Four years ago, official brand pages on Facebook were quite rare. Today, not only are most major brands on Facebook, but their total fan numbers have skyrocketed. In fact, top brands now manage communities that reach upwards of 20 million members (also, the population of Australia).
The challenge for marketers is to maintain the steady growth of their communities while still attracting valuable fans who remain eager to engage with your brand, long past that initial click of a "like" button. Here are seven ways for brands to grow their fan bases on Facebook.
1. Expand your reach with content
Engaging content sparks conversations. Fans interact by commenting, "liking," or writing on your wall, and those interactions foster the organic spread of brand content and experiences throughout Facebook. In short, more interaction means greater reach. Strong content might contain information, multimedia (photos, links, video), a question, or more.
Tagged photos (such as the Coca-Cola example above) can help marketers organically grow their pages.
2. Make the most of media buys
Media buys are your only surefire way to acquire a specific number of fans. There are a number of different ad-buy options on Facebook, but the most successful of these options tie back to a larger content or event strategy. After all, it's not only how you get fans to your page, but how you keep them there. Current ad options from Facebook include Engagement Ads, Marketplace ads, Sponsored Stories and Events, and in-game advertising.
Sponsored Event to promote USA Network's "Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe."
3. Respond and engage
Driving engagement on your page requires both interactivity and proactive communication. A responsive messaging strategy sparks and rewards conversation -- and encourages even more fan interactions. More interaction means greater relevancy, greater reach, and more fans.
Some ways that leading brands are driving engagement are commenting on fan posts, "liking" user-generated content, and providing customer service directly within the platform.
Smirnoff U.S. connects with a fan who has shared a photo with the community.
4. Create incentives
Contests, sweepstakes, and fan-championing are excellent ways to create big buzz while also offering an exclusive reward for your fans. The bigger and more custom-designed the contest, the more incentive someone will have to join your community. Brands can inspire fans to get involved through creative contesting, gamification, coupons, or even group deals.
Fan of the week (FOTW) contests are another popular means of incentivizing fans to engage. For example, fans of Oreo are eligible for FOTW props if they upload a photo of themselves with the product to the Oreo community.
Oreo's World's Fan of the Week initiative elevates fans from across the globe.
5. Utilize Facebook tools
You've spent years building out your brand website, so the very least you can do now is spend a few minutes and add social components to connect your digital assets in a meaningful way. Adding "like" buttons and widgets (i.e., Activity Feed and the "like" box) can go a long way when it comes to driving site visitors back to your Facebook community.
Kraft Foods implements the Facebook Activity Feed tool on its website.
6. Optimize mobile and offline
Growing your Facebook community shouldn't only be limited to online channels. You can make the most of your offline investments by tying messaging and creative imagery back to your Facebook community. Some marketers are incorporating URLs to their Facebook pages directly within TV or print ads. Others are reaching people at the point-of-sale -- directly on product packaging! What's more, Facebook Deals gives people a reason to engage with your page while they are at your place of business.
Subway (at left) and Gap are two brands that have used Facebook Places and Deals to connect online and offline via Facebook.
7. Activate through Inside Pages
Although Inside Pages (formerly "tabs") are more hidden in the new Facebook layout, they can still add significant value to your page. Create good content, drive consumers there, and then activate them to participate, share, and advocate for you. Value often comes in the form of creating emotional connections or providing people with an added function (i.e., a recipe tab).
For example, this Inside Page from Oscar Mayer connects fans to each others' good deeds and incentivizes them to share the good feeling and "good mood."
The Oscar Mayer Good Mood Mission landing page encourages community members to share their good deeds with others.
At the end of the day, the key to building a successful, highly engaged, and interactive fan community on Facebook is to have a balanced implementation of creative and innovative acquisition tactics that focus on dialogue and fan interaction.
You can read the full report, "7 Ways to Fuel Fandom," on the 360i blog.
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