Using Facebook to get more members on your forum

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
8,071
Shawn Gossman submitted a new Article:

Using Facebook to get more members on your forum

Some of you may be worrying about Facebook bringing a sudden end to message forum communities. Instead of worrying about social media, you should instead embrace it and use it to your community’s advantage. Social networks like Facebook are more of a marketing monster than they are a forum killer. Use it to get members instead of using it to put fear into your administration tactics.

Pages
You should create a page for your forum on Facebook. You can then setup a service like Twitter Feed to automatically post your new topics onto Facebook using the RSS features on your forum. But don’t stop there! You should also manually post on your Facebook page as well and be active on it. Facebook pages are not just creating and go type benefits for message forums. You also want to make sure you are promoting the page like you would your forum.

Other Pages
You can also take advantage of other pages on Facebook that you did not create. A lot of niches have a lot of niche-based pages on Facebook. Like these pages and then click on “Post from others” on the page. You will see that a lot of people link to offsite content. If there are links, then the page owner apparently allows it but to be safe, you should consider asking first before you link your forum. If you are able to link on the page, link to your forum and ask a question related to the forum’s niche to also encourage discussion on the page.

Profile
A lot of my non-webmaster friends have Facebook profiles as I am sure yours do as well. My friends often post status updates on their walls about simple stuff that really doesn’t need to be made public. However, people watch for it and comment on it. So I try to add friends that I know get into message forums and my niches. Then I work on posting links to various posts I make on the forum. The more links that you post, the more of a chance people have to seeing it in their timeline.

Advanced
If you are good at developing applications, Facebook could be your answer. I run a cycling-niche forum myself. I am in the process of making a cycling game as well as a mobile application integrated with Facebook for cyclists. I plan to develop these apps specifically for Facebook in hopes that Facebook users will use them and it will bring more traffic to my forums since the forum will be the official support boards for the...

Read more about this article here...
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Zacky

Aspirant
Joined
Jul 30, 2013
Messages
10
I've certainly found FB to be an excellent tool to generate more interest. I certainly wouldn't say I'm advanced but anyone who knows how to use a computer should be able to get some use out of it.
 

GeorgeB.

............
Joined
May 6, 2004
Messages
3,902
The tiny percentage of your followers that FB allows you to reach for free is not worth the time investment you'd spend building a community -- and it changes on top of that.

They do that on purpose (obviously) because they want you to pay for more exposure and or use FB ads.

I use FB pages for social presence to help with SE rankings. Nothing more.
 

agandl

Fan
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
924
A very interesting article and certainly lots of ideas worth exploring further in terms of using FB as a way of recruiting.

I don't think from my own experience that FB will be the end of Forums. We have been using a FB group to help keep our community together and while a few people love it at least as many have said that they prefer the Forum format while others have remained in email contact and shown no interest in joining the FB group.

It will be interesting to see how people will respond once we have a forum again as we will probably maintain our FB group and see how they work together and find out if there is mutual benefit.

A.
 

dethfire

Habitué
Joined
Jan 17, 2005
Messages
1,021
The tiny percentage of your followers that FB allows you to reach for free is not worth the time investment you'd spend building a community -- and it changes on top of that.

I've been thinking about this lately. I spend hours on social media and looking at the results I'm not sure it's worth it. I post a hot discussion on my page with a nice looking photo and it gets LIKES, shares and comments, but many times it just stops there. Few click the link to find out more. It all kind of stays on FB.
 

gogoblender

shiny happy pantless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
15,307
It all kind of stays on FB.

aaayup

But having presence there is important. Having presence anywhere eyeballs are going is where we want links back to our sites to be.
I use our site facebook page occasionally.
btw, Shawn, I really like the article.
You're asking for effort to be put into the page on facebook, and site owners need to do that at a minimum.

:)

gogo
 

GeorgeB.

