More Than Just A Like, Strategies for Engaging your Facebook fans

If you’re measuring the success of your Facebook page by how many “likes” you have, think again. Your success in the use of Facebook as a marketing and branding tool won’t be measured by the size of your community but by their engagement with your social media platforms.

Some important rules: Know your fan base and curate the kind of content they will appreciate. Interact with your fans. Comment on their pictures. Chat with them when they post on your wall. Answer their questions. Refer them to customer service when you need to, and keep the conversation going by engaging with them in a way that takes the relationship to a deeper level and lets them know you’re there and listening.

That’s your foundation. Now let’s talk about the fun stuff that can really ramp things up.

Give them deals and make them feel special. People “like” a page and interact with a company for many reasons, but a main one is that they like what you’re selling and they want a deal. Set up a tab on your page and offer a special, changing discount that people can only access through Facebook. Post coupons right up on your wall. Offer new products to your Facebook fans a day early. And if you’re a brick and mortar shop, have them “check in” to your location for a special deal. You have a lot of options so get creative!

Celebrate and thank them. Celebrate big milestones and heavy interaction. If you have a post that gets shared 20 times, comment on it and thank them for sharing. Until you hit 10,000 fans, celebrate every thousand new fans by posting a coupon or selecting a fan at random and giving him/her some kind of prize.

Host contests, giveaways and on your page sweepstakes. Nothing gets people commenting, posting and sharing like a contest or a giveaway.  (Facebook has rules about this, but that’s a different post.) The most successful themes will tie back into something unique about your company or store and encourage people to share something about themselves. For example, your store offers an incredibly wide range of trail running and hiking shoes. Do a promotion on National Trails Day or simply celebrate a Friday by asking your fans to post their favorite hiking trail on your wall to win a $100 gift certificate good toward any pair of outdoor shoes.

Team up. Another great way to reach new fans and get them interacting and engaged is to team up with either another retailer or a few of your favorite brands. Got a local outdoor store? Find a sports massage therapist who will throw in a free one-hour session and reach out to one of your favorite brands. See if they’ll donate some product and post about your store on their page.

Invite your fans to share and act. Encouraging people to upload photos, share tips and recommendations and give product reviews are direct calls to action. For example, you could ask “What piece of gear can’t you live without? Post a photo and tell us why.”

Ask their opinion. You have an amazing tool at your fingertips called “Questions.” It’s right above your status bar, and it allows you to ask your fans a question with multiple-choice answers. Doing your ordering for next year and trying to decide between colors? Ask your fans!

Now… get out there and get the conversation going.

— Melissa Bearns, Founder of Current Shift

Current Shift is a Portland-based marketing consulting firm providing new media solutions for a changing world.