It takes more than a great brand and good content to keep your audience engaged on your Facebook page. After all, with 500 million active users and growing, Facebook represents the third most populous country in the world. With over 80 communities on Facebook, Cisco puts engagement at the core of what we do on Facebook.
Cisco’s corporate Facebook page in particular, has averaged 450 more ‘likes’ each day and has an average of 70 engagements, which includes comments and ‘likes’ on each post. When we first started there were 12,460 fans on August 3, 2009 with zero engagement from Cisco. While our ‘fans’ were coming to our Facebook page to find information on Cisco, we realized they were also coming to engage with the people and the personalities that make up Cisco and our page.
For us, engagement is about building a real community and strengthening the brand relationship with our global influencers including press, analysts, customers and techies. While we're continually learning and adjusting our activities and approach, here's a snapshot of what has helped us build an engaged community on Facebook:
- Content: Facebook is a place to aggregate and share the best content that we're creating across our other sites. This variety of content helps attract a wider audience, and ensure a higher level of quality. Content that does particularly well are interesting videos, photos and studies. In addition, content that includes a specific question or action item for the community keeps the audience engaged and can help drive responses.
- Frequency: Continuity and consistency is extremely important for keeping your community engaged, however you don’t want to overwhelm your fan base. We try to post anywhere from 2-4 new pieces of content per day. Since our community is global, we found out that content fairs best posted in the early morning or late in the afternoon/evening. We are also currently building out a more global program on Facebook where content publishing and engagement is 24/7.
- Interaction: We recognize that responses to comments can be just as important as the original content pieces themselves. As soon as content is posted, our community managers check back frequently to observe feedback about the post in real-time. This is also why we are building out our global Facebook program because it's important for us to be present while the dialog is happening at all times.
- Video: Video is the next best thing to meeting with your community face to face. We've found that short video pieces generate the most community interaction. These include teaser videos created for a product launch, product placement clips from popular movies or television shows, and any content related to a recognizable public figure such as Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers. We have also created a short little video clip of myself, the main community manager to help put a face behind the page.
- Listening: We track the comments for each post (negative or positive) and adjust our engagement strategy accordingly. While some of the successful content went as anticipated (i.e. an interview with John Chambers), some of the best-received posts were a total surprise (i.e. our Jack-O-Lantern photo). By listening, we're able to understand interests and concerns from our community, and make sure we share the content they actually want. Polling is also a great way to receive instant feedback from our community. When we were trying to decide on a new name for our corporate newsroom, we polled our Facebook community and were able to receive feedback from thousands of our fans on what they think our new name should be.
- Acknowledgement: Encouraging and acknowledging your fans for being engaged on the page has its benefits as well. By encouraging and rewarding engagement, the way our Facebook fans communicate on our page has changed drastically. One way, we have done this is by creating the Cisco SuperFan program where the most engaged Cisco Facebook fan is chosen as the Cisco SuperFan of the month. The fan is chosen by their volume of comments on the page, participation in discussions and posting their photo in the fan photos section. We just announced our first Cisco SuperFan and hundreds of fans have since expressed their interest. Acknowledging your fans for their participation is a great way to show your company’s appreciation, encourage engagement and build brand loyalty.
- Personality: Having a personality and showing that there is a person behind the page is a key factor in building engagement and trust on a Facebook page. I try to add my personality to as many aspects of the page as I can. Whether it’s in the wall posts, commenting back to the fans or talking to the fans through video, there are many ways to reach your audience and connect. As stated before, we created a short, simple video of myself thanking our Facebook community after we received our 100,000 ‘like.’ Adding your own personality into the page helps your community relate to not only the content, but the brand as well.
None of this happens magically. Just recognizing the importance of community engagement doesn't automatically make it happen. Monitoring comments and responding takes considerable effort and is usually an afterthought. It took us some time before we realized the value of engagement, but once we did, we went for it full-force. If there is one piece of advice I can give Facebook community managers out there is this: make engagement a priority and ensure your fans know how much your company values their thoughts, opinions and insights. What are you waiting for? Start engaging now!