It’s official – Facebook is no longer just for college kids anymore! Businesses – both large and small – can benefit from the interactive environment found on Facebook and other social networking sites by expanding the reach of their brand and interacting directly with target customers.
Of course, to encourage these interactions, you’ll need to have Facebook fans in the first place. “Fans” are people who have clicked the “Like” button on your Facebook landing page, which ensures that your status updates appear on their Facebook walls. If your fan page doesn’t currently have any subscribers, consider the following strategies to increase the size of your fan base:
Strategy #1 – Offer Value in Exchange for a “Like”
If you’re going to ask people to “Like” your Facebook fan page, consider offering them something of value in return. By creating an iFrame fan page app, you can hide premium content (like a special coupon code, a free ebook or other bonus) behind an opt-in page that requires people to “Like” your page in order to access these special materials.
Setting up an iFrame page isn’t complicated – you can either follow one of the many tutorials posted online or outsource the task to a Facebook developer for a reasonable fee. Even if you do wind up paying to have this service completed, you’ll likely find that your investment pays off quickly in the number of fans you’re able to capture and the marketing messages you’re able to disseminate to them in this way.
Strategy #2 – Leverage Your Existing Connections
Chances are you already have plenty of personal and business connections that could make ideal fans for your Facebook landing page. What about your personal friends and family members who are connected to you through your personal Facebook profile? Use the “Suggest Fans” feature on your fan page to send a message to these contacts asking them to “Like” your page.
Beyond these existing connections, consider your business contacts. Do you have an email list that you send messages to? If so, include an invitation to join your Facebook fan page in your next email blast. Do you send out a regular newsletter to your clients? Consider adding a message informing your customers about your latest social media endeavor.
Strategy #3 – Widgetize Your Website
If your business website is built on the WordPress platform, there are a number of different ways you can encourage Facebook connections through your home page. For example, install a plugin like Digg Digg, so that whenever you post content to your website, a link will appear, directing people to share the content on Facebook.
It’s also a good idea to encourage people to “Like” your fan page whenever you suggest that they subscribe to your email list or your RSS feed. Remember – people want to connect with you, so give them as many opportunities as possible to do so.
Strategy #4 – Use the @ Tag to Boost Brand Awareness
According to Mari Smith of the Social Media Examiner:
“From time to time, you can let your friends know about something happening on your fan page by writing a personal status update that includes tagging your fan page with an @ tag.”
You can also use the @ tag as a signature when replying to the status updates of your friends and connections, as well as a way to autograph other related fan pages. Just be sure to use this technique sparingly, so that you don’t come across as too self-promotional.
Strategy #5 – Stay Active with Your Fan Page
Think about the websites you read. Are your favorite sites active places where new, interesting content is frequently posted? Or are they nearly-dead blogs that haven’t seen an update in months?
Chances are you aren’t going to waste time on sites that aren’t active, and your Facebook fans feel the same way! If you aren’t frequently updating your fan page, responding to messages sent through Facebook or interacting with the people who stop by, you’re missing out on the biggest opportunity afforded by social networking sites – the chance to demonstrate your dedication to your audience in real-time.
So don’t just set up a Facebook fan page – set aside time to regularly update your page and engage with your subscribers to get the most out of this innovative new form of marketing!
Bill Sarris is a recognized expert in the field of streaming and collaborative technology and the inventor of Linqto technology. Bill has delivered major enterprise software applications for Microsoft, Intuit, Digital Insight, NCR, Google, Stanford and other clients. With over a decade of experience in financial services applications, digital and mobile banking, Bill's work has received the Forrester Groundswell Award and he holds numerous software certifications.