How to Grow Your Facebook Fan Base By 35 Times in One Year
When I first started marketing via social media, I didn’t understand Facebook. A blog was the central focus of my social media programs. I’d create a blog post and push it out via Facebook and other social media channels. And that worked well at driving traffic to my blog. As for engagement with my readers, I got some comments back, even some people interacting with each other on occasion, but nothing earth-shattering.
Over on Facebook, I had a whole bunch of content, but no interaction and not many fans. I’ve seen a ton of Facebook fan pages like this.
But about a year ago, I found the key that unlocked the Facebook engagement factor. At that time I took over the fan page of one of my clients, The Fresh Diet (whom I wrote about in my column two weeks ago). When I began working on The Fresh Diet's Facebook page, it had 96 fans. At first it was business at usual: Write a blog post and put it on Facebook; add The Fresh Diet's Facebook link to emails; etc. The net result: In three months, The Fresh Diet had accumulated 300 fans.
Since January, The Fresh Diet has seen its Facebook fan base swell to over 3,500 fans. Here’s how we did it:
- We asked questions — sometimes controversial ones — that drew fans out.
- We held contests. At first, these were held every few weeks, but now they're going on almost all the time. And they're simple: caption a picture, name a feature of The Fresh Diet's business, etc.
- We also held more elaborate contests. Recently, The Fresh Diet held a video testimonial contest and was blown away by the results.
- I know you’ve heard this one many times by now, but The Fresh Diet spoke in a real voice. The voice of The Fresh Diet's Facebook page is me — goofy, earnest, caring, sometimes a bit snarky and sarcastic, but always real. I call myself The Fresh Diet's “fearless FB leader,” and the company's execs now call me by it, too.
- To tie items three and four together, The Fresh Diet's fearless FB leader is known for “overgiving” contest prizes. Goofing around one day when it was just too tough to choose between two contest winners, I named four winners. Pretty soon, I coined the phrase “overgiving.” The Fresh Diet's Facebook fans now wait in anticipation to see how much free food I give out.
- Find and nurture your brand's dominant influencers. Early on in my work with The Fresh Diet's Facebook page, I noticed half a dozen people started to stand out. So I built a relationship with them, not as a strategy of course, but a real relationship. As brand ambassadors, these people have become the voice of The Fresh Diet's Facebook page, too — and I find new ambassadors all the time!
- Don't be afraid to ask people to do things. Promote your page, run a contest, take over for a bit. When you build real relationships with real people, not just “fans” or “likes,” they'll walk through fire for you (because they know you'll do the same for them).
- Go crazy. Last week, I asked an actress and singer to do a music video for us (we have lots of famous people on The Fresh Diet). She was totally honored and did a homemade video — even gave me a shout-out in it. The Fresh Diet holds contests where people write songs about their favorite meals, or they have to rearrange the lyrics in a song or slogan to be about The Fresh Diet. Our fans love it.
In my next column two weeks from now, I'll continue to detail some of the ways you can build engagement and sales on Facebook.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.