As I wrote in my last post, the key to getting people to become a fan of (or, in the latest Facebook lingo, "like") your Facebook page is to get your Raving Fans to flock and engage there first. (Featuring it in your email newsletter is a great way to drive that initial traffic.) This will give you credibility when attracting other customers and prospects, especially those connected to your Raving Fans. But how does one go about building a page that compels your Raving Fans to like it — thereby giving their stamp of approval — in the first place?
Many Facebook pages remind me of tradeshow booths — 10 x 10 swaths of the Internet that hope to lure people in with flashy graphics or a cheap tchotchke. Big businesses like Target, Coca-Cola, Victoria's Secret, and Coach are examples of companies that have gone beyond the standard Fan Page look and feel to create a more tradeshow booth-like atmosphere within the confines of Facebook.
However, one does not have to be a Fortune 500 company to have a souped-up Facebook Fan Page; anyone with the right skills can do it. The Facebook Showcase blog is full of glossy examples of excellent Fan Page designs from companies and brands big and small.
It's relatively easy to create and get started with a Facebook Fan Page. But that's just the basics — the 10x10 booth with black drape and drab carpet that the tradeshow organizers provide everyone. To stand out, particularly to prospects who do not have any knowledge of or affinity for your brand or organization, you have to differentiate your page from the thousands of others on the Facebook landscape.
You have to maximize the value of these pages and make your Facebook presence stand out visually with customized Facebook tabs and applications that provide the eye candy to draw people in. Webdigi, a web design company in London, has some great advice and tips for how to spice up your Fan Page so it rises above the fray.
Budget-conscious small businesses with limited design and programming skills might not be able to tackle one of the advanced designs. But they can still make their Fan Page presence alluring for passersby. The key for these folks is to offer fans and followers a reason to visit by giving the page a personality. Your Fan Page shouldn't be a cold About Us page. Interact with fans, post photos, videos, and give stuff away.
For instance, a number of my colleagues are fans of Crumbs Bake Shop. Yes, they love the cupcakes the company sells, but Crumbs also does a good job of luring in new fans by selecting one lucky person each week to receive free cupcakes. Crumbs knows its audience well. In addition to the weekly contest, it posts decadent photos of its latest creations, names a "cupcake of the week," and genuinely seems to enjoy interacting with customers in this online environment.
A Facebook Fan page is one of the many ways for prospects and customers to stay connected with you. For those who just want to be an acquaintance or are early on in the relationship cycle, becoming a Fan is a first easy step. As the relationship grows into more of a friendship, these people can join your mailing list to receive regular communications directly in their inbox. Make it obvious on your Fan page how to join your mailing list either through a link on the "Info" tab or by occasionally posting links to your mailing list signup form in your status updates.
No matter where you connect with customers, members, and prospects, you want the venue to be smooth and beautiful. Facebook's Fan Pages make the "connect" part easy as users just have to click the "Like" button. It's up to you as an organization to create the appeal for people to connect, thereby giving them a reason to boast that they have a loyalty to your brand.