Hacking Facebook…or How I Got 40+ Comments to a Single Post

Me and Facebook have a “tortured” history.

Before I came to the Harvard Business School (HBS), I used Facebook sparingly. I would jump onto the platform once every few weeks to see what was happening and to post a photo or two. At the time–early 2010–I didn’t have much use for Mark Zuckerberg’s creation. As a senior writer/communications manager for the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), I was responsible for, among other things, the social media presence of the school. This “presence” included Twitter, LinkedIn, and Flickr. We stayed away from Facebook, though, assuming that graduate students didn’t want us “invading” this space. With no opportunity to use Facebook on a professional level, I didn’t see much reason to use it from a personal one, either.

This all changed when I joined HBS in early 2013 and took over management of the school’s alumni Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HBSAlumni. The next two years were marked by great successes and epic failures. For every post that performed like this one, there were multiple ones that performed like this. I don’t know why some posts hit the mark while others didn’t. Maybe it had something to do with changes Facebook made to its algorithm or bad post timing on my part. Whatever the reason, I was getting increasingly frustrated with the platform’s unpredictability and in March 2015 I decided to do something about it.

Read more here.


Can’t-Miss Tips for Social Media Community Building

I worked for the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) for thirteen years. I started as a project coordinator and by the time I departed in late 2012, I had risen to the level of senior writer/communications manager. There were many aspects of the job I enjoyed. Along with gaining valuable writing experience, the school subsidized my graduate degree, helped foster my enthusiasm for higher education, and provided me with my first exposure to the world of social media.

But there was something I struggled with throughout my tenure at GSAS.

Community building.

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Social Media and My Worst Haircut EVER

When I was 10, my mother cut a piece of my ear clean off.

I had been misbehaving for quite some time and she wanted to teach me a lesson. So she grabbed a pair of scissors and…

Okay, I should stop here since this isn’t exactly how it happened. Yes, my mother did cut my ear and it was not only an accident but, to this day, I’m convinced that I shoulder some responsibility for what transpired.

Here’s how it really played out.

One afternoon, my mother decided the time was right to cut my flowing locks (yes, at one point, I did possess hair on par with one of “The Beatles,” though it was probably Ringo).

So, we headed to the backyard–which was where she typically cut my hair to avoid having to sweep the kitchen floor after she was done. Besides, it was a nice spring day and my mother thought I might enjoy the warm weather. We were a few minutes into the haircut when the phone inside my house rang. I didn’t think too much about it though, since phone calls were rarely directed at me. This day was an exception and soon after the phone stopped ringing I heard my brother calling my name, informing me that, indeed, the call was for me.

I turned my head immediately toward my brother’s voice at the exact moment my mother was cutting the hair behind my left ear.

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What Being A Waiter Taught Me About Good Social Media

Once upon a time, I was a waiter.

It was the summer of my freshman year of college and I needed to earn some extra cash for books, food, and, um, spirits for the year ahead. Since my older brother had worked at Friendly’s for a few years, I figured I had an easy in. So, after a brief interview–mostly a formality, really–I soon found myself donning the restaurant’s classic visor and red shirt and learning the ins and outs of the menu.

My time at Friendly’s wasn’t too memorable, save for the time sparks flew from a weathered coffee machine and when a patron said she couldn’t understand me because I was “mumbling.” My response to the latter? I grossly enunciated my words when I delivered her order: “Here. Is. Your. Milkshake. Please. Let. Me. Know. If. You. Need. Anything. Else.” Naturally, this resulted in a “talking to” from my boss.

But there were a few things that made the experience a valuable one. I not only met some great people, many of whom I remain friends with today, but I also developed a deep appreciation for customer service. This “service” included everything from helping make the restaurant experience more enjoyable for my customers to resolving the “problems” they had. During a given shift–between delivering Reese’s Pieces Sundae’s and SuperMelt sandwiches–I would help patrons clean up spilled milk; find directions to their next stop (I worked at Friendly’s way before GPS and MapQuest); and locate a place to dispose of their assorted scraps of paper and other refuse.

While I wouldn’t consider myself the most altruistic of individuals, I truly enjoyed helping those I served and this customer service perspective is something I’ve embraced in my current role as social media manager for the Harvard Business School’s (HBS) alumni office.

