How to Better Engage Facebook Fan Page ‘Fans’

A compelling, active Facebook fan page should be an integral part of your marketing plans. With its 350 million users and average daily session time of 25 minutes, Facebook provides an exceptional opportunity for visibility, Google indexing, live search ability, and fan engagement—whether you’re a solopreneur, a large brand or anywhere in between.

But, if you build it, will they come? And if they come, will they stay and engage?

There are two primary components to Facebook fan page engagement: 1) Sharing quality, relevant content and 2) inciting comments.  In this article I’ll tell you how to best engage with Facebook fans.

Of course, there are many other components of effective Facebook fan pages and Facebook marketing in general. However, for the purposes of this two-part post, we’ll focus on content and comments. The more comments you have, the more viral visibility and free marketing you’ll create. But your fans have to have something to comment on!

Share Quality, Relevant Content – Daily

TechCrunch recently posted a Facebook fan page study by Sysomos that revealed 77 percent of fan pages have fewer than 1,000 fans. What stood out for me in that post was this fact: “Facebook fan pages tend to be updated only once every 16 days.

TechCrunch goes on to say, “On Twitter, you follow someone because you want to hear what they have to say. On Facebook, you fan them just to show your support or affinity. Too often, it’s a throwaway gesture.”

While this may be true for many Facebook members and fan pages, I see a lively fan page as an extension of your blog and business – a place where you can generate real community and further solidify your brand.

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1) How Often Should You Post?

  • For most fan pages, there is a direct correlation between frequency of posts and number of fans. Frequency is king, but there’s a fine balance – you don’t want to overwhelm your fans.
  • If you’re just starting out with your fan page, I would suggest a minimum of one update per day and increase from there to several times a day (mixing up the types of posts – see below) if you’re getting a good response from your fans.
  • Daily posting (at least Monday through Saturday) should yield daily comments and engagement.
  • You’ll find the right rhythm with your fans. Better to start with once a day than several times a day and have your wall filled with only your own posts.
  • Also, keep in mind high traffic windows. Depending on your time zone and the time zone of the majority of your fans, you’ll probably want to post sometime between 8:15am PST and 2:00pm PST.

2) What to Post

  • I recommend a mix of your own thoughts, breaking news, useful tips, tools, resources and links from other sites in your industry and related industries. Stay on topic, stay focused.
  • You could create an editorial calendar for your fan page just like many bloggers do.
  • If you’re not sure what content your fans want, ask them – in a poll or status update.
  • If your fan base is small and still growing, ask your Twitter followers, Facebook friends, email list, and blog subscribers. They are all potential fans. (See related post: 5 Ways to Promote Your Facebook Fan Page).

In this screen shot of Volkswagen’s Facebook Fan Page, photos from a recent auto show yielded 363 likes and 68 comments and a video trailer got 121 likes and 25 comments. These are great results, as every one of the fan actions created a post on their respective walls and out into their friends’ news feeds. Free visibility, and every line item has a link back to VW’s fan page.

volkswagen on facebook

3) Sourcing Quality Content

4) Cultivating Your Style

  • Most people will come back to your fan page if there’s a real sense of community.
  • It’s important to be open, inviting, warm, friendly and personable. Even if you’re a large brand.
  • Starbucks leads the way with engagement – you might observe their style for ideas. Though they use their globally recognized logo, you’ll occasionally see posts in first person. I think this is commendable, as it really creates that personal feel so important to social networks.

starbucks on facebook

5) Mix Up the Types of Posts

Text

This is your standard status update. You get 420 characters in the publisher to say what you want. As long as you don’t have a link in the update, the post automatically changes your latest Status Update at the top.

I highly recommend using the Facebook fan page to Twitter app at http://facebook.com/twitter. You simply link your fan page to your Twitter account, then choose which posts to share as tweets (Status Updates, Photos, Links, Notes, Events). You may need to experiment to get this just right.

Your posts will automatically truncate at around 120 characters and include a bit.ly link back to your fan page. Regardless of the number of characters, the tweet always contains the bit.ly link. Here’s an example of an update I posted for this blog post:

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To track stats on any bit.ly link, just paste it into your browser and add a “+” sign at the end. As of the time of this writing, this post/link had 109 clicks and the post had 23 comments, plus replies on Twitter.

Video

Video is the next best thing to meeting your fans in person. There are many choices for video updates: You talking into the camera, photo montages (try Animoto), screencasts (using software like Camtasia Studio for PC or Mac, or ScreenFlow for Mac).

