We are always looking for more ways to interact with out customers and fans. Ever feel like you put up content on Facebook that you think is great, but it just sits dead in the water? I hate when that happens. It happens to everyone. What are some steps you can take to more actively engage your audience?
Keep It Short
Don't drone on, people just scroll right by it. Unless they are a die-hard fan most people are going to skip right over a large paragraph of text. Narrow it down to one sentence. Even a sentence fragment if you can manage it.
A sentence fragment and a link to something useful.
Most people on Facebook have more important things to do, like watch videos of kittens playing on a slide, to invest too much time on your passionate political rant. Save your heart-felt political BS for a different venue.
Keep It Simple
Asking questions is a good way to engage you audience. But remember to keep it simple. Yes or no answers, or very simple answers. In the case study from my farm below I asked people to answer "A or B" to choose between two farm logos. Some people responded with only the one letter required, some wrote a long response detailing their choice. The point is, more people engaged because it was simple.
I will use another farm for an example. Abundance Farm uses it's Facebook page to get suggestions when naming baby animals. They put up a picture of a cute baby animal, and ask for name suggestions. Sometimes they give a couple names to choose from. They keep it simple. They don't ask their audience "What is the best type of llama to raise on the farm?" or "What are the best methods for de-worming." Those are complicated answers that their followers are not going to get. Simple simple simple. Everyone can think of at least one cute baby animal name.
Content is king, and pictures are the king of content. You can get a lot of information through with a photograph. After all, they are worth a thousand words right? Combine a picture and a one sentence quote and you have the makings for some great content.
Pictures can illustrate farm life better than you can ever express it in words. Whether it is a cute baby animal, hail damage from a recent storm, a dinner cooked with farm ingredients, or a new barn you put in for an event space. Pictures are going to get the most feedback.
All letters look the same. The same "ABCs" are used in Shakespeare as are found in the phone book. When people are scrolling down a page text will not stand out unless it is associated with a picture of their friend or a business whose page they "Like". However, if you use pictures, you can grab their attention and stand out from the stream of text on their Facebook Home Page.
FoodCyclist Farm Branding Case Study
When I wanted to design a logo for t-shirts to market my farm, I got stuck. I came up with a few designs, but I could not decide between them. I decided to crowd-source my branding problems. Crowd-sourcing is exactly what it sounds like, sourcing the answers to a particular problem from a crowd of people. In this instance my crowd was my followers from Facebook.
The first one I came up with I liked, but the audience turned it down. I was excited about this one. It hit a number of things that related to the farm. The outline could have been a badge for food security, or a road sign because Kate and I are travelers. There is a cyclist, chickens, and I get the name of the farm and the website on there.
Well, it was unpopular. Next.
I then thought long and hard and came up with a couple difference options that I was happy with. I have some skill with photoshop and graphic design, so it was a fun process for me. I finally settled on one logo, with two different ways to advertise my website. I created a picture with an A-B split, and uploaded it to Facebook. Here's the photo.
You can see it's very simple. Answer "A" or "B".
I shared it on my Farm Facebook Page, my personal profile, and the Farm Marketing Solutions Facebook Page. I don't always get good response from what I post. I got really great reaction from this. The final tally of votes was B = 30, A = 11. B won by a landslide. Not only did people put their answers, but the reasons for their answers. I responded to those reasons and engaged in short conversation. I also got several messages in private with people sending me their own versions of the design.
Examining the Psychology of Crowd-Sourcing
Looking at what I did above, why was it successful? I had a visual problem to solve. I used a picture to illustrate my problem and to get an answer.
I used a simple format for answering "A or B" but still left it open if people wanted to write more.
I gave people power over a business decision. Whether they will admit it or not, everyone is a friggen expert on everything (or at least they think they are). Even quiet people who you wouldn't expect. When you give them a little power over your life, they will take it. Not a bad thing, just basic human psychology. In the message above the photo I presented the scenario of "I cannot choose A or B. You decided and I will use that as the logo for my farm t-shirt. They got the power to control what my logo was with a very simple answer. Just like people reply to Abundance Farms with names for baby animals. They have the power to name a living thing with a simple reply on Facebook.
What's the Return On Investment?
"But John, how does that translate into dollars on the farm?"
You cannot always sell things to you customers. People are sold to incessantly throughout their lives. Television, radio, print, while they are driving, eating, taking a dump, and I am sure advertisers are working on a way to sell to you while you are sleeping. Companies are getting ahead today by not JUST selling to their customers. They are engaging them, building a relationship and trust, and then offering a product instead of pushing it.
This small experiment engaged my followers, got more people interested in the farm, and was a simple fun thing to do. I have since had people ask to see the shirts, or when they see I am wearing one they said "Oh I'm so glad you went with that design". (no joke, really happened)
The very day I got the shirts back from the printer I wore one out in public. After all, if you want to see your brand advance, you have to live it. That very day, literally 45 minutes after putting the shirt on for the first time someone approached me in a local store asking what the heck "FoodCyclist" was. He and his wife are now a members of the CSA. That's $480 I didn't have at the beginning of the day.