But how do you apply a social media customer service model to alumni relations? I’m not, after all, selling anything. My main concern is alumni engagement, which is an abstract concept that’s difficult to quantify (i.e., it’s almost impossible to determine whether or not my social media work has helped inspire alumni to donate to the school or participate in some other way by, for example, attending an alumni event).

But I do believe there is tremendous value in applying customer service approaches to social media and in this post I’ll share some examples of how I’ve put this into practice.

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Photo Bomb? My Weird, Unpredictable Instagram Journey

Me and Instagram didn’t get off to a good start.

It was early 2014 and I had just begun posting photos onto the platform as part of our “Making a Difference” project. The initiative encouraged alumni to share how they were impacting their communities (an example is below) by snapping and posting photos onto Instagram or Twitter.

And every few weeks, I would load the photos onto the site using the hashtag #HBSMakingADifference. We hoped, that by using the hashtag, alumni would have an easy way to see the totality of photos published as part of the project.

By all accounts, things were going well…until I realized the hashtag wasn’t working.

What followed were months of failed efforts to contact Instagram and numerous–and ultimately fruitless–attempts to resolve the problem myself (for the full play-by-play of my inaugural Instagram experience read my post, “My Favorite Social Media Mistake and What I Learned From It (Part 2)”).

So, you can imagine I felt a little burned by Instagram.

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(Almost) Everything There is to Know About Social Media Strategy

I’ve got bi-polar disorder/My shit’s not in order/I’m overweight/I’m always late/I’ve got too many things to say/I rock mom jeans, cat earrings/Extrapolate my feelings/My family is dysfunctional/But we have a good time killing each other. –Mary Lambert from Secrets

I don’t have a lot in common with Mary Lambert. I can’t sing. I don’t have cool tattoos. I’m usually pretty punctual. And I most definitely cannot rock mom jeans…or any other jeans for that matter.

So why choose lyrics from a Mary Lambert tune as the jumping off point for this blog post? Well, beyond really digging the song Lambert co-wrote, I’m drawn to the universal appeal of lyrics. Lambert–who I first heard singing the hook on “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis–is illustrating how she, like most people, can’t be pigeonholed; she’s a number of different things (from “bi-polar” to “always late”) that, when put together, capture who she is.

Like Lambert, most people defy easy definition. We’re a complex species–for example, I’m a little neurotic, more disorganized than I’d like to be, and have very questionable taste in music (case in point: after parties in college, I would make my housemates play my favorite album of all time, Abba: Gold. For some reason, Swedish super pop from the 1970s didn’t go over well with my school chums).

So, with how unique and multifaceted we are, you’d think social media managers–who are, after all, human beings–would push the boundaries of creativity on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. This is true in some cases, but I’ve found many social media managers who follow the “status quo”–which, by my definition, is a strategy predicated on broadcast messaging (as opposed to direct engagement) and reactive (as opposed to proactive) engagement. By pursuing this approach, each social media channel can appear one-dimensional and, even worse, indistinguishable from its competitors.

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Cracking the Facebook Engagement Code: Part 2

I have a long history of questionable decision making.

When I was a child, I cut the whiskers of the family cat because I thought they were too long. In college, I tried to crush a beer can with my head—leaving myself with a massive headache and a crude, smiley-faced scar. As a thirty-five-year-old married father of two, I seriously twisted my ankle at the beginning of a run and continued running for FIVE more miles (following the run, I had to take a three weeks off after my ankle swelled to twice its previous size).

More recently, I made another poor decision: I titled a blog post, “Cracking the Facebook Engagement Code.”

Like all decisions I make—whether they’re good or bad—I put a lot of thought into the title. I had spent months trying to boost my Facebook engagement numbers by 1) identifying Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni who had interacted with us on both Twitter and Facebook and 2) then trying to bring these alumni from Twitter toFacebook. I would send a tweet, including the handles of several of alumni in it, with a link to content on our Facebook page. This tweet would typically be a call to action, for example encouraging alumni to comment on a question we asked or check out an article one of my co-workers authored.

In the beginning, this approach worked splendidly. Alumni not only clicked through to the page, but also left long and thoughtful comments. (See some of these interactions in my post at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140806124123-38520837-cracking-the-facebook-engagement-code?trk=mp-reader-card). So, after this approach worked a few times, I penned my first “Cracking the Code” post.

And then, everything fell apart.

Read the rest of this post at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cracking-facebook-engagement-code-part-2-robert-bochnak?trk=prof-post.