This post is based on episode 183 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Do readers engage with your Facebook page?
A lot of people spend time on Facebook. And as bloggers, it makes sense that we want to reach them.
Unfortunately, it’s increasingly difficult to grow your audience using Facebook – especially if you don’t have the budget to boost posts or advertise.
But you can still use Facebook effectively without spending any money.
One thing that helps a lot is to build engagement with your existing followers. This will prompt Facebook to show your posts more widely.
Why Engagement Matters So Much – And What it Looks Like
As well as signalling to Facebook that people like what you’re posting (and that it should show your posts to more of your followers), high levels of engagement also mean:
- your readers will know you’re interested in them as people, and that you want to build a relationship with them
- you’ll build social proof. If someone stumbles across your Facebook page and sees you’re engaging with your readers (and they’re engaging with you), they’re more likely to want to join in.
You can get several different types of engagement, including:
- People liking your Facebook page
- People reacting to your updates on Facebook (e.g. like, love, laugh, wow, sad, angry)
- People sharing your posts with their followers, or in another page or group
- People commenting on your posts.
The one I like best is the comment. When readers leave comments, it gives you an opportunity to learn more about them. They’re not just going for the easy option of clicking “like”. They’re putting themselves out there and responding to your post.
This post is all about getting more comments on your Facebook page. And the most effective way I’ve found to do that (and not just on Facebook, but also on blog posts and any kind of social media) is to ask questions.
That sounds obvious, right? But I’m amazed how many of the pages I follow never ask questions. They never take the opportunity to get me commenting and engaging with them.
If you want to grow an audience of people who feel like they know, like and trust you, then you need to ask questions. But not just any questions. You need to ask the right types of questions.
Nine Types of Question You Can Ask On Your Facebook Page
#1: “Fill in the Blank” Question
This is a really easy (and often very effective) type of question to ask. Here’s a question I asked on the Digital Photography School Facebook page:
The lens attached to my main camera right now is _______.
For a blog such as ProBlogger I might ask:
My first blogging platform was __________.
And for a food blog you might ask something like:
The word that describes my approach to diet is ____________.
My favourite comfort food is _______________.
The beauty of this type of question is that it’s incredibly simple for someone to answer. They just have to leave one word.
Asking a “fill in the blank” question is often a good way to get someone to leave their first comment – especially if they’ve been following your page for a while without commenting.
#2: “This vs That” Question
With this type of question, you get your followers to choose one of two options. It might be something like “Are you a cat or a dog person?”
On Digital Photography School we might ask, “Do you prefer Nikon or Canon?” or “Do you post-process your photos or not?”
You can also use this for a yes/no question such as, “Do you exercise daily? Yes or no”.
Be careful if your question is likely to spark a lively debate. We don’t ask about Nikon vs Canon too often because it can end up getting a bit negative. (Some people have very strong views about the brand they prefer.)
#3: Question from a Reader
This is a technique one of my online friends Samantha Jockel from School Mum uses. She’ll write a post like this:
These questions (which always start with “A School Mum asks”) are sometimes funny, sometimes start debates, and sometimes offer a way in to more controversial topics. And they often get a lot of comments.
If you don’t have any questions from readers, you might be able to create some by digging into:
- comments on your blog
- comments left on your Facebook page
- emails you’ve received.
#4: “Biggest Problems” Question
While asking your readers to share their biggest problems, challenges, obstacles or even fears might seem a bit negative, you’ll be surprised what comes out in the discussion.
You can ask fairly specific things. For instance, on a parenting page there might be questions such as:
- What’s your biggest fear as a parent?
- What’s your biggest challenge at the moment in raising boys?
- What’s the biggest problem you have in the area of discipline?
These types of questions help you understand who’s following your page. They can also inform future pieces of content for your blog.
You may also find people mentioning problems you’ve written about in the past. You can reply to them and say, “Here’s an article with some tips on how to overcome that challenge”, and drive people back to your archives.
#5: “Dreams” Question
This is the flipside of #4. Ask people about their dreams and aspirations. It helps you understand not only what your readers are going through right now, but also what they want to do or become.
Again, you can use readers’ responses to create content that helps them move toward the dreams they have.
People love to talk about their dreams, ambitions and hopes for their future. So this type of question often gets a lot of comments.
#6: “Tips” Question
Although people are coming to your Facebook page to learn from you, the reality is that in any community there’s a lot of collective wisdom.
With this type of question you can say, “I want to hear from you today with your tips” about a particular area.
