9 Tips to Managing a Growing, Successful Facebook Community

A year or two ago (decades in social media years), I was all about ?ªthe Twitter.’ (Betty White reference) I concentrated my social media efforts and time on growing my Twitter followers to be a large community of women. My blog, Girlfriendology.com is about female friendship, hence the gender focus. Hours of following, unfollowing, tweeting, RT-ing, #FF-ing led to a decent Twitter following – around 20,000+ and primarily women. Just what I was hoping for.

Personally, I enjoy Twitter, I love my Twitter friends and would rather get my news from strangers on Twitter than spend an hour watching the news. But, I had to ask: was our Girlfriendology community on Twitter?

Mashable reported that as many as one-third of women 25-34 check Facebook first thing in the morning (many before even getting out of bed) “ it’s that important/interesting to them. Forbes said: “Facebook, the largest social networking tool in the world, is dominated by women,” with 57% of members female and women being more active (aka: social) on Facebook.

IRL, my BFF’s are on Facebook “ a lot! Many will never attempt to tweet or be interested in Twitter. Their friends are on Facebook, so they are too. For example: in my friend Colleen’s office of all women, every day they grab their lunches and eat at their desks “ while they’re surfing Facebook!

So to Facebook I went, to grow my community for my blog, and I have, putting in a lot of time and learning a lot of lessons along the way. Here’s a few of the tips I’ve learned in growing my community -currently 12,000+ females and growing – on Facebook:

1. Survey your Community “ How well do you know your community/readers? I ran an online survey to research my readers, find out insights into the community and source content ideas/material, etc. I asked my community what social media sites they use. Over 90% of the survey respondents indicated they were either ?ªaddicted to,’ or on Facebook several times a day. Over 90%! I also asked them where they interact with Girlfriendology most often “ on our blog, our Facebook page, Twitter, our online community, etc. Again, the top answer was on Facebook. The survey findings confirmed “ I need to put time and energy into my Facebook marketing and community building. TIP: Ask your community about their social media preferences and then go where they are!

2. Plan your Updates to fit their Schedule and ?ªLikes’ ?? Based on research (online information and observed among friends), I know that women check in on Facebook before and after work, as well as during lunch time. Women also visit Facebook frequently on weekends “ you can tell by when comments are made, or from your insights (stats on Facebook pages) on how many impressions are generated at different times. Taking a hint from my friend Colleen and her office-mates, I post a daily ?ªgirlfriend video lunch break’ with a female-friendly funny or inspiring YouTube video every day. Women like inspiring quotes, so I also post one or two daily. I take note of what they ?ªlike’ and comment on, and respond with more of the same based on their engagement. TIP: Know your audience, their schedules and be consistent with your Facebook updates.

3. Schedule Your Updates “ I know exactly what you’re thinking: I don’t have that much time, right? I agree, it can be overwhelming but it’s worth putting some effort into your community on Facebook. To be honest, I can’t imagine any audience who isn’t on Facebook. Use tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to pre-schedule your updates. Set-up your Facebook updates to then tweet them. I put in a couple hours over the weekend to load my Facebook updates for the coming week. I created a simple grid of the daily updates (and days of the week) I want to pre-schedule – inspirational quotes, the lunchtime video, a ?ªGirlfriendology Classic’ (a link to an ?ªold blog post’ that is evergreen and that I want to generate new traffic for) and, especially at the holidays, a ?ªgirlfriend gift recommendation’ which incorporates an affiliate link. This way, during the week I only have to add occasional updates and links to new blog posts, etc. TIP: Plan ahead, create a schedule then pre-load your Facebook updates.

4. Use Facebook to Grow your Mailing List “ As I mentioned, a lot of my Facebook traffic never makes it to my website. I also know that they people come and go on Facebook. My goal is to engage them in my community so they do visit the blog, comment on it, visit the Facebook page and through the experience feel part of Girlfriendology. To stay in touch with my followers, I encourage them to sign up for the weekly newsletter “ it’s easily accessible on my Facebook page. (Check out this blog post on growing your newsletter list.) I have posted my ?ªSign Up’ form on Facebook (on a tab) and remind them to do this every Wednesday (see below). TIP: Make it easy for your friends and fans to join your mailing list.

