A Facebook page can be a great tool for your organization or cause, but only if you do it right. Most of the organizational Facebook pages out there are thrown together almost as an after-thought, as if a Facebook page will magically make great things happen just by virtue of its existence. This couldn’t be farther from the truth: just as with anything else, it takes well-rounded procedures and persistence to make your organization’s Facebook page work for you.
1. Get People to Your Page
This step is easily the most common-sense step, and yet it’s also the one that I see the most people completely oblivious to. In the case of Facebook, “if you build it, they will come” is a complete fallacy. It would better be written as, “if you build it, nobody will ever know about it unless you tell them about it.” Facebook estimates that there are upwards of 4 million organizational Facebook pages out there already; without promotion of some sort, your page is going to get ignored and lost in the clutter before it’s even off the ground.
Okay, I get it. How do I get people to my Facebook page?
Treat your Facebook page just like you do your organization. How do you get people to come to your storefront? Most of those methods have the same application when it comes to getting people to your Facebook page.
1. Talk about it
Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell your business contacts. Tell the old lady on the subway. Then tell all of them to tell their friends, family, business contacts, and random subway encounters. Sure, it might be a little bit awkward, but if you’re serious about your Facebook campaign, this is where you start.
Facebook is easily the biggest social media platform out there, but it’s by no means the only one. Make good use of your Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, Squidoo Lens, and any other accounts you have and bring those follower bases to your Facebook page.
This is the big Kahuna. The Big Dance. If you’re serious about using your Facebook page as a tool to grow your Organization or cause, you’re going to have to advertise. Facebook has one of the most unique (and cost-effective) advertising systems I’ve ever seen, and used correctly it can be extremely effective. Describing how to advertise effectively on Facebook is a topic for another article (it’ll be posted later this week, actually!), but in the meantime there are endless resources around the internet to walk you through the process; I highly recommend reading some of them before spending any money.
2. Get People to Like Your Page
Getting people to come to your Facebook page in the first place is only part of the battle: the other big part is getting visitors to “like” your page once they get there. For those of you unacquainted with the process, people “liking” your Facebook page is akin to people “following” you on Twitter: once a visitor has “liked” your page, any activity (status updates, new links, new photos) has a chance of showing up on that person’s “news feed”, which is where the majority of Facebook users spend their time. A visitor “likes” your Facebook page by physically clicking the “like” button that will show up at the top of your Facebook page for all new visitors.
I’m sold. How do I get people to click the ‘Like’ button?
This is an area where creativity pays huge dividends. With applications like Static FBML (which allows you to create customized pages written in a modified HTML/web code language) the possibilities are literally endless – but I’ll give you some of my favorites:
1. Create a “Landing Tab”
Facebook allows page owners and administrators to create add “tabs” to their pages. “Wall” and “Info” are two default tabs that are included on every Facebook page, and by default new visitors “land” on the Wall tab of your page when they visit. You don’t want new visitors to land on your wall. Instead, use an application like Static FBML to create a custom landing tab that introduces your organization, tells visitors what benefit(s) they will derive from visiting your Facebook page and asks them to Like your page.
Burt’s Bees and Red Bull are both great examples of Facebook pages that make superb use of a Landing Tab.
This is almost self-explanatory, but just so that nobody’s confused, I’ll elaborate: literally include the phrase “Please ‘Like’ Our Page!” or some variation thereof on your page. You’ll be surprised how well doing that alone can work.
Burt’s Bees and Red Bull also do a great job of providing incentive for visitors to Like their pages. As with almost everything else in life, teasing works – and Burt’s and Red Bull make full use of it. They’ve very cleverly hidden great content, exciting photos and videos, and other awesome things beneath a semi-transparent layer that disappears once the visitor clicks the Like button. This method is highly effective, but only if you really do have exciting things to tease visitors with.
Second in effectiveness only to the tease (see above), bribery can be an amazing tool for convincing visitors to Like your page. Offer an exclusive coupon, a free sample, or entry into a contest with a great prize, and force visitors to Like your page in order to receive the goods. NBC’s “America’s Next Great Restaurant” made great use of this tactic by offering something exclusive and awesome (a printable Buy One/Get One coupon to Chipotle) in exchange for Liking the show’s Facebook page. (Sadly you’ve missed the bus on that coupon – it was a limited time offer used to build an audience in advance of the show’s premier.)
3. Post Often
The major purpose of any organization’s Facebook page is to keep the organization, brand, services, and products fresh on the minds of the people who Like your page. They won’t keep returning to your page on their own and they won’t think about you without being prompted to do so, which is why you have to commit to constantly updating your page with new and exciting things — status updates, links to blog posts, photos, videos, exclusive offers, etc., etc. If you remember nothing else, remember this: you have to keep it exciting, you have to keep it fresh, and you have to do it often.
4. Post Correctly
Never, never, never, never, never use your Facebook page to directly promote your product. Posting “Buy our brand new widget, only $19.99! It’s awesome!” is the fastest way to get Facebook users to do just the opposite. If your page’s followers wanted to be directly advertised to, they’d be watching commercials on TV, not checking out your Facebook page. Instead, find things that are funny, interesting, unique, or beneficial and are tangentially related to your product or service and post about those.