Large brands have taken to Facebook like a fish to water, but small-to-medium size B2B and B2C companies have a tougher row to hoe. While multi-nationals like Coca-cola or Apple can attract millions of followers overnight with give-aways, discounts and promotional campaigns, smaller firms feel like the proverbial tree falling in the forest.
Nonetheless, with the constant reminder that Facebook is the leading social network in the world garnering over 1.15 billion users according to analyst reports, it's hard to look askance at population numbers almost the size of China. It's too big an audience, not to want a piece of that pie.
So how does one carve out their own market share to build an audience and capture a significant number of followers and LIKEs to make a difference? Here's a number of ways to turn that pastry slice into more than pie in the sky.
1- Follow the Example of Individuals
Think about the people you follow on Facebook. You are most likely attracted to folks that are truly individuals and lead interesting lives. Not be confused with meme "catfishing" or those who create 'fake' online identities to dupe others into following them, I'm talking about authentic FB users that continuously offer up content in their status updates that's intriguing, enlightening, humorous, or simply something you can identify with and choose to share with others.
Now think how your company can act similarly by replicating that meaningful connection with your business clientele. If we've learned nothing over the course of the last several years pertaining to the effectivness of blogging and user-generated content, the world of online commerce has broken the old mold of how to conduct business in the digital age. The selling cycle is no longer generating leads, filling the sales funnel and pitching your message. That 'old-school' way of thinking is less appealing in the Web 2.0 milieu we find ourselves. Today, we want more meaningful content that makes us identify and feel good about a product or service.
2- Magnetic Marketing
The traditional tenets of brand advertising relied initially on "push marketing," where TV, billboards and newspapers were the major distribution channels. With the entré of social media and "pull marketing," the control of brand messaging shifted to what the consumer really wants. Today, "magnetic marketing" allows both the push and pull to engage in tandem with each other - when the customer and brands are drawn together at the right time and the right place - creating the strongest of bonds - a magnetic bond.
Foursquare and Flip.to are two companies that have been very successful in building business models that offer these 'magnetic' touch points with you and your customer. While Foursquare’s means to that end is ‘geo-location’ and Flip.to uses ‘time of purchase’, both engage authentically with their followers on the brand-customer timeline continuum. So, while traversing the same wavelength, the interests of buyers and sellers align and meld in a very natural way. Small firms can benefit on Facebook by taking lead from this kind of approach.
3- Turn Followers Into Advocates
It's one thing to get followers to your Facbook pages. It's another to get them to return. One tactic that's proven successful is finding ways to convert your existing followers into your brand advocates, so they actually become an extension of your firm's marketing force. To accomplish this, companies need to incentivize their existing followers to spread the word to their followers on their social networks. Incentives can be something as simple as 'name acknowledgements' on a website or low-cost complimentary VIP servicea or swag items. Sweepstakes are also popular, where one winner is selected from those followers who were able to spread the word and garner the most traffic for a company's fan page over a designated period of time.
4- Become a Storyteller
Meaningful stories are things your current and future audiences will feel good about sharing. Adding images - all the better. More than any written update, an image or video is a sharable and valuable piece of content. Studies show that Facebook photos get 39% more interaction than normal updates, and videos are an opportunity to draw people in with good, well-developed storytelling.
5- Kickstarting From Zero to Many
Getting started is always the toughest. Kickstarting early engagement to go from zero followers to the 100 minimum required to obtain Facebook's analytical assistance is always a bit of a grind. While many would downplay the purchase of Facebook followers, there is a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. You should never select a company that uses bots or fake accounts to ramp up your numbers, but do consider reputable firms such as BoostLikes that specialize in 100% real followers, secured manually.
Stephen C. at BeachWahine.com, a small Hawaiian firm that sells designer clothes, noted that when his company "needed a serious kick for our Facebook marketing campaign, and Facebook ads weren’t delivering the results we wanted -- Boostlikes helped us grow our fans by 10,000 real fans in just a couple of months, and since then, our fans have nearly doubled on their own. I will be back for more!"
"If you build it, they will come," might work in the movies, but as you've seen here, there's a lot of detailed grunt work for a small company to heard in the Facebook wilderness. Facebook followers do not just appear out of the mist, and while the "Suggest to Friends" icon button on the site will attract a handful of folks, the real work is in the heavy lifting. Hopefully the seeds planted here today, will provide you with enough of a start to grow a full crop of influential followers in the not so distant future.