It’s a dirty little secret that Facebook doesn’t want you to know — you need to have Friends in a personal page first before you can invite them into a Fan page. Therefore, a Fan page is useless unless you have hundreds of Friends First. Or you’re willing to shell out the big bucks for a Facebook ad campaign.
And that’s the plan. it’s intentionally difficult to get friends to Fan your page. Fan pages are more restrictive in features and “share a bility” than regular old friend pages because it’s to Facebook’s benefit to shut you out of this “walled garden”. Your only way “in” is to buy an ad. Brilliant, right?
I figured out how to work around this limitation by creating a “human being page” first before I make a Fan page.
For example, I built a page for a “person” named “Eco Artopia” for my business “Ecoartopia” instead of a fan page. It has virally grown to more than 1,200 friends because my posts as Eco Artopia go out into the stream just like any other person, and the page can have all of the widgets, games and personality of a real person. There are many more benefits on Facebook as a “person” than you get as a “business.”
For another client, Mystic Garden Party Music Festivals, I built a fake person page as “Mystic Garden.” This grew to 4,800 friends in one year, and is now in danger of tipping the limit of 5,000. We migrated the friends into a new fan page, but people have been reluctant to move to the Fan Page. The fan page still has only 494 fans — 1/10 that of a person page. Given that lots of people abuse their Fan pages and send constant spam to their fans, a lot of people are reluctant to join them.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you entice people to “like” your Fan page:
1. Ask all of the members of your company to invite their personal Facebook friends into the fan page.
Send an email requiring that your employees/coworkers invite their personal friends to the company fan page. Maybe 20% will join, but that will help you get it started.
2. Ask all of your best friends if you can log into their Facebook page and invite their friends into your Fan page (as appropriate.)
It’s tedious work and involves clicking hundreds or thousands of times unless you use this tip:
Separate your Friend list into Subcategories first.
Click on the category to highlight all the friends in that category, and then “select all” and you can email the whole group at once. For example, I split my list into geographic zones whenever I add a new friend. My friends are also divided into professions (ie: sales and marketing, green business), and interests (ie: vegetarians, New Agers) that might benefit specific clients that I’m using the list for when I do a targeted promotional campaign.
3. Hire a Social Media consultant with a big list so they can invite their friends into your Fan page.
I manage and administer about 15 profiles and Fan pages, giving me access to more than 20,000 potential friends that are meticulously categorized across overlapping social circles. This way, whenever I have a new client with a Fan page I want to populate or seed with new potential fans, I can draw from one of these pages for potential friends.
4. Familiarize yourself with your friend’s interests.
One of the magical things about Facebook is that if you don’t know someone, you can guess a lot about them from seeing who their friends are, where their friends overlap your friends, and their listed interests. Get to know your list well, read all the profiles, and develop a sense of who will and won’t be interested in a potential Fan page or event before you click “send”. Otherwise you are just creating annoying spam for your friends and they might ditch you.
5. Advertise your Fan page everywhere.
On your business card, promo postcards, in your email signature line, Twitter, other social media profiles, print media ads, and with an “Add This” button on your blog entries and web pages. (WordPress now has new templates with built in “Share This” features that make this super easy.)
6. Whenever you meet a new business contact, ask them if they’re on Facebook.
Jot their page names down on their card. When you get back to the office, immediately add them to your Friend page so you can invite them to your Fan page. all, just separate your “real” friends from the “virtual” and “networking” friends and message them separately.
7. Your network is your net worth! Don’t limit your friend list to actual friends.
Every person you meet is the key to your future! You never know when a contact will be valuable. I am constantly surprised and have often found that total strangers on my Facebook page who offer to “friend” me often become my most valuable business connections, or develop into true, real world friends.
Developing a Fan page following on Facebook takes time and patience, but you’ll be rewarded again and again with the connections and customers you’ll gain. Remember that what your fan page looks like and the quantity of people is no where near as important as the quality of people who follow it, and keeping them engaged with intriguing daily updates. But more about that in a future article.