Please Be My Friend: Taking the first step beyond just being on Facebook


Afraid you’ll be the last brand picked for the kickball team? Worried you’ll throw a big party and no one will come? Sometimes it can feel like social media marketing is another trip through middle school.

The greatest social media challenge marketers say they face is getting their target audience to engage and participate. According to MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report, 64% of marketers consider it a very important challenge to achieving social marketing objectives.

Translation: I’m a new kid in a new school and I’m worried no one will be my friend. So let’s take a look at a few Facebook beginner ideas…

This post is unusually tactical for me. I am assuming you already have a social media objective and strategy. You know WHY you need Facebook fans, and you know what to do with them.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a chance to send email

The knee-jerk digital marketing tactic is: hey, let’s send a note to all of our friends.

Sending email to your list is easy, but it’s another piece of spam that will get you unsubscribes. Just because you just embraced Facebook doesn’t mean that they did as well.

Instead, make it a reasonably distinct part of your site and whatever regular email you are already sending out to an opted-in list. People that are already on Facebook will recognize it easily. Don’t waste effort on trying to create new Facebook converts (unless your name is Mark Zuckerberg).

For a true friend, look a little deeper than your list

FriendsI would suggest deeper-reach strategies, starting from understanding your target audience and getting involved in related Facebook Groups. Through meaningful conversation, you can introduce them to your Page (or Group).

Facebook makes relevance fairly easy, if time consuming. Learning about both individuals and groups is naturally available through Facebook content. You can read wall posts, bios, etc.

This means dedicating some marketing or business development human resources to the project (the second biggest challenge according to MarketingSherpa, with 56% of marketers considering it very important). After all, relationships require time and effort.

Active, but measured and judicious participation with the objective of creating interest is what will net you a loyal following.

However, don’t neglect the narrower tactics of contests, special coupons or exclusive deals for your Facebook fans. While these incentives will on average create a less loyal following, their net effect can be very positive.

Understand what Facebook functionality will naturally (and free of charge) carry your message

In social media in general (and on Facebook in particular), retention and new member generation are very tightly related. Every time someone comments in your Page, it is reflected in their wall and visible to their friends, who can then learn about the group and join (individuals may change their settings, but this is the default option and happens most of the time).

You should look to all Facebook features that trigger visibility in people’s News Feeds. For example, creating events will push your Page into the News Feed of those that sign up for them. If you create a Facebook application, installing it (and some updates – wouldn’t you want to be another Farmville!) will generate a visible News Feed post.

There are other more creative tactics (may or may not apply to your Page depending on the tone), where you can invite people to tag themselves in an image, say, of personality types, etc.

Good luck. And let me just remind you of your Mom’s advice on the first day of middle school (assuming your Mom was a marketer). You’re a likable brand, don’t send out desperate notes for friends. Just go out there, be yourself, engage in the activities you love, and you’ll be the most popular brand in school.

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  1. Stephen Pazyra says

    Great article, but am I missing it somewhere? I do not see that Marketing Experiments has a facebook page, it’s not listed on right hand side of page.

  2. Boris Grinkot says

    Valid point! In our last #webclinic, I was talking about the importance of understanding where your target market is best–for the lack of a better word–“targeted” in social media. For MarketingExperiments (as probably for many other B2B companies), Facebook is relatively low on the totem pole for social media engagement ROI. (Perhaps this post, and especially some of the audience comments, might be interesting:

    If you are successfully using Facebook marketing for B2B, I would love for you to share your story–it may be highly instructive!

  3. Thierry Andriamirado says

    The above link returns a 404 error because of the trailing ‘)’
    The link to the Social Media Measurement post is:

    Thank you for the great posts about Social Media 😉

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