I started with Facebook very tentatively, only around 3 years ago. I was one of those “lurkers” on Facebook for a while – looking at other people’s posts, clicking a “like” here and there and never, ever daring to leave a comment. What if anybody disagreed with me? I’m a conflict avoider by nature and was petrified of a disagreement even online.
One day I bravely ventured a comment and realised that nothing really bad can happen. If someone disagrees with my opinion, I don’t have to do anything about it. I could, if I felt like it, just never return to that thread, in order to feel “safe”.
I gradually started posting some of my own opinions on other’s posts. And gradually acquired more friends. I realised I didn’t want to just blast my opinions like I saw on other pages. That didn’t seem to lead to real engagement. I’d learnt a few concepts about marketing for my own business in the alternative health industry and one of them was that people are more prone to buy from those who they “Know, Like and Trust”.
I started asking questions on my Facebook posts – questions that lead to engagement and discussions between me and my Facebook friends. I learnt that most people really love to be asked to voice their opinion on an issue. People love feeling heard and validated. I watched others who were very successfully using the “heard and validated” concept and saw that they always made their followers feel good.
I started doing the same. Every time someone commented on one of my posts, I found something in their comment I agreed with, and started my own reply with that. For instance “I love how you say that xyz” and then, if there was anything I didn’t quite agree with, I asked another question around that. Or just gently ignored that part of their comment – no mention of it. They felt heard and a part of their comment was validated. All of them kept returning for more interaction.
I don’t comment on every single “like” my posts receive. That would keep me busy for hours every day and I don’t believe that it leads to much more engagement. Sometimes I do a little “Hi, [friendname] – great to see you here!”. Most often, I engage only with those who comment. I DO need to get other things done during my day as well!
It’s not like I have thousands of fans – I only have around 900 on my personal page. However – many of them interact, engage and are very keen to comment and venture opinions. Therefore when I post an offer or question around my business, my Facebook friends are very keen to participate. I get more business from Facebook than from my current email list.
After I wrote and published my book “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, I needed to do some research for a follow-up book. I made a post on Facebook to ask for any volunteers for a “research project”. More than 40 people participated and gave me incredibly valuable (and often very sensitive) information that I can use now for my next book. They would not have been so keen to share honestly, had it not been for the engagement and interaction that had been there for many months.
Facebook and other social media really works for me. The publisher of my first book found me on Linkedin! Yes it does take time. It takes being authentic, showing your vulnerability and flaws. Authentic interaction CAN take place online. I’ve met people from all over the world, who I subsequently met in person in countries very far from my own. I’ve made new and very close, dear friends through Facebook. Every one of those new friends bought my book after we started having conversations.
Facebook is not an empty, meaningless place if you choose to make it a place of engagement, meaning, fulfilment and connection.