social media how toIt’s obvious that Facebook pages are quickly becoming an essential part of most businesses’ marketing strategies. But how can you find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition?

In this article, I’ll take a look at how brands are standing apart from the crowd on Facebook. And how you can employ some low-cost techniques to grow your fans.

Oreo knows a thing or two about standing out. Their fun “World’s Fan of the Week” campaign encourages fans to post photos for a chance to claim the coveted fan of the week spot. Oreo’s Facebook page has almost 8 million fans, so they must be doing something right!


Spotlighting fans is one way Oreo creates a fun experience on their Facebook page.

Old Spice was able to grab the attention of Facebook users with their “Old Spice Guy” videos. These videos showed a topless guy responding to fans’ silly and often hilarious questions and were quickly a viral sensation. When the 2-day campaign ended, the Old Spice YouTube Channel had almost 8 million views and 616,000 fans on Facebook.

The Old Spice videos were made almost as quickly as fans posted their questions for Old Spice Guy on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But what about the small- to mid-sized companies? Many wonder if they will be forever lost in the Facebook abyss.

Here’s the great news: You still have a chance! You don’t have to be a major brand to gain exposure and build relationships with your clients and customers on Facebook.

The way to stand out from the masses is to create “Facebook Experiences.” These are experiences you execute on your Facebook page that are unique to your brand and also of great value to your fans. No matter how big or small, these experiences can be extremely powerful.

For example, on the Social Media Examiner Facebook page, we created “Expert Fridays.” Every other Friday, we feature a social media expert who answers our fans’ questions, directly on our wall, for one full hour. Anyone can post their questions and the expert will answer as many of them as he/she can in that one designated hour. It has proven to be a huge hit.

jesse stay
Here’s an example of a Q&A post from “Expert Friday” with Jesse Stay. Notice how even the fans helped answer questions!

It’s a win-win for everyone involved. At Social Media Examiner, we’re able to add immense value for our fans, the expert gains exposure to a new audience and our fans can reach out and get support on the areas that most interest them.

How to Create Your Own Facebook Experience

If you like the concept of an experience and want to create something unique to your brand and your mission, here are 4 steps to get you started in the right direction:

#1: Decide on the overall vibe you want to create with your experience

Do you want to add value? Perhaps you’re looking to entertain? Is your outcome to educate? Create excitement among your fans? Determine the kind of experience that will resonate with your fans.

#2: Get clear on what your company does best

What’s your company known for? What do you do best? What do your clients tell you when they are singing your praises? Use this insight to fuel your ideas for unique experiences.

Here’s a tip: When you’re brainstorming, think of experiences you can duplicate (meaning do them multiple times).

An experience you can execute consistently is key to building momentum with your Facebook community.

Once you create your list of ideas, choose the experience your audience will embrace the most (and your team will enjoy delivering!).

#3: Map out your execution plan

Much like an editorial guide for your Facebook page, you will want to document the process of your experience.

Before we began “Expert Fridays” at Social Media Examiner, we followed this step. We talked about ways to find the ideal expert, the best day to announce the weekly expert, how we would post the questions and answers and all the other specifics involved. Once we talked this all out, we documented it. At any time, we can refer back to our process for guidance or tweak it as we make the experience better each time. It’s a work in progress.

#4: Commit to it

For some, this is the toughest step! Once you decide on your signature experience, it’s crucial that you deliver. If you say you’re going to do it once a week, do it. If you don’t follow through, you could lose trust with your fans and that’s something you don’t want to mess with!

How to Optimize Your Facebook Experience

Once you create your experience, begin to think about how you might repurpose the content or information that comes from it. If there’s audio involved, perhaps you can create a podcast. Or if your experience involves video, think about using that video in an opt-in strategy for anyone who might have missed it that week. This could be a great way to build up your list.

This blog post is one example of how you can repurpose your experience. You can also take the tips and post them in new ways weeks later for those who might have missed any. This not only allows you to continually post great content, but it spotlights the experts in new ways beyond just their one-hour Q&A session. Repurposing the content or elements of your experience creates multiple touchpoints throughout your marketing strategy.

Signature experiences and other “out of the box” ideas are key to keeping your Facebook community engaged and enthusiastic about your brand. The key is to find something that you can duplicate and build on over time.

Now it’s your turn! Have you created a signature experience for your Facebook page? Share the details in the box below so others can learn from your efforts!

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  • Very informative post and right on the money. Experiences that will satisfy your audience’s emotional need will make them come back for more.

  • ferjibaja

    Thanks for this… I was struggling to find a way to build a fanbase and keep my FB page active and this has given me a couple of good ideas!

  • Yes – one of my projects is to create an event on the Page. I think we are going to have an “Ask the Expert” session on questions about iPhones, iPads, and iPadtouch. It is fully inside our branding – and what the hard-copy magazine and the blog are about. My only fear is – we announce it and nobody comes!!

  • i imagine that on facebook you have to be really consistent with your schedule, and beam out about one day before the experience. twitter on the other hand would be more reasonable to do things off the cuff because of how real-time it is.

  • This post has helped me to add a little more “meat” around my FB plan. I’m a Life Coach and I think that a lot of people don’t really understand what that is. In coaching there are a lot of questions posed in order to make the client think. So I try to give a little “taste of coaching” by posing questions that make people go, “hmmm.” Sometimes they even answer on the fan page but even if they don’t, I think they are still rolling it around in their brain throughout the day.

    After reading this, my brain is going, “hmmm.” I’m going to work on developing my FB fan page experience a little more intentionally.

    Thanks for the good info (and the video of the Old Spice guy 😉

  • How do users submit quetions for the expert friday sessions?

  • Some really great idea starters here. I can attest to the benefits of having an editorial calendar. A great way to get one started and frame some of your content may be around the “Hallmark Holidays” that will resonate with your audience – National Literacy Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, etc. That can help keep it fresh and fun, but with your own twist. And similar to the Expert Friday example above, one of my most successful recurring posts is our “Fan-tastic Friday” where we do a small product or gift card giveaway every Friday based on interacting with a simple lifestyle related question and a basic entry form (keep in mind that FB has some strict rules about contest entries happening on a tab/app). The lifestyle questions encourage fans to interact with one another too and we get a great glimpse into some of the things that resonate with them.

  • What is one of the most engaging contests on Facebook right now and how to measure it?

  • katiescharms

    I sell beads and charms for Pandora style bracelets, and started a “name the bead!” game on my Facebook page. My fans enter names for a new bead, then they vote on the best name. The winner gets a free bead and bragging rights…it’s lots of fun!

  • Rey

    Do you think it is a good Idea to do an email as well as a post about your Expert Fridays I do not visit facebook often and I am not seeing the announcement, perhaps a dedicated email for those of us that are forgetful and opt into the email 😉

  • Mary

    Amy – another exceptional post, extremely well written. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  • Creating engaging content for Facebook requires originality and a good sense of the “trend” of things.
    Very useful post, now I’ll have to be back at ideating new ways to be “interesting”!

  • uh

    “Oreo’s Facebook page has almost 8 million fans, so they must be doing something right!”

    Uh, yeah, they’re OREO, America’s favorite cookie & have international brand recognition. Of course, they will have millions of fans.

  • Leap

    Eric, love the Fan-tastic Friday idea, thanks for sharing! Do you just do a draw from the names of people who comment on your page’s post? You mentioned something about an entry form…

  • Situated Research

    The only problem with the examples you have shown are that Oreo and Old Spice have many years of branding under their belts. How do you get that type of following if you are a new company?

  • Sam

    Yes, we are a baby food company, aiming at Mums. We are a casual Facebook Page, with Trivia Mondays and Funny Fridays – The Friday Joke is always a hit, and many mothers keep coming back to see the next joke.

  • ClearedJobsNet

    We are doing a Facebook Happy Hour on Friday. We will see how it goes!

  • Excellent tips for pulling off some excellent Facebook networking, we have been putting a few of those tools to use over the last few months and the response has been incredible. You know your stuff because taking it from first hand experience it works. Great post.

  • I”m already there. Nice page. I just happened to read this and just bought the iphone 4. Nice!

  • Amy, I have been wondering for ever so long how am I gonna make this interesting for my readers and here you are talking about how to improve facebook experience. This is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  • If you look at Twitter’s #FollowFriday and just mention or tag a heap of people, then what is being suggested is very similar. The @ symbol in Fb sets up a search for names on your list from which you can tag a maximum of 5 per post.

  • LocalInternetMarketingServices

    Enjoy reading your article Amy, but for many of us, FB is just another part of the marketing equation. So, like me maybe, still people who do not focus on FB because is too time consuming or there is a lack of results.

  • I’m so glad to hear it! Thanks for posting 🙂

  • I LOVE this idea, Phyllis! I think people would love to hear the tricks and tips that go along with the iPhone, iPad, etc. We have WAY more people coming to our online events now vs. when we first started them. You will build momentum for sure.

  • Good point. We announce our Expert Fridays on Wednesday and post about it two times a day leading up the the Friday event. Twitter would be more real-time for sure. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Hi, Lori. Great points all around. When you shape your content, think of the questions you get asked the most about what you do and what you provide for your clients, and then answer those questions in your content. This will help you generate content much faster. 🙂

  • All they need to do is post their question to our wall and then I cut and paste them and post them the day of the the event. Check out this article to see an example of a post during Expert Friday:

  • I love the Fan-tastic Friday idea. REALLY GOOD. Thanks for sharing this. I am going to use the overall concept with some of my clients. I love the giveaway piece to it!

  • ferjibaja

    Yeah… that’s exactly my same fear.

  • We are doing this with our email templates…each fan gets exclusive email templates as part of our social community. The templates work with several parts of our products. From standard email client to our email marketing campaign tool. We also push this experience into our twitter followers with “Twursdays” as every Thursday we retweet, tweets from our community base. We are now working on Tips+Helping you do more with ComF5™ on our Tumblr site. Great ideas on here and great article. Thank you for posting this.

  • I am really thankful for this article. I just started a fan page more towards the leadership development and supporting those that aspiring entrepreneurs and was trying to think of how my page could be set apart and offer value. The ideas you presented are awesome. Really got my mental juices flowing. I did like particularly the idea about Experts Friday. How would I go about asking some leaders to do that? I’m just wondering how I could get some to agree to doing this on their time.

    Thanks for the article, something I really needed.

  • How to build your FB Fan base by creating experience. Great ideas!

  • Thanks so much for the article. Very intriguing!

  • I enjoyed this post. Definitely need to get an ongoing theme for my page:)

  • Christy

    My coach was the special guest speaker or whatever for a month long program I was participating in. It was a one hour phone call and participants could ask a question and he would answer them and help them work through something. I heard on that call how intuitive he was and how quickly he was able to get to the heart of an issue and offer advice that could be acted on immediatly and that would provide quick results, too. You might want to do a quesiton of the week or hour long chat on facebook. If people see first hand that you really help people work through something they’ll feel more confident hiring you. I didn’t even ask a question on that phone call, I was just listening to him help other people and hired him as a result.

  • Burgoso84

    This is a great idea for all of us that are involving in the world of business and marketing, one of my goals is to open my own business, this article gave me an idea for the future and put me more in the plan, it is so exited to know how to create my profile for my future business.
    Orcanni B

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