By Len Wilson
Facebook is the first social network that most of us discovered. (Yes, I’m ignoring MySpace.) I logged on for the first time in 2007. In spite of buzz elsewhere now it’s still the biggest social network on the world wide web. Check out the graph below.
If you’re committed for work or personal reasons to doing social media, you still need Facebook. Here are some tips I’ve learned about the biggest social network:
1. Facebook is for people you know.
Other networks are for professional development or better cinnamon rolls or finding your next job, but Facebook was built on the (valid) premise that you’d want to connect and reconnect with friends and family from real life. In spite of their efforts to expand, this premise hasn’t changed.
My biggest “Facebook moments” are almost always personal, like this recent online smooch to my wife.
2. Profiles Good; Pages Bad.
Since Facebook works best as personal connection with people you know, it only really works when you use it with a profile.
For a period I converted my profile to a page. My reasoning was that as a writer and blogger, I should create an official Facebook presence. I was excited about the statistical analysis Facebook pages promised and at the idea that I could separate my personal and public life.
I set up a page as “Len Wilson, Writer” and, using a tool supplied by Facebook, migrated my existing friends list to it. Then I set up a new personal profile and invited a small group of family and friends to connect.
I decided to track what happened using a service called Klout, which publishes an arbitrary measurement of “online influence” according to several variables they made up. When I made the switch, my Klout score was 61 and had been holding steady (+/- 2) for a while.
Though my posting practices stayed the same, my Facebook exposure immediately plummeted.
Comment conversations evaporated. My Facebook presence turned into a publishing platform that no one paid attention to — all media, no social. Within 8 weeks, my Klout scored had dropped to 53.
Even worse, strangers who’d read my books and acquaintances who’d connected with me in professional settings started requesting my friendship on the new personal profile. I didn’t want to blow them off or force them to go to the page, which they wouldn’t do, so not wanting to lose the connection, I accepted, and in the process lost the primary benefit of the private profile. Over time, I developed two accounts. In spite of the fact that I posted more often to the page, the smaller profile grew and the larger page collected cobwebs.
After three months I contacted a friend who works for Facebook and asked him to help me restore my page as a profile. He did, and within one day several frequently appearing fans commented that they’d wondered what had happened to me.
Why was my page such a bomb?
Facebook purposefully limits pages so businesses will have to buy exposure through ads.
I didn’t change my usage. I think the reason my page bombed is that Facebook purposefully limits page exposure on people’s walls because they are trying to monetize, or create revenue, and they believe that businesses with marketing budgets will pay for exposure Facebook gives personal profiles for free.
You’ve got to pay to have a Facebook page.
One more thing: because of Facebook’s emphasis on profiles over pages, Facebook is about personalities, not businesses. So even if you’re an organization, the leader’s page is as important, if not more important, than the company page. This is especially true in faith-based settings, where a heavy emphasis is put on the spiritual leader. Not to say that all companies shouldn’t have a page, but Facebook is about people.
3. Post Daily – But Not Hourly.
A Facebook post lasts about 24 hours, so I never repeat a post in the same day, even if the teaser is different. (A “teaser” is a term for a single sentence lead in to help generate interest in a piece of content such as an article.)
I limit my total posts to 3-4 a day, on a variety of topics. For example, from my core blog topics of creativity, communications, art, and the Christian life, I try to post not more than one topic per day, to keep it mixed up. In other words, I might post something about communications, such as this post on social media, and then later in the day I’ll post something about creativity, then something about faith and the church or something personal.
4. Use a Posting Manager.
If posting every day seems crazypants, don’t worry – it is. I don’t log on every day. Instead, I use a service called Buffer to manage a schedule. When I surf my favorite sites, I’ll load up observations into Buffer according to a preset schedule of times. Through Buffer I can schedule up to 10 future posts for free. At four/day, plus the one I just did, that’s almost three days at a swatch.
5. Assorted Flavors Are Best.
On types of posts: I try to mix a combination of quotes, from myself and others; interesting facts with accompanying links; questions; and personal observations and highlights. I keep posts about my personal life to about 15-20% of the total, though these often generate the most heat – which affirms the idea that Facebook is primarily about people you know.
Bonus: links with accompanying pictures work lots better.
I’ve seen various statistics on the value of images but most agree that they help, a lot. One reputable source claimed 94% more links on posts with images than posts without images.
What have you learned about Facebook?