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Speaking in an Empty Room

I was consulting with a potential client yesterday and started looking at their Facebook and Twitter pages. Once a day, every day, they would post a question that had very little to do with anything at all. "What was the last movie you watched?"

Once a day, every day, they wouldn't get a response from anyone. It was awkward in a social media way. There was no engagement. The reason was easy to find - their 3000+ Facebook fans had not been engaged with their page for a long time (meaning that nobody was seeing their posts in their news feeds) and their Twitter profile had 40 followers.

"I've heard you say that questions drive engagement," she told me as I started pointing out the challenges. She was correct - I have said that many times before and it's true. The problem is that questions do not work if nobody is listening and they're not the right way to get people to listen.

I don't envy her. She took over a Facebook page that had been getting updated by RSS feeds for over a year and a Twitter account that was autoposted from Facebook. The remaining followers and fans were spam bots. Nobody was listening. It was an empty room.

There's an old saying that says, "fake it 'til you make it" and that applies in this type of situation. There are still people who will visit the profiles because they show up in search and are linked from the website, so one still has to post quality content during the rebuilding period (stage one in our three stage process), but questions aren't the answer (pun intended). At this stage, it's important to show those who do visit the pages that you're posting quality content, but you don't want to highlight the fact that nobody is paying attention at that point.

Statements, facts, pictures, videos, and occasional links work best at this point. Through ads and engagement-driving posts, you'll be able to get your following back up and engaged. Once that happens and you're on to stage two, it's time to start asking questions again. Until then, avoid them.

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