Creating Facebook Pages Customers Will Want To Join

by on 04/06/2010 • 29 Comments | Social Media

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:

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.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

29 thoughts on “Creating Facebook Pages Customers Will Want To Join

  1. Lisa -
    What do you think about the Facebook pages that are going crazy with the big images, html, ads, etc? Do you think Facebook pages should stay close to looking like Facebook, or continue to allow the html blocks where they can steer away from the typical looking page?

    • I think it depends how you’re using it. If you’re using those big blocks to make the page appear more branded and look and feel like you, then I’m pretty okay with it. If you’re trying to turn Facebook into MySpace, well then I think we’re gonna have a problem.

  2. Lisa

    I am not a fan of fan page requests. I am more of the person who will seek out the page to fan before I like being contacted to become the fan. I also like my facebook to be very organized and not junked up. Personal preference on my personal pages.

    I do tend to agree with you though that if someone liked the brand they would not mind so much that they were contacted. I am curious to see how many requests come in with the new community pages. Like that article by the way about the confusion as I am now more confused and almost turned off by these than I would be eager to create one.

    @SuzanneVara

    • See, I think I’m different in that I’m generally pretty passive about most brands. I’m not going to seek out a brand to fan unless I want to tag them in a status update or I happen to notice my friends are fans with them, as well. So I don’t tend to mind when a brand that I’m interested in sends me a request, especially when the page is valuable.

      You also have to consider that you never know when brands sign up to create a presence. That page for Flavour Cafe didn’t exist when I first started going there. But now it does. Had I searched for it initially, it wouldn’t have been there.

      At the end of the day, I think if you’re creating something that’s interesting, people will be far less likely to want to vomit when they get the message. ;)

      • Lisa

        You do bring up a good point with the cafe you go to. If you searched 1x and they did not have one, why would you ever think to search again? I can see where them reaching out is first awareness that the page even exists and then becoming a fan is secondary. I guess some days I get requests that are for pages I have absolutely no interest in and actually get annoyed when they show up. Probably just more crabby pants and annoyed that I had to waste a few seconds looking at it.

        As always you have great points to make us all think.

        Suzanne

      • I found them, but via their product.
        Actually I am going to give you a long and very detailed answer about this because it is right up your alley (how a brand gets a new person involved).
        1. I eat fish almost exclusively now, and I am trying to figure out how to not die from mercury poisoning, by switching around the types of fish I have throughout the week. I love Ahi, I used to get it basically free in Hawaii, but in California you can’t just get it and you certainly can’t get it cheap.
        2. Ahi is around 20 to 25 dollars a pound, which began to add up because I eat it all the time. I remember I asked Pamela Lund about where to get fish here and I tried around but then I saw a flyer in my building’s lobby for a place called Yummy.com
        3. Yummy.com delivers groceries to your door and while my interest in yummy.com was it’s name and the fact that they would deliver beer to my door, I thought what the heck, let’s see what it has foodwise. Amazingly they had Ahi.
        4. I ordered alot. It was frozen and I wasn’t sure if it would be so great, but was very pleasantly surprised. It fact I was very happy about it for many reasons. This is what first made me interested in their brand, which makes sense. The product made me interested.
        5. On the packaging they had their website http://www.orcabayfoods.com which I went to, and there was a coupon or something on the site that mentioned their Facebook page (currently it is a “win free seafood” offer).
        After I checked out their website (which I thought was impressive) I thought what the hell and went to their fan page ready for disappointment, because I hate Facebook fan pages.
        6. I was not disappointed. I found a whole bunch a recipes there [shut.up.] and I also thought that as far as a Facebook fan page goes, recipes are a wonderful idea. I cook every day now and I am kinda crazy into it. Recipes are a great, fuctional improvement to such a page.
        7. My name is Pat. I am a fan of Orca Bay Seafood.

  3. thanks for the insight. i have a different perspective to view fan page requests and I’ll be able to create an effective fan page for a local awards company.
    danny

  4. All great points. I recently decided to have custom fan pages created for a few of my businesses in an effort to provide more value to my clients and current followers. My main goal is to create more interaction and have people feel they are a part of our community.

    Thanks Lisa. This is a very timely post for me.

  5. Facebook has come out with a number of ways to market your brand through their site and fan pages can be a great tool, as long as they are done correctly and thoughtfully. Custom fan pages are one of the suggestions I give to clients when working with their sites in the social media realm. It’s a good tool to use to give your “fans” special treatment, make them feel special and market your brand all at the same time.

  6. I definitely sat up when I read the title of this blog. It’s very interesting for me cos I’m having some problems with it! I created an seo blog, a simple one but apparently it made some waves in the niche I was targeting and since then I’ve been loaded with friend requests from people I KNOW I don’t KNOW!! I’m a strong believer in not mixing business with pleasure, so I figured the next best thing would be to create a fan page for people interested in my blog, which is what I’ve done and I direct people there.
    Is it working much? Nope, but then again, maybe it’s just me that’s been too busy to push it like I should or people don’t really listen and just add you on facebook anyway! This post’s given me some ideas to play around with so I’ll see what I can do about it.

