The trick to Facebook is not just winning fans; it’s also about keeping them coming back. After all, what good are fans to you if they hit up your page once and then never return to see any new promotions or products?
1. Tap into fan passions. You already know what your customers are passionate about (don’t you?), so your Facebook page should be a place for them to express that. “If you market for a fashion brand, talk about design, style, and haute couture,” says the report. “If you’re a food brand, ask for favorite recipes and opinions on food trends.”
Wildfire cites the example of online boutique Rue La La, which hosts a regular “live chat” on its Facebook page with a featured fashion stylist. Recently, the brand hosted a stylist from Elle.com, and added the stylist’s photo “both to make the post more personal and engaging, and to increase its EdgeRank weight.” (EdgeRank is the Facebook algorithm that determines what is displayed and how high in the News Feed. For a primer, click here.) Meanwhile, HomeAgain Pet Rescuers, a microchip and recovery service for pets, frequently shares videos of animals from YouTube or cute pictures from fans—but the posts that get the most engagement encourage people to answer questions about their own pets. The question, “Why and how did you choose your pet’s name?” spurred 432 Likes and a whopping 1,086 comments.
2. Ask simple, closed questions. This is somewhat intuitive: Unless there’s a major reward, would you rather do something that’s super-quick or one that takes time and effort? “One strategy to ensure engagement is to ask fans questions that are a breeze to answer,” observes the report. “The barrier to typing a one-word response…is very low, so more fans respond.” One brand Wildfire says does this successfully: The Verge, an online technology publication. Its questions are things such as “Android or iPhone?” or “What is your current Web browser?” but “because it chooses hot topics…it also prompts a lot of commentary from people who have more to say on the subject.” (For more on the secrets to a perfect Facebook post, click here.)
3. Tell fans what you want from them. Ending a post with “Like this post” results in much higher numbers of fans who do so. For example, Wildfire had to look no further than its own experience, pointing to two posts on its Facebook page with similar content, both with links to outside articles, and both with a similar number of impressions. “But the post with the instruction to “Click Like if you love the tool,” got twice as many Likes as the post without the instruction. This result is consistent with the results our clients get on their pages as well,” the report says. “The lesson: Never leave the next step up to interpretation—tell fans exactly what you want them to do.”
4. Treat your fans like VIPs. Give fans exclusive access to information you haven’t posted to your website, such as internal photographs of your team or company videos that won’t be shared any other way. You could also offer coupons, giveaways and sweepstakes, which get the highest amount of entries on average, says Wildfire. One example: Dunkin’ Donuts gets “week after week of quality engagement” for a “Fan of the Week” sweepstakes that encourages fans to submit photos of themselves with the company’s products. The winner has their picture featured on the Dunkin’ Donuts page, among other treats.
5. Invite one-on-one interactions. Make your relationship more personal by responding to your fans by name when possible, and by answering comments one-on-one. This “proves that you’re listening and are receptive to their comments and feedback,” according to the report. “And that means they’re more likely to keep posting.” This is as simple as it sounds, with Wildfire showing a screenshot of Tide detergent’s Facebook page, responding to a comment with “Awww….thanks Sheila!”
6. Humanize your brand. In some ways this is an extension of the “VIP” idea, with Wildfire’s research showing that people get excited about behind-the-scenes glimpses. (“It works for DVD and Blu-Ray sales, and it works on Facebook fan pages too,” notes the report.) The Holland America cruise line posted about its tradition of lunches for new employees, and Wildfire itself posted about ringing a cowbell, which signifies the launch of a new full-service campaign. (Wildfire’s post received 50 Likes within an hour of its being published.)
By Courtney Rubin Business Writers