If you're a blogger, you need to be on Facebook. It's just that simple.
It's the largest social network in the world, and it's a place where people are constantly sharing content — it's a breeding ground for bloggers to share links and market themselves.
But you need to do so wisely.
The Blogger's Guide to Facebook
First up, you need to create a Facebook page (right after creating your own personal profile). Once you've done that, you’re probably wondering what you should do. How should you be using this social network to help your blog?
Fear not. Guidance is here.
Facebook is a place to hang out with your readers. Like a party, it has a laid back vibe, where people like to mingle with others and have a good time. It’s not necessarily a place to have a intense debate or deep discourse.
Consider Facebook an opportunity to extend the reach of your voice through a condensed version of what is normally offered on your blog.
If you’re unsure as to how that all plays out practically, here are three different aspects of posting to consider before you hit the “Share” or “Like” button.
The primary purpose of your Facebook page should be to inform readers of your new blog posts and drive traffic back to your site. Here are some tips on sharing your posts:
- Post the link manually. Do this rather than using a third-party app. When you post via Networked Blogs or even Twitter, your post is compressed with all other third-party posts into one link in the news feed. Not only is it easy to overlook, but it’s impersonal, and Facebook is all about being personal. Not to mention, Facebook apparently discounts content that is added through a third-party service.
- Offer a teaser. Give your readers a good reason to click through. Simply posting a URL looks lazy.
- Images equal click-throughs. So be sure to include an image (a good one) in your original post to grab your readers’ attention in the news feed.
You can also use Facebook to share content from other bloggers. But, remember:
- Share posts from others sparingly. Readers follow you to follow you. It’s not the same as Twitter where you are constantly promoting others.
- Let readers know why you consider a link important. Saying “this is cool” isn’t enough to get me to click on it. And it's probably not enough for your readers, either. Come on, you can do better that.
- Tag others. This alerts them that you’ve shared their work, and also shows up as a post on their wall and yours. Be smart with this, as it can get annoying and look like spam.
You can also share things that wouldn’t necessarily merit an entire post, yet are noteworthy and of interest to your readers. This might be an image, a YouTube clip, a news story, or even a quote.
Interaction with readers
In general, Facebook users are an entirely different group of readers than those who regularly comment on blogs or interact via Twitter.
Some readers are simply more comfortable interacting on Facebook, because they see it as more personal. In that sense, it’s best to involve them personally on your page.
Here are some ways to generate personal interaction with your community:
- Ask open-ended questions. Give the readers a chance to share what they think about something related to your blog topic.
- Make use of the “Question” feature on the Share tab. This allows you to create a fun poll.
- Give the readers a chance to share something about themselves by offering a conversation-starter. It’s a nice way to get to know your readers and show that you care about their opinions.
- Whet the appetite for content you’re working on. Offer tidbits of information that elicit a personal response. Reader responses can also be an excellent way to develop ideas for future blogging topics.
There are plenty of ways to ruffle feathers and offend others on Facebook.
Here are a few rules from the (unwritten) Facebook Code of Conduct for Bloggers:
- Respond ASAP to any comments, questions, or info left on your wall. When you don’t respond, you appear inaccessible and uncaring.
- Share things about yourself, but not too much! Keep it professional, but also fun. Think of things you’d share in an office lunch room, not what you’d share at your family game night.
- Follow the readers’ lead on how often you should post to Facebook. Somewhere in the range of two to three times a day, at various times of day, is the ideal maximum. This depends on your niche and the degree of reader interaction you can generate. The last thing you want to do is post too often, because then you get annoying and risk being hidden on the news feed, or worse yet, un-liked!
A final word
If you’re new to Facebook, it will feel a little awkward at first, much like your first day of junior high.
When all else fails, watch what other bloggers do. Follow their lead, but make your page and presence your own. Be true to yourself and your niche.
Take your time and don’t expect immediate results. Tweak your usage as a response to what the readers enjoy.
Most importantly, have fun!
So, bloggers, let's hear from you…
What have you found useful on Facebook? Share your tips and lessons learned in the comments.
*Photo credit: Thos Ballantyne (Creative Commons)