4 Proven Steps to Facebook Page Success : Social Media Examiner

social media how toAre you looking to take your Facebook page to the next level, but aren’t sure how to go about it? This article will provide four proven steps to Facebook success.

An interesting thing happened the other day that grabbed my attention.  Three different clients emailed me with a link to a recent article.  All three wrote some version of “Check out this case study. Can you make this happen for my Facebook page too?”

The title of the article was enough to hook anyone: Facebook Case Study: From 517 to 33,000 fans in two weeks (plus media coverage).

After reading the impressive case study and looking at countless other Facebook page success stories, I instantly noticed a common thread throughout these pages.

The Formula for Facebook Page Success

There’s a true winning formula to creating a successful, thriving and engaging Facebook page.

And here’s the good news: If you apply this formula, you grow your fan base, increase conversations with your fans and capture the interest of people who want to spend money on your products and services. Who wouldn’t want that?

Here’s the formula:

Vision + Branding + Inbound Marketing + Engagement =
A Rock-Solid Facebook Page

The strategy behind a Facebook page does not need to be complicated—but it does need to be carefully thought out in advance. When it comes to growing Facebook pages, that’s where business owners and marketers get stuck—they overcomplicate things.  Let’s dissect the formula to see how it works.

#1: Create a Compelling Vision

The Facebook page of the case study I mentioned above belongs to the California State Parks Foundation.  It’s an outstanding example of a compelling vision.

In an attempt to save 210 state parks from closing, the foundation hired Adams Hussey & Associates to help create the “Friend Get a Friend” campaign.  The campaign was created to promote awareness and discussion around the looming closures and to also encourage people to take action to save their local state parks.

This Facebook page for the California State Parks Foundation achieved amazing media expose.

After reading the case study, one of my clients, who owns a successful medical spa, pointed out (in frustration, I might add), “Yeah, but their mission is noble.  It appeals to environmentalists and loyal supporters. They have a huge advantage.”

This is WRONG thinking at its best.  When you believe in what you’re doing, you can easily cultivate the passion and excitement for your mission.  The popular retail store Target and the popular sundae spot Dairy Queen have extremely successful pages with loyal followers.

The Dairy Queen page has more than a million fans

And here’s what’s important to realize:  Their mission is not necessarily going to change the world—but the people behind the brand are passionate and committed to creating an experience and making their customers happy—and that kind of passion is contagious. (Take note—you can create the same kind of excitement with your brand too!)

Brenna Holmes of Adams Hussey & Associates manages the California State Parks Foundation’s social media campaign. She works with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Holmes sees real opportunity to spread the vision and message in both spheres of businesses.  “As long as people are driven and passionate about their issue,” said Holmes, “and commit to sticking it out with daily work and a real strategy, I believe pretty much any campaign can be successful.”

When you’re starting out with your page, your vision is only as strong as the individual or team behind it.  It’s up to you to spread the word.  The good news is that once you have a solid fan base, your fans will help spread your message and virally attract new followers. It’s up to you to “sell” your vision to get others to pay attention. One great way to accomplish this is to spend time online where it counts and make sure you’re connecting with the people who are most interested in your brand.  I call this “positioning your vision.”

A word about positioning your vision

If you spend any time in the online marketing arena, you’ve heard plenty about knowing your ideal client.  This is crucial when building a Facebook campaign.  Don’t waste your time in spaces where your message could fall flat.

Segmentation and niche marketing is ideal for your page’s success and you want to be laser-focused on whom you target.  Cast a wide net and you’re likely to come up short in the end.

(One great way to attract your ideal client is with Facebook ads.  For more info on what these ads could do for your business, check out Mari Smith’s recent Facebook article here.

#2: Smart Branding

Some of the most successful pages look like mini-websites inside of Facebook.  Branding is key to making your page serve as a mini-hub for all your customers and prospects who are likely spending a lot of their time on the social networking site already.

Meeting your customers where they are in the moment is crucial when searching for a captive audience in the social media space.

Smart branding allows you to create a bridge from Facebook to your websites—but the key is not to push your potential clients outside of Facebook before they are ready.

The more clicks you require your prospect to make, the less likely you’ll get them to where you want them to go.  Therefore, by using the Static FBML Facebook app, you can create many of the same features you have on your website.

Using this app, you can create a portal to sell your products and services, sign people up for your newsletter, and highlight your expertise directly from your Facebook page.

To better understand this, let’s look at a great example of a company that has mastered the concept of the “mini-hub” inside Facebook.  Chick-fil-A, a popular fast-food chain in the U.S., has a thriving page with over 1.5 million fans.

Not only do they offer coupons regularly, they also display their menu and their “coming soon” specials inside their page.  Here are a few screen shots of their well-branded mini-hub:

This screenshot shows the tab that new viewers see when they first visit the page. Chick-fil-A does a great job of enticing new customers by displaying attractive photos of the items on their menu.

In this screenshot, Chick-fil-A puts their menu directly on their page. By doing this, all of their fans currently on Facebook do not need to go any further to check out the menu options. Chick-fil-A makes it easy by putting everything their customers’ need right on the page.