............
Joined
May 6, 2004
Messages
3,902
I've been thinking about this lately. I spend hours on social media and looking at the results I'm not sure it's worth it. I post a hot discussion on my page with a nice looking photo and it gets LIKES, shares and comments, but many times it just stops there. Few click the link to find out more. It all kind of stays on FB.

Indeed.

Think about it. You're spending time, money, and resources to build a following on someone elses platform. Then they charge you money to reach your own followers... Even more sad is we're not talking an 80/20 split here where you can reach at least 80% of your fans.

Most estimate it's around 16% but the truth is we don't know because they won't say. It's probably far less and the kicker is they can change it any time they want to and not tell you.

The tables turned a long time ago and all these "social media experts" didn't even notice. FB pages are just a marketing tool to get YOU the page owner do develop a following on the FB platform so they can charge YOU to market to them.

You are far better off building an email list to market to.
 
Last edited:

Sweet Jane

Participant
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Messages
60
Thanks for the great article Shawn, you certainly gave me a few things to think about!

Our forum uses Facebook, but we have members that aren't on Facebook, and have no interest in joining it, due to security issues. We've found that it's really only useful to us for chatting, and posting pictures. Real in-depth discussions are much better on the forum, so we don't fear Facebook taking members from us. The group we have on Facebook is secret, and only members already on our forum are invited to join it, so the opportunity to promote our forum on Facebook seemed to be closed to us.

I really like your suggestion to promote it on other pages. I've somehow been under the impression that it wouldn't be appreciated, but it certainly can't hurt to ask!
 

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
8,071
Thank you for the comments, folks. You have all brought up some good points.
 

JulieVA

Habitué
Joined
Dec 18, 2009
Messages
1,150
In my niche (parenting / family), I have found that Facebook users will not typically leave the Facebook environment to participate in discussion forums.

I agree that a Facebook presence is needed, but don't think it's wise to invest more time in your Facebook page than on building up your forum.

George's comment makes sense:

Think about it. You're spending time, money, and resources to build a following on someone elses platform. Then they charge you money to reach your own followers... Even more sad is we're not talking an 80/20 split here where you can reach at least 80% of your fans.

We have about 2,700 Facebook fans, only a few of them are active community members.

There is a fatherhood blogger that we chat with from time to time. He has over 15,000 Facebook fans and about maybe (on a good day) 50-100 people interact on his Facebook page (respond to his Facebook posts), about 150-200 people "like" his posts but don't commment, & his blog is absolutely DEAD....Not more than 2 comments for each blog post.
 

Moshe1010

Aspirant
Joined
Jun 17, 2013
Messages
21
Facebook is one of the most powerful tools ever invented (even more than Google - YES!). In terms of traffic, Facebook gave me the best results in the shortest time with minimal effort on my hand. Just do it smart.
 

InsightsToHealth

Neophyte
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
8
Yes, Facebook plays an important role in getting right type of traffic and according to me FB is the best way to attract users.
 

Chris001

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 7, 2014
Messages
8
I have a website with patient information of gastrointestinal disorders. Whenever I post one of my articles on facebook, I don't seem to attract visitors. Facebook is not really working for me. Patients who have a problem will google their symptoms or diseases and they will land on my website. Facebook is only for chatting, exchanging photos, and playing games. Oh, and collecting likes, of course... which I never really understood. :D
 

agandl

Fan
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
924
Our FB page gets loads of people 'dropping in' but only a tiny percentage join the forum and some don't even get as far as making a 1st post. If they want help with something every one chips in and does their best and by the next day the thread has disappeared, never to be seen again. If a similar issue had been raised on the forum there would probably have been more input and multi-way conversation and it would have been there for people to add and refer to afterwards. Lovely people on FB but casual - I agree with those who have said you need it but not to invest too much in it
 

Dubbed Navigator

Adherent
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
388
I dont think the power of facebook should be ignored. A year or so back I was helping out admin another forum, and the manager of it launched a facebook group to act as a "shop window"

I was deeply opposed to this, as I thought it would just swallow the traffic and most users wouldnt bother with the forum.

