7 March 2012
9 Tips for a Successful Facebook Presence
By: Jim Belosic
There’s more to building a Facebook presence than creating a Page and hoping for the best. In our time developing on the Facebook Platform, we’ve discovered what does work and what doesn’t work by observing the more than 150,000 custom tabs created with our platform. So here’s nine tips and techniques to build and maintain a successful Facebook presence.
Commit to the long haul
Many Page admins gradually fall into a cardinal Facebook sin: inactivity. They start a campaign and invest time and energy, but because they don’t see immediate results, they lose interest, and their commitment fizzles. Their Page’s wall then fills up with unanswered questions and unsolved complaints. Soon, the bad vibes pile up so high, it’d be better to not even have a Page.
Fact is, a Facebook presence takes a long time to develop, and it requires commitment and availability on your part. This means interacting with your fans even if you aren’t seeing the benefits right away. It means leaving no question unanswered on your wall. It means finding or creating content your fans will find interesting, engaging, and relevant, and posting it to your wall. Even if your fan base is small, cultivate it. It’s an investment that will pay for itself in the long haul.
Make your Page non-fan friendly
A fan gate is a common tool used to drive up fan count. If you aren’t familiar with fan gates, the premise is simple: serve non-fans content that encourages or incentivizes liking the Page. After the non-fan has clicked like, they have access to exclusive content or features. However, since Facebook users can be picky about what they do and don’t “Like,” a fan gate can cause a high rate of abandonment if you’re gating too much content on your Page. To ensure that even non-fans visit your Page and come away with a better understanding of your company’s products or services, only gate things like contests and promotions.
Caption: Neutrogena’s welcome tab encourages visitors to like the Page, but offers lots of links and other information for anyone who visits the tab.
Direct traffic to your custom tabs
Facebook is a busy, noisy place. Your fans have so much content vying for their attention, “build it and they will come” just doesn’t work. You can’t even assume that your fans will know your new custom tabs exist. You have to tell them. Have a new tab with a poll you just set up? Post a status update telling your fans about the poll, and more importantly, link them to the tab!
QuiBids’ wall post links fans to their daily sweepstakes on a custom tab.
Avoid the allow prompt
When apps attempt to access a Facebook user’s information, that user is served with an allow prompt. The user can either grant the app access to their information, or hit cancel and leave the app. The argument in favor of using the allow prompt is a strong one: it gives businesses and brands the ability to mine their fans for valuable data. However, today’s Internet users are concerned with things like security and identity theft, and can be wary of giving out information online. Because the allow prompt can cause abandonment, it’s a good idea to limit - or eliminate - its use. And if you really do need to collect this data, be transparent with your fans: tell them why you want the data and how you’re going to use it.
Have an online ad budget
If you’re trying to rapidly increase your fanbase, Facebook ads are a cheap and effective way to do just that. The target audience of Facebook ads can be highly customized to fit your region, desired age range, and budget. Say you operate a sports bar in a small town- you can limit your target audience to your specific city and only show your ad to men between 21-45. You’ll be surprised how cost-effective the ad will be.
I see the ad for Tobey’s because I live in their targeted area.
Quality is job no. 1
Too many Page admins want to collect fans like they’re on a bad episode of Hoarders. Your primary concern shouldn’t be your total number of fans. You should be after quality fans. People who will benefit from liking your Page, and people whose “Like” will benefit you. Ten thousand 14-year-old girls could like Joe’s Garage, but it wouldn’t do Joe a bit of good, since 14-year-olds can’t drive, and rebuilt mufflers don’t top out on the list of interests for many teenage girls.
How do you target the right kind of fans? Facebook ads are one way. Another is to create content your fans will want to share. Your fans like your Page because they’re interested in your products or services, and chances are, they have friends with similar taste who aren’t your fans - yet. Those are the people you want, because they have the potential to become your customers. So post relevant and interesting content that your fans will want to share.
Don’t spam your fans
Common sense, right? No one likes to be spammed. Page admins don’t start out spamming their fans, but many do fall into a pattern of spamming over time. Say you like a local pizzeria’s Page, and the first day you’re a fan, they make a wall post advertising a good-for-today-only 20-percent-off coupon. You think that’s a pretty good deal, and take the family out for pizza that evening. But the next day they post the same coupon. They post it the day after that and the day after that, and all of the sudden, that coupon isn’t interesting or intriguing - it’s annoying. As a Page admin, it’s your job to get your company in your fans’ news feeds without being spammy.
Optimize for feedback
One way to get your fans’ attention without spamming them is to be social. Facebook users expect to engage in conversation, and they’ll converse with you if you approach them as a friend and not a sales target. Adhere to the 80/20 rule: make posts and comments that are relevant to the community 80 percent of the time, and discuss your business just 20 percent of the time. That same pizzeria could ask fans where they think the next location should be, what their favorite toppings are, or who they’re rooting for in the big game.
Lonely Planet gets lots of comments and likes by asking a question their community finds relevant and interesting.
Fine-tune your sales pitches
You know the guy at the cocktail party who spends so much time handing out his business cards and trying to rope acquaintances into a sale, he completely destroys the mood? Don’t be that guy on Facebook. Your fans are on Facebook for social interaction, not to buy things. So if your sales pitches are going ignored, don’t post them again and again, even though that might be the knee-jerk reaction. Instead, take the time to reevaluate your sales pitches and create more subtle, social ads.
Jim Belosic is the CEO and co-founder of ShortStack, a Facebook platform-based application helping businesses build customized tabs for Facebook Pages that maximize their social media presence and potential.
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