7. Nothing spreads the word like photos
Another great tip for virality is to encourage your fans to post photos to the fan page and tag them. When the photos are tagged, they appear in the news stream of the tagged person's friends, along with the link to the fan page. This works especially well for businesses that have events, retail outlets, or products that can be photographed. For example, a clothing company can have a photo page that encourages people to post and tag pictures of them wearing your brand. Or if you are a tech company that gives away T-shirts at a tradeshow, ask people to tag the photos for their page.
In this example, you can see how Joey's picture, posted to the California Academy of Sciences, appears in the news streams of his friends.
8. Monitor and engage
I am continually shocked by the number of companies that have Facebook fan pages but aren't monitoring them closely. If your company has a page and you haven't tasked someone with making sure the comments are responded to regularly, you are missing a huge opportunity and likely doing more damage than good. Social media is about conversations, not the one-way broadcast of ideas. There's no reason to have a fan page if you're not going to engage with fans. Why would anyone want to associate with a brand that doesn't take the time to listen to fans?
As an example of someone doing it correctly, the author of "Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's" engages with fans in a friendly, natural way.
9. Determine your strategy in advance
Before you post your Facebook fan page, your company should have an employee policy around social media. Employees should know what is acceptable to post, and what is cause for dismissal. I recently went to the Starbucks fan page and, on the discussions tab, there was a topic about rude customers, started by an employee. If your company employees are young or part-time workers that might not understand the ramifications of bad PR, it's best to have a policy that is clear and leaves no room for misunderstanding.
10. Treat your fan page like an online ad and optimize
Fan page administrators have access to reporting tools and can use the tools to optimize the performance of the page. All posts are given a quality rating based on how many people comment, like, and write posts in response. You can use this quality rating to get a better understanding about what fans want to see from you.
The Facebook Pages platform provides the most effective way for businesses to engage fans on Facebook. But to be successful, you must remember that pages are a two-way conversation, and you need to be present and active. The rewards are great. Embracing this form of interaction will build deeper connections with your most loyal advocates.
I hope these tips and examples have provided value. If anyone has other tips or ideas, I would love to hear them. Social media welcomes two-way conversations better than any other medium out there.
Carnet Williams is co-founder and CEO of Sprout.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.
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