social media how toAre you looking for fresh ideas to engage your Facebook fans?

Do you have a pretty nice fan base, but you’re struggling to come up with ideas to engage them on a daily basis?

One proven approach is to help your fans.

Here are 3 techniques used by some of the most successful Facebook pages. Try them on your page to see how your fans respond!

#1: Become a resource

Despite the level of connection you think you have with your fans on Facebook, many still express pleasant surprise when you respond to them personally on the social network.

Use fan names when you can, and respond one-on-one to the comments they make. This proves to fans you are listening and are receptive to their commentary and feedback, making it more likely that they will post in the future.

Moreover, invite conversation by asking your fans’ opinions on topics, or asking them to tell you what sorts of content they’d appreciate.

Everybody likes being asked, and fans feel extra-appreciated when you fulfill these desires—so don’t ask them for input you never intend to use or incorporate.

In the example below, Time Warner Cable demonstrates an inconsistent response strategy toward different users. While “Sharon” got her request attended to by the page administrator, “Regina” reports frustration that her posts are being removed instead of replied to, indicating that she had posted additional comments earlier than the final post visible in the thread.

If your brand strategy is to be a resource to all fans, it is important that you treat all fan comments in the same way by responding to all of them, no matter the sentiment.

In the responses to this status update by Time Warner Cable, several fans voice concerns with the company, but only one gets a response. Seeing this, users like "Regina" become upset about being ignored and become even more vocal.

One example of this kind of open interaction strategy working very successfully is our own continued initiative to build out a Facebook fan page community of marketers, business owners and social media managers interested in sharing knowledge about social media (as well as Wildfire!).

We have found over time that our most engaging posts, which get the most feedback from our users, are consistently the ones where we invite people to post any question they have about social media or invite them to have their pages reviewed by social media professionals.

The key is to follow up (even for just an hour) with all of the questions and actually answer them. Because the promise to answer any question is not an empty promise, the users become confident that their questions can be answered and trust the brand for it.

An excellent example of a smaller business getting engagement right with great messaging strategies comes from the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, an imported foods store in Pittsburgh.

As of this writing, the store had just under 1,100 fans. Their social media manager told me they regularly get over 1% engagement on their posts, a great figure for their size.

In this screenshot, we can see that the store's informal and kind-mannered one-on-one interactions with its fans help to grow a loyal and happy community.

#2: Offer your services, free

What is your brand known for? What would you like it to be known for? If you provide a product or a particular service like consulting or advisement, consider offering your fans a taste of it every once in a while for free!

According to eMarketer, the #1 reason users become fans of a brand on Facebook is to gain access to exclusive content, events or sales. Your brand can capitalize on this desire while leveraging the brand’s capabilities by giving users an occasional exclusive pass to experience the business, free.

Here are several examples of companies doing this on Facebook, to the delight of their users:

Rue La La, an online boutique of designer merchandise and clothing, knows many of its fans are in tune with fashion trends and enjoy thinking about design, clothing and style. As such, one of their most popular fan page “events” is a weekly invitation for fans to join a stylist on the page for an hour of live interaction.

Because typically most people don’t have access to a personal stylist or advice from one, Rue La La creates an environment where fans can happily expect this recurring event.

Fans can post any of their style questions, and the stylist will respond to all of them within the hour, right on the fan page, free.

We use this technique at Wildfire as well.

Every week, these invitations to post are the most consistently popular updates! Even the users who don’t get their pages reviewed that week leave feedback that they enjoy watching the advice for other fan pages, and that the learning experience is valuable.

Every week on the Wildfire fan page, users are offered the chance to get their fan pages reviewed by an expert for free.

#3: Make your fan page a complete knowledge hub

When brainstorming how to entice users to join and interact with your brand, the challenge is to come up with ways to encourage them to interact with the page continuously over time and prevent disengagement.

For brands that have a rich background or require a fair amount of user education, creating a fan page containing valuable resources and information that benefit the user is essential. The goal is to capture users with an initial promotion, and to keep them returning to your page for information even after the promotion is over.

An example of a page that achieved this goal is Webroot, a software company that distributes security applications and programs.

The initial user pull is the promotion Webroot has set up on its landing page. Users visit the Facebook page for a chance to win high-value prizes such as airline tickets, electronics and kitchen appliances.

Webroot created a powerful, resource-rich page about its products and services, including a tab with educational slide decks, a full customer support portal ("Ask Webroot"), an explanatory splash page about their mobile security products and even a collection of YouTube videos about the software.

Recognizing that its promotion would drive considerable traffic to its page, Webroot created a powerful, resource-rich page about its products and services, including a tab with educational slide decks, a full customer support portal (“Ask Webroot”), an explanatory splash page about their mobile security products, and even a collection of YouTube videos about the software.

Webroot has created a resource rich page for their fans and visitors on Facebook. Not only do they include a tab for a virtual agent that users can interact with to "Ask Webroot," but they also have a collection of product related videos in the "Videos" tab and information about how to start a free trial in a separate "Free Trial" tab.