5. Create a Promotional Calendar “ We all have lots of social media communities and promotional opportunities. So I created a promotional schedule for my social media communities that’s not overly promotional. On Mondays, I post a ?ªFRIENDly’ reminder to share Facebook.com/Girlfriendology with their girlfriends “ it goes onto my Facebook page and Twitter updates (as do all of these). On Tuesdays, I ask women to follow us on Twitter.com/Girlfriendology. Wednesdays are my ?ªsign up for our newsletter!’ day. Thursdays, I promote our girlfriend gifts/products and Fridays are a great day to remind them of our upcoming Girlfriend cruise. I make it a short and hopefully ?ªsweet’ reminder of how they can engage in the community. TIP: Create a Promotional Calendar with your different social media sites and opportunities for monetization (like affiliate links or products that you sell).

6. Ask them to ?ªSuggest to Friends’ “ The first ?ªobvious’ first step isn’t always obvious! Start with your own friends. Build your online Facebook community by suggesting your site to your current connections. Ask them to share your page with their friends. Make it obvious that you want/encourage/LOVE referrals to your Facebook page. Tweet about your page and link to it. In my page description (on the left column, under the logo on my Facebook fan page), I start the copy with “Suggest to Friends” (right under the ?ªSuggest to Friends’ link Facebook provides) to make sure they don’t miss that request. Recently I added the ?ªSuggest This’ free Facebook app to my Facebook page. It creates an additional tab at the top that says ?ªSuggest This’ to make it easy for your fans to share your site with their friends. (Just search for ?ªSuggest This’ in your Facebook apps.) I believe in having several reminders and ways to grow your Facebook community. TIP: Ask your community to share your Facebook site with their friends, then make it easy to ?ªsuggest your site.’

7. Every Blog Post, Interview, Guest Blogs, etc. ?á SHARE! “ Don’t be shy, you have good things to share on your blog and in your community, right? Your Facebook community ?ªliked’ your page and expects to know what is going on with your blog. Every time I post a new blog post, it automatically becomes a Facebook update (and Twitter tweet) with a link to the blog. (This is set up in my FeedBlitz settings so I never have to worry about it. It also updates my LinkedIn page.) Any other newsworthy updates “ like you’ve guest blogger on a site, interviewed someone on your BlogTalkRadio show or posted a new YouTube video, update your Facebook page and remember to include any links back to your site. TIP: Share your updates and links.

8. Add the Facebook LIKE button on your Blog “ Does your blog also promote your Facebook community? We’re all competing with social media, other blogs/web sites and every other online distraction. So, our goal should be to engage our community and connect with them in various ways. I highly recommend adding the Facebook ?ªLIKE’ button on your blog posts “ both at the top and bottom of the posts. As readers click it, it puts an update on their Facebook page/friend stream with a link to your site “ spreading the word on your blog to your fans’ friends. TIP: Use Facebook to build your blog community, and your blog community to build your Facebook ?ªfriends.’ Make it easy for them to help promote your community!

9. Create a Conversation “ That’s what social media is about, right? Use your Facebook updates to get your friends’ input, ask their opinion, look at things a different way. I try to add questions sometimes that are ?ªfemale friendly’ (topics women love to discuss). For example, I posted the question: “What’s your favorite ?ªchick flick?’” once on Facebook/Girlfriendology. That question generated over a hundred responses and a blog post that now gets a lot of traffic “ just by asking a fun question to discuss. Keep in mind – every update should not be just about you/your blog. Promote other blogs or sites your readers would benefit from, acknowledge members of the community who participate and add to the conversation, and add content/updates that make your readers’ lives better “ they’ll love you for it. TIP: Ask questions, listen to their response and don’t hog the conversation!

Wow, that’s a lot to do, I know! But I think as you grow your friends/fans/followers you’ll find ways to manage your Facebook contacts and updates, as well as the techniques that work for you in engaging and growing your community. Go for it! If your readers/fans are there, you should be too!

About the Author
Debba Haupert founded Girlfriendology.com in 2006 as a community of women based on inspiration, appreciation and celebration of female friendship. She speaks on friendship and social media and has worked with ConAgra, Healthy Choice, Frito-Lay, Kroger, Biz detergent, Crystal Light, etc. You can find her at Girlfriendology.com, on Twitter @Girlfriendology and Facebook.com/Girlfriendology.