When you talk into the camera, always make good eye contact with the camera lens – just as if you were chatting to one good friend. You could do a video tip per day or per week. Make sure to keep the length short and the content concise. The ideal length for videos is up to 1 minute and 40 seconds.

You can record directly on Facebook or load a file onto your fan page – see screenshots below:

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Here’s a video upload example from Dell Computer’s Facebook Fan Page – a 41-second ad for their nifty new customizable range of laptops, with 179 likes and 57 comments.

Dell on facebook

Or, you could pull in the video from YouTube as a link (click the Links icon on the publisher) – and this pulls in the live video player just as if you’d loaded the video file as in the example above:

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Photos

Upload relevant pictures periodically and be sure to encourage your fans to upload photos anytime they wish. Each time your fans upload a photo, the thumbnail goes onto their profile wall and out into the news feeds of their friends.

Make sure your settings allow fans to post content. Just to the right under the publisher, click Options, then Settings:

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In the screenshot below, there’s a photo on the Coca-Cola Facebook Fan Page – what’s neat about this photo is it was actually a fan-loaded image that Coca-Cola then reposted using the Share button (a great illustration of how Coca-Cola partnered with their raving fans who created the page).

coca-cola on facebook

Links

  • Anytime you post a link in the publisher, Facebook displays a preview with a choice of thumbnails. (If you’re publishing content from a third-party app like Ping.fm, the thumbnail will be a default view.)
  • You may at times wish to create an actual status update with a link in it, instead of a link with the preview on the wall. Here’s what to do: Before clicking the Share button, simply click the “x” to delete the link preview:

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The post goes out as a status update with a clickable link:

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Events

You can quickly create Event listings right from the publisher for any virtual or live event you have coming up. Fans can easily RSVP, as a regular Event page is created when you publish the event.

@ tags

This is a relatively new feature on Facebook. You can tag any friend, any fan page you’ve joined, any group you’re a member of and any event you’ve RSVPed to attend. You can include up to six @ tags in any update. Use the @ tagging strategically and your post will show up on your friends’ walls and other fan pages’ walls per the tag. (Just type the @ symbol in the publisher and the first letter or two of who/what you want to tag and a list drops down for you to select from.)

Notes app

This app is typically used to import your blog. However, I like the Networked Blogs app, so I actually import the RSS feed of my Twitter Favorites via the Notes app, which makes it easy to push relevant, regular content onto my fan page wall (and into the news feeds of my fans).

Incite Comments

Now that you have a wide variety of regular, quality, relevant content posting on your fan page, here are some points about inciting comments:

  • For status updates, try ending with a question.
  • Add your own comments as needed to get the ball rolling.
  • Come back and reply often to your fans’ comments – Facebook currently doesn’t have threaded commenting, so I suggest addressing specific fans in your comments as @name.
  • Do your best to respond to fan questions as promptly as possible. If you find you can’t keep up with the volume of questions, offer a free teleseminar or webinar in which you answer your fans’ top questions.

Vin Diesel has the second most popular Facebook fan page with well over seven million fans. Vin doesn’t post all that often, but when he does, each post yields tens of thousands of comments and likes. Just like Starbucks, there’s something to learn from Vin’s style – he talks to his fans in a very warm, caring and authentic manner.

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In part two of this Facebook Fan Page Engagement post, I’ll cover:

  1. How to encourage fans to keep coming back to add their own content and comments and ask questions, etc.
  2. Monitoring insights – what do they mean, how to analyze the numbers and adjust your posts accordingly.
  3. Should you also use the “Send an Update to Fans” feature? Do fans read their updates?
  4. How to spark ongoing engagement via the Discussions tab.
  5. Setting up systems for monitoring and responding to your fan engagement, given that there are currently no notifications of activity or RSS feeds to subscribe to on fan pages.
  6. Integrating your Twitter followers and activity into your fan page engagement.

Editors note: Check out Social Media Examiner’s new Facebook fan page by clicking here.

Now it’s your turn: What types of content are you finding sparks the most engagement on your Facebook fan page? Where do you get stuck most with your fan page and what else would you like to see covered in future posts about social media engagement? Please add your thoughts in the comments below, then stay tuned for part two!

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About the Author, Mari Smith

Mari Smith is a widely-recognized social media speaker and trainer, author of The New Relationship Author, and coauthor of “Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.” Follow Mari on Twitter: @marismith. Other posts by »




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