02/26/2013 05:31 EST | Updated 04/28/2013 05:12 EDT

Why My Mom Is a Better Community Manager Than You

So, this was embarrassing. My firm manages the social media presences for a number of clients. I was pretty proud of our track record and rightly so. And then I looked at my mom's little upstart hobby page. And I was immediately humbled. So I asked her a few questions.

People use rge computers at a computer shop in central London, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. UK Lawyers say the mounting tally of those arrested and convicted of making offensive comments through social media, shows the problems of a legal system trying to regulate 21st-century communications with 20th century laws. Civil libertarians say it is a threat to free speech in an age when the internet gives everyone the power to be heard around the world. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

So, this was embarrassing. My firm manages the social media presences for a number of clients, helping build their fan base, drive higher engagement, and grow the community.

I was pretty proud of our track record and rightly so -- after four months of managing one of our clients' Facebook presence, their fans jumped 70 per cent, we more than doubled our reach, and quadrupled the number of viral shares.

And then I looked at my mom's little upstart hobby page. And I was immediately humbled.

My mom (@soulistry on Twitter), a retired Anglican priest, runs art-and-spirituality workshops out of her home studio. They're very popular on Vancouver Island (where she lives) and beyond. She's even had a book published carrying the Soulistry concept beyond the workshops and retreats.

Three years ago, I mentioned she should start a Facebook page to try to sell more books. She did -- And in that time, she has developed a following of about 700 fans.

But, like most things in social media, it's not the fan-count that matters, it's how engaged the audience is.

My mom's engagement levels are off the chart. (When I say off the chart, I mean it. Of the 15 or so Facebook pages my firm manages, my mom's Page engagement rate was more than double that of our best Page -- which, for the record, was a major urban shopping centre.)

So I asked her a few questions.

The Interview:

First, congratulations on your success. Now knock it off. You're making me look bad.

Sorry, no can do. ;-)

What is your Page about?

The Soulistry (neologism for soul-artistry) Facebook page has a three-fold mission:

  • Encourage people to encounter the soul-essence of life in new ways and to connect spirituality & creativity
  • Market Soulistry -- Artistry of the Soul book (paperback & ebook) as well as Soulistry retreats & workshops
  • Promote web site

Who are your fans?

  • Writers: Bloggers, journal writers, poets, authors, burgeoning writers
  • Creatives: Artists, imagineers, calligraphers, hobbyists
  • Quote-Collectors: People on a spiritual journey/interested in spirituality

What kind of content do you find generates the most engagement?

Three types: Content that is encouraging / spiritually nourishing / thought-provoking. Then, images. And then questions ('Soul-Questions')  that connect content and image.

Have you ever posted something that people really hated?

I don't just post for the sake of posting. Each post intentionally focuses on one of the three parts of Soulistry's mission. Besides, I wouldn't post anything I wouldn't read or anything that I wouldn't find spiritually-nurturing or challenging, so, nope.

If you were starting out brand new today, what one thing would you do differently?

I'm in the process of launching a new Facebook page ("Celebrating Women Writers") and have been asking myself that very question. What I'm doing differently this time is simply a matter of wanting to make "something good, even better."

When I created the Soulistry page, I didn't do any of these at the beginning. I just let the page evolve. Now, I am intentional about following these steps with Soulistry and am focused on doing them with the Celebrating Women Writers FB page.

Hopefully, by doing so, the Celebrating Women Writers page will find an audience and have an equally-good (or even better) response than Soulistry is experiencing. And eventually the goal is that the page will lead to the creation of a linked-website (domain is already purchased and goals for the website are in place).

Here are six things I'm doing this time with the birth "Celebrating Women Writers" FB page that I didn't do at the launch of the Soulistry Facebook Page:

  1. Think "kairos" not "chronos"; go slowly & let the reputation evolve.
  2. Have an end goal or least some objectives in place before launching the FB page
  3. Be proactive: continually tell new FB friends about the page and encourage the sharing of your posts by FB friends
  4. Share (cross-post) when and where appropriate.
  5. Close the post with a question for fans to consider.
  6. Incorporate a photo with each post

An aside... I was including photos and questions from time to time, but not with any sense of intentionality. When I went to one of your workshops, I learned how vital they are in the development of a FB page so, questions are more frequent in each post and every post has an accompanying photo.

Lessons Learned: Audiences, Goals, and Time

The two most important takeaways, I think, are that she is laser-focused on working toward her three primary goals (inspire people, sell more books, promote her web site) and understands her audiences in sharply defined segments. Rather than just saying "My audience is writers," she defines the specific kinds of authors she wants to reach. She's not just going after "creative people," she's defining the kind of creative outlets those people like best.

And, perhaps the most important lesson she's learned -- these things take time. You can't just put up a page and expect results immediately. Revel in steady, consistent growth.