When I speak to businesses about Facebook, most people focus on their Facebook page and specifically want to know how to get more likes/fans or engagement.
How do I get more fans?
How do I get engagement from fans?
How do I get more likes?
These are all common questions from businesses looking to grow with Facebook. The problem is that they may be missing out on the bigger picture of Facebook. Sure, these things matter, but let’s face it, many of your customers don’t want to like you on Facebook (they just don’t care enough about you) and most of your fans have probably already done business with you.
Think about how you use Facebook – you don’t go out and “like” random pages for businesses you don’t already use or plan to use (with the exception of some aspirational brands). We usually like things on Facebook that we like and use in the real world.
Your Next Best Customer Is Connected to Your Current Customers
This is the real value of Facebook as it pertains to business growth and acquiring new customers. It isn’t about getting strangers to like you, it’s about getting exposure with the friends of your fans. These are the best prospects for you, and you already have a foot in the door because one of their friends, someone who they trust and respect, has already made the choice to do business with you.
For example, if I’m thinking of buying a bike, I’ll probably look to my friend who is the cycling enthusiast for advice. If I have seen that he is often commenting on a bike store’s page on Facebook, I will probably check out that store when I go to buy a bike. If I’ve been exposed to the bike store through his posts and the posts of other friends of mine (who I know, like, and trust), I may already have a good enough impression of that store to bypass asking my friend and just go to the store.
Harness the Social Graph
The fact is that we are friends with people who are similar to us. This means that our friends and social connections are the best source of new business for the businesses that we interact with.
For example, if there is a restaurant I love, a subset of my friends would also love to check it out. If I discover a new social media tool, a subset of my friends is likely to be interested in it. A handful of my friends are interested in attending the same concerts as me.
We are friends with people like us, so spreading your message socially can be your best way to build awareness with new customers who are highly likely to be interested in your product.
The Real Value of Facebook Is Friends of Fans
Many businesses think of Facebook as the place to get new customers, and it can be, but the most effective way to get those new customers is through word-of-mouth (or the online version, which perhaps should be called word-of-keyboard?).
Many businesses want to reach new audiences on Facebook but they aren’t sure how. The answer is simple – through your existing fans.
What You Can Do
Here are some of the ways that you can use your current customers to generate awareness with their friends:
- Encourage interactions with content to build awareness
- Run contests or trivia where your fans reveal interesting things about their personality
- Ask customers to post photos on your Facebook
- Feature customers on your Facebook
- Provide incentives for sharing
- Build contests for sharing and social spread, not to maximize entries
- Create an extraordinary visual experience that customers want to share
- Build mass momentum with events
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