How to write good facebook updates as a startup

I am a fan of Scobles Startup List on Facebook. Updates from over 2000 startups and new ones are added daily. I believe it is the best way to get all news directly from the startups right now. Unfiltered (at least if read directly on the list and not in the newsfeed) and always up to date. But there is a problem. Many startups suck at writing good facebook updates. They aren’t journalists and I don’t expect them to write great essays, but I expect relevant updates when following them. Scoble thinks about creating a separate list only with the best ones. 

Many startups fall for the numbers. And/or copy what others do. Engagement is important as it will help startups to be more visible in the news feed of their fans. But engagement alone won’t build their brand and with bad updates they may even drive away their most relevant audience.

Here are some rough guidelines what kind of updates I expect from startups on Facebook. If you prefer images: a Pinterest board with good examples and another with bad ones.

Great Updates

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Original content is the main reason I liked your page. Stuff I can’t get anywhere else. You are the first one to post it. 

News about the startup
It’s the startup I am interested in anyway. Write about new partnerships, when you are looking for funding or a new team member (the most fitting people often are already fans). Post photos of your office, merchandise or ideas for a new logo. Give your fans news about new stuff before anyone else. They are your fans. Your users. Your most valuable assets. If you write relevant updates bloggers and journalists will follow them and maybe pick them up as a story. If there is something going on at your startup let them know. 

Product
New features? A guide how to use it better? Feedback from your users? Best practices? Ideas for future updates? Yes, yes, yes! A Facebook page can be the ideal place to let your users know about new things they can do with your startup. You can reach active and inactive users. You can even reach people haven’t signed up yet but find you interesting. And all of their contacts. Every improvement of your product may bring them to sign up, or come back or use you better. Of course you should also use mail for retention. But more than one mail per week or month annoys many people and they will unsubscribe. On Facebook you can share all these things immediately when they are available. Some updates will be received well by the fans and others will be ignored. That’s a good thing. In an email you are responsible to choose the three most important things, on facebook your fans choose for you and give more visibility to the things with the most potential. 

Vison
You are creating something awesome. I assume that you have a vision. Share it with me. Inspire me. Make it clear that the vision isn’t what will happen in the next two weeks. You can rant about broken things and why something went wrong. You can also show how others move into the same direction. Or just share your thought you had in the shower. If it is relevant to the startup.

Anything about the team
Tell me more about the people. Who they are, what their background is, why they joined the startup, what annoys them with the market, on what they are working, what they look like. If you are leaving office regularly at 5pm (totally fine) make a photo of the empty desks and let me know how much you enjoy working for the startup but there are other things in your life too. Another all-nighter? Get your team together and let them show how tired they and what kept them up. That stuff can be serious, “It’s Annes first day at $startup. She worked at $company before and joined us to create an awesome mobile app for you.”, or you add some fun and make a photo of Anne looking at an old Motorola phone, “Our new team member Anne isn’t happy about the test devices we got her”. Or “Guess what Anne, who joined us today, is working on.”. The possibilities are endless and I love to have faces connected to the products I use. Even better if the appropriate person answers support request regarding their field on the page. Link to their personal blogposts if they are relevant to what you do. If you have team events, even if it is just cooking together, going to a conference or building something stupid at the office, post photos. Tell me what you are up to.

Good Updates

Relevant content by others is fine too. It tells me how others see you and helps me to understand you better.

News about the startup and the team
Every time someone else writes about you, you should share it with your fans. Especially when it is positive. It will give you and those who write about you more exposure. If it’s negative you can point out why you think that this isn’t the case or accept it and let people know what you will change (only if you can change it). If someone from your team is mentioned in an article you could post it too. 

Your market
Link to the new report about your market, maybe share successes by your competition (ideally you are both creating a new market it helps both of you). I may not be an investor but if I am interested in what you do chances are that I want to know if you will be able to survive. Though I won’t be interested in new numbers every week. Just from time to time. Or if big changes happen.

Promoting your startup
Not in every update but one of ten updates could be a promotion of the startup. You can ask people to sign up, invite friends to like/sign up/use, offer a special deal for facebook fans, tell them about a new thing they can buy and anything else. I liked your page because I am interested. I won’t be mad if you try to sell me something. Just don’t make it all the time.

Relevant questions
Something many use wrong. If you have read a bit about social media or are active you surely know that questions bring engagement. People feel the urge to answer them. Even more so if they are about opinions. “What ice cream do you like most?”. Instant unlike if your startup hasn’t anything to do with food. “Which is your favorite feature?”, “3 proposals for our new logo. Which one do you like best?”, “Should we first add a github login or fix the document log?”, “Which is your favorite app?”,…

Use questions to improve your product. Even if you only get half of the answers they will not just be from more relevant fans they will also help you move forward. If you listen to them it will strengthen the connection to your users. 

Ugly Updates

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Noise.

Jokes and Memes
People will like and share them. But if you aren’t reddit they won’t help you much. They will distort your numbers and you will reach people who aren’t relevant. Once in a while there may be a joke that is relevant to you and it makes sense to share it. Especially if it sums up everything you do. But most of them are just annoying. I will have seen them and it only adds noise. I hate noise. And I will remove you if you add more noise than relevant information. As these things will get more engagement and therefore are more likely to show up in my news feed it even accelerates my decision to remove you. There are many people who use facebook to get entertained. I am not one of them. You have to decide if those people are relevant to your startup or not. 

Famous quotes
Chances that I already read it are high. Even more so if it’s about innovation, change, startups or something similar. Quotes by users are perfectly fine. But inspirational stuff annoys me as much as memes. Even if it is slightly relevant to your startup. If they are new and highly relevant it is different. “Obama: «$industry is the top priority in 2013»”

Holiday greetings
Are you kidding me? I do not need 2000 startups to tell me happy halloween, merry christmas or happy easter. If you make a photo of your whole team in some creative way I may be okay with it. But only a nice images of fireworks won’t get you far. Or maybe it will. Far away from my newsfeed.

TGIF
It’s part of holiday greetings. But worse. I am doing a startup myself. I never said TGIF. I love what I do. It’s saturday and I got a meeting with my cofounder in the evening. Doing a startup is hard. On some days I will just procrastinate. Nothing wrong with that. But are going to post TGIF each friday? It’s not just noise. It annoys me. Every time. If a contact had a hard week and is thankful for some time off it’s something different. But I don’t expect any startup to be thankful that it’s friday. Don’t do it. 

Engagement questions
“What do you do over the weekend?”, “Do you too find this photo we found on 9gag funny because we don’t work all day?”,…

Facebook already started to ask stupid questions. You don’t need to do the same.

Nostalgia
We all loved Mario. And I am sure you and your friends had lots of fun with their first computer. But if it hasn’t to do with anything your startup does, don’t post it to the fanpage. Use your personal account and everyone is happy. 

Stay relevant

The most important thing is relevancy. Before you post anything, ask yourself if that is something your users want to read from you. 

I am sure I forgot many things. As always. Feel free to add them in the comments and I will edit the post. 

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