Here on the Missinglettr blog, I think we talk an awful lot about blogging. But what about some other free ways to engage with your audience? Let’s talk about hosting a Facebook chat.
If you host a Facebook group or have a Facebook page for your business, setting up a chat is easy and free. However, keeping your members engaged and interested is a bit more challenging, though with some planning you can make your Facebook event a breeze.
Preparing for the chat
- Set a date. Choose a date and time that your audience is most likely to be available to participate. Setting up your event during business hours may not work if you aren’t holding an event that will discuss something that will benefit their business. In my case, I am a novelist, so holding my Facebook chats in the evenings would make the most sense. I prefer to choose a time that my audience isn’t for instance, in the middle of dinner or commuting. I would rather pick 8 PM, as by then most of my participants are likely to be lounging on the couch watching TV. They can easily join my chat with a tablet or smartphone.
- Now that you’ve planned the date for your Facebook chat, create an event on Facebook and invite everyone you know. Copy the link for the chat and tweet it too. Tweet it more than once. WAY more than once.
- Post the event numerous times leading up to it, as a reminder for people to attend. Are you planning on holding a competition or giving away freebies? Talk about that in your posts and show a picture of it. For mine, I like to give away a signed copy of my book. Depending on how long the event is, I might give away ebook copies, or even low dollar amount gift cards for places like Starbucks.
Plan Your Content
Make a plan for what you want to talk about. You should not be winging it during your event. You will chat to your participants, just like if they came to a party at your home. When is the last time you invited someone to your home and ignored them? Never, right? Well, this is kind of the same thing. When you invite people to chat with you at a Facebook event, then you need to talk to them about something.
Make a list of all the things you can possibly talk about that relate to the topic of your chat. For me, my book is about a couple that has an 80s metal band move into their home while the band records their comeback album. So right there I can talk about my book, who my characters are and what personality traits they have. I can also talk about the place where the characters live. In my case it’s Rhode Island, USA. I can also talk about 80s rock, which so many people can relate to. Also think of trivia you can use to add into the conversation. Google is very helpful to find some interesting and fun facts.
Now that you’ve made a list of ideas, facts, trivia questions, it’s time to make a schedule. Open up a word document on your computer and list out the times during your chat that you want to create a post. Start with an introduction, and explain the purpose of the event. Write out every post on your schedule, so that you can easily copy and paste it into your event. For example: 7:00 Thank you for attending my Facebook party about Beside the Music. Tonight we’re going to talk about the book. The book has an 80s rock angle, so we’re also going to talk about 80s music. At the end of the hour I’ll do a trivia question, and give away a signed copy of Beside the Music to the first person to answer correctly.
On your word document set up a schedule and write your posts on the schedule. Make sure you’re planning on posting every few minutes to keep your participants engaged. Ask them questions. For example, I might ask “What is your favorite 80s metal song that gets you so pumped up that you feel like you can accomplish anything?”
During Your Facebook Chat
The most important reason why you would want to lay out a schedule is that you’ll be busy interacting with your guests. During your Facebook chat, your fingers are going to fly on your keyboard. Because you need to respond to every single thing your participants say to you. Every single comment needs engagement from you as the host. This is why pasting in your scheduled posts will help you to keep the party moving. Pay attention to the notifications that Facebook sends to you about comments to your posts, use them to keep track of which comments by your guests need your attention.
Remember, you are hosting party. Even though it’s a party that’s online, you are still the host and your guests need to feel welcome, and they need to be made to feel like their comments on the chat are important enough to elicit a response from you. Thank them for their comment, respond to their question, make a joke, or even say something like “Yes, I agree, that is interesting.”
Ending Your Facebook Chat
At the end of your chat there are two things you need to do. The most important one is to thank your guests for taking the time to attend and engage with you. Even though it’s a chat on Facebook, that is no excuse to forget your manners. The second thing you need to do is to create a call to action. For me, I will post a link to where the guests may buy my book and how to follow me on social media.
Done right, a Facebook chat can be just the thing to get your audience to learn more about you and what you offer. If you plan and make it fun, you just might attract a few new fans.