The smart forum manager will find the brilliance of using social media to drive activity to a community forum. This article is meant to provide helpful tips on using Facebook to gain new members and encourage activity within your forum while you build community within your Facebook page.
Set things up
Begin by making sure you have set up a Facebook Page – where others can “like” your brand and follow you. Make sure you use your logo in your profile image and a suitable cover image. Let your members know you are on Facebook. Invite them to “like” your Fan Page and provide the link in your forum community. Create your settings to shows posts “by page” by default. This insures that your posts will be seen easily when someone visits your page.
When do I post?
Post at least once a day but post no more than one to two times a day.
Discover the best time during the day to post. Your forums may be busiest during the day, but your Facebook page may be busiest in the evenings and weekends. Find what time your members are browsing Facebook and post during that time. This may take trial and error. Use your Insights tool found on your Facebook page when you are Admin of your page.
What do I post?
Facebook is - by nature - supposed to be social and interactive. As your members find you, their interactions will spill over onto their walls and non-members will find out about your forum. When you are planning your posts on facebook, consider your posts as invitations to interact with you. Make it personal.
- FORUM DISCUSSIONS: Post links to interesting, popular discussions in your community. Make it interesting and personal: “Help this member with XYZ in this thread in our forum: Title of Thread link”
- IMAGES: Create images with content related to your niche forum. Brand the image with your website name and logo. Make it clever, relevent and branded will encourage others to share it on their own wall where others will see it.
- ARTICLES: If you write articles or other content, write a short, interesting synopsis and link to the latest article. Try to include a related photo. (Veer.com or Shutterstock.com are great resources for images to use as needed. Do not steal images off Google. Copyright laws will catch up with you.)
- POLLS: Create a poll or survey and invite others to participate. Use the survey to create content back on your forum.
- NEWS: Watch for news related to your niche and link to news articles or news from your own forum community.
- SHARE: Find ways to “cross pollinate” between your community forum with social media outlets.
While you link to your own forum threads and community activity, you will find that your members will participate within your Facebook page discussions. This is OK. You will also see that they are clicking on your link and replying to your thread within the forum. Win-win! If a member posts a question on your Facebook page, be swift to invite them to join you by registering for your forum and asking their personal questions where your members will answer.
Many forum owners are afraid to use Facebook out of fear it will take away from community activity. While this may be a concern to some, for others the use of Facebook can be a great source of energy.
Kathy is the CEO of a large website and forum community and has learned to embrace Social Media to drive additional traffic and additional registrations daily to HysterSisters.com for GYN hysterectomy patient support.