17 ways to improve Facebook engagement

It’s not enough to attract a following on the social network, though that’s the essential first step. Here’s how to start and sustain your online conversation.

Are you having trouble engaging your community on Facebook? Nearly every day I’m asked how to build fans and engage customers on Facebook.

Fundamentally, people want to know more about you before they decide to buy. They want to see what values you share with them and how they align with you. You do the same when we’re considering a purchase, right? We all reflect on our trusted network to see who can help us find the best deal, the best person to buy from.

Today’s social business develops its community on Facebook to mirror its community in real life. Engaging with your customer, online or offline, has the most impact on sales. Here are 17 steps to help you attract and engage your community on Facebook:

1. Define your marketing goals. Dissect how you want your customers to think of you. Describe at least six components of your brand that make you unique.

2. Identify and describe your customer. What are they interested in? What problems can you solve? What fun things are happening in your area that they’d want to know about? How can you help them buy from you?

3. Commit time, people, and a budget. I see many companies hiring a dedicated “community manager” to handle social media and digital marketing. Content that drives stellar engagement does not grow on trees. It takes a lot of time and talent. You’ll need a mentor to guide you, as well as a budget for training and Facebook ads.

4. Post high-quality content regularly. It can be content you write yourself or content from others that’s relevant to your audience. Posting times matter, too; test what works for you.

5. Make your updates more interactive. Ask thought-provoking questions to get people talking. Stick to subjects that are relevant to your audience, and always reflect your store’s personality.

6. The “like,” “comment,” and “share” buttons are powerful tools. Include these on your website and blog to foster sharing and make it easier for your customer to engage with you and their network.

7. Make use of landing-page apps. Hire someone to guide you in the design, and make sure your marketing language is front and center. Getting people to connect with you does not happen on its own; you must ask.

8. Sharing is caring. Recognize and promote local heroes, members of the community, and causes you support. If those causes or heroes have Facebook pages, “like” their page and connect with their community members.

9. If you have a dealership blog (and you should) syndicate it on Facebook. It builds credibility and boosts your online influence. Blogs are the next frontier when it comes to SEO. When you hear talk about “search and social,” blogs are at the core of it.

10. Everyone likes free stuff. Infuse your content with coupons, discounts, and service specials, but don’t overdo it. It’s about community engagement, not broadcasting.

11. Deal with negativity openly and clearly. This is your chance to show the community how you make things right for your customers.

12. Include Facebook links and tags in all your traditional media. Make it easy for customers to find you.

13. Take advantage of the awesome power of Facebook ads. There has never been a more specific way to laser-target those you want to reach. With the use of ads manager, your Facebook ads are efficient and use your budget wisely.

14. A.M.: Always measure. Social marketing goes like this: Create, post, analyze, repeat. When you know what your audience likes, supply them with more of it. Analyze your results to improve your customer’s Facebook experience.

15. Know that social media (like all other marketing) is a work in progress. If you make a mistake (and you most certainly will), take responsibility. I’ve seen some pretty big social media failures, and in every case the response has been handled poorly.

16. Encourage your offline customers to join your Facebook community. Post signs at all the conspicuous places, and train your staff on how to promote your Facebook page. Recognize and reward them for contributing to your social media success.

17. Listen. Know how to spot a lead when it comes your way. Always respond to comments quickly. It’s a conversation, and people expect a timely reply.

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