Over the last three years I’ve had the pleasure to manage the university’s Facebook page. At first, in 2007, it was more of a clandestine project (social media in large institutions can be a scary phrase). But by the time I left it was a space we actively managed and supported. At last count there were just over 3600 fans. Starting from scratch with almost no budget and little dedicated support we managed to build a fairly large and active community. It’s not tens of thousands of fans, but it’s one of the larger pages in Saskatchewan.

Provided are a few of my key takeaways from my experience.

1. Facebook drives traffic

One of the things I am diligent about is ensuring that I can track every link that I post on the internet. I want to know click rates and where people are clicking from. And, on our Facebook page I noticed the largest click rates among all other forms of e-communication. Greater than both email and Twitter. Typically a really great post would receive well over 3500 impressions and over 500 clicks. This is roughly a 14% conversion rate. Facebook can be a powerful tool for driving traffic.

2. Fans will let you know what’s wrong or right

I love using social media as the feedback loop is almost instantaneous. If you tweet or post on Facebook and your fans aren’t interested in what you posted they will let you know. Either they’ll simply ignore you or, worse yet, they may decide to ‘unlike’.  Be diligent about tracking what’s happening on each post and really ‘listen’ to what your fans are telling you.  Check your ‘Interactions dashboard’. Additional ‘likes and ‘comments’ mean your doing well. ‘Unsubscribes’…not so well.

3. Post only the best

Many who are new to Facebook management forget that Facebook’s edgerank algorithm is continuously monitoring post content for relevancy/interest and then adapting the information shown on individual user’s walls to ensure that only the most relevant content appears. Simply put, Facebook moves uninteresting content to the bottom of the pile. If you post on your wall and nobody interacts on your post (through comments or likes) then your page gets a lower edgerank. If this happens repeatedly, eventually your page posts will stop showing up in your fan’s individual news streams altogether except for those few who did interact. So, the trick is to ensure that you critically evaluate your posts and ask yourself, ‘will people really find this interesting or worth sharing?’. If you are unsure of the answer then stop what you are doing and wait until you can answer that question affirmatively.

4. Not all fans are created equal

There is a strong connection between the quality of fans you have on your page and the amount that they will interact with you. And, because of edgerank you want to ensure that your page is filled with quality fans who are interested in what you have to say. Lest your page will end up in social media purgatory.

Although you may have filled your page with your personal friends to get the page off the ground you’ll eventually want to get them to leave your page as you replace them with those who are more interested in your topic or organization. For example, if you like to talk about the marketing industry (which I do) and your page is filled with 80% of your friends and they aren’t fellow marketers, edgerank is going to punish you and you’ll show up less and less as the percentage of folks interested versus the size of your fan base is quite small. Instead you need to focus on building higher quality fans who are more likely to comment or interact with your posts.

5. Don’t over do it

People are faced with information overload. Everyday they log into Facebook there wall has 150+ recent updates and on Twitter they’ve seen literally thousands of tweets fly by during an hour. Realize that the last thing people are waiting for is another post from your Facebook page. Unless it’s really awesome. It’ll take you a while to get the timing right for your audience. Start by being cautious – post once a week – and then watch your data and adjust accordingly.

Bonus tip: Photos, Photos and more Photos

People love photos. It’s human nature. The photos we would post on the university’s page were always the most shared, liked and commented on. So make sure that you post lots of photos. Photos of your events. Photos of your staff. Photos of your travels. The more interesting the better.

Bonus tip two: Celebrate with your fans

Times of celebration are key opportunities to engage with your fans. Even if it’s a bit off topic. If the local sports team just won the championship, post a congratulatory message. These posts are golden.