5 Ways to Spark a Conversation on Facebook

My friend and a fellow dog-blogger Jana Rade recently started a Facebook group covering an issue that is very near and dear to her heart. In fact, it’s near and dear to all of us who own dogs. Dog Health Issues.

Listen while you browse

Or download to your favorite portable player. MP3 or M4A/AAC format, just cuz I’m that kuwl :-p

And now she is facing a problem. Here is the email she sent.

So the question is how do you engage group members to start talking?

Here are few suggestions.

1. Engagement be Damned

Hernando Cortes (1485 – 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who invaded what we now call South America, Cuba and Mexico.

He is almost single handedly responsible for the extermination of the Aztecs. And that’s an interesting set up for our main story.

Have you seen the Fifth Element with Bruce Willis? Remember the scene where he enters a room full of big, ugly aliens and shoots the leader and effectively makes the rest of the aliens surrender.

Cut off the head of the monster and you kill the monster

Cortes did the exact same thing about 500 years prior to Bruce. Except Cortes did it for real to the Aztec king effectively paving the way for the rest of the Aztecs to be exterminated and their gold “appropriated” for the Spanish crown.

But then, Cortez (and the Spanish conquistadors who followed him) encountered a different kind of monster.

This “monster” didn’t have a head to cut off. Consequently, for the next 200 years or so, the Spanish tried to chase down this monster with no success.

The “monster” was the Apaches

Apaches were a nomadic tribe. Their society didn’t have a concept of a “leader” or a “king”. They had Nantans.

Nantan was an Apache tribe member who led by example and did what he thought was best. The rest of the Apaches could choose to follow him… or not.

Without having a name for it, Apaches were engaging in a Bayesian inference. Which means that if Nantan’s choices in the past were correct then his choices in the present are likely to be correct as well, therefore we’ll engage with you (follow you).

Nantans were engaging other Apaches to fight Cortes. Jana is engaging her group to participate in a conversation; but the principal of the matter is the same.

Conversely, if you proved to be a dumb-ass in the past, well, that’s too bad. No one is crazy enough to engage you.

What a concept, huh? Wish CEOs were followed based on Bayesian inference.

My point?

Be a Nantan. Lead by example. If you are doing something that you feel is right then having somebody else “engaged” with you is just a bonus. Conversely, if you start expecting people to “engage” you and they dont (or not as expected) it will be demoralizing at the least and an imputus for something unethical at the worst.

So post daily on your Facebook wall, in discussions, photos, video, etc…Engagement be Damned.

The funny thing about that is that other kids will see you having fun dancing in the rain all by your lonesome and having a blast and will want to join-in.

2. Engage Elsewhere

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could start our own group and everyone who is interested in the topic would immediately join and engage? Alas, reality doesn’t work that way.

There are pockets of niches all over this Intertubes and we need to actively seek them out and engage others on their own turf. Become one of them. Become a member of the tribe.

Show insight and good decision making, (in other words, be a Nantan) and people will follow you back to you turf.

Once others know you as such, you can show them your playground and they will follow you because you have a good track record. (Bayesian inference).

For Jana, I think she needs to be a regular on every LinkedIn group pertaining to Dog Health. Every Facebook group pertaining to Dog Health, and relevant blog sites (like http://www.petmd.com.)

Do you guys have additional suggestions in terms of locales for Jana?

3. Integrate Your Website

Depending on a multitude of factors, you may or may not be able to deliver on this to various extents.  But, if at all possible, your Facebook profile/Group/FanPage… should be integrated into your website.

Also, the opposite is true. Integrate your blog posts (even if you have to post them manually) into your Facebook profile/group/FanPage.

4. Share, Share, Share

I tweet. A LOT. I also repeat my tweets because of the way people use Twitter (as a drive-by platform).

The idea is that if you miss my tweet now, there will be another coming in a few hrs/days. You can automate this using http://Socialoomph.com or http://Twaitter.com or if you own a WordPress blog, use Tweet Old Post plugin.

I know Jana is tweeting about her Group, so this advice is more of an encouragement to do it more often and an advice for the rest of us to do it. Period.

This also brings up an issue of follower expansion

Is it better to have deeper connection with fewer followers OR is it better to have shallow connections with many followers?

The answer is YES.

The depth of the relationship is very important. But no matter the depth, all relationships start out shallow and then deepen with time, trust, reliability, intimacy and credibility.

And just in case you are not quite sold on the importance of large numbers of followers, try to convince religious organizations since the dawn of man that numbers don’t matter.

The reason Hernando Cortez invaded other countries is not only for gold, but also for religious conversion. Of course, that’s only one of many examples but I will spare you.

5. Get Creative

Others may get a different millage from the specific examples used, but everyone can stand to be more creative. For Jana, I would recommend the following.

  • Interview the experts.

Dog Health is a perfect topic for a visit to a local vet, a nice sit-down in front of a video camera and a conversations regarding common issues the vet encounters on daily basis.

Can’t find a local expert? Well, that just means you’re not being creative enough :-)

  • Try a vet who is active in Social Media. What? He’s not local? Fine. Do a Skype interview (might need additional software to capture video).

Back in 2009, a buddy of mine and I did a Skype interview with the motorcycle legend David Hough. Check it out. Since then I’ve done many such interviews, links to which I will provide below.

Bonus: Get a Friend to Write a Post About You :-)

Being part of the tribe means you have others to rely on.

Jana asked a simple question to which I decided to give not only an elaborate answer, but also share that answer with others who might find the information valuable.

This is an example of the situation in which everybody wins.

  • I got much needed inspiration to write a yet another post.
  • Jana gets much needed advice and little bit of publicity.
  • And you my dear reader, get to be a fly on the wall during all this; and perhaps you even get to use some of this advice in your own Social Media jungle.

And we all had fun which is really the only important part.

What Facebook engagement strategy has worked for you?

Podcasts with amazing people:

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi :-)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/MorganBarnhart Morgan Barnhart

    Hi Dino!

    Getting a friend to comment about you can be REALLY powerful. Getting anyone to talk about you in general is a great technique.

    I love the part about getting creative. Post some pics, create a video, do something out of the norm! Good stuff!

    Thanks for this! :)

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Thnx Morgan…great voiceover stuff btw…what a range :-)

  • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

    Nothing gets people out on the dance floor at wedding quite like seeing someone else do it. Breaking the ice is the hardest part. I agree with your advice here, Dino, and your other tips are equally fantastic. #4 is something I hadn’t considered, but I am now … considering … it.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Hey bro, thats so true. Just start dancing lol. I really like Tweet Old Post to send out tweets about article already published (instead of using socialoomph or twaitter). Its a great lil plugin tat made my life so much easier.

      • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

        Just implemented it for my company’s blog and I’ll see how it goes. It’ll be nice to automate that part of it and then focus on sharing other people’s stuff exclusively when I’m manning the station.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Dino,

    Your #1 strategy all the way.

    Engagement usually happens when you don’t try to engage. Ask a question and let it go. Trying too much kills the conversation for force negates.

    Conversations happen when you choose to start conversations on a daily basis. Make it a habit and fellow chatters eventually show up.

    One tip: engage on other’s profiles. Add your take without doing a drive-by. Put some thought into your responses and others tend to engage on your profile.

    Thanks for sharing your insight Dino.

    RB

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Agreed. Image leaving a comment someplace else that prompts someone who’s never heard of you before to look at your blog/group/whatev …its got to be one bad ass comment…and why would you even leave anything else anyways?

      So I totally agree, dude. And thnx for sharing this on your FB wall…

      You live in Plainfield, ey? We’re practically neighbors :-)

  • http://elevationlife.com Bryan Thompson

    Dino, great post. I saw this post title and suddenly realized, “I haven’t had much luck with getting interaction on my Facebook page. I think a big part of the problem is that, for most people, the Facebook page (and Twitter unfortunately) is an afterthought. Most people see Facebook pages as “something other businesses and websites have, so I guess I need one too.”

    It’s kind of like Seth Godin’s rants that most businesses use marketing and advertising as an afterthought to their product. instead, companies should be weaving marketing and advertising-worthy stuff INTO the creation and very design of their product. Our websites should do the same. This is one of those “Get Creative” approaches that I JUST now thought of. Thanks for making me think.

  • http://twitter.com/joannaciolek Joanna Ciolek

    Tweet Old Post is a great plugin – it does a beautiful job of keeping those archived posts fresh and in front of your followers. Great story-telling Dino!

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      That little plugin has saved me so much time and has brought in some amazing people to my website. Thnx reg the story telling bit, I fancy myself somewhat of a campfire favorite lol

  • http://www.montrealfinancial.ca/blog ronika

    Love the Cortez/Apache story. I imagine in addition to leading by example, which is so important, there is much to learn from them.
    (Sadly, I am unable to think of any relevant factoids)

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      I might be able to assist with that :-) You may have heard of L5 leadership. Or leaderless leadership. Or any number of similar buzz words thrown around these days in biz circles. Well, this L5 leadership is something Apaches implemented way back then.

      So the leadership pendulum is swinging the way of nantans :-)

      Theres your example :-)

  • Anonymous

    For #2 (Engage Elsewhere), I would also suggest getting an account on Disqus and maybe IntenseDebate. Follow some bloggers in your field of interest. Check in every couple of days and see which blogs they are commenting on… Join the conversation on those blogs. Your comments may lead a few of them to your Disqus profile and your blog.

    And that’s what I just did!

    (Same goes for any blog that interests you. But doing it with Disqus/Intensedebate makes it easier to keep track of people you want to follow).

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      My incongruency detected is having a meltdown. I agree with what you said but your disqus profile is severely lacking in info…anyways, thnx for the suggestion, I think thats a wonderful idea.

      • http://www.fitzternet.com John Fitzgerald

        UGH. Sorry about that! Totally forgot to put ANYTHING on my profile.

        It’s all better now. Thanks for pointing it out!

        • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

          Much better…and now you’re being stalked on DisqUs. :-)

  • http://bigfishtopdogs.com Theresa Bradley-Banta

    Wow Dino, this is a great post. These how to articles can take on a life of their own… I just wanted to acknowledge you for the time you devoted to this post and for the information you gave so freely here. :) Thank you. I’ve been thinking of re-tweeting old posts and, no kidding, just mentioned this to a fellow blogger friend yesterday. Now I know a good plugin and I get to share!

    I also loved the mental picture you created of someone dancing in the rain… alone. Nice one.

    I started a new Facebook strategy today. Seriously. Today. I auto post to my fan page, but now I plan to go in and include a little conversational piece, or introduction, to the post. I think people are turned off by anything that is automated and it is definitely not cool if that’s all you do. We’ll see how it goes. I expect positive results.

    Thanks for the post, learned a lot.
    ~Theresa

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Thnx Theresa, automation gets a bad name because thats ALL some people do. The way i see it more I automate, more times it gives me to actually spend one on one time with interesting people.

  • http://www.itinerantentrepreneur.com/journal/ Robert Dempsey

    Facebook…what a joke…or not. I just created a FB page for my site after much internal deliberation, which outwardly would appear to most like an Asian parlimentary session, complete with chair throwing. To get the ball rolling I offered a trade to my the awesome peeps on my email list – free SEO/Conversion Analysis for liking my site. I’ve been taken up on the offer by a few, and some people joined cause they like what I’m laying down. Either way I’m happy to dance in the rain by myself, but it’s more fun with others.

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      I’m happy to dance in the rain by myself, but it’s more fun with others. ~ @rdempsey #awsomequoteoftheday :-)

  • http://www.VideoBIO.com Laurinda Shaver

    I think the theme of your piece is… you can’t do it alone.  Makes me think of the U2 song, “Sometimes you can’t make it on your own”.  I think the number one flaw most people make is that that its all about them.  It isn’t.  Its about a team, a group, a tribe.  Share and help and you will organically receive in return.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Dino!  Like the review of tactics to really create a better community gain a larger following not just necessarily to spark a conversation on FB.

    I a relative newbie in that although my blog is 9 mos old, it wasn’t until 2 months ago that I started to implement many of these tactics. Signed up for Hoot Suite, Triberr (@fitzternet:disqus
    via invite from John Falchetto), and added tweet old post along with comment luv yesterday.  A lot for one day.  Now to interview experts and or be interviewed!

    Thanks for the Post and for Triberr!
    Rajka “Ryka”

  • http://twitter.com/weforgotyounot Betsy Cross

    Dino,
    I’m sitting here thinking and reading and taking it all in and all I can say is I’m still in that blissful stage of naivete and ignorance! What fun to not know the rules and to just jump in and “dance”! I’m pretty sure I’m a huge bother (in a good way!) to some people. But it’s all fun. 
    Betsy

    • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

      Amen, sister Betsy…amen :-) Rules are meant to be broken, so break them.

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