Promoting your brand with Facebook, Part 3: Keeping your fans
With a Facebook page setup to promote your brand, you might have managed to gain a few "Likes" and thus build that following you're looking to utilize in Facebook. The big fear at this point would be those same fans "Unliking" you as fast as you gained them. So how do you keep those fans?
This third and final part of my series on promoting your brand with Facebook is going to dive into the key idea of social media: engagement. What you do here not only will keep your current fans, but also help in the efforts you make to gain new ones. People want to follow ideas and brands they not only believe, but feel they can gain some kind of benefit from. You must build your brand to be a benefit.
Engage your fans to keep them
It's the golden rule of social media. When I read What Would Google Do?, social media guru Jeff Jarvis talked in-depth on engagement and why it's so important. Engagement basically is about bringing quality content to your Facebook page as well as trying to hold conversation with your fans. It's funny how many just aren't sure what to post. So let's dive into ideas:
Use your Page as PR: The investment firm would definitely want to do this. As I set it up earlier, imagine this firm is dealing with people who don't trust "money guys". Thus they might want to use Facebook as a means to show they're not AIG or Goldman Sachs. They can post blog entries and links elsewhere condemning the crooked investors as well as post success stories. If they happen to make some Joe Average into a well-to-do individual, post it. That's how you gain trust, when the people see a positive image for your company.
Post Exclusive Content: Both the online boutique and the café would benefit on this. I already touched on how the café could use Facebook Places to bring bodies through the door, but the boutique could also post exclusive sales and even require people to "Like" their page to gain access to exclusive sales. When you provide your customers value for that "Like", then you'll gain a bigger following.
Live Blogging: I mainly like to suggest live blogging when it pertains to a live event. Generally my focus is more on musical acts and venues that host them as a means to give a live look at what's going on with them. However, all three hypothetical businesses can benefit from some form of live blogging if they're willing to try. The investment firm could post live updates when they're at some big conference, sharing the day-to-day of their business, or even go further and post live investment tips with a nudge to contact them to get the deal made.
The online boutique could post updates when a fashion show occurs, or when they sponsor an event. The café more or less can and should post a photo or update when things are busy, thus pushing their spot as "the place to be at".
Be a Content Aggregator: This is probably the most primary tasks of a user in social media when they want to build and maintain a following. You already aggregate content when you post comments on blogs that use the Facebook comment tool as well as on other brands you Liked. Just like many do on Twitter, posting links to articles, videos, and blog entries is how you can give value to your following.
The investment firm can easily post a dozen articles a day, but I'd forewarn them to be careful on what they pick. Seen too many types of businesses fall into a trap of posting a lot of Right-Wing "Liberal hate" articles and thus paint an angry image of their company. You're better off posting articles that support why you're advising clients to buy in certain companies and thus show you're a resource who is keeping up with everything in the world.
For the boutique, most of your postings should be of new items you're carrying, but take it a step further and post images of celebrities either wearing the clothing you sell or showing how they're dressed. Even "worst dressed" articles will spur your following into listening. They follow you now looking not just for deals, but to have someone "in the know" advise them on fashion.
The café would best serve by not only posting links on the blog they run, but also other food, culinary, cultural, and local interest stories they come across. Even step away from the café thinking and post that video you think is hilarious. Your fans might appreciate your down-to-Earth attitude and thus not see you as "all business".
Ask Questions/Start Discussions: Right here is the "holy grail" of social media. It's not so much when you are just posting things for people to look at, but when you get responses. The moment you can hold conversation with your audience is when you locked them in as a strong brand with a good following.
When you post a blog article of some sort, phrase the comment you can post with it as a question. Ask them what they think of the gold trade. Ask them if they think this new blouse is hot or ugly. Ask them which coffee they like better - Illy, Intelligenstia, or Lavazza. Get them to want to respond to you.
The best practice is to word these initial comments in a personable second-person format. Don't just say "Best coffee in the world...name it!" but ask "Which coffee would you rather drink? Illy, Intelligentsia, or Lavazza?" People are more likely to respond when it sounds like you're asking them personally. Yes in the back of their minds they know you're asking the mass of fans, but in the front of their minds they might register it as you asking for their personal opinion.
Try to call out fans if you think it will help. The boutique could send an order to a girl, but offer her a discount coupon if she poses in the outfit and sends you a photo back. Granted the girls might not be models, but what girl would turn away a little bit of Facebook fame showing off the new clothes she bought? Wish them Happy Birthday if you see it's their birthday, you get the point.
Another possibility is to use your Facebook page even as a customer service center. A girl might come online and ask if she can return a blouse that didn't look good on her when she put it on. Answer her and help her. People will publicly see you care about your customers. It's a practice that's been growing in great amount in social media.
Think beyond conversation
Posting all over your Page wall is effective, but you can do more with Facebook. For instance, did you know you could create tabs that would allow you to show content as opposed to just showing your wall? The wall is still there, but it's not the first thing users see. You might want to post a flyer for an event or special at the café, or new clothing in the boutique, or even just a logo with a small introductory paragraph for the investment firm. Utilize your Facebook page as a micro-website and strengthen your brand in the long run.
Ever think about holding a contest? Charity work? Your Facebook page would be an ideal spot to try these ideas, and hopefully gain results. The café could start a contest for dessert recipes or wild coffee concoctions. The boutique could donate money to a girls charity from each order place within a certain time. The investment firm would definitely paint a wonderful image of itself utilizing Facebook to push charity drives.
The Final Thought
Throughout this series, I've tried to display and show ideas on how a small business can utilize Facebook and win the way the big firms have. Granted this all sounds like a lot of work, especially when you might have decisions to make, clothing to add to your website, or a café to run. Regardless, you should make the time to add items and use Facebook for short breaks in your day. With some dedication and drive, you can turn ten fans into a thousand...and that could lead to paying customers and clients. It can work.
The last thought I want to leave with you is to make sure you stay focused with your message and you do nothing to wreck your branding. That means you don't become annoying and post so much every day that you lose fans over gaining them. It means you don't alienate anyone either. The best practice is to target your following and give them value for their time and "Like". Think like them and cater to their desires. It'll add up to results in the long run.
How do you engage your Facebook fans? Do you get good results from it?