Promoting your brand with Facebook, Part 2: Gaining fans
In part one of this series, we explored whether or not you as a business entity should even bother with Facebook or not. Some businesses can benefit greatly from a strong presence on Facebook while others might not see any change in their bottom line. For those who made the decision to make Facebook a priority, I then explained why you should use a Page and not a Profile in displaying your brand.
OK, you have your page set up and branded. Now what? How do you get people to like you and thus follow you? How can we go from zero to 100, 1000, or 10,000? This part will hopefully set your brain motion on possible avenues you can try to build your following. I won't say they're full proof, but they again are proven practices that give results.
A starting point would be to invite your family and friends to "Like" your page. Even if they aren't totally into your business, they might still love you enough to follow you and thus build up the start of a fan base. They might even tell others of your business who are more interested in what you offer.
Use your Page like a Profile
The next step would be to get into and use your Facebook page like a separate profile. When you go to your page, you'll see a link on the right-hand side saying "Use Facebook as _____" with your page name in the blank. Press it and it might seem you're now running around as your brand and not as your personal profile.
Why do this? As a page you cannot go and friend request people, but you could go and "Like" other brands. So the investment firm might go and "Like" The Wall Street Journal or The Economist. The online boutique might go and "Like" the clothing designers they support and carry, as well as any online sites/brands having to do with fashion. The café could press "Like" on the brand of coffee they carry, or the fan page of their city, or local gatherings in their city.
The real beauty of this trick is when you "Like" another brand as a page; you can then start posting comments when those brands post something. So The Economist posts a link to a new article on investing, perhaps making it sound like it's a losing battle for the "little guy". The investment firm could then chime in as a comment stating how they made many people money easily with smart decisions. Right there anyone could wonder who these guys are, click on the name, and end up on their page. It could also end up being a "Like" and then a new client.
What about Facebook Ads? Facebook Places?
I would not totally rule out Facebook ads as a possible means to gain new fans. For those not sure what I'm speaking of, they're the text-based banner ads that appear on the right. You might even regularly see Facebook push to try to get you to make an ad.
I don't know if the investment firm would benefit from Facebook ads, but the café and the boutique would. For the boutique, I'd look into advertising specials or even the idea of exclusive offers to Facebook fans. Some might think it's pointless, but look how many young women shop online like crazy because they want high fashion at a discount price. That's why one starts their boutique online over a storefront.
The café could also benefit from Facebook ads, but they should make sure they are localized. So if the café is in Chicago, you don't want people living in Oregon seeing it. The real key is in what you say and how you present it.
In terms of Facebook Places, the only establishment out of the three hypothetical businesses that would benefit from Facebook Places would be the café. The easiest solution is to offer a deal or discount to those who "check in" at the café. The investment firm I don't believe would want people "checking in" at their office, and the online boutique really has no location to "check in" to.
Facebook places is an ideal tool for the retail operation that has an actual physical location. The main goal is to get people in the door, so start by setting up a Facebook Places deal, and then advertise it all over. Post a sign on your door, but also toss comments into the local spots on Facebook where you believe you can harvest customers.
Have a blog? Try Facebook's comment tool.
Let's imagine the café owner is also a chef, and he decides to utilize his café's website as a blog to talk about food, coffee, and even post recipes of the dishes he creates. It's a smart move simply because it not only gives the owner material to post on his Facebook page, but it also gives a continual reason for people to visit his website. This is even why businesses such as the investment firm could benefit from a blog and the Facebook comment tool.
If you're not sure what this tool is, on pretty much any blog setup, you have the ability for people to post comments on the articles you write. It's the comment area you see below this article (which I always invite anyone to post comments). When you install the Facebook comment tool, it replaces your old content area with one powered by Facebook. The biggest benefit is when someone posts a comment, they have the option to also post it onto their Wall. The image I've posted here shows what a comment I post on TechCrunch will look like. Not only does this allow for new content on my Facebook page, but also it leaves a link to connect to me out there for others to find.
So imagine the café posts a recipe for an amazing tiramisu. Ten people comment on it, and eight of them post their comments to their Facebook walls. From there, forty more people come to check out the recipe or the café's Facebook page. The end results could be more traffic, Likes, and even customers who didn't know the café existed.
The same could happen for the investment firm. They could post blogs on the state of the economy, new successes their firm made happen, even stories of how they made their clients money. Comments lead to the message being spread, and thus more traffic.
So why didn't I use this feature? The main reason is because when you hand over your comment functionality to Facebook, you don't get to easily keep it. So if Facebook is down one day, so is your comment region. Plus the possible commentators must have a Facebook account in order to use it. As I stated earlier, Facebook popularity is not a priority of mine, and I like to keep comments and such "in-house" as well as open as possible. This doesn't mean the same case should apply to you.
One last method of gaining Facebook fans is a practice called "Like-Gating". It's basically when you see content on a blog or site, but you are required to press the "Like" button in order to see said content. There has been debate on if this is an ethical and effective means of gaining Facebook fans, but I don't see it as a bad thing. I will though touch on this in greater detail in another article.
Do you have any methods of gaining fans I didn't mention? Please share your thoughts.