You may not get as many responses to this type of question as you would to a “fill in the blanks” question. But the responses will be deeper, longer, and more useful. They’ll be valuable both to you and your other readers.
And if you get permission from those who comment (which you can do by mentioning you plan on using some responses in a future blog post), you can also turn these answers into content for your blog. Just make sure you give credit to the people who left those comments.
#7: “Share a Photo” Question
While this won’t work for every type of site, asking readers to share a photo (or video) can be relevant to many Facebook pages.
We do this a lot on Digital Photography School, where we might ask people to upload their best portrait or landscape from the previous month. The result? A long list of photos, with many people not even leaving a comment.
This could work on many other types of blogs. Here are some I’ve seen.
- Parenting blogger – “Show us a favourite piece of art from one of your kids.”
- Food blogger – “Show us the last picture you took of food on your phone.”
- Fashion blogger – “Show us your favourite pair of shoes.”
- Technology blogger – “Show us everything you have in your laptop bag.”
Again, you may not get as many comments as you would with other types of questions. But you’ll likely get some really interesting ones.
#8: “Accountability” Question
You’ll find this type of question used in a lot of Facebook groups, where they ask things like, “What’s your biggest goal of the week?” or “What do you want to achieve this week?”
This can be a great way to get engagement because it gives you the opportunity to respond to readers later in the week.
I left a comment on a post like this on a Monday. On the Friday the blogger left a reply to every single comment that mentioned a goal, asking, “How did you go with…?”
I hadn’t completed my goal. But I got it done about ten minutes after he left that comment. I was really grateful that blogger took the time to keep me accountable. And I know I’ll be going back to that page.
If your page involves people trying to build a habit, learn something or become something, you could ask this type of question and then come back to encourage them and help build some accountability.
#9: Question About a Blog Post
When you share a link to a blog post you’ve written, you can add a question. This can encourage readers to read your post as well as comment.
For instance, one post I shared a while back on Digital Photography School was The 19 Most Popular Compact System and Mirrorless Cameras With Our Readers.
As well as posting the link to Facebook (which automatically pulled in the title and image from the post), I added a question: “Do you use one of these popular compact camera systems?”
My goal was to get people reading that blog post. But I also got lots of people answering the question. We don’t normally get many comments on our links to blog posts, but in this case 23 people answered the question. That particular Facebook post also had a higher-than-average reach.
Hopefully you’ve already tried some of these types of questions on your Facebook page. The key is to get into the habit of asking questions regularly, and mixing up the types of questions you use.
Final Tips for Using Questions on Your Facebook Page
Finally, here are some things to keep in mind when asking questions on your Facebook page:
#1: Stay On Topic
Make sure your questions relate to your topic. Occasional off-topic questions can help build engagement, but don’t do it too regularly or readers may feel your page topic is getting lost.
#2: Consider Using an Image
Using an image helps your question stand out in people’s newsfeeds. It could be a plain image, or an image that includes the question text. Spending a minute or two doing this can really boost engagement.
#3: Consider Using Facebook Live
Facebook Lives get more reach than other types of post. So you may want to go on Facebook live and ask your readers a question. Once your live video is over, it will appear in people’s Facebook feeds as a replay.
#4: Time Your Questions Appropriately
Don’t ask questions at the wrong time of day. The other day a question popped into my mind, and I shared it at 3.30pm Australian time. That’s the middle of the night in America (where most of my audience is), and my Aussie audience is picking up their kids from school or about to go home from work. Not many of my readers are online at that time of day.
#5: Don’t Ask Too Many Questions
Mix up the types of post that you publish. Share links, videos, pictures, and so on as well as questions. Facebook seems to prefer this, and it’s likely to be better for reader engagement too.
#6: Be as Responsive As You Can
If people answer your question, it’s really nice if they get a response from you. They’ve taken the time to respond to you, so take some time to respond to them. That doesn’t always need to be with a comment. You might use a “like” or other response, particularly if they left a “yes”/“no” or single-word comment.
#7: Be Quite Specific With Your Questions
Don’t be too open ended with your questions. You’re likely to get much better responses if your questions are fairly focused. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to comment, and if your questions are too open ended they may not know how to respond.
I hope this helps you come up with lots of ideas for questions you could ask on your Facebook page to build engagement. Of course, you don’t have to limit your use of questions to Facebook pages. You can use them in Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, on Twitter, or even on your blog.
Seen people using any other types of questions on Facebook or other social media? Let us know about them in the comments.
Image credit: Camylla Battani