The Intangible Element Of Facebook Success

      

A good community manager of a Facebook business page is well versed in the mechanics of managing a Facebook page, knows how to use a calendar to plan posts and maintains a predictable schedule of providing content. Managing a Facebook presence for a business means understanding the importance of creating posts that generate comments, likes and shares and using the right voice when writing a post.

Yet, even the most knowledgeable person can oversee a Facebook community that is lifeless and stagnant if all of this becomes mechanical.   Sometimes I look at different Facebook pages and wonder what makes one community engage so much more than another.  True, there are a myriad of factors but there’s something intangible that comes into play when a community literally buzzing with activity.

As you read through the posts of a thriving Facebook community, you can hear the person behind the words. You see the natural flow of conversation in the comments between the brand and community and among the members of the community.  You see little sparks of inspiration in the language of the posts and the originality of the questions.

You feel that the person behind the post really cares. She’s into it.  She loves the community.

When that feeling is there, the rule book fades into the background and a natural flow of conversation and activity take over that comes from the heart.  No one needs to ask how many times a day to post or whether or not to use a photo or which image to use or how to phrase a question or whether to respond to a comment.

Facebook success has nothing to do with a list of “10 things you can do to get more people to Like your page” or any other how-to list you’ll find in a blog post about Facebook success.  Facebook is a very simple tool.  The artistry is in the person using it and how that person feels about the community.  No matter what your company’s objectives are, your success is going to depend on how devoted and caring your community manager is the people in your community.

11 Responses to The Intangible Element Of Facebook Success
  1. rhonda hurwitz
    February 17, 2012 | 9:09 am

    Ilana, I have been thinking a lot about this as I work with clients. Being social is either in your DNA or it isn’t … while I can teach someone the mechanics, I can’t change their temperament as human beings.

    Nice post.

    • Ilana Rabinowitz
      February 17, 2012 | 11:25 am

      Rhonda, Thanks for your comment. It’s one of the things that a brand can consider when hiring a community manager. If you get a sense that he or she is truly passionate about the product you’ll have a better result with someone that needs a bit of training than if you hire someone who knows the techniques but has no feeling for the product or the business. And as you say, noticing whether a potential hire is sociable is important. If interacting socially doesn’t come naturally, then being a Facebook community manager is not the right job for that person.

  2. Silvina Jover-Cirillo
    February 19, 2012 | 9:08 am

    Hello Ilana,

    I know what you mean and I know perfectly well how it feels! The problem I see sometimes is that the approval process that certain brands have is so bureaucratic that, at times, that initial passion that the community manager set forth through her/his writing simply appears to fade away. Moreover, the pre-established restrictions that the community manager has to observed in terms of continuing the conversation with the fans, also harms the natural flow of the dialogue.

    My point is that even though when a brand hires the most socially capable community manager, his/her community will be as successful as the brand allows it to be.

    • Ilana Rabinowitz
      February 19, 2012 | 9:55 am

      Silvina,
      You bring up an excellent point. Some brands are really not ready as a business to be engaging on social media. If a big brand is so bureaucratic that a Facebook post needs to run through an approval process, you’re absolutely right, it doesn’t matter how good the community manager is because the entire enterprise is set up wrong. Social marketing happens in real time, and can’t be at the mercy of corporate politics or the legal department. Some big brands have overcome their natural bureaucratic process by putting policies in place and hiring well and only when a crisis arises do they stop the natural process of conversation. I wrote a post over at Social Media Explorer several months ago about how businesses need to change to be better at social media that you may want to check out. http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/becoming-social/

      It’s hard to change the status quo but you have clearly recognized an issue that must frustrate many community managers.

  3. David Brazeal (@dbrazeal)
    February 20, 2012 | 11:32 am

    Ilana,

    You’ve really nailed it here, I think. I have friends who despite Facebook, and it finally occurred to me that they’re not really very social people beyond a very small circle of close friends.

    My biggest successes happen when clients trust me to let a sense of humor show through on their Facebook pages. Sometimes I have to sneak it in the first time, because they’re so scared of being “unprofessional.” But once they see how well it works, they push me to do more. The best way I’ve thought of to describe it is a “light touch.” Traditional marketing and PR is usually so heavy-handed. Keeping it light and personal really does make a huge difference.

    The biggest challenge – and one I’d love to hear you address – is, how do you explain this to clients without sounding like you’re just giving them a squishy feel-good answer to avoid hard facts?

  4. Ilana Rabinowitz
    February 20, 2012 | 1:21 pm

    Hi David,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment and good question. In the context of explaining Facebook as a platform to business people, I explain that it shows the human side of the business and that’s important because people do business with people, not logos or corporations.

    If clients can take off the corporate hat for a moment and put themselves in the position of someone engaging on Facebook, imagine how it feels to have someone talk to you in a sentence that sounds like, “please be advised that we will be closed on Monday” vs. hearing a humorous or lighthearted sentence about how the customer service people might be spending their day off. And if people are uncomfortable or don’t believe that people like to be spoken to in a down-to-earth, personal way that is appropriately funny or in some other way in sync with the brand, just ask that it be tested. I’m betting your test will win.

  5. [...] Don’t be remote the way Don Draper was for the Heinz account. Put your best people forward in social media.  Make sure the community manager represents your top talent.  Your CEO or CMO can participate too.  If you want to know the kind of heart it takes to be the face of a brand on social media, read this. [...]

  6. Emerson
    April 5, 2012 | 8:56 pm

    This post just proves this universal truth: simple concepts are the hardest ones to convince people of. For me it’s impossible to manage social networks unless you really understand and appreciate the business you’re involved with.

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