The Chamber of Commerce to which I belong has a great group called “The Social Buzz Club.” It’s basically the digital counterpart to networking – a way to let “Buzz Club” members know what you and your company do and to enlist the aid of those people to help spread the word about your company through social media.

The group is open to all Chamber members and is growing each month. We spend a few minutes at the beginning of each meeting talking about the “how tos” and “ins and outs” of different social media channels.

Then we start to unleash the true power of the group. We are each paired with a “buzz buddy” or two.  We spend the rest of the hour-long meeting learning what our buzz buddies and their companies do and how they serve their customers.  At each meeting, we meet with different buzz buddies to expand our network.

After the meeting, we connect with each other on social media. For most of us, this means that we “like” each other’s Facebook pages and “link” with each other on LinkedIn. It could also mean “following” a buzz buddy on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest if we both have accounts on those channels.

Then over the course of the month two things happen.

First, we begin to see each other’s social media posts on our feeds.

This is the virtual equivalent of a “one on one” meeting, but in some ways it gives even more perspective. By following another company’s social media accounts, you learn a lot about the products and services they offer. You also learn how they engage with their customers online. How do they speak about their product or service? What are the pain points that their product or service alleviates? Are they helpful? Do they serve with a sense of pride? Do they go above and beyond? What feedback do they get from their customers? All of these things together create a much clearer picture of the person you have connected with and their company.  With a clear understanding of the company, the mission and the company’s ideal customer, buzz buddies are in a much better position to make referrals to one another.

The second important thing that happens is viral sharing. When I like, comment or share my “buzz buddy’s” posts, my friends and connections can see that activity. The reach of that post grows exponentially with each “like,” “comment,” and “share.” Social media channels like Facebook recognize that increased activity and in turn show that post to even more people.  With every interaction, my audience grows.

It’s a win-win for everyone who participates as long as members follow two important steps. First, they must obey the golden rule of social media: post valuable, engaging or entertaining content 80% of the time, and post “salesy” content 20% of the time. For business owners who are new to social media, it’s sometimes hard to restrain the desire to sell all the time. However that behavior makes it difficult for others to share their information. While I’m happy to share a promotional post every now and again, I certainly don’t want to bombard my friends and followers of my Page with a sales pitch 24/7.  But I will almost certainly share something that will be helpful, informative or entertaining.

Secondly, everyone has to keep up their end of the bargain by following their buzz buddies’ accounts and sharing when they can.

But searching for a post on someone’s Facebook newsfeed can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Fortunately there is a simple and quick way to find and share posts: Interests Lists.

The beauty of an Interest List is that it allows you to see all the posts of the pages and people on the list at one time and in one place rather than searching through your newsfeed or visiting each  Page one at a time.

How to Create an Interests List:

Facebook allows people (not pages) to create a list of Pages, Profiles (people) or both.

You can create your own list or follow other people’s lists. Your list can include any people and/or pages, whether you have “liked” or “followed” them or not.

Your list can be private or public. If it’s a public list, you can share it with other people.

Your Profile can be included on an Interest List if you allow “everybody” to follow you on Facebook. (This is in your profile settings.)

To create an Interest List:

  • Go to your Profile (not your page) and make sure you’re in the Newsfeed view. (Click on the Facebook icon (the “f”) at the top left corner to get to your Newsfeed.)
  • Scan down the left hand side of the page until you see “Interests” and click on it.
  • In the pop-up box, click “+Create List” to create your own list, or enter the name of an existing list to search for it and subscribe.
  • To continue creating your own list, search for people and pages by typing a name into the field at the top of the page. When their Profile or Page comes up, click on it so there is a check mark. Continue searching and clicking until you have added all the people or pages you want on your list and click “Next.”
  • In the next pop up box, name your list and choose a privacy setting. Click “Done.”

Congratulations, you’ve created (or subscribed) to your first list.

Now when you’re ready to like, comment and share posts, simply open your list and start scrolling through the newsfeed. This a simple way to see all of them at one time in one place!

Remember that when you share from your list’s newsfeed, you have the option to share on your own timeline or on a page you manage. When you click the “Share” button at the bottom of a post, choose “Share…” in the pop up window to choose how you want to share the post. If you click “Share Now” instead of “Share…” Facebook defaults to sharing the post from your personal profile.

Uses for Facebook Lists

There are many  ways you can benefit from Facebook lists. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to “like” or “follow” the people or pages that you have on your list and you can set the privacy on each list you create. Those caveats opens up a few interesting possibilities.

  • “Pages I Manage” – If you manage more than one page, you may want to create a private list of those pages so that you can quickly scan what you  have posted on each page. If you share admin and posting privileges with others in your company, this is a great way to quickly see what others are posting and get an overview of your brand on Facebook.
  • “My Competitors” – Keep track of what your industry and local competitors are doing by creating a private list of their Facebook pages.
  • “Experts” – Follow thought leaders in your field. There are already many lists of experts by industry so you can subscribe to an existing one or create one of your own.
  • “My Business Partners” – If you work with other companies that provide complementary services to your customers, you may want to create a list so that you can share each other’s posts easily. For example, a house cleaning company might want to share the posts of a company who does exterior house washing.
  • “My Best Customers” – This may sound a little creepy, but following the posts of your customers may provide unique and valuable insights to their needs and wants.

Have you used Interests Lists yet? If so, what kinds of lists have you created that have been useful for your business?