Guest Expert: Christina Inge
You’ve set up your Facebook fan page, and aside from your college roommate and your fishing buddies, you’re pretty much talking to an empty room. You need fans to help spread the word about your books, appearances, and movie deal, but how are you going to get people to know you’re on Facebook at all, let alone “Like” you? Well, it can be easier with some basic steps. You don’t have to do them all, or in sequence. Working on building your fan base on Facebook is like any other marketing success: it’s more about regular effort than anything else:
1. Make It Easy to Be a Fan: Have a Like button on your website. Have a link to your fan page in all your emails. One thing too few authors are doing is publishing their fan page URL on any print materials they hand out, such as bookmarks and postcards—you should; it’s as vital as getting people to your website. And keep all your web properties well-connected by posting new blog posts to Facebook, tweeting about new content on your webpage, and adding YouTube videos to your page. You’d be surprised at how much traffic this can generate.
2. Ask: This may be the simplest, but also the most effective of tactics for growing your Facebook fan base. Now that you have a link to your fan page on every other channel through which you communicate with your readers, let them know you’d like to connect with them. Explicitly ask people to connect in your next email, on your personal profile, on Twitter.
3. Keep Fans Engaged: Have something interesting going on as often as you can: ask questions, post pictures, share the work of other authors you admire. When your readers engage with your fan page, their friends see it. And when people see their friends’ actions, they’re much more likely to take action themselves. Your existing fans will also be much more likely to recommend you to their friends if they find your page accessible, interesting, and fun.
4. Encourage Promotion Beyond Likes: Make sure that readers can share your blog posts on social media—every blogging platform has an easy way to incorporate social sharing. My favorite plug-in for WordPress is AddToAny; it allows easy sharing on not just Facebook and Twitter, but all the social bookmarking sites you could possibly imagine. Add a social sharing button to your emails, as well. Not only does that get the contents of your email newsletter out there on Facebook, but the numbers of times that people share your news is a good indicator of how engaged your readers are.
5. Don’t Have a Personal Page—Have a Fan Page: There’s a limit to how many friends you can have on Facebook, and if you’re really popular, you’ll quickly hit that 3,000-friend limit. Get a fan page—it not only allows you greater privacy, but also gets away from that limit.
6. Request Recommendations: Ask your existing fans to recommend your page; if you’ve been doing a good job of keeping them engaged, many will be happy to do it. Make it simple for readers who may be new to Facebook by telling them exactly what to do to recommend the page to their friends.
7. Create a Landing Page: If you can teach yourself FMBL, or, better yet, find someone affordable who knows it, build your page so that those who haven’t liked you yet see an attractive, but limited, page telling them all about the great content they’ll see once they click the Like button. Then deliver on that great content with excerpts, videos, special previews, and more.
8. Create a Milestone: Tell fans when you’re nearly at 100 or 500 or 1,000 likes. Encourage them to get others to sign up as a part of reaching that goal. The excitement of a milestone can often tip the balance in a short time.
9. Tie a Reward to the Milestone: You can’t directly incentivize people to post to your wall, but you can let them know that you’ll randomly give away ten books when you get 1,000 likes. Be sure to review the Facebook terms for promotions, since they do change, as well as any local laws on raffles.
10. Engage on Facebook Yourself: Simply broadcasting from your page is not a great way to build a base. Like the pages of artists, fellow authors, and activists you admire and actively engage with other people on Facebook. As on Twitter, sticking with sending out promotional messages is not the most friendly way to interact.
Social media marketing requires real work, like anything else. You’ll need to keep at marketing yourself through Facebook regularly, and expect to spend several hours a day at first, then a few hours a week, if you want to create a worthwhile experience for your readers. The payoff for all this work is immense, though: you’ll find not just fans, but a real community of engaged readers who’ll share how your work has impacted their lives for years to come.
Christina Inge is a marketer with over 10 years’ experience in content creation, web technologies, and project management. She is adept at finding creative ways to maximize the small marketing budgets of startups and nonprofits. Her articles on marketing have appeared in trade publications, and she is a speaker on cutting-edge marketing practices. Her areas of expertise include boosting clickthrough and conversion rates for paid search campaigns, and increasing organic search rankings through best practices SEO. She also consults for companies on product go-to-market plans, email marketing strategy and implementation, online lead conversion and lead generation analysis and optimization, and product positioning. You can read her marketing blog, with simple, practical marketing tips at http://www.measurablemarketingstrategy.com/blog