If you're a business using Facebook, you've probably set up a fan page. Fan pages are specifically designed for businesses and brands that want to connect to customers and prospects on a large scale.
A fan page lets you grow as big as you want, send updates to an unlimited number of fans, and keep the focus on the organization without revealing the administrator behind the scenes.
But once you have your page set up, how do you maximize your fan base and get the most out of your page?
Some social-media gurus think that "old-school" marketing techniques have gone the way of the dinosaur and won't work on Facebook or other similar platforms. I disagree.
Yes, you have to nix the hardball language and deal with people on a more personal level, but common marketing methods can still give you an edge in social media, especially on Facebook. After all, good marketing isn't medium-specific. It's about clear, direct communication.
So let's look at how you can use some proven marketing techniques to take your page from wimpy to wow and start attracting more fans, encouraging more interaction, and getting more benefit from your Facebook fan page.
1. Advertise your page
Forget the "Build it and they will come" mantra. If you want people to know your Facebook fan page exists, you have to tell them.
At a minimum, link to your page from your website and blog. Put the link high on your Web page, especially in hot spots such as the masthead or at the top of the right or left column. Include a Facebook icon to call attention to the link.
To power-up your advertising, use Facebook ads, blog posts, banners, and any other advertising to get your page in front of people.
2. Blast out a direct invitation
Don't be shy about it. If you want fans, send an email to your list and say something like, "We'd love you to join us. Click here to visit our page and become a fan." I know some people will consider that too pushy, but why be ashamed to ask people to be your fan?
3. Build your Facebook brand
Mention your page in brochures, direct mail, business cards, email signatures, advertisements, packing slips, fulfillment materials, everywhere.
Your Facebook page is just like anything else you want to make popular. You have to spread the news through every public customer contact point as often as possible.
4. Share lots of company information
Every fan page includes an Info tab where you can provide a clickable Web address as well as a company overview, your mission, and information about your products and services.
But don't settle for filling in the minimum information or feel constrained by the preset categories. Get creative and provide other information as well.
For example, in your company overview you can list links to specific pages on your website, your newsletter sign-up form, other social media, or whatever else you want.
5. Create a landing page with a call to action
Why let people land on a wall that's filled with random posts and comments?
In the application directory, Facebook provides a special application called Static FBML (Facebook Markup Language), which lets you use basic Web markup code to render just about any Web page you want in a box or a tab.
Just install the application, insert your code, and adjust your wall settings so that people who aren't yet fans land on that page when they first arrive. You can give a short description of your organization and ask people to become a fan.
I use that technique for a fan page I run for a nonprofit, and it doubles or triples the number of visitors who become fans.
6. Scream your Web address
At the top left of every fan page, you can upload an image. Most businesses opt for a logo. That's fine, but it is also the perfect location to show your Web address.
Yes, you have your address in the Info area, but there's no guarantee anyone will look at that page. But you know that everyone will see your logo.
So modify your logo image to include your URL in big, bold type. It's not clickable, but it's a cue for people to check out your website.
7. Add plenty of content
Direct-mail experts have known the power of content for years, and the same holds true online. The more information and interactive opportunities you provide, the better your page will be at educating, converting, and retaining your customers.
Post something to your wall at least once a day, though two or three times is better. Also, adjust your wall settings to allow fans to post comments, photos, links, and videos.
You can also use the Notes application to import an RSS feed, the YouTube application to post videos, and the Discussion application to host a mini forum.
8. Push offers, events, and more
You can use Static FBML for more than a landing page. You can add a little shopping area, special offers, coupons and rewards, event or promotional announcements, job postings—anything you need.
9. Do some "direct marketing"
Unlike groups, where you are limited to communicating with 5,000 members, a fan page gives you the ability to send direct messages to an unlimited number of fans. It's like email but shows up in your fans' notification box.
You can use the feature to drive traffic to your page, announce events, or share important news. But don't overuse it. Just as you wouldn't email a customer five times a day, you need to exercise common sense with Facebook direct messages.
10. Solicit email subscribers
Here we go with Static FBML again. You'll find it's the most powerful tool Facebook provides. And if you have an email list, Facebook gives you one more venue for signing up subscribers. Just put the code for your subscription form in FBML to create a tab or sidebar box, or both.
11. Research your fan base
The Insights tool allows you to see metrics on your fans, such as how many comments and interactions you have, the number of active fans you have in various age categories, the growth of your fan base, where your fans live, and more.
It's not a particularly robust research tool, but it does provide a snapshot of how your page is performing. Facebook has announced that more features are on the way.
12. Research your competition
You research your competitors everywhere else, so why not on Facebook? See what they're doing to promote their page and engage fans. Take note of the features they're using, how they interact with visitors, the type of content and how frequently they post, and their growth rate.
There are some very smart businesses on Facebook. Learn from them.
13. Take advantage of every feature
Facebook is packed with tools for sharing videos, importing your blog posts, listing events, conducting polls, starting conversations—hundreds of ways to interact.
If you're serious about making your fan page a destination for customers and fans, take the time to research everything available to you, and use whatever makes sense for your business.
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Just because Facebook is social media doesn't mean you have to go limp on your marketing efforts. You just have to play by the rules and use your marketing savvy to energize your Facebook page.