I often find that my clients consider increasing fan engagement to be one of their biggest social media challenges.  There are some simple strategies that will not only get your audience to engage but will also make your content more shareable and keep fans coming back to your page.

1. Respond to your fan’s questions and comments in a timely manner.
It can be frustrating to manage a Facebook page when you do not get much participation from your fans. Often times, you will post questions, such as “What’s the best restaurant in Myrtle Beach?” and as simple as this question is, you do not get much of a response. That is why, as your Facebook pages progresses and grows into a highly qualified community, you learn to appreciate the fans who post positive, rewarding comments without being prompted to do so. It is highly recommended to reply to these comments as soon you read them, and be sure to thank that person as well. It will not be a good reflection of your page if fans see that another fan has commented or posted something, and the business page owner did not respond. The bottom line is to always respond to your fans, and do so shortly after the comment is posted.

2. Why Edgerank is Important
You may notice that Facebook does not show every single status update to all of your friends or fans and you do not see all of their updates. If you did, it could be quite overwhelming considering the average person on Facebook has 130 friends. So Facebook created a way to pick which updates you see, it’s called Edgerank.

Edgerank is based on three main factors:
Affinity - This is just your relationship to your friends or fans. The more interactions you have the certain people, the more likely you are going to appear on their news feed.
Type of Post - The ways you interact with people and the posts you make are weighed/measured. Videos and photos are more important than regular status updates; and comments are more important than likes. Facebook believes that comments take more effort than likes so they are ranked higher.
Timing - The more recent your post or your friends post is, the more important. People want to read news that is up-to-date.

Now you can see why engagement with your audience is important…it increases your presence on Facebook. Posting pictures and videos that encourage comments is the best way to optimize your post for Facebook. And don’t forget to respond to people’s comments.

3. Develop your own strategy
Whether you’re an experienced Facebook user or completely new to the platform, it’s necessary to develop a strategy in order to achieve Facebook marketing success. When developing your strategy, start by determining why you’re on Facebook in the first place. Is it to generate awareness for your products or brand? To increase traffic and sales? To build loyalty and relationships? To gain new brand insights? Or is it just because your competitors have a Facebook fan page? If you said “all of the above” that’s great, but try not to get ahead of yourself. Start by focusing on one goal and building a strategy from there, ask yourself the following questions: who is your audience, what do you want them to do, what metrics will you use for tracking, and how will you determine success? For those with uniquely branded pages that are looking to generate brand awareness, part of your strategy might include using Facebook ads. Determine who your target audience is and leverage the targeting capabilities of Facebook ads to reach this audience. Track results with Facebook insights by monitoring monthly/ daily active users, new likes, unique page views, and visits from Facebook to your website/ blog. Write down a concrete goal and use the data you gather to refine your strategy until you successfully accomplish that goal, then pat yourself on the back and create a new goal. Keep in mind that Facebook marketing is not necessarily free when set up, operational costs, and man hours are taken into account. It is therefore necessary to develop a strategy in order to maximize both time and money.

4. Keep your fans coming back!
You always want to make sure your fans are constantly coming back to your Facebook Business page and keeping an eye out for your status updates. Make sure you give them reasons to do this! Provide special Facebook only coupons for your fans. Provide information about the area and attractions. Whether you give them a local’s point of view about the area or just update them on festivals, live events or anything else that is happening that the fans may not be aware of. Finally, engage your fans by asking for their opinions. What they like, don’t like and even what they want to see improved. Remember getting the fans is just the first step, but keeping them coming back is the challenge!

5. Incentivize!
If you’re hoping to build fans and quickly, there is no better way to do so then to incentivize your potential fanbase. This is particularly relevant if you’re one of the many companies trying their hand at Facebook ads. When a Facebook user lands on your Facebook pg, you have less then 30 seconds to attract their interest before they move on to something else. Your best chance to capture their attention immediately is to entice them with a promotion. It’s your opportunity to tell the user “why they should like your page”, if they have no previous knowledge of your company, this quickly makes it worth their while. The more creative the promotion the better, in fact, if done correctly they might even tell their users within their network to also “like” your page, multiplying your potential sales. There have been a number of independent research companies who’ve conducting studies attempting to qualify a tangible dollar value for each Facebook “like”. Some studies have put the number at $3.50/per fan while others have put a value of upwards of $120/per fan, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle and is no doubt very dependent on industry and cost of your product. The bottom line is, invest in an incentive based promotion, the fans you generate will more then cover your costs in the long run.

By Chelsea Frye, Online Marketing Consultant