4 Easy Ways to Engage Your Facebook Fans

by Leyl Master Black

This article was originally posted on MASHABLE.

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Leyl Master Black is a Managing Director at Sparkpr, one of the world’s top independent PR agencies. Leyl has more than 15 years experience driving high-impact communications programs for emerging technology companies.

While more than three million businesses, brands and celebrities have created FacebookFacebook Pages, many are struggling to figure out how best to use them. Companies are finding that even when they keep their pages updated with fresh content, they still aren’t seeing steady growth in their fan base.

And yet there are many brands who’ve surpassed the one million fan mark, while their peers have languished in the thousands. What’s their secret? These companies have figured out how to move from “broadcast” mode into engagement. They have engaged people so well that their fans even invite others along for the ride.

Here are four ways that savvy Facebook marketers are using the medium to engage with their fans.

1. Ask Their Opinion

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If you post something on your Facebook Page, you might generate a good number of comments. But if you post your content in the context of a question, you provide an easy call to action. With a question, you engage people’s egos and provoke viral distribution of your content — everyone loves to share their opinion!

At the DigiDay: Social conference this month, social media marketing application developer Fan Appzhighlighted an example of how a simple question can boost engagement. One of their customers — a leading video content provider with over 300,000 Facebook fans — routinely posts videos on their Facebook Page. The company found that when they paired videos with a question, video plays jumped by a whopping factor of 7 to 10. This simple yet effective strategy also generated 100 times more Facebook media impressions, as people posted videos to their walls in the context of their response to the question.

The NBA has also adopted this approach, issuing a steady stream of “Top Five” polls and other engaging content that has propelled the organization to top the two million fan mark, an unprecedented number for a sports league on the social networking site. The NBA routinely invites fans to rank their top five shooters, point guards and more. During the 2009-10 NBA season, their Fan Page generated nearly 500 million status update impressions and more than six million video views.

2. Test Their Knowledge

George Lopez Facebook Quiz

Consider testing people’s knowledge with a fun, relevant quiz, and even tying the results to a giveaway or promotion (more on that later). A clever quiz is not only entertaining, but also lengthens the time a user spends engaged with your brand.

One company embracing this approach is Molotov, a digital marketing agency whose clients include comedians such as George Lopez, David Spade and Jamie Kennedy. Molotov worked with George Lopez to create quizzes such as How Well Do You Know George Lopez? to push his fan base over the one million mark and drive viewership for his TV show.

In another Molotov program to promote a client’s new TV show, the company ran a series of quizzes about the celebrity in conjunction with a sweepstakes for signed merchandise. The quizzes were tests of knowledge about the comedian, his comedy, his routines, even about what happened on last week’s show. Giving people the opportunity to test their knowledge got them into a competitive mode and provided an additional incentive to share their results with friends. In the span of a little over a week, the campaign drove over 12 million brand impressions — and the premiere of the show was the highest rated show on the cable network for the year.

3. Pair Promotions with Content

NFL Facebook Quiz Image

While a contest or sweepstakes may get you some e-mail addresses, simply posting these on your page provides limited incentive to share with friends or even to participate. The way to boost participation is by tying the offer to content. People taking a brand-related quiz are great targets for your message. They may already have an affinity for the brand, so this is the best time to make them an offer.

In the example mentioned above, Molotov gave fans a chance to enter a sweepstakes to win signed merchandise — but the offer was made within the flow of the quiz. This strategy resulted in a 50% conversion rate. For every ten fans who tested their knowledge, five signed up to participate in the promotion, generating over 30,000 sign-ups for the weekly e-mail blast to promote the show.

The offer doesn’t even have to be big. Before the Super Bowl, the NFL ran a How Well Do You Know the NFL?quiz, with one lucky participant selected to receive a $50 gift card to NFLshop.com. Over 10,000 people took the quiz. If you estimate that each participant has 200 friends, that’s a possible two million impressions in the news feed with a relatively small giveaway.

4. Thank Your Fans

Giving your fans something of value — whether it’s as simple as a coupon, or as flashy as tickets to theTonight Show — is a great way to show that you appreciate their continued support.

But what about picking one fan at random to get something really special?

The NBA again shows that they are on the leading edge. This brilliant strategy taps some of their biggest stars to record personalized video clips thanking select fans. Here’s a picture of Shaq thanking fan #385. If you’re an NBA fan, you could be next!

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Put These Ideas Into Action

You don’t have to be a major brand like the NBA to turn your Facebook Page into an engaging destination. Any business can take these ideas and get creative. A restaurant could pair a quiz about famous restaurant movie scenes with a $100 gift certificate sweepstakes, or a Ford dealership could run a poll gauging people’s reactions to the Toyota recall news and give away interest-free financing to one lucky winner. The trick is to think about what your users would be interested in, what’s trendy or fun, then try it out.

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