Many Facebook business page managers like to focus on the number of fans they have – how many people have clicked “Like”. They enjoy seeing that number build up and consider it to be a major barometer for success. But it’s so much more than that, starting with considering these fans as your customers, both current and future. It’s really what you do with those customers through Facebook that makes the difference and actually benefits your business. Here’s a collection of tactics we use or have observed that have shown the best engagement with those folks who have joined up with you:

  • Post Regularly. Let’s start with an obvious one. Setting your page up and letting it sit there isn’t going to work. People are going to forget about you. Share information regularly, but not repetitively. At least once or twice a day is worth trying, more if your information is especially worthwhile. And don’t forget, it may look like a lot of information on your Wall, but most of your customers are seeing your information on their News Feed as seen on www.facebook.com when you’re logged in. That’s the context in which you’re news will be seen.
  • Respond. Many businesses miss the major opportunity of responding in a meaningful way to each and every message your customers share with you on Facebook. Whether it’s acting on a complaint or a suggestion, or simply thanking them for their time, people appreciate having their own communications acknowledged.
  • Trade “Likes”. It benefits everyone when you network. Do that online. Use Facebook as your page (go to “Account” in the upper-right corner to choose that option). After doing this, when you go over to a partner’s or association’s page, you will “like” them or comment on their page as your business. Ask others to do the same. Your comments and branding will get exposed to a wider audience as a result.
  • Tag other Pages. If you want to create a hyperlink in your post to other pages to better share information, just type an “@”, immediately followed by the name of the page you’re connecting to. Facebook will give you one or more page options in your network that match that text. Choose the one you need and Facebook will populate your post with a hyperlink. Note that you must already be a fan or friend of that page in question for this to work.
  • Connect to Twitter. Ideally, if you feel you have an audience in the Twitter-verse, you have an account set up there too for your business. But many times, resources are such that you simply don’t have the time to create completely separate content. One solution to this is to link both accounts so that everything that is posted on Facebook gets automatically shared with Twitter. But make sure you still monitor Twitter so that you can respond to the information sharing still going on there. Ignoring that conversation is worse than doing nothing at all. To set this connection up, go to facebook.com/twitter while logged in.
  • Connect to Email. If you use a service like Constant Contact or Vertical Response for your outbound emails, make sure to visit their websites and look up how to install an email signup on your Facebook page. Their instructions are easy and straight-forward, even for neophytes. Once installed, post a reminder every now and then that people can sign up for your newsletter, which you will tell them includes new and exclusive information they won’t see on Facebook. Not everyone’s a die-hard Facebook user and you need to continue to connect with them wherever they give you permission to do so.
  • Share Staff News. Make your business more approachable by sharing appropriate news other than the latest product release. Whether it’s a promotion, someone’s gotten married, or you have a new hire, letting people know about these things puts a more human face on your presence and helps people feel more connected. Make sure you don’t get too personal though and that you always have the subject’s permission first.
  • Ask a Question. Choosing this feature (shown next to the links to upload a video or photo), allows you to ask questions of your customers. You fill out the answers they can choose from and Facebook creates a poll. When someone answers the question, that activity gets posted on their Wall, sharing the discussion with others who may not already be aware of your page. Ask questions that provoke discussion, get feedback on new products, or probe thoughts on industry issues. Experiment to see what types of questions interest people.
  • Show Videos! Show Photos! There’s little else drier than posting text-only item after text-only item. Shake it up and engage interest with the occasional uploaded video or photo. Over time, you build up a nice database that people can revisit. Site visit analysis on Facebook shows that photos and videos almost always get more attention than text alone.
  • Try Ads. This is especially a must-do if you’re already using Google AdWords, or some other similar service. We’ll write up more about this another day, but in the meantime, you can visit www.facebook.com/ads to learn more.

There is no one-size-fits-all that will work for every page. The key to your success will be to experiment with a mix of all of these tactics and observe what gets better responses than others. Use that feedback to do better the next day and soon you’ll find that reaching your customers through Facebook is an indispensable part of your marketing mix.

For more Facebook must-haves, make sure to check out one of our earlier posts right here: “The 9 Facebook Must-haves for Your Business“.

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