According to the National Runner Survey by Running USA (and a ton of other evidence) Facebook is second only to word-of-mouth for ways runners use to discover their next race. So, if your race is not on Facebook, you’re missing out.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out on Facebook, we’ve got 11 great tips to help you optimise your Facebook race page. And here they are.
1. Create a username
When you first create your page, Facebook will assign it a fairly nasty long URL, based on a combination of your page’s name and Facebook page ID. Facebook gives you the option to create a Twitter-like @Username for your page (e.g. @RaceDirectorsHQ) that can also be used as a shorter URL for your Facebook page (e.g. http://www.facebook.com/RaceDirectorsHQ) instead of the assigned default one.
Adding a username will make it easier for you and your fans to remember your Facebook page URL by heart. You can add a username through your page’s About tab or by clicking on Create page @username on the left of your Facebook page.
Note: in some cases, your page will need to have at least some activity to be given the custom username option
2. Give fans a reason to visit your website
Sometimes, in the quest to grow your Facebook page, you will lose sight of the one asset that is even more important than that: your race website.
Although Facebook is a fantastic platform for building an audience, access to your Facebook fans will always be restricted and mostly controlled by Facebook. Your long-term strategy needs to be growing assets you own and control, i.e. your website and user mailing lists.
To do that, use every (reasonable) opportunity on Facebook to drive people to your website. Always share links to original content on your website – never re-produce content on Facebook.
3. Pick the best cover photo (and update it frequently)
First impressions count and, when it comes to Facebook pages, your first impression comes in the form of your page’s cover photo – so make it count.
Always use quality photography, ideally action shots or spectacular scenery from your race. Once you get it right, make a habit of turning over your cover photo every few weeks – it will add a freshness to your website and help drive engagement with your fan base. To add or edit a cover photo, as well as guidelines on cover photo dimensions, click here.
4. Add a Call-to-Action button
Facebook gives you the option of adding a prominent Call-to-Action button on the top right of your Facebook page. A Call-to-Action button, such as a ‘Sign Up’, ‘Visit Website’ or ‘Learn More’ is a button designed to induce an action from your visitor and having one on your page helps do just that.
You can add a Call-to-Action button, for example, a ‘Sign Up’ button linking directly to your event’s registration page, by following these instructions.
💡 When open for registrations, try changing your call-to-action button from anything generic, like ‘Learn More’, to a ‘Sign Up’ button, linking directly to your registration page.
5. Earn the ‘Very responsive’ badge
Facebook turns on the green ‘Very responsive to messages’ badge that shows above some pages’ Likes counter when over a period of 7 days a page responds to at least 90% of messages inside 5 minutes.
Although it is not critical for your page to display this badge (fortunately, there is no ‘Unresponsive to messages’ equivalent), having one does help encourage visitor communication. To improve your chances of earning and maintaining the responsiveness badge, try setting your page status to Away when no page admins are online. Your Away status can last for up to 12 hours and your message response rate will not suffer when not responding to visitor messages during Away periods.
By the way, since we’re on the subject, we would advise against using Facebook’s Instant Replies service. Even the best auto-replies come across cold and impersonal and, on top, Instant Replies to visitor messages don’t count towards your message response time, so they do nothing to earn you that green badge.
6. Add your races as Facebook events
We will be looking at the distinction between your Facebook page and Facebook events in a future post. Suffice to say here that you should be setting up Facebook events for your races as soon as you have confirmed a course/venue and date. After all, you are in the events business…
To create a Facebook event, follow the instructions here and make sure to provide a link to your registrations page and as much info as you can about your race.
7. Always upload video directly on Facebook
There is one important exception to the never-share-original-content-directly-on-Facebook rule (#2 above) and that’s video. The reason for this is that, in order to encourage direct video uploads, Facebook grants native (directly uploaded) video content significant advantages over external video links.
For example, if you post a YouTube link, Facebook squashes the preview in an ugly little window with text description on the side. However, if you upload the same video on Facebook directly, not only will it receive a full-span preview, it will also auto-play on your fans’ timeline when they scroll over it. In addition to that, native video can be used much more effectively in Facebook advertising. So, whether your video is on your YouTube channel or not, make sure you upload it on Facebook too.
8. Add a featured video
As we are on the subject of Facebook video, nothing says ‘wow’ louder than a cool race video teaser. Your featured video is the star of your Facebook video and will appear towards the top of your page, as well as auto-play when users access your video section. To choose a featured video, go to your video library and click ‘Add Featured Video’ (or ‘Change Featured Video’ from the edit button of your existing featured video).
9. Pin important posts for additional visibility
If you have something important to share, e.g. key race news, such as registrations opening, or a great press review, make sure to pin your post to the top of your page.
Pinned posts override the usual trickle-down chronological timeline of your page’s feed and can provide extra visibility for important messages to your page visitors. Just make sure you don’t leave posts pinned in perpetuity – your page may come across as stale to recurring visitors and your biggest fans.
10. Integrate your mailing list
Are your mailing lists on MailChimp? If so, you can use MailChimp’s Facebook integration to add a native subscription tab on Facebook, allowing your page visitors to subscribe to your mailing lists without ever visiting your website.
It’s incredibly straightforward to integrate your MailChimp lists with Facebook and you can choose between a Facebook-esque style form or building your own with MailChimp’s custom signup forms.
11. Optimise the order of your page tabs
When accessing a Facebook page, Facebook will display at the top of your page’s feed summary tabs of your About, Photos, Videos, Events etc sections. The order in which the tabs are displayed matches the order on the left-side navigation panel and can be changed to suit your needs.
For instance, you may want to showcase your featured video at the very top – for this, you’ll need to bring your Video tab to the top. To re-order your page’s tabs and sections, follow the instructions here.