Using Conversation Hooks on Facebook To Build Relationships

I’ve been using Facebook since early 2005. Back then, before the social media “boom”, Facebook was simply a place for college students to keep in touch with friends, whether sharing homework assignments, planning a night on the town, inviting, people to coffee, or just chit-chatting.

In short, Facebook’s appeal was social.

Today, that appeal continues, but when you’re in business, you can lose sight of the “social” aspect of social media.

Strategy IS important. We can’t reach our goals without strategy, but in my experience, simply socializing and building friendships through Facebook has been super effective in making me THE go-to designer within my many social circles.

Some people underestimate the importance of socializing because for many, its intuitive and frankly, a bit frivolous.

But you can actually be productively social.

My number one rule in social media activities, above all, is to make it easy for people to comment and talk to me. I make sure I have lots of “conversation hooks”– pieces of information that give insight into my life or create a picture of what I do or am interested in to incite my friends and followers to ask about my interests if they are curious.

Here’s an example of a normal, boring ol’ status update:

Havana Nguyen says, “Gettin’ some coffee and thinkin’ about design work for the day. Nummies ….”

But, with the addition of conversation hooks, we get:

Havana Nguyen says, “Getting some coffee so I can start thinkin’ about the layout for a website for an awesome interior designer I met at a conference last week!”

It’s the little details that paint the picture: I’m excited about the project, I’m working with an interior designer, and I am cool enough to go to conferences. By being more detailed in my updates, I show people WHAT I do and my attitude towards my work. These details don’t always have to be work-related either:

“Going to a movie with some buddies! Whoo-hoo!” versus

“Going to see ‘The Social Network’ with some friends I haven’t seen in a looong time! Whoo-hoo!”

Again, socializing in this way is intuitive and frivolous. There’s really no point in adding the detail above but it brings out personality AND the details open up room for comments. 70% of my status updates are non work-related but I still get a lot of leads from Facebook because people get to know me through my profile.

You can also apply conversation hooks to other aspects of your online presence:

Your profile:

When I meet someone, friend them, and then see a blank profile, I get so annoyed! A complete profile makes it easy for someone to reach out and start a conversation. I don’t just talk about graphic design on my profile; I talk about my major, my interest in astronomy, my history in building websites, my geekery with animation, and my triumphs in overcoming shyness. There are plenty of designers out there but only one ME. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself on your profile; that’s what it’s there for! Those details are the conversation hooks for folks who’ve just met you.


People looove pictures. Create visual conversation hooks by posting photos of yourself at events or trying something new. Sometimes, I just post pictures of what I look like that day or I may use it to showcase my design work. Remember when Laura talked about creating a demo reel for your business? Find a way to visually showcase your work. Posting doodles and clips of projects keeps me fresh in the minds of my friends and followers.


To me, Notes are like a little blog I can share with a smaller group of friends. I’ll write movie reviews or outline plans for a new idea or talk about current projects or sometimes even express concerns or worries that need to get out. I write miscellaneous stuff on Facebook Notes that just doesn’t fit my own blog. People, including design prospects, often tell me that they love that I am so open and expressive online. I don’t make it difficult at all for people to learn about me and approach me.

I love meeting new people on Twitter, but I adore nourishing and maintaining friendships on Facebook. Because Facebook is a bit less “public” (as opposed to Twitter), I can create a sense of intimacy with my friends, followers, and fans. When Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth added on my Facebook, I felt like I’d just joined a little secret Danielle club. :) Make your fans feel the same!

And conversation hooks aren’t just for Facebook; they can apply to Twitter and even face-to-face networking. For example, when people used to ask me, “What’s up?” I would tell them, “Not much.” (That doesn’t give them much to continue the conversation, huh?) Today, I answer their question, letting them know what I’m up to and making it easy for them to grow the conversation.

Conversation hooks encourage the “social” side of social media but it also implements strategy! Be more aware of what details you can include in your profile and think about how you can include conversation hooks to invite comments and interaction. After all, the point of social media is to be social!


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Havana Nguyen is a freelance graphic designer who obsesses over how to wow her clients’ customers through careful, thoughtful design. She specializes in web and print graphics and loves to illustrate. Tweet her at @havanatweets or visit


  1. If you get annoyed with blank profiles, you must really love full profiles with blank profile pictures.

  2. Love your video Havana! You’re adorable. Thanks for the helpful tips.

  3. I use Facebook more for connecting with friends and family. People definitely comment more on funny stories I share about my kids, then updates about my work. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips.