned to follow instructions (most of the time, and more so if we have the choice to or not). It’s such a simple part of creating a post, but is THE most important part of an engaging post.
Repeat: tell people what you want them to do in your post.
There are many ways to create engaging posts. Here are my 5 favourites.
1. Caption this
Find a hilarious pic of something (related to your biz if possible), and ask your followers to caption it, or to fill in the blanks of a sentence related to what the people/animals/objects in the pic are saying/thinking. The weirder the better. You’ll find that once your followers get started, they’ll start competing with each other to make sure their caption is better than the previous person’s. You could even turn this into a competition and create some sort of funny prize like ‘captioner of the month’, or give the winner’s business a shout out on your page, a blog feature, or a voucher for your services.
2. Get tagging
Getting followers to tag someone is a good way to generate engagement. For example, you could combine this with a ‘caption this’ post and ask followers to ‘tag a friend who can come up with hilarious captions’. Or to ‘tag a friend and challenge them to come up with a better caption’.
Tagging could also be used with a more salesy-type post.
For example …
“We’ve just launched this new range of ‘insulting’ coffee mugs, with beautiful foiled text. They’re only R150 each. How do you like them? Are they awesome, or a bit rude? Tag a friend who needs to be insulted with one of these and maybe we’ll give one away.”
3. Ask a question
I’ve used this a few times in managing my clients’ pages and 95% of the time it generates some great engagement. If you can relate the question back to your business, then bonus.
Here are some examples:
- Comrades marathon is coming up, how many of you have run it, or had a crazy family member or friend run it? What’s your favourite way to carb-up (even if you aren’t running)?
- Who has nightmares? Tell us about your worst one (if you dare).
- Help! I’m soooo stressed. What’s the best (legal) supplement I can take for unwinding?
- Dark chocolate or white chocolate? Which is your favourite and why? Tag a friend who has a serious chocolate addiction and should join a support group for help.
See what I did with that last one (I combined it with tagging).
4. Get them sharing
80% of online users are on their phones. Encourage your followers to share a photo of something. It literally takes a few seconds to photograph something and share it. This is one of the funnest engagement tactics.
Here are some ideas …
- It’s a typical Durban winter. Durbanites are notorious for their weird winter footwear. Show us your winter feet right now so we can judge you. Bwahahaha (evil laugh).
- Let’s see your business card. Take a pic and share it in the comments so we can see who has the ugliest / loveliest card.
- Who’s having lunch at their desk today? We wanna see. Share a pic of your meal.
- We need to see puppies. Show us your furbaby in the comments.
- Who has the messiest desk? Show us yours and you could win something (tidy desk pics will be deleted).
Another way to do this is gif sharing, or emoji talk. e.g.
- Using only a gif, show us how you feel today.
- What do you look like when your kids make you mad? Show us with a gif.
- We need a laugh. Share the funniest gif you can find in the comments.
- Using only emojis, tell us about your childhood.
- What are you doing this weekend? Show us using only emojis.
5. Get opinions
Share something controversial or thought-provoking and ask people their views. Yes, it could get nasty but, hey, it will skyrocket your engagement. Make sure that what you post is actually relevant to your audience.
- Share a quote from somewhere and ask: what do you think this means?
- Do you think the death-sentence should be re-instated in South Africa?
- Will going vegan really save the planet? What do you think?
- To vaccinate or not vaccinate … Tell us your views.
- Here’s today’s Daily News headline. What do you think?
If you battle to come up with your own ideas for this one, posting a meme, a short video, or shared post is also an option. Just make sure you give a text prompt for engagement in your post description.
The end bit (aka extra tips)
You do need to have some followers on your page or group for engagement to actually happen. If your page is still new and you don’t have many followers, you might initially want to run a small paid promotion to your ‘followers and their friends’ on your first few engaging posts. This will help get the ball rolling. You could also share some of your more appropriate posts onto your personal timeline to get your friends involved.
Include an image with your post because this will make it more visible in feeds. Images that are bright, clear and have a person or animal in them tend to get more notice.
Write your engaging posts in advance. Schedule an hour or so every week to do some brainstorming using the 5 post ideas above to create your own engaging posts. It’s a fun exercise that you could even get your friends, family or staff involved in. Then schedule your posts for the week/month in advance with Facebook’s scheduling tool.
Respond to people’s comments on your posts. This will also help to increase the visibility of your post.
Be patient. And don’t give up if you don’t get any engagement straight away. Just keep being consistent. Sometimes it takes weeks for decent engagement to happen.
Take note of the sort of posts you tend to interact with more, and save or screen shot them to refer back to later for inspiration.
Find other pages and groups that have mastered the art of post engagement. Follow them and use their engaging tactics to get ideas for your own posts.
Use Facebook insights on your page to see which of your posts are performing best, and then make more similar posts.
And there you have it! Get engaging with your followers. If you really battle and just can’t think out of the box, you can email me and schedule a 60 minute brainstorming session to help you come up with ideas. Or just drink more coffee. Feel free to drop me an email, too, if you found this helpful and it works to increase your engagement.
Save this article on Pinterest for later.