As a result, users who visited Webroot’s page to participate in the promotion were also exposed to the page’s valuable content, which gave them a reason to return. In turn, Webroot created a full-service, user-friendly community through its Facebook page, a place where fans go to access information about the company.

Now that you’ve seen several examples of companies helping their fans help themselves, what’s the first approach you are planning to take with your fan page? Putting together a library of resources? Testing the waters by giving away some free services? I’d love to hear from you! Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Great advice.  Engagement doesn’t just happen when you put up a fancy splash page.  And it doesn’t happen automatically when you get 1000’s of followers from a contest.  Engagement happens on your fan page (or anywhere else) when YOU engage.  Social media isn’t a one way street.

  • I am great fan of your blog.Every time i come here i see something very new.Thanks for sharing the information.

  • Great tips!

  • Excellent advice. Some of this stuff is obvious but a lot of it is not. 

    I think the part of about being consistent with user engagement is immensely important and frequently overlooked. Good job in bringing that to everyone’s attention.

  • Thanks very much 🙂

  • Good stuff, it seems it really doesn’t matter how many times we preach it, people will always look for the easy way out…..

  • Karin

    Is anyone out there doing the sort of statistical research that Jakob Nielsen does for user interfaces on the Web and Mobile apps for Facebook features/interfaces? I would love to be pointed to research showing what works in terms of engaging users and turning them into customers. A lot of the advice I see makes sense, but seems to be mainly anecdotal. 

  • What about offering coupon campaigns? Would you consider customized coupon campaigns that you can track, manage and post when ever you want? The social plugins are the next best resources for businesses and marketers to enhance social media presence. You will increase interaction and sharing! 

    The software tech company that I work for is providing this resource to manage, post, and customize your very own Facebook page. It even has analytics attached to it that track by location, campaign and user.

    Erica C.

  • Thanks so much for taking the time to post a thoughtful comment, Angela!

  • Thanks Ben!

  • Thanks Josh! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Hey Keith! Truth…but I think we’re getting to a place where its impossible to deny the truth of engagement being the KEY differentiator of companies that rock their social media strategies and those that don’t.

  • Thanks Erica. Coupons, like most promotions, are a great way to attract and reward fans for their interest. Engagement over time, though, is a whole other animal.

  • Jeanine

    You mentioned in #1 above that one store had 1,100 fans and a 1% engagement stat. Is there any data anywhere to show what the engagement should be at each level you reach, i.e. 2, 000, 3,000, etc?

  • Jen

    I have had great success using the Wildfire App to bring in fans. Then, it’s been a matter of trying to figure out how to engage them. The interesting thing is that people seem much more interested in engaging with my page when I put up the humorous one liners versus links to things that are truly value added. The answer may be that I’m not picking the links that people want. But, I think it goes to a deeper issue. So much of what people have the patience for and interest in are the sound bites and photos. There’s so much to look at that getting people to engage past the sound bite is the ultimate challenge.

  • I will probably start out by testing the waters gaining some insight through the use of polls and questions that will stimulate conversation to get an idea of what the fans need. Then move towards becoming a resource hub for the fans to come to for valuable information.  

  • Hey Jeanine, no, there are no stats on where you “should” be, that’s all about your sussing out how well your fans respond to your posts over time, and how engaging you can be. I was stating how well that small business was doing in comparison to the numbers I know work for MY page– that’s the benchmark I have. 🙂

  • I agree with you: sometimes the simpler the post, the more likely people will respond. However, this is not to say that you can’t tie in the simplicity and jokes right into information that is branded. Check out this fun example from Silk, that they put up for Halloween:

  • Craig: sounds like a great game plan!

  • Good luck, Reginal!

  • Amazing info.
    Thanks a lot for sharing 🙂

  • RuthSheahan

    Now that I can point to Edgerank and tell clients that Facebook isn’t going to work if you don’ tuse it right, I’m getting much more agreement. For instance, I point them to the “talking about” metric (whatever you think about it) as the goal. They back off just a little on pushing their message– most of the time.

  • Lauren

    How do you recommend balancing between engagement and growth? I feel that I have developed engaging content and am getting great feedback, but wish that I could reach more people.

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  • Kellie

    I feel the same as Lauren, I am finally starting to get more engagement and would like people to recommend the site to their friends. Does anyone know of a FB app where I can run a contest for people to recommend to their friends and I can see the most recommended “Likes” to win a prize?

  • Thanks Vineet!

  • Promotions are a great tool to encourage growth, Lauren. Giving away a prize of some sort really tends to attract new people, and can encourage sharing. Here are some tips from the Wildfire blog for how to achieve growth for your brand on Facebook:

  • Kris de Leon

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I’ll apply your suggestions with my Fan Page and see if I can increase my engagement rates.

