Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's The Secret To Facebook Success?

In October 2011, Mashable reported that Facebook had as many users as the entire Internet did back in 2004, the year Facebook was founded. With over 800 million active users, it's safe to say if you are reading this post, chances are, you're among the majority. Businesses and organizations have been quick to realize that Facebook provides a way to reach out to potential customers via a fluid and interactive site unlike a static web site. But what is the secret to a successful page? It might surprise you to learn that the secret to success on Facebook really is no secret at all.

Make It Fun!!
If you have ever visited a boring web site, you know what I am talking about. A web site landing page that is heavy on copy, light on photos and color is not engaging and won't hold a visitors attention long enough for them to discover what a terrific product you have. What do you think are the odds of visitors returning for a second visit? The same holds true for Facebook - a page that is interesting and engaging gives fans a reason to come back to your page. 

The secret here is that your competition on Facebook is not necessarily your direct competitors. Facebook, blog and websites with a high energy "wow factor" that offer up-to-date information and feedback are the sites that compete for your fans attention.

Create a Community
One of the reason's Facebook has become the 'go to' place is it allows individuals, organizations and businesses to create a feeling of belonging to a community. Sounds great but how do you create a community for your business?

A real estate company might pose the question, "What is your fondest memory that involves either your childhood home or a favorite family member?" A hardware store could engage their fans by posting a close-up photo of a tool and ask their fans if they can identify the tool. The first person to respond with the correct answer might receive a $10.00 coupon off their next purchase of $50.00 or more.

The secret to starting a fan community? All you need to do is to post regular and relevant content to your wall that prompts a discussion. Don't let it overwhelm you but you need to show up and post several times a week and you should spend at least 30 minutes a day reading your fan's posts and visiting their sites. 

Other factors you need to consider ...

Can You See Me?
Check your page settings. Your content needs to be visible so others can see your videos and photographs, stories and questions.

Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain
Show your personality! Be active on your Facebook page by sharing your opinions and responding to your fans' comments. It shows you as welcoming and warm, all of which contributes to a sense of community.

What Do You Think?
The adage "the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said" is another secret behind your Facebook success. People love to share but especially so on social media. Encourage your fans and followers to share: if you are a shop that caters to the outdoor market, ask your fans to share a photograph of themselves engaging in their favorite outdoor activity (biking, fishing, camping), ask them to share their personal stories. The secret here is to listen, comment and compliment.

Making Special Deals and Discounts Truly Special
Offering special deals and discounts to just your Facebook fans is guaranteed to generate buzz, get people engaged on your page and keep your fans returning to your page. Rewarding your fans with offers and discounts that are regularly updated will be appreciated, creating loyalty within your community.

You can design a tab specifically for contests, games or quiz, which will make it easy to find and allow you to promote a contest or quiz on your fan's wall posts.

The added benefit to you is Facebook contests are a great way to capture data, including email and physical addresses for re-marketing.

You Like Me! You Really Really Like Me!
In an effort to differentiate between personal and business pages, people who "like" your business page are called a fan. All too often, business owners take this term far too literal, convinced that the reason anyone would "like" their page is because, well, they like you. In truth, a fan is just a term Facebook uses for a customer or potential customer. Your goal should be to secure their business but first you need to convince potential customers that you are prepared to support your product and provide first class customer service. You do this by engaging your customers, responding to their posts and asking for feedback.

They're Just Not Into You
Your Facebook page should not be all about you. If your page updates are all about what you are doing, how fabulous your company is with a reoccurring sales pitch, your fans are going to quickly lose interest. It's doubtful that anyone will want to share your sales pitch with their Facebook friends.

Engage your followers in a dialogue. Focus your status updates whenever possible with content that is relevant and newsy: emerging trends, new products etc. Fun and compelling status updates are exactly the type of information Facebook users tend to "like" and share with their friends.

Crunching The Numbers
Finally, the truth is, the business with the most amount of fans at the end of the day is not necessarily the winner. The number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers has been referred to by marketers as vanity metrics. Businesses tend to give creditability to their Facebook likes as if they held the same value as customers or sales which isn't a true indicator of Facebook success.

Many businesses set up a Facebook fan page and look to their fan growth rate as the primary success metric. But their number of fans isn't giving them the "big picture." 

Sure it's great to think thousands of Facebook users are seeing your content but instead of collecting hundreds of fans, you should be tracking and measuring how much and often your fans are actually engaged with your content by the number of times your posts are "liked", shared and tagged. Regular sharing between a number of fans demonstrates more engagement than a high number of fans who only leave one post and never return. (Think Starbucks and Coca Cola as prime examples of massive Facebook groups with low levels of engagement.)

The goal is not to be good at Facebook. The goal is to be good at business because of Facebook.

In a future post we'll discuss how to measure your Facebook success. Until then, don't throw in the social media towel if your page has a small number of fans. If your fans are engaging with you, responding to your updates in a way that fits in with your marketing plan and social media goals, you are doing fine.