Any brand participating in social media (and we’ve reached the point where it is nearly every brand) faces the daunting task of creating and cultivating a community on a near-daily basis. With this constant requirement comes the need for a community manager to consistently provide unique and timely content that entertains, informs, and engages.
And there’s a reason the term “Community Manager” exists instead of “Facebook Page Writer.” Social media provides a place where communities of people with common interests can congregate, and its up to the Community Manager to keep those groups alive and flourishing. For a week, it’s no problem. After a month, you’re still doing fine. But what happens after a year? Two years? How can community managers keep their fans engaged over the long haul?
Here are five ways community managers can keep content fresh on Facebook:
1. Reward Your Fans
Your fans don’t want to feel like they’re just part of the crowd. They want to be recognized for their passion. One common approach (employed by major brands like Oreo) is to publicly select a Fan of the Day/Week/Month and have their picture featured within the profile picture. While it can be very effective, this technique is nothing new and has no barrier to entry. There are now even apps that will automate this process for you. Instead, consider making a low cost investment (even just a $10 t-shirt) and create a contest unique to your page. Fans love to be part of something, especially if a real prize is involved. Put some real effort into your contests and a small investment can turn into major engagement.
2. Improvise on the Spot
Because your Facebook Page is (or at least should be) a living, breathing community, Community Managers have to respond to posts by their fans. I wouldn’t be teaching you anything if I told you to “Respond to as many fan posts as possible.” You already know (I hope) that engaging with the fans that have taken the time to reach out to you on YOUR page is an activity that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Instead, use that user-generated content and turn it into something unique and fun to your page. Did someone just claim that they have the largest collection of your brand’s shoes? Start an impromptu contest to see who can post the best picture with their shoe collection! Did they post that they know the most trivia about your band? Create a quiz! Simply replying to comments from your community and letting that be the end of it is a wasted opportunity.
3. Assess and Reassess your Content Mix
No matter what it is—your diet, your workout, or even your iPod—the same thing over and over again eventually gets boring. Yes, even if it’s as good as the Backstreet Boys Black and Blue album (Nothing but the hits on that album…not that I would know).
Your fans feel the same way about your page, too. Make it a point every month (or even more frequently) to take a step back and assess your content mix. Are you just posting your blog feed? Are you engaging your fans with questions or polls? Are you posting videos or creating games for them to play? How are you constantly encouraging your community to get involved and contribute?
4. Develop Timely Content
Content plans are an effective way to ensure the content you’re providing to your community is on brand, and thereby help prevent social media disasters. But that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone or that it’s the only content you can share with your community. Our world is constantly changing, and the most consumed content is that which is timely – addressing the issues of the day (or even hour). Community Managers should have both the authority and the wherewithal to quickly adapt and address issues that arise. It doesn’t even have to be immediate, worldly news either. If you’re managing a Facebook community of Mad Men fans, what are you planning for the Season premiere? Give your community something to rally around and get excited about.
5. Bring Your Brand to Life with Live Event Coverage
One of my favorite uses of Facebook as a brand is to help curate live event coverage. It’s not a “new” idea, but I think it’s underutilized. It tends to be more of an afterthought – “Hey, we’re a sponsor of that concert. We should go there, take a few pictures, and throw them up on our page! Right?” Instead, plan to attend events that make sense to your brand, even if you’re not sponsoring them, and build a Facebook content plan around it by including as many different types of content as possible. Kim Crawford Wines (client) had Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week covered from head to toe with contests, interviews, videos, pictures, and custom designed applications. Chobani also does a great job spanning the U.S. on their “CHOmobile” attending food and health-related events while updating and engaging their community. Its not only a great way to keep content fresh, but gives the added benefit of showing up IRL (in real life) and putting real faces to the brand.
Remember that communities, just like brands, are unique. They serve varied audiences and, thus, the needs and wants of those audiences will differ greatly. Take these tips into consideration but always make your content decisions based on your audience, what they want, and how they want to receive it.
Keeping your content fresh and cultivating your communities, especially on Facebook, has become of paramount importance. The better Community Managers become at building communities with fresh content, the less tolerance we’ll have as social media users for pages that are doing it wrong. The only way to keep up with your fans’ needs is to keep that content fresh, entertaining and useful.
How are you keeping your content fresh? Let me know in the comments.