  • Hi Kellie! I’d caution against awarding a winner based on who recommended the campaign the most– really this just encourages spammy behavior and not real growth by interested users. My recommendation is to consider a promotion where you maybe have a voting component: for example, a photo contest where a portion of the winner choice is determined by popular vote. This encourages the entrants to share the entry with all their friends, to ask them to vote! You can run a photo contest pretty easily by using out of the box applications. Wildfire does provide this option as one of the solutions in our complete social media marketing suite, its called promotion builder. You should check it out at

  • Thanks Kris, and good luck!

  • Thanks! Great Advice

  • keyshabass

    Really good ideas for engagement. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kellie

    Great point Maya! I looked at Wildfire this morning however it seems expensive but I will look into it further.
    I really appreciate your input. Kellie

  • eDigitalAus

    Thanks Maya. Great tips 🙂
    Allowing fans to talk about national or local events related to your business has been found to be a great way to create engagement. Allowign them to post photos or simply congratulating them for assisting to the event.

  • Great article, the point about offering something to you fans for free is very true and people do want to receive exclusive content and insights.

  • Engaging with others on a fan page is certainly the best road forward in terms of building loyal customers, but in the early phases of a start-up before product launch, it’s a massive mission just to get people even interested in looking at your page without a massive budget. But the more one reads about the advantages of social networking, the more one realises that one simply cannot do without it and will need to take the “bull by the horns” to make things start happening!

  • Thanks, Maya, for such helpful guidance. It has made me realize how I really need to get my fan page up to par and spend some time incorporating some new ideas and interaction. I like the idea of giving something away for free, however, I’m a ghostwriter and sometimes I don’t know exactly how to approach that aspect.
    Thanks! Make it a splendid day!
    Deb 🙂

  • Really thanks a lot for sharing three directions to boost interaction with your facebook fans on here. Thanks a lot for given up here 🙂

  • Eyalleon

    good advises are based mainly on good old common sense followed by
    experience….However, the most challenging issue facing those who are managing
    fan pages is the lack of time to answer the, sometime, flood of comments that
    are coming at them from reacting fans. Perhaps you could address this issue
    next time you write about this topic…? 

  • I would like to thank you for this quality of information, I have felt for sometime now that facebook is the way to go such as fan pages etc but what I have always wondered is how to interact and make it worthwhile which you have made clear to me today.


  • Thanks Keysha!

  • Thanks so much, Escobar! I agree with your statement. Making fans feel included, like a VIP with your brand, is always something they respond well to.

  • Selena Alice

    This is fantastic! It’s so easy to get lost in facebook just to have a facebook!  It’s so important to me (and I’m sure other fans of certain companies) to actually do something with this page instead of just allowing it to sit there.

  • Concierge! What an appropriate name for your comment! 😀 Thanks!

  • Sally, you’re right. The initial ramp up is important and can be difficult. Reach out to your network of family, friends, and colleagues for the initial push of fans, and then I would recommend Facebook advertising coupled with a compelling promotion. Neither of these strategies need to cost a lot of money if you’ve done your research about how to craft a compelling but simple promotion, and how to optimize your Facebook ads for success. Good luck to you! 

  • Thanks so much Deb for your kind feedback! 

  • Thanks Eyalleon! That’s a great suggestion for a future topic.

  • Thanks Mark! I really appreciate your helpful and thoughtful feedback!

  • I hope this post creates lot of happiness to the Facebook lovers and it would be more beneficial to them to boost the interaction with other Facebook fans.

  • Mark

    Great, practical posting- I really appreciate this! Something I can share with my clients.

  • It does.  I appreciated it anyway!

  • Carolyn Foote

    Great article and very informative. I’ve now discovered your blog and will follow…Thanks 

  • how do we increase fan base? 

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  • Super great article. Good point Angela, engagement IS a two-way street. In order to keep a brand relevant and draw new appeal, I think it is absolutely imperative businesses develop strategies that promote compelling and relevant content as well as a plan for recognizing and acknowledging their fan base. I went to each FB page as was blown away at how well each engages their fan base. Really excited to share this with my company!

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  • Fernando

    Thanks for this post Maya, it is actually helpful for me… thanks social media examiner for being the light that floodlight my way to improve my knowledge of social media so many times…!

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  • Fayhaa

    اI hope to learn a lot from this wonderful post 

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  • how i can create a page like that,like i wan to offert a free year on hoting acount,how i maked to like to enter in the constest page..

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  • Great post, thank you so much for the very helpful tips 🙂

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  • Facebook is the commonly used social networking site. The changes that are brought in the Facebook every now and then never bores me. The three techniques that you have mentioned would work to a certain extent. 

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  • Great article, however I’m still struggling to get interaction. I ask questions, post polls and info, ask for feedback. Everything I post for interactivity are meant to get input from the folks who “liked” my Facebook page and I have every intention of incorporating their feedback, and replying to their comments – but still no one comments. Ever. What am I doing wrong?

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  • Benn

    Ok, So what if you do all these things, offer competitions etc yet nobody enters or interacts.