Patrick Sexton’s mad. He’s so sick of Facebook fan requests that the mere thought of them makes him want to projectile vomit. If that doesn’t ruin your appetite for lunch, he even designed a gross little graphic to go with it. You should go check it out. But then come back.
If we’re being honest, most of us can sympathize with Patrick. Those of us in the marketing world have found ourselves spammed with Facebook fan page invites from “friends” since their early inception. The simple truth is that most fan pages ARE vomit-inducing. They’re not engaging, they don’t offer people anything of value and they serve as yet another way for brands to show they don’t belong in social media in the first place But it doesn’t have to be that way! What if we committed to creating pages that were valuable and that people would want to fan (or like)?
Here are some ways we can make Facebook fan pages better, instead of banishing them.
Offer Specialized Content
Offering specialized content is a very powerful way to get users to fan and follow your brand on Facebook. Last night I asked my Twitter followers what would make a Facebook fan page interesting enough that they’d voluntarily join it. Users like @matt_siltala, @skypulsemedia and @nicknerbonne were among a large majority that said, for them, it was all about specialized content like coupons and discount codes. Many brands are already on board with this. Not so long ago, Victoria Secret gave away free undies; Squishable, my source for all things stuffed, offers coupons as its page hits certain milestones; and many local restaurants also use their Fan page as a way to offer discounts on products or services through printable coupons.
But specialized content is more than just coupons. Going back to Squishable, their Facebook fan page houses offers tons user-submitted fan photos of people enjoying their squishable pals that you can’t see anywhere else. It’s something unique that fans can only get there. If you don’t have cute products to take photos of, then post photos from your most recent events, include special videos users can only see on Facebook, create applications or games that enhance their experience, etc. The idea is to give them something they can’t get anywhere else.
Give Heightened Brand Access
This is a biggie for me. Facebook gives off a much more personal vibe than many other social networking sites. If I’m going to fan you on Facebook it means I like you enough to “out” that relationship to my friends and family. It’s kind of like admitting to Facebook that you’re In A Relationship. It’s a big deal! So give people something for that efforts. Offer them a heightened brand experience that they can’t get by being a passive observer.
What does that include?
- Ask for (and listen to) their opinions on new and existing products.
- Invite them into your testing process.
- Ask them what new services/products they’d be interested in seeing.
- Let them name the secret project you’re currently working on.
- Give them that behind-the-scenes look at what you’re doing.
- Consult them on business issues.
- Create an idea board and use Facebook as your unofficial stream team.
Bring them into the organization and make them part of what you’re doing. Going back to my Twitter poll, @gregheadley gave one of my favorite answers of the bunch. He said he wants to feel like he’s ‘part of an exclusive club’ and being taken ‘past the velvet rope’ while the rest of the crowd is waiting in line. That’s such a fantastic visual for business owners to hold on to! You want to make your page your VIP room and treat your members to an experience they simply can’t replicate anywhere else on the Web.
House Great Interactions
Twitter folks @birdonthestreet, @nicholaswyoung and @loribourne responded that they prefer fan pages that house great conversations between members. Nicholas said he was looking for a forum that helps people not only discover the brand, but one another, as well. And I think that’s pretty important.
For example, another Facebook page I’m part of is the one for Harvey’s Original Seatbeltbags. I’ve been a (real-life) fan of these bags for years, but joining tCreahe fan page has taken my experience with the brand to a whole new level. Through the community, I’m able to not only stay up to date on the latest Harvey’s bags, but they do a really great job allowing customers to converse and get recommendations from one another. I get insight on which bags/sizes people like the best, we help one another find bags no longer on the site, we design bags in our heads that we wish Harvey’s would create, and we ask questions that only other Seatbeltbag users would know the answer to. A great community vibe has been created that makes customers even more invested in these bags. That’s something I can’t get from the Seatbeltbags Web site. I can only get it on Facebook.
Make People Feel Part Of Something
This last one is a little tough. Friends @dylanspencer and @virgnianussey both commented that they join Facebook fan pages because of their relationship with the brand. The idea being that they want to align themselves with this company to support the brand or to feel part of something. I noticed this sentiment time and time again while looking at many of the brands I’m associated with. Here’s a brief look at some pages/groups I’ve joined:
- Boston Red Sox
- I’m with Coco/ Conan O’Brien
- I’m not yelling…I’m Italian…that’s how we talk
- I <3 Flavour Café (the local coffeehouse I work at and mooch WIFI off religiously)
I joined these groups because, in a small way, they make me feel like I belong to something. They’re businesses and brands that are personal to me. Of course, this only works if you already have the brand to back you up or you can find a way to attach your brand to some sort of movement (ie I’m With Coco). If you’re brand isn’t so strong on it’s own, perhaps it’s worth finding a way to attach yourself to something else people already love. For example, what if it was Claussen (no offense to the pickle lovers) who was behind the Can This Pick Get More Fans Than Nickleback page? How might that have helped their own brand recognition and engagement?
While we all feel Pat’s frustration, telling people not to send Facebook fan requests is like Michael Gray asking SEO bloggers to step away from the keyboards a few years ago. My guess is that Pat wouldn’t mind people sending him Facebook fan requests if they were for topics and brand he was passionate about and that offered him value. The problem is, they’re not. And that’s what we need to fix. However, once you HAVE created a rocking Facebook fan page, don’t be afraid to tell the world about it. Self promotion rocks when it’s done right.