    Thanks for the heads up Lisa!

  7. Lisa, you hit the nail on the head over and over in this post!

    Recently, I got really tired of our boring New England Multimedia Facebook Page. It was embarrassing! There was no interaction and no growth. I dutifully updated it every hour with information to help people learn about the power of marketing with web, audio/video, and buzz marketing, but no one ever did anything except “like” what I shared.

    Well duh, I never asked any questions! Basically, all I did was blahblahblah!

    Once I saw the glaring issue, I started asking questions on our wall and starting discussions on our discussion board, where I invited those who share to put contact info in their posts, to promote themselves.

    I changed our profile picture from a modified business logo (BORING) to a killer badge featuring our tag team, Scott & I, standing back to back, with our names and contact info beneath us.

    We’re also starting promos this week, with contest prizes of gift certificates to places we love, leading up to large prizes of discounted blog setups, logo design, video production, etc. for our business “fans.”

    At the same time, we have one of our techies in the background working on customizing our Facebook with some (hopefully) cool features. Good for us, it’s our talented 20-yr-old daughter, and she owes us money. ;o)

    Until now, I’ve been frankly embarrassed to ask anyone to “become a fan” of New England Multimedia. It just seemed so, well, narcissistic. “Show me you like me!!”

    Now I feel that when I ask someone to “become a fan,” it’s because I’m determined to make it worth their while, make it fun, and make it pay off for them. Totally different experience.

    Excellent post!

    Michelle Quillin for New England Multimedia & Q Web Consulting
    http://facebook.com/NewEnglandMultimedia

  8. Excellent post! Agree that it is very timely, this is a topic I’ve been wrestling with lately. I struggle with differentiating between our blog and our Facebook Fan page. I have been using our blog to connect with consumers in a one-to-one manner. Perhaps that type of contact would be better suited to our Fan page?

  9. Lisa,
    Absolutely fantastic information on Facebook Fan Pages… thank you! Particularly the ‘Vomitting is Bad’ advice/tag! Love it.
    Regards,
    Darren Sproat, #ThenLifeHappens

  10. Lisa, what are your thoughts on businesses that don’t have products, but services?

    I’ve seen things like featuring a photo gallery of events and asking for feedback etc. Just curious if you have any other tips to make the FB page for service oriented businesses less like a blog full of recent posts.

  11. Lisa, these tips are very product-heavy.

    Along the lines of Zack’s comment, it’d be great to hear your tips for service based– and particularly nonprofit– organizations. Just wanted to see if there were any ideas that were more service-focused, but didn’t make the list.

  12. Great article, Lisa! Social media is just a tool, and it’s the way brands use it that matters! Perhaps this blog post should be mandatory reading for any CEO thinking of starting their own Facebook fan page.

    Love reading your blogs, keep it up!

  13. Great article Lisa! We’re currently in the process of ramping up FB efforts and trying to engage users more (facebook.effortlessgent.com and facebook.fifthandbrannan.com) and we’ll definitely make use of your tips and pointers.

    thanks!

  14. Lisa — Read your post with a lot of interest. What would you suggest to liven up the fan page of a magazine that has neither cute products to photograph nor one-off services to offer? We have had a fan page since February and have tried posting links to our online stories, links to other info relevant to our readership, questions for our readers — and so far we haven’t managed to engage our fans in dialog, although we pick up a few new fans each week.

  15. Good post. The biggest problem I’m having besides getting our Friends to become Fans of our Fan page is to get Fans involved and interacting on our Fan page. I like your suggestions. I’ll be trying some of them out soon.

    :)

  16. Think people ought to think twice before counting myspace out … they offer alot of things facebook doesnt … and times have changed. Technology has changed, the myspace bloat that killed them … wasnt just the people adding ridiculous amounts of customization to their spaces.

    It was also a lack of infrastructure ( highspeed wasnt predominantly available then ) and data transfer ability … ie: Like distributing content to larger numbers of servers ala: google … or better compression/rendering etc etc. Those have changed or been remedied since mspace lost its place in the sun.

    Think myspace was just ahead of its time … and is still a major soc net player. If it had come onto the scene a few yrs later … it mightve stayed untouchable.

    Looking forward to the dy, when facebk gets knocked off its thrown. Just dont like them, they are heavy handed and arrogant imo. Like restricting contests etc for small commercial interests on their site … why give people the option of promoting and then tie their hands with overly restrictive nonsense like the contest TOS changes ?

    Those people enrich their site … and its not like facebk is doing it out of the kindness of their greedy hearts … fb has to allow it. To compete and stay effective in the local search/real time arena. Guess Im just saying, dont like their too big to fail, treat users however they want attitude.

    With their unnecessary restrictions on creativity and heavy handed behavior. Hope they go the way of myspace and something better comes along. Cause was a dy myspace thought it could never be replaced too.

  17. Lisa,

    As usual very informative post. It took alot of arm twisting to get this old man (me) to get involved with Facebook. Now I am at that stage that okay I ddid now what? Your post gave me the guidance I needed.

    Thanks

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