Just five years ago, Facebook was a virtual corporate wasteland. Business leaders weren’t really taking the social network seriously as a marketing outlet yet, and Facebook wasn’t trying very hard to convince them otherwise. Pages hadn’t yet been introduced, and any company wanting a Facebook presence had to create either a group or an entirely new account under a fake name, like Mr. Radio Shack, a 35-year-old male from Fort Worth, Texas whose interests included batteries, transmitters, and R/C racers.
Facebook was piling on new users faster than anyone believed possible, but despite the growing pool of worldwide consumers using the service, businesses shied away.
That’s all changed, of course. Facebook is no longer a subject of skepticism, and we’re now faced with the opposite problem; there are millions of businesses on Facebook. When you’re competing with 1.5 million other businesses for the public’s attention, you need to do a few things to stand out.
1. Offer Exclusive Content
Facebook fans need a reason to keep coming back to your Facebook page. If you post the same information on your wall as you do on Twitter, YouTube, and your website, you’re not giving them any reason to return to your Facebook page. Offer something they can only get on Facebook; a behind-the-scenes video, a photo of an upcoming product, or a password for an early product purchase that you don’t post anywhere else.
2. …But Not Too Much of It
The challenge of being one of over one million companies on Facebook is that you’re only one of over one million companies on Facebook. Users’ walls can get cluttered quickly, and your job is to rise above the clutter. You won’t do it by posting a new update every ten minutes. Flooding your fans’ walls with so much information that they can't find any news about their friends can be a quick way to get blacklisted from their favorite pages. Be judicious not only about what you post, but how often you post it.
3. Give Fans a Voice
We all want recognition. You want to be recognized by your fans, and your fans want to be recognized by you. It’s flattering when a company acknowledges the voice and opinion of a customer, and open fan interaction gives Facebook users a good reason to come back to your page again and again.
4. Stay Relevant Off of Facebook
The more fans you have, the more likes, comments, and shares your content is likely to get, and the more your circle of Facebook influence grows. Keep the fans coming by staying relevant in other channels, like newspapers, direct mail, and your company blog, and use those channels to drive more “likes” to your Facebook page.
5. Keep Yourself Up-To-Date on All Facebook Changes
Facebook likes to keep its users on their toes. It’s always rolling out new features, products, policies, settings, and versions. Some of these updates, like Pages, can be great for your business; others can be a little more detrimental. In order to use Facebook to full potential, stay current on Facebook’s latest features by regularly checking in on the Facebook blog.
The Bottom Line
Facebook continues to grow at an impressive rate. That means the rate of competition is growing too. But with some careful planning, you can distance yourself from the herd and stay relevant in the minds of your social customers.