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The Strange World of Gathering Facebook Fans: 5 Ways To Make It Right!

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The Strange World of Gathering Facebook Fans: 5 Ways To Make It Right!

For most businesses, Facebook continues to be an obsession with gathering fans (Likers). However, it this the right approach, particularly if you are a small business? Here I would like to present you with the case against!

First, let’s look at some of the facts:

  • Many businesses are entirely ineffective at gathering fans; the reality is that they don’t have the brand recognition, a sexy product or simply the aptitude or time to do so effectively.
  • Some businesses are effective at gathering fans but are ineffective at turning those fans into customers and brand advocates. Their Facebook strategy starts and ends with gathering fans. If you consider Facebook’s edgerank algorithm, this approach is many cases could be the least effective – in that, gathering fans takes up resource and time, but if there is little or no ROI, well then – it is easy to see how this may in fact come with the most cost to the business.
  • A few businesses are effective at both gathering fans and engaging with these fans so that they become customers and advocates. Typically, these tend to be businesses with very suitable or sexy products, and/or have a sophisticated strategy for engaging fans as soon as they arrive at their page.

So is focusing on growing fans the right approach for most businesses? my answer is no! However, I continue to believe that Facebook has a real value for virtually every business, provided their strategy is a sensible one. I would go so far as to say, that more often the best strategy for growing your fans is to do so indirectly. Here are some suggestions:

# 1. Use Facebook as a customer service/engagement tool

You have customers and Facebook is a wonderful communications tool. Bring the two together so that you can deal with your customer service more effectively. Pick suitable aspects of your customer service delivery and incentivise your customers to communicate with you through Facebook.  Doing great customer service via Facebook will not only make your customers happy but will sell to everyone else on there, that you are a great company to do business with.

# 2. Use Facebook as a marketing tool, but just not for you

Another way to use Facebook differently is to use it to market your customers, rather than you. Help them to grow their businesses via Facebook and invariably you will create more value for them and strengthen your relationships. If you are effective at getting them new customers and growing their business, guess what? You will also end up with more of their custom and new customers as a result.

# 3. Use Facebook as a research and development tool

All good businesses should be looking to innovate and solve more/bigger problems for their customers. And how do you create new products that will sell, you do market research of course. Again Facebook can be used very effectively as a market research tool and the best bit is, not only is it effective but it’s one of the least costly and most efficient ways for you to do so.

# 4. Use Facebook to crowdsource your marketing

If you’re a businesses that struggles with your marketing or if you’re just a businesses that wants to improve upon what you already do. Give your Facebook community ownership so that they can help you come up with new marketing ideas and initiatives. What better way to create brand advocates that to sincerely allow your customers or fans to own your marketing.

# 5. Use Facebook to crowdsource your Facebook strategy! 🙂

Yip, if all else fails! Why not use Facebook to find the solution for how best to use Facebook. The beauty of social media is that there are always people ready and wanting to help, if you are just prepared to ask. The very best strategy for your Facebook page may very well already be with your fans.

So strangely perhaps! the most efficient way to grow your page may just have required you to go and ask your fans, but because you were so obsessed with gathering new fans – you never thought about it like that, did you?

The truth is that if your own value of Facebook is in how many fans you can gather, have you just ended up valuing non-fans more than you do your actual fans? And yet you wonder why I don’t want to be a fan of yours? Perhaps, Facebook is not such a strange world, after all! Can you suggest any other ways to use Facebook effectively?

Thanks for reading,


Image: