How to get people to join your Facebook fan page

With its new tagging ability, Facebook has made its site a whole lot more appealing for small business owners. Small business owners have the ability to seek out the people talking about them and users can get their voices heard, knowing businesses can check to see who has tagged them. But before either party can take advantage of Facebook’s new feature, you first have to get your customers to opt into the relationship. You have to give them a reason to friend your Facebook Fan page, and that’s not always easy.

I’ve written in the past about how to create a Facebook Fan page – how to set it up, what to put on it, how to make it look and feel like your brand. But how do you get people to actually want to join the page? How do you combat brand fatigue and take them from a passive observer to a full-blown brand evangelist?

You have to create an incentive.

Make People Feel Part Of Something

Think back to high school. You joined cliques for survival and to help you feel liked, respected, wanted, etc. You joined because you were made to feel like you were missing out if you weren’t part of the group. Social networking works the same way.

It’s very easy to be passive on Facebook. If you want someone to take that step and openly associate themselves with your brand, you need to make them feel like they’re missing out by NOT being part of your community. That they’ll be losing out on a common experience or missing the joke if they stay on the outside. You create that by making your community sound and feel 100x times larger than it actually is (unless you’re purposely trying to seem small and elite). You fake it until you make it. You make tagging part of your fans daily interaction with you. You make a game out of it so that you’re always showing up on their wall (with a link to your Fan page) and they’re always showing up on your page. Doing this helps spread your brand, it keeps you in people’s top of mind, and it makes them curious as to why they’re seeing you all over the place. I mean, how else do you get people to become fans of tarantulas?

Appeal To Core Members

Every group has a core bunch. The handful of folks who are responsible for change, for leading things, for getting everyone excited and spreading the company message. Reach out to these folks and get them involved in talking about your Fan page.

Create your promotional army by hand selecting the major players, sending the messages thanking them for their support, and then telling them that you need their help. Make them feel important and like they’re on the cutting edge of whatever you’re doing. Get them to always be talking about you and tagging you places. These types of action increase your trust, build your credibility and give you social proof. These types of connectors are usually the ones with very large social networks on sites like Twitter or Facebook. Ask them to use Facebook’s Suggest feature to “suggest” that their friends fan your page. When the request comes from them, it’s harder for others to decline and it just reinforces that “inside joke”.

Offer Exclusive Content

Facebook is much more intimate than the other social media sites. Users are less likely to invite strangers into their networks and are wary of brands. If you want their attention, you have to give them something of value for their efforts. Something exclusive that they can’t get from your Web site, Twitter account or anywhere else on the Web.

The most popular way of doing these seems to be through Facebook-specific coupons or special offers. Friday’s is offering free hamburgers, Victoria Secrets gave away free undies, Sears gave away coupons and gift cards, etc. Other brands give away exclusive content via video, photos, applications, advanced notice of events, or even just real interaction with other members. Figure out what your customers crave and then give it to them.

Make Your Fan Page Their Forum

No one wants to join a group where they have no voice. They want to interact with the brands they love and feel like they’re being listened to. Once of the best ways to get people to fan your page is to use it as a forum where you ask and listen to your customers’ advice. Let your members lead by turning your Fan page into a place where users can express themselves, to talk about what they don’t like, and things like they’d like to see you do in the future. If you have an upcoming campaign or product you’re working on create a Facebook focus group that encourages people to offer their input. If word gets out that your Facebook Fan page is where you go to crowdsource your ideas, people are going to want to be a part of that. Make your Fan page the place where your customers can go to get heard.

Facebook Fan pages have always been a valuable way to build a community and learn about your audience. However, now they’re also a great way to get your users to spread the word about your brand to their friends with the use of tags. Give them a reason to join your Fan page. Make it exciting and worth their time. And then encourage them to talk about you, to tag you and increase the eyeballs interacting with you online.

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