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9 tips for building a Facebook fan base from scratch

6 min read

Brands & Campaigns

This post is by Jim Belosic, 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.

You created your company’s Facebook page, and now you’re looking to build a big fan following. But so far, there’s nothing but crickets. The task of reaching fans can seem daunting, especially if you’re just starting out. So how do you get your page on people’s radar in the first place?

  1. Lean on your already-established presence: Chances are, you already have a presence somewhere, whether it’s an e-mail newsletter, the company’s website or a more traditional form of advertising. Use these already-established avenues to push traffic to your Facebook page. That e-mail list you have? In your next newsletter, mention that Facebook fans get VIP information. And all the traditional advertising you’ve been using — from TV and radio to print and billboards — can contain the line “Find us on Facebook” or that iconic lower-case Facebook “f.”

  2. Be it on business cards, fliers or signs, remind your customers and clients of your Facebook presence.
  3. Take advantage of free tools: The Facebook Questions feature is an interesting way to generate traffic to your page, and it’s completely free. Whatever question you ask, your company’s name and link back to your page will stay attached to it. To get the most out of this feature, you’ve got to ask questions that everyone cares about — these are the kinds that go viral. And the question doesn’t have to be related to your company, either. It doesn’t matter if it’s a refrigerator repair company asking — everyone has an opinion on the nation’s debt crisis. If the question gains enough momentum, you get a ton of free exposure for your brand.
  4. Gain attention with enticing contests: Contests, promotions and sweepstakes are great ways to go out and grab attention. But you’ll only get that attention if what you’re giving away is an attractive incentive that’s sharable. An attractive incentive because no one cares about a boring prize, and sharable because your fans need to be able to tell their friends about your giveaway. So give away something big — a new tech gadget, a shopping spree or a bunch of free meals at your restaurant. People will enter, and when they do, serve them with a share prompt so they can advertise your page for you.

    Like stories are ads that target the friends of your fans. The effectiveness of these ads lies in the fact they appear as trustworthy recommendations between friends.

  5. Be relevant: Even if you aren’t necessarily giving something away, there has to be an incentive for the non-fan to click that Like button on your page. Create a welcome page that lets visiting non-fans know what’s in it for them, whether it’s fan-only coupons and specials, or just important status updates. A financial planner could pique interest by promising to keep his or her fans updated on how market fluctuations are affecting portfolios. People like to have relevant content sent to them in their news feeds.
  6. Cheap, effective Facebook ads: Facebook ads are inexpensive, especially if you’re targeting a niche audience. Say you operate a sports bar in a small town. Your target audience is males 21-45 who live in that town. Drive traffic to your new page by offering coupons to fans for a free round of beverages with every extra large wings platter on game days.
  7. Use your fans as your marketing agents: Trust is what makes Facebook like stories work. By purchasing like stories, you’re targeting the friends of your fans. Jane will see that Jack “likes” your brand, and because she knows Jack, there’s a greater chance she’ll check your brand out than if the ad were coming straight from your brand. Whether it’s like stories or post stories, these are great avenues for grabbing some initial exposure without spending too much money.
  8. Create an exclusive air about your page: One common way to entice would-be fans to “like” your page is by using what we in the biz call “fan-gating” or “like-gating.” Simply put, fan-gating makes parts of your page or tabs unavailable to people who aren’t your fans. But here’s where it gets tricky. Many page admins will gate their entire page, in essence creating a big road block. The problem with this is that there’s a huge abandonment rate because some people are very selective about the pages they choose to “like.” So instead of gating the entire page, use a custom tab application that allows you to gate individual parts of your page. If someone was interested enough in your brand to visit your page, don’t let them walk away empty-handed. Allow all visitors — not just your fans — to learn about your brand, to see your current offers and find out the latest information. Gate the more advanced features of your page, like contests and sweepstakes. But when you gate this content, make sure you’re letting non-fans know about it. Create excitement about becoming a fan by alerting non-fans to the fan-only promotions and contests.

    Hayneedle promises exclusive content for fans.

  9. What about people who don’t click “like”: It’s up to you to create interesting and compelling content for your page, because if a non-fan visits and doesn’t see a reason to click “like,” there’s a good chance they’ll leave and won’t come back. That doesn’t mean, though, that these non-fans will never click that like button on your page. You can continue to retarget those people by using Facebook ads and like stories.
  10. Keep content fresh: Whether it’s the Facebook ads you’re running, the contests you’re offering your fans or your default landing tab, change things up on a regular basis to see what’s converting and what isn’t. One ad or one contest may draw in one person, and leave another completely disinterested. So be creative, and always be looking for new ways to market your business, brand or organization, so that you’ll always be drawing views and new fans.

Image credit: ShortStack