I wasnt completely incorrect with this sceptisism, however it without a doubt did drive more traffic to the forum.

I have actually created such a group, and a page for my current forum. Something I was still opposed to when I launched it.

The group is something for people who dont like forums very much, and still acts as something to get our name out there

The page is something I have actually started to use today to act as a conduit for an RSS feed of my main index page.

I dont spend too much time on them however, as mentioned further up I think its important not to.
 

Rudy

Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 18, 2004
Messages
208
Think about it. You're spending time, money, and resources to build a following on someone elses platform. Then they charge you money to reach your own followers... Even more sad is we're not talking an 80/20 split here where you can reach at least 80% of your fans.

Most estimate it's around 16% but the truth is we don't know because they won't say. It's probably far less and the kicker is they can change it any time they want to and not tell you.

The tables turned a long time ago and all these "social media experts" didn't even notice. FB pages are just a marketing tool to get YOU the page owner do develop a following on the FB platform so they can charge YOU to market to them.

See, that is the major problem with doing any sort of page on fb these days. When I created our pages (for various forums), we were reaching everyone who followed those pages. Now, as you say, it's only a small fraction. So even if our forums or blogs autopost new threads or posts, very few get notice. And many of those who "like" these pages often return so infrequently that by the time something important has been posted, maybe 80% or more have missed out on this timely information.

I also agree about these so-called "experts" who harp on us all day about avoiding social media...have they ever even noticed this about fb's pages? Pretty poor use of time if you're reaching that 16% (which, by the way, I've also seen myself as the estimate of the reach of pages). My tactic these days is simply to create a page, tell folks what the site is about, and specifically point them back to the site for all interactions. I cannot control whether or not they decide to sign up, but at least I have it out there.

In fact, my overall strategy for social media is to use it ONLY to drive traffic back to the web site, whether it's a shopping site, a blog, a forum, whatever. I never do any exclusive contests, giveaways or news postings on social media. To exclude those who do not belong to the chosen social media network a contest or giveaway is just wrong, and bad for business. And businesses (and social media experts) need to get it out of their heads that "everyone" belongs to fb. Got news for 'em: not "everyone" does. (fb is the new AOL, and not "everyone" belonged to that either.) Exclude me from your contest because it's fb only and I will not only avoid your business, I will tell others as well, how some of us are being shut out from a promotion. This is how social media can quickly backfire under a poorly executed strategy. For driving traffic to a site, it is essential to use social media...but never be exclusive.

Sad thing is, the game changes so much that we can post about the current state of fb/Twitter/G+/Pinterest today, and be out of date a month later. Things have changed much even since this thread was started! :)

In my niche (parenting / family), I have found that Facebook users will not typically leave the Facebook environment to participate in discussion forums.

I agree that a Facebook presence is needed, but don't think it's wise to invest more time in your Facebook page than on building up your forum.

Agreed. One of the busier forums I have a page for has 1) little activity from our forum regulars and 2) a handful of discussions or questions that went largely unanswered. It's very clear on that page where we specifically recommend anyone visit the forum, even going so far as to say our staff does not monitor the page any further. (And that makes me wonder about the average intelligence of the average fb user.)

Our FB page gets loads of people 'dropping in' but only a tiny percentage join the forum and some don't even get as far as making a 1st post.

That is our experience also. I get the feeling some fb members only feel safe inside of fb, and are afraid to venture out.
 

JulieVA

Habitué
Joined
Dec 18, 2009
Messages
1,150
Ok... so I have almost 6,000 real FB users. I stand by my original statement: FB users do not typically leave FB to participate @ other sites.

They want quick & easy interactions that don't require a lot of thought.

To get more FB followers I post pics & memes - some related to parenting, others are related to relationships, mental health, and self care.

See for yourself: www.Facebook.com/OurParentingSpot.
 
Top