#1 Give ‘Em What They Want
On Facebook, fans need to guide the action. Let people use your brand the way they want, and don’t be afraid to crowdsource your content. Look at what your audience is sharing with their friends. Talk about your brand, but find ways to make it timely. Listen to feedback, then use this to guide your content strategy. The questions, comments and even complaints from fans will often lead you to create some of the best content you never would have though of without them.
#2 Be Predictable
Predictable isn’t a sexy word. But there is a lot to be said for consistency. Set expectations for fans with content patterns or themes. These can be as overt as “Fan Friday,” where users submit photos for a chance to be featured on the Page, or a more low-key guideline that something related to fans will be posted on Friday. Establishing overarching topics for each day allows for flexibility in specific content, and makes it much easier for you to plan your posts.
#3 Go VIP
Make your fans feel like they’re part of something special. Just think back to grade school: sharing a secret was one of the most powerful ways to bond a friendship. Inside jokes are a nod to your fans, and a great way to breed loyalty. Everyone wants to feel like a part of the in-crowd. And providing that experience is as easy as listening to their comments or creating a VIP section of your community. Exclusive information, deals or events are always good, too.
#4 Have Fun
Don’t take your brand too seriously. You can’t control everything on Facebook, and you need to let fans interact and use your Page the way they want. Moderate user-generated content for vulgar or spammy posts, and admit your own mistakes. Facebook is the perfect place to show a more human side of your brand. An approachable tone works best for content on the site, and the variety of photo albums lets you show off the many different sides of your brand.
#5 Keep Your Cool With Copycats
It’s true. Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. Don’t change your marketing strategy when it seems like a competitor is copying you. Focus on the next step for you and you’ll naturally outrank fakes. Don’t stress over Community Pages or User Groups. You can’t shut them all down, and it will only look petty if you try. Spend more productive energy on what you can control: your own Page. If you’re doing your job right, it will be clear which page is official.
#6 Stick to Simple Spinoffs
For most brands, managing multiple Pages or Groups is a waste of time. Think about it. You have different pages on your site, not completely different websites altogether. Use Facebook tabs to show different facets of your brand and organize your content. Concentrate on one all inclusive Page presence. Occasionally, it’s worth maintaining two Pages when they serve very different audiences. But mostly you will be fracturing your “likes” and brand equity.
#7 Don’t Push, Persuade
Subtle persuasion is best when it comes to social media. People use Facebook to catch up with friends, and to be entertained. They’re not there to see sales messages all day. They are interacting with you alongside their friends and family, and you should respect that. Facebook is not the place to push product offers or go for the hard sell. Provide links to buy, but don’t force it. Good content will naturally persuade people to purchase, without seeming too pushy.
#8 Keep Your Options Open
Facebook is great. But it’s not the answer to everything. It can’t replace a website, email list and advertising all in one. You can post content, message Page members, even sell items. But Facebook isn’t ready to be your only solution. Use Facebook’s best features, and cross-promote across the Web to keep a steady stream of new content coming. Run joint promotions that stretch across platforms to maximize brand equity and sync up marketing efforts.
#9 Know When to Let Go
Social media moves fast. And this makes it the perfect testing ground for new ideas. Your biggest brand advocates are usually the ones on Facebook. So you know if they don’t like it, there’s a good chance it’s the wrong way to go. Something’s not working? Ditch it. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but be ready to switch tactics if it fails. Social media can be fickle, and you need to be prepared to walk away from an idea. Or, if it succeeds, translate it into a wider promotion.
#10 Learn the Rules
Facebook has a lot of policies, terms and conditions.
Alison Zarrella is an interactive copywriter and social media consultant who has worked with brands of all sizes, ranging from international companies to local businesses. A self-described Facebook fanatic, Alison has over seven years of experience on the social network and recently co-authored “The Facebook Marketing Book.” She can be found on Twitter @Alison, or on her blog AlisonZarrella.com, where she talks about social media marketing, online shopping, and of course, Facebook. You can read Alison Zarrella’s full PubCon biography here.
Alison Zarrella video interview with PubCon’s Vanessa Zamora