Another great example of a well-branded page is the National Hockey League page.  With almost a half a million fans, this page is thriving. One post can generate over 1,000 comments.  Check out the welcome tab—it’s branding at its best.  Potential fans landing on this tab are sure to click the “like” button to be a part of this community.

In this image, check out how NHL displays the many different opportunities for their fans. This welcome tab does a great job of grabbing attention and creating excitement for the sport.

#3: Strategic Inbound Marketing

Business owners often overlook this piece of the formula.  It’s a no-brainer that we need to use marketing tactics to drive traffic to our websites, but when it comes to Facebook pages, many overlook the importance of using similar strategies to help grow their page. The “build it and they will come” concept is definitely not meant for Facebook pages!

Inbound marketing strategies, including the use of keywords, opt-in opportunities, video, blogging, and cross-promoting on your other social networks are all key factors to “getting found” by the people most interested in your products and services.

One great example of a Facebook page that also utilizes inbound marketing strategies is the Social Media Examiner page.

I was fortunate to work with the founder, Mike Stelzner, to create the page a few months ago.  And since then I’ve been blown away by the momentum of the page (it already has over 8,000 fans).

I recently asked Mike the secret to his page’s success. “We started with a plan from day one,” he said. “Part of that plan was to create a button on our site’s sidebar that simply said, ‘Join us on Facebook.’

“Another thing we did was to make sure our daily email blasts to our readers encouraged them to join our fan page; thus every day more than 26,000 readers are reminded about our fan page.

“Our fan base grew very quickly and has garnered about 100 new fans each day.”

The most important thing to remember is that inbound marketing is powered by content.

Just as you would on your website and blog, you must continually publish great content on your Facebook page.  How do you do this?  One way is to pull your blog posts onto your page via the “Networked Blog” app on Facebook.  Another way is to post a link directly to your wall and add some commentary about your recent blog posts to encourage your fans to comment.

Every day when we post a new article on the Social Media Examiner website, we also post it on our Facebook page.  When we do so, we often encourage comments directly to our page by asking a question when we post.

Here’s an example:

In this example, notice how we encourage comments on our wall by asking a question (about fans!) when we post a link to a new article.

#4: Real-Time Engagement

The last piece of the formula is engagement.  In a nutshell, engagement is about taking action. A well-executed engagement strategy takes time and effort.  More than anything, engagement is really about showing up daily and taking a genuine interest in the likes, interests and opinions of your fans.

The rule for engagement is to make it about your fans and not about you. (Remember that people love to talk about themselves—so craft your posts and questions around them, and you’re sure to see some great conversations begin to surface on your page.)

One Facebook page that does an outstanding job of connecting with fans is Teavana.  With over 32,000 fans, the page attracts tea-lovers worldwide.  Their secret to engagement is making their posts about their fans.  Here’s one great example of a post that received 68 comments:

This image shows how simple it can be to get your fans talking. What fun and interesting questions can you ask your fans that will get them to post their thoughts and opinions?

Also, a great engagement tool Teavana uses is their monthly “What’s in your cup?” game where they ask their fans to post photos of what’s in their cup at that moment—this type of game encourages photo sharing which can virally increase visibility of their page.

Another example of a page that has mastered the art of engagement is the NHL page.  As mentioned before, they not only have impeccably branded their page, but they’ve also mastered the art of engagement.

The page uses video in most of their posts.  Why?  Because they know their fans will respond well to short video clips and their content is sports clips, so what better way to get their fans engaged than to show them clips of the game they love most?  (This is also a great example of knowing your fans’ wants and interests!)

The NHL page actually takes it a step further and uses their video to create polls and surveys.  One example is a short clip of a recent game where there was much debate over the call of a goal.  The caption for the video read “Goal or no goal? Watch the NHL Situation Room, make the call.”

This one post, because it added a touch of controversy, generated more than 1,000 comments.  When you see successes like this, think about your audience.  How can you use video to encourage interaction and idea-sharing?

NHL excited fanatic opinions when they asked their fans if a goal in a recent game was a fair call. Take a look at how many comments it generated!

The NHL Page also used a really cool tool called TweetMixxThis tool allows you to tailor the content categories, tags, users and groups to your specific audience and will deliver the top-rated content as chosen by you and people who share interest in your niche.

This is a great engagement tool because it allows your audience to get instant access to the content they’re most interested in, plus it adds a real-time component.

The interactive TweetMixx application keeps the conversation going strong on the NHL page.

This formula is meant as a guide to help you with your overall social media strategy.

Closing thoughts: There’s a lot of noise on the web about the dos and don’ts of social media marketing and it tends to be overwhelming.  This formula is meant to simplify your process.  If you add a bunch of extra components to the formula, you’re less likely to see the results you want (or worse yet, you’re likely to get overwhelmed and not take action!). In short, ignore the chatter and stick to the plan.

Now it’s your turn!  Do you have a Facebook page success story? Share it below and let us know what components of the formula work best for you. Do you find any of the components of the formula challenging? Share here and you’re sure to find advice from the other members of our community.

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