Once a business has established a Facebook Page, a key challenge is to grow its fan base. This is accomplished, in part, through the use of the "Like" button. By clicking the Like button, a person expresses affinity for the brand or its products. It is the Facebook equivalent of an email opt-in.
Here are 15 ways to encourage people to Like your Facebook Page.
1. Incorporate the Like Button on the Company Website
Facebook has nine different social plug-ins, which can be added to your business website to create a more personalized, social experience for visitors. The most popular of these is the Like button, which can be added to your site by copying and pasting some HTML code.
Assuming the Like button is associated with your Facebook Page, when a person clicks it he or she immediately becomes a fan without ever leaving the website.
2. Add an Icon that Links to Your Facebook Page
Though you don't see them on every site, it has become commonplace to find links to social networks on business websites where the company has a presence. Usually, these appear in the form of small icons bearing the name or emblem of the network.
In the current socially influenced Internet, company websites are no longer the nexus that they once were. A recent report by eMarketer, the online magazine, estimated that, in 2011 Facebook will reach almost 9 in 10 social network users and over 57 percent of Internet users. By 2013, the report said that 62 percent of web users and almost half of the overall U.S. population will likely be on Facebook.
Don't think of your website as a silo, but as a hub connecting visitors to all the places where you have a presence online. By making it one part of the chain of shared connections, not only do you provide a path to those outlets from your site, you stand a much better chance of garnering traffic from them back to your site as well.
3. Let Email List Subscribers Know About Your Page
Consider sending a dedicated email asking list members to Like your Facebook Page, similar to what CNET did in this example.
4. Incorporate the Facebook Icon in Your Email Newsletter Template
Many email-sending platforms make it easy to incorporate social network icons within email templates. Constant Contact, for example, has an option to add social media links built directly into its email creation wizard.
If your email service provider does not offer a similar feature, consider building social network icons — including one to your Facebook Page — into the template using HTML.
5. Target Your Market Using Facebook Ads
Highly targeted Facebook Ads that point users to your Page are a good way to draw more widespread attention. A technique I often use is to target friends of fans. That way, when the ad appears, the user sees names of friends who have Liked the Page.
6. Add a Link to Facebook Page in Email Signature; Ask Employees to Do the Same
Email signatures are an often-overlooked marketing tool. A message that says, "Like us on Facebook," serves as a subtle, yet effective, reminder. Years ago, Hotmail used a similar technique to grow its user-base when it attached a footer in every email that said, "Get your private, free email at http://hotmail.com."
7. 'Like' Your Page Yourself
I am amazed — or amused — to see how often Facebook Page owners have yet to Like the page themselves. How can you expect others to do so if you haven't? It is easy to overlook this simple step; but practice what you preach.
8. Provide Incentives to Fans to Spread the Message
In his book, Unleashing the Ideavirus, well-known author Seth Godin said there are two types of people that will help spread your message: those who will do so altruistically because they believe in the message, and those — to use Godin's terminology — who will do so "promiscuously" because they expect to receive an incentive in return.
There is nothing wrong with the use of incentives to reward people to spread your message, and that is equally true where building a Facebook fan base is concerned. Companies like Offerpop, North Social and Wildfire provide Facebook Page apps, such as sweepstakes, contests or giveaways, just for that purpose.
9. Use the 'Fangating' Technique
One popular way to reward Facebook users to become fans is through the use of "fangating." This is where non-fans see a tab on the Page containing a special offer. In order to take advantage of the offer, the user first has to Like the Page. Similar to the old TV game show, Let's Make a Deal, fangating is the equivalent to finding out "What's behind door number three."
10. Be Interactive — Converse, Encourage Comments and User-Generated Content
The heart of every Facebook Page is the Wall. It is where a conversation between a company and its fans occurs. Businesses should encourage dialogue with fans in the form of Likes, comments, and user-generated content like Wall posts, videos or photos. Engagement with fans stimulates Likes because each engagement leads to content being posted in the fan's news feed, where their friends can see it. An active fan base will lead to organic growth.
11. Make Your Fans Your Most Valuable Asset
In his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, personality-development pioneer Dale Carnegie taught the following principles:
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Smile (i.e., have a sense of humor).
- Remember that a person's name is — to that person — the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
- Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely.
While salespeople have used these principles for dozens of years, they bode well for social media engagement, too. When a fan leaves a comment, be sure to acknowledge it, using the person's name when possible. By making fans feel appreciated, growth will likely take place.
12. Post Content from Your Website to Your Page
Aside from a conversation marketing strategy, your business needs a content creation and distribution strategy, too. Whether it be product updates, blog posts or press releases (or all of the above), there is no better place for content to be created than your website.
Using tools like dlvr.it, Ping.fm or SocialOomph, that content can be automatically syndicated to your Facebook Page. Each time content is posted, it gets shared with fans via their news feed, where friends can see it.
13. Post Multi-media Content: Videos, Photos, and Audio
"Content" doesn't mean only text. Facebook can accommodate videos, photos and audio files. It is those types of content that often stand the greatest chance of going viral.
14. Make Your Page Reflect Your Personality
Facebook is the place where your company can put its personality on display and where fans can get to know you, your employees and your company in a "behind the scenes" sort of way. As relationships and the trust that accompany them are built, it follows that growth in the fan base will also occur.
15. Spread the Word in Multiple Ways
Don't limit your thinking to the online world. Add your Facebook Page URL to business cards, direct mail, outdoor advertising and other forms of advertising. You never know where a fan may come from. So be open to using as many channels as possible.