iMedia Connection

Fans are fickle: How to inspire loyalty after the "like"

Scott Meldrum

In my most recent article for iMedia, I highlighted the three main reasons why some brands are lacking fans. And while fans are very important component in building your Facebook marketing channel, the work doesn't end once the consumer clicks the "like" button. In fact, fans often like your page with little to no intention of maintaining frequent communication with you. What got them to click "like" is probably not what it will take to keep them loyal.

Facebook fan loyalty is not a given. Between interacting with friends and family, personal interests, events and groups, and other brands, Facebook users are barraged with a constant flow of activity. As a result, they are starting to prioritize their activities on the platform. Facebook users are loyal to those things that reward them for their time and effort. And so, engagement with your page needs to be a rewarding experience. Here are 15 simple engagement strategies that will enable you to inspire loyalty with every click of the "like" button:

1. Target your messages to your audience
Facebook's page insights will enable you to determine the mix of ages, gender, and locations of your fans. While you cannot segment your message so that only certain fans see it, you can start to use these demographics to better focus your messages. Try occasionally addressing audience segments in your wall post copy (e.g., "To all of our Chicago fans, we are..."). By targeting your posts, when appropriate, you add relevancy to your message and gain loyalty points from your fans.

2. Call your fans back to the page with solid CTAs
Once people like your page, the only way they will return is if you invite them. Your wall posts should contain regular calls-to-action to interact with content on your Facebook page. Facebook users are more likely to consume branded content within the platform rather than clicking to leave it. Use this to your advantage by making your page a hub for your fans and call them to it regularly.

3. Ask interesting questions
By now, you probably already know that asking questions in your wall posts is one of the best ways to engage your fans. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine the relevancy of your posts. Fan interaction (responses and likes) with your posts increases that relevancy. The more relevant your posts, the more frequently they will show up in your fan's newsfeeds. By asking questions, you increase your reach and turn fans into loyal participants.

4. Post frequently: 8-10 times per week
Staying top-of-mind with your fans isn't easy. And while you don't want to fatigue them by monopolizing their newsfeed with useless messages, you should maintain frequent and consistent communication with your fans. Be sure to use page insights to find the right frequency rate. If you see too many fans unliking your page or disabling your posts in their newsfeeds, dial back the frequency of your posts.

5. Use wall insights to optimize reach and interaction rates
For pages with more than 10,000 fans, Facebook will enable you to view metrics on the number of impressions of your wall posts and the percentage of those impressions that led to feedback (responses) being given. These insights are critical in determining the effectiveness of your communication strategy as they help define what messages are getting through -- literally and figuratively -- to your fans.

6. Respond to posts by your fans
You're not the only one who is seeking interaction. Your fans are asking questions and making comments on your wall. They are also commenting on some of the content on your page such as photos and videos. Are you responding to these questions and comments? There is nothing more disconcerting to a customer than a lack of response to a question, compliment, or complaint -- especially when the customer has opened up the communication channel by liking a brand's Facebook page. Brand loyalty by fans is only possible when brands are loyal to them. Check your wall, photos, videos, and other content for questions or comments by your fans regularly and respond immediately.

7. Serve up new content regularly
Your Facebook page should be a living, breathing, dynamic community. Facebook allows your fans to have a multimedia experience with your brand. Photos, videos, audio, polls, notes, discussions, reviews, and custom tabs are all content that can be consumed via your Facebook page. Keep new content flowing regularly to keep engagement level high.

8. Thank your fans for liking you
You should be regularly thanking your fans for joining you at Facebook. It's important to acknowledge their willingness to form this two-way communication channel. If you are adding a small number of fans each day, send out a wall post thanking your new fans once a month. If you are seeing large growth spurts, make those posts more frequent. Acknowledging your new fans can add to the loyalty factor in a big way.

9. Encourage your fans to share content
Fans' sharing content with their friends is a great way to gain new fans. But it's also a way to strengthen your relationship with existing fans. By asking fans to share content, you make them a partner in your Facebook fan community. This partnership increases loyalty. Only a small percentage of your fans will share without some form of an incentive. However, for pages with hundreds of thousands of fans, a small percentage of sharing can equal a sizeable volume of awareness and increased loyalty. Incent when you can, but encourage fans to share regardless.
 
10. Stay on top of the competition
You should "like" your competitors' Facebook pages. You should be visiting their pages weekly. Look at how they are interacting with their fans and how their fans are interacting with them. Become part of the complete fan experience so you can see exactly how to make it better for your customers. Rest assured your competitors are doing the same with your page.

11. Advertise to fans who are also fans of your competitors
Facebook's ad platform will allow you to target fans of your page, as well as of your competitors. The goal here is not to steal new fans from your competitors; it's to maintain a stronger connection with your fans than your competitors are forging. If they are fans of both pages, it's important that you stand out. Before you advertise, consider your message, CTA, and the destination that your fans will land on. Test and refine your ads to maximize the impact. The cost here is fairly minimal, especially if you are buying ads on a CPC basis.

12. Advertise to your fans on their birthday
Facebook's ad platform will also enable you to target ads to fans on their birthdays. What better way to inspire fan loyalty than wishing them a personalized message on their special day? Here also, the cost should be fairly low, as you are only advertising to those fans having a birthday on the day(s) your ad runs. With the CPC option, you only pay for those fans that click on the ad. The clicks should go to a custom landing tab or an external page with a birthday greeting.

13. Ask your fans to contribute
From product/service feedback to photo contests and more, your fans are eager to give their opinions and personally express themselves through your brand. By asking your fans for opinions and opening up the community for fan-generated content, you turn the fan into a character in your brand's story. Something as simple as asking your fans for suggestions on how to make the fan experience better for them can go a long way in creating loyalty.

14. Give fans inside access, exclusive content, and special deals
Giving your fans a VIP Facebook experience is a must, especially in highly competitive industries. Again, your competitors are vying for your fans' attention, and so it's important that they feel rewarded for being a fan of your page vs. "the other guys" Push exclusive content, breaking news, and special deals to your fans often. You will find them interacting with these exclusives at a higher rate, all the while strengthening your connection to them.

15. Use page insights to measure page traffic and interaction
While wall insights will give you a sense of the reach of your wall posts, page insights will tell you how that reach translates to engagement. In addition to the demographic information I referenced earlier, page insights will tell you what types of content are the most popular as well as provide insights into what types of interaction you are getting from your fans. You can also measure the traffic to your page and overall activity. This data is absolutely critical in your efforts to optimize overall engagement. The more engaged, the more likely that fan is to stay by your side.

Building an effective and scalable Facebook marketing channel is more than acquiring fans. It requires time, experimentation, and a focus on metrics to turn a new fan into an active and loyal one. You've likely spent a fair amount of time and money in getting your customers to "like" you. By implementing some of the strategies above, they will come to "love" you.

Scott Meldrum is chief pollin8or at Pollin8.

On Twitter? Follow Scott at @ScottMeldrum. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.