If you have ever used social media on behalf of an organization, then I am sure you have wondered how to create meaningful online dialogue with engaged users. I recently began hosting social media in my professional career, and are slowly figuring this out myself. Here is my relatively novice theory:
Hosting a Facebook page is like hosting a cocktail party.
When you are the person monitoring and engaging with an online community, you truly are the host. You have invited the community members into your space, and therefore it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure everyone enjoys themselves and takes away what they were looking for. The online community members are the guests, however unlike at a traditional cocktail party, they typically aren’t looking for wine and hors d’oeuvres (but don’t fret as we can still indulge outside of our 9-5 hours). Rather, online community guests are looking for information, entertainment or support.
The first step in hosting a successful Facebook page is much like the first step to hosting a successful party – invite the right people. This is not an invitation to be cliquey – no one likes those hosts anyways – but it is crucial to invite people who have something in common. Identify what the primary goal of your Facebook page is, and make that clear so those who join your forum have reasonable expectations of what they will find there.
Next, much like a good host, you want to ensure your guests have entered an environment that encourages mingling. You don’t invite 20 people to a party to sit there quietly waiting their turn for you to engage them directly, right? Encourage group discussion! Ask questions that everyone can answer, and hopefully you will be able to spark conversations – your guests need to be able to chit chat and entertain themselves while you’re in the kitchen. In my opinion, the best parties are the ones when you forget that you were all relative strangers only an hour ago. This is the type of online community you want to foster as an ‘e-host’.
Lastly, remember that much like hosting a party, the true determination of success is whether or nor your guests have enjoyed themselves. This is not about you shamelessly promoting your amazing hosting duties (although I’m sure they are top-notch), and rather this is about your guests fulfillment. Connect like-minded individuals, promote thoughtful and informative conversation, encourage a safe and respectful environment, and focus on topics that garner the most interest from your online community members – even if that means scratching your last brilliant hosting idea to simply go with the flow and follow your guests lead.
If you can put a check mark beside the items listed above, then you’re off to the races and will hopefully have the stats to prove it. Have more insight on hosting social media? Feel free to share – I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!
Follow Liz on Twitter: @lizsauve