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Gaining Fans On Facebook: What’s Not to Like?

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On October 17, Woodfin Heating, Inc., had registered “likes” from 311 visitors to its Facebook page. Ten days later, the number of “likes” had skyrocketed to 1,183—a 280 percent increase. So what was Woodfin’s secret to attracting an average of 87 potential customers per day? The chance to win a $250 Visa gift card.

“To get more fans to our Facebook page, we teamed up with a local TV station to promote the gift card program,” says Kelly Williams, assistant marketing manager for the Mechanicsville, Va., company. “To enter the drawing, people just had to ‘like’ us, and the response has been amazing.”

The majority of Facebook users “like” something at least monthly, according to a recent study by ExactTarget, a provider of online marketing programs. In return for “liking” a company, the study indicates, consumers expect to gain access to exclusive content, events, or sales and to receive discounts or promotions through Facebook.

Here are five tips to attract, and retain the attention of those Facebook visitors:

1. Have a game plan. If you put up a Facebook page simply because it seemed the thing to do, revisit your intentions. After its Facebook page got little notice, Cool Touch Air Conditioning & Heating, in Surprise, Ariz., redefined how social media fit into its overall marketing efforts and decided to target residential customers.

“In the past, we just threw random stuff on Facebook to see if anybody was reading it. The posts weren’t very personable,” explains Ashley Black, Cool Touch’s office manager and bookkeeper. “Now, we’re more strategic—and having that focus on residential customers makes the posts much easier to write.”

2. Use an authentic voice. Initially, Cool Touch relied on a marketing firm to manage its Facebook presence. While professional and informative, the marketing firm’s posts lacked the down-to-earth approach for which Cool Touch is known. Customers used to joke with technicians because they found the stuffy Facebook posts out of character, so after a few months Cool Touch took over posting duties itself. “You know your customers and they know you, so stay true to who you are. Speak to your customers on Facebook the same way you speak to them in person or on the phone,” advises Black.

3. Offer a mix of content. On Woodfin’s Facebook page you’ll find videos, special offers, customer entries in a pet contest, and a variety of posts. The latter includes chatty observations, useful tips, and links to community activities and organizations. For a cross-promotion, the company dropped stuffed animals from the ceiling during a Virginia Commonwealth University basketball game; each animal had a number, and attendees entered those numbers on Woodfin’s Facebook page to see if they won a prize.

Cool Touch has even used Facebook as a recruitment tool, inviting people to apply on the company’s website. In addition, Black posts reminders, such as nudging people to change the air filters in their units on the first of every month.

“Facebook enables you to enhance your customer service,” believes Williams. “It gives you another way to touch your customers and to make you real to them.”

4. Go easy on the hard sell. In the four years Woodfin has been on Facebook, Williams has learned that maintaining the site’s casual, social atmosphere takes precedence over any sales pitch. “You have to make people aware of what you do, without going overboard. Otherwise, they will unlike you,” she observes.

Here’s a rule of thumb from Andrea Vahl, a social media coach and author of How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 Days: Use the 80/20 rule for content/interaction posts versus sales messages. For example, if you post five times a week, only one of those messages should be related to sales.

5. Review your statistics. Sure, your gut instinct will tell you the types of postings that prompt the most responses. Still, says Black, “Facebook’s statistics provide a detailed and graphic representation of what’s happening. It’s especially helpful for me to see what time of day traffic is the heaviest, when people are most likely to engage with us.” Black now posts more often at lunchtime and the late afternoon, rather than in the morning.

Both Black and Williams devote about an hour a day to maintaining their firms’ social media sites. So if you value the interaction with customers that Facebook can provide, make sure someone has the responsibility—and the time—to make that engagement happen.

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Let’s face it, social media is here to stay and having a Facebook page is almost a necessity if you want to build solid relationships with your customers. However, many businesses aren’t quite sure how to make Facebook work for them, so they dive in and just try anything to see if it works, which could end up disastrous! So, to help you get started, or improve your Facebook page, here are 10 ways that will quickly get you “unliked” by your fans.

  1. Posting Too Much Or Not Enough. Yes, you want to have a strong presence, but if you post 100 times a day, you will probably overload their news feed and it will result in them unliking you. On the flip side if you don’t bother to post at all, your fans will unlike you, because they don’t see the value of “liking” you.
  2. Posting Too Many Advertisements or Sales Pitches. As mentioned in the article, no one wants to be constantly sold to on Facebook. If your page is one big sales pitch, you will lose fans faster than you got them.
  3. Deleting Negative Comments. No one wants negative comments on their page, but deleting them shows your fans that you don’t care. Respond to them instead, it shows you are making an effort to correct the issue.
  4. Not Responding To Fans Or Responding Too Slowly. You probably don’t like being ignored and neither do your Facebook fans. If someone posts a question, comment, a concern, or anything that you can respond to, do it and do it as soon as possible!
  5. Giving Up. You aren’t going to get thousands of fans overnight. It takes time to build your base, so keep at it!

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  • Facebook has more than 800 million active users (Dec 2011)
  • The average user spends 15 hours and 33 minutes on Facebook every month
  • The average user visits 80 Facebook pages every month
  • 350 million Facebook users access the site through a mobile device
  • Facebook users are 51% male and 49% female

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Sandra Sabo
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Sales & Marketing, Technology

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