As social media continues to dominate headlines, businesses are investing significant time and resources to social media outreach. One of the the most talked about sites is Facebook, with over 350 million active users and a worldwide reach. Facebook “Pages” are the primary way that businesses can interact with other users. According to Facebook’s own statistics, there are over 1.6 million active Pages on Facebook, more than 700,000 local businesses have active Pages and Pages have created more than 5.3 billion fans. (Doing a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, dividing 5.3 billion fans by the 350 million active users, shows that each user is supposedly a fan of an average 15 Pages. This number does seem a tad inflated.)
While these statistics seems to demonstrate widespread success, TechCrunch recently ran a feature analyzing more in-depth statistics on Facebook Pages. In the article, social media monitoring firm Sysomos revealed that “77% of Facebook Fan Pages have under 1,000 fans.” Also, “less than 1/20th of a percent have more than a million fans.” This means the average Facebook page isn’t really reaching all that many potential customers.
The main hurdle to gaining fans on Facebook has to do with the closed nature of the Facebook network. Other social media networks, like Twitter, allow users to search for and follow other users without the need for a reciprocal relationship. With this open system, business accounts can search for users that are talking about topics that are related to the business’ product and then follow those users. The hope is that some of those users will follow them back, increasing their fanbase. With Facebook, however, owners of Fan pages cannot invite random individuals to join the page. Each user can suggest the page to their own friends network, but that is all in terms of free Facebook promotion. (As a quick aside, the other option for Facebook promotion is to spend money on Facebook ads which drive people to your page. However, Facebook ads have been plagued with notoriously low click- through rates. If you decide to go this route, Silicon Alley Insider has some great advice in their article “10 Rules for Advertising on Facebook“.)
Even with the “closed system” hurdle, there are still ways that companies can grow their Facebook Pages:
1. Get a custom URL for your page with your company’s name. This will help your Page’s SEO and make it easier to link to your page. Keep the following rules in mind when getting a custom URL:
- You can’t change the username once you set it.
- You can’t transfer the ownership of a username to another party.
- You can’t violate anyone elses trademark rights.
- If you are acquiring a username to sell it in the future (squatting), you will lose it.
- Usernames may be reclaimed for other unauthorized usages.
2. Use Facebook Apps on your Page. The most important step is to link your blog feed to your Facebook page so that your blog posts update to Facebook automatically. Get the RSS feed address for your blog, and then use the “Notes” application to feed it to the page. For more essential Facebook apps for business, see Mashable’s “8 Essential Apps for Your Brand’s Facebook Page”.
3. Promote your Facebook page in your marketing materials. This includes posting a link from your company website, adding the link to newsletters, brochures, advertisements and even your email signature.
4. Provide more than just company updates. Engage with fans by asking questions, hosting contests and giveaways and promoting events.
5. Add media for visual interest. All Facebook pages have a standardized layout and color scheme. Make your page stand out by including screenshots, company photos, videos and other media materials on your page to make it better reflect your company’s brand. For the logo area, be creative and go beyond just posting your logo on a white background. Use that space to use a picture that tells a story about your company, from your coolest product to a great screenshot from your game.
6. Consider a developing Facebook App. Depending on your business, a facebook app can add another level of interactivity with fans. For example, Starbucks developed the Share a Pint of New Starbucks® Ice Cream app to help circulate coupons for their new product.
For more social media tips for business, check out my other post Twitter for Business: Perspectives from the 140 Twitter Conference and beyond.