The Social Side, Part 6: How To Make and Keep Fans in Social Media

During this series, we’ve discussed defining your social media goals, finding your best virtual mix, the almighty power of blogging, and your social media budget. With all those pieces in place, making and keeping your fans will be much easier, but not without challenges.

After several years of marketing on Facebook, I have noticed a few consistent truths about the social network and brands. These haven’t wavered, in spite of Facebook’s ever changing interface and Facebook fan pages, including taking away the term “Fan” altogether and replacing it with “Likes.”

So to gain the most “Likes,” or fans, within Facebook, you need one of these three things:

1. A big offline presence and loyal customer base. One sure way to gain fans on Facebook is to have an existing fan base offline. Take Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, for example. Jeni’s has more than 17,000 Facebook fans. Its fan base is so extremely loyal and because the product is absolutely delicious offline, fans seek it out online. You see this with other larger brands that have passionate customers, like Abercrombie & Fitch or American Apparel.

2. Earning fans from existing Web traffic. So what if you don’t have a high profile business with oodles of loyal customers? After all, you are creating a Facebook fan page to earn more customers.

The second way to earn fans is by capitalizing on existing Web traffic by converting the current visitors to your website over to Facebook fandom. Do this by stepping up your call to action to become a Facebook fan. This could involve a simple design switch or making sure every page on your site has a “Like” button− quick fixes that can result in a steep climb in fans. Just be sure to give your site visitors a reason to become a fan.

“Like us on Facebook for exclusive coupons and specials,” for example.

3. Outside media and promotions. The third and final way to make fans on Facebook is through a traditional outside media push driven by a promotion or special offer.

Note: Facebook is not like Twitter. When you create a Facebook fan page, you are essentially in a dark closet in the corner. Aside from sending your friends Facebook fan page suggestions, you can’t reach out to Facebookers and ask them to be a fan. So one of the above tactics must be used to gain “Likes.”

Now that you have fans, how do you keep them and earn more? Keep your fans engaged (interacting on your wall with “Likes” and comments) by always posting interesting content. Here are a few examples of what I mean by “interesting content”:

1. Photos and videos. Multimedia posts consistently out-entertain other wall posts. Take a look at the Jeni’s Facebook fan page and you’ll see that nearly every one of the company’s updates includes a photo of its product.

2. Don’t plug your product all of the time. The wall posts with the highest number of interactions are often posts that have nothing to do with our client’s products.  Take local T-shirt company HOMAGE as an example. Its Facebook fan page is filled with videos and content that have nothing to do with T-shirts, but everything to do with its brand essence.

As a result, HOMAGE is giving its fans interesting and engaging content, which keeps them active and entertained.

3. Think outside of the box. The opportunities technology affords marketers is really quite remarkable, but many of us tend to think about only engaging fans within Facebook. Instead, think of creative ways to use the technology to engage fans. Here’s a great example.  Recently Stauf’s, one of Cement Marketing’s clients, held a mini scavenger hunt in the store for Facebook fans.

Stauf’s announced the scavenger hunt for a stuffed Batman often seen in the store and rewarded the winner with a free drink.  The scavenger hunt drove fans into the store for a fun event.

There really are no limits to what you can do with your Facebook fan page. To succeed, though, you must learn from your mistakes, and repeat your successes and those of others. We’re all in this together, learning as we go. Above all, don’t lose sight of having fun!