Running Your SCCA Region’s Facebook Page
Facebook is a churning sea of multimedia assaulting your followers’ attention. Information sharing has splintered among numerous forums of communication, but Facebook remains most likely to reach your audience. Internet forums, mailed postcards, and even your regional website are frequently neglected and ignored in favor of the Internet’s biggest clearinghouse. Like it or not, you need to be working the Facebook angle and doing it well.
Yeah, it’s big. That’s a lot of activity in one place, so your Facebook posts need to be compelling, graphical, well-timed, and to the point.
Look Like You Know What You’re Doing
Note: the following few paragraphs may be invalid advice due to a change in the way Facebook disallows editing link previews as of July 2017. Facebook’s response to viral “fake news” has placed this limitation on many accounts.
Do not just plug in a URL to and simply post the default picture and description populated by Facebook. Edit the text, change the picture, and make it something readable and unique. Let’s compare.
Plug your MotorsportsReg link into Facebook, and you get the default image and an abstract body of text. Do more with it.
This isn’t anything fancy, but you see the improvements over the default text throw-up. I made an announcement-specific image in the free photo editing application Pixlr, and uploaded that. It’s free, so there’s no excuse not to make an event-specific graphic. The caption below the picture is a personalized call to action (“please pre-register”) and invitation to new faces (“you can do what’s pictured in your car”).
The picture and the description below are what get shared virally, so make sure the important information is contained within. The caption added above the picture further expands on the message. If someone shares, they can add their own personal message here.
If you post to Facebook for any reason, at least include an image. If you reference an event, include a link to registration, too. Don’t make anyone hunt, as they’ll get distracted and forget or not care. Facebook is a graphical medium geared towards a short attention span. Grab them.
Short and Sweet
You have to be succinct on Facebook. Never “use two words when one will do,” as Thomas Jefferson once said. You have a lot to convey — when, where, how much, why, etc. — and little space or attention span to use in posts. If you write a lengthy message, Facebook will hide it beyond a certain threshold of characters with a “Read more…” link. No one wants to click and read your novel to find out about the next event. Users will scan it and skip it before they read your complete thought.
Get followers to click the link to find the full details. The Facebook post is simply the teaser for the meat of your announcement. The goal is visits to your web page, forum announcement, MotorsportReg page, etc.
With varying subtlety, your Facebook posts should often be:
- A call to action. “Sign up today” and “share with your friends.”
- Timely. “Autocross coming up in two weeks.”
- Urgent. “Online registration closes on Friday.”
If you do need to write a novel, publish it to your region’s web site or forums. Then link it to Facebook with a fetching post to get people in the door.
Keep the Lights on
Post regularly. Don’t overdo it with lousy content, though. Share recent pictures during your dry spells between events. Maybe share a “Throwback Thursday” with a classic picture. Post results as soon as you can. Make it look like the lights are on. Use your creativity.
A lot of people are on their smart phone during the day and not used to venturing outside the Facebook sandbox. They may not be visiting your web site or web forums regularly to keep up with your calendar. Advertise events on Facebook a month in advance, then a few weeks out, and then a few times more in the days leading up to it. Don’t be repetitive, but do treat Facebook like it’s some racers’ only source of information and reminders.
Also, a lot of people are accustomed to asking questions via Facebook. Many of these are novices asking the same seemingly dumb things answered on your web site or event description on MotorsportReg. Still, you have to hold their hand and respond in a reasonable time frame. If your editors aren’t logging into Facebook regularly and catching these comments and questions, it makes your program look derelict and unorganized. You need a full-time Facebook person with editing privileges. Even if email is the best way to contact your event chairs and board of directors, you need to have someone interacting as required on Facebook. Even a “we’ll get back to you” or “here’s the email address for the best person to answer that” is better than silence.
Also be aware that some followers post misinformation in the comments of various posts. Best intentions or not, something flat out wrong needs to be corrected tactfully and quickly. For example, one time someone confused us with another region and told all their friends that our upcoming event was canceled. You have to nip that in the bud.
Timing and Scoring
An overlooked feature of a Facebook group is the ability to schedule your posts at a specific date and time. You can generate content at your convenience and put it out there at a more opportune time. The best moment to publish a new post on Facebook varies, depending on who you ask. However, we do know that a post has the most impact while it’s still fresh and not buried under competing content. Expect a large share of the views to happen within the hour it’s posted.
So let’s think about the SCCA demographics and what we offer. We want to target people with cars and free time on weekends. Those folks tend to have a normal regimen of work and school that supports their hobby, and that means fairly usual hours. When are these people idle? When are they looking at a phone or computer screen for fun (or out of boredom)? When are they catching up?
One school of thought is to hit the prime time, weekday evenings. Another idea is to publish off peak hours. Smart money might be to mix it up, and post at alternating hours. MotorsportReg posted some Facebook data, too. Have an event announcement go live in the morning, then a week later make a similar (but differently worded) announcement in the evening.
It’s a Date
Facebook also has an event creation tool, and that’s useful for your upcoming events. Idle surfers can confirm that they are going, or tender a “maybe.” Whether it has any bearing on who actually shows up on race day, it gets your events in front of the eyes of potential entrants in a viral manner. If you join an event on Facebook, a few days in advance it spits out a reminder in your notification drop-down. For people craving Facebook notifications like Pavlov’s dog, this is perfect.
Create a Facebook event for each of your region’s own, and add details and a compelling picture. It’s another opportunity to grab attention. Just be aware that the event is another place for users to comment and ask questions, and that you need someone from the region watching and answering.
Herding Cats and a Progression Plan
Members leave the club on occasion. It happens. Make sure you have multiple local members with full administrative privileges, and a way to hand off control of the page to the next person.
It’s a boon to have multiple editors monitoring and posting to the Facebook page, but they need to be coordinated. Posts from different individuals should be consistent in look and quality. Make sure everyone knows the basics of how the Facebook publishing system works.
Oh, and never like your region’s own posts as the page itself. Before any page editor clicks “like” or makes a comment, Facebook has a small drop-down that lets the editors choose to post as the individual or the name of the Facebook page.
Facebook runs on advertising, and they know their racket. A Facebook feed is a noisy place, and important posts can be obscured by the churn. If you have a particularly important announcement, a few dollars to “boost” a post may be money well spent. Just like printing up fliers or buying a newspaper advertisement, marketing digitally has cost and reward. The exposure pays for itself if you net a few reliable entrants. Talk to your regional board of directors about maintaining such a promotional budget.
But I Don’t Wanna
Yes, Facebook is a corporation that mines our personal data for profit. It’s also an often childish, meme-heavy dumping ground for the lowest common denominator. Still, it’s where the people are, and where your club has to be hitting them. Be an engaged manager of this content.
Facebook is a push-button multimedia platform that makes it simple to hang your shingle on a high-traffic corner of the internet. If you use it well, it will get you attention. Facebook even measures the impact of your posts with free counts and metrics.
The Big Thing for SCCA regions used to be postcards and newsletters, then e-mail and web forums. They are all still valid communication tools that reach a variety of participants, and you need to use everything in your arsenal. However, today the elephant is Facebook. Tomorrow it will probably be something else, but for now get your Facebook presence looking slick and it will pay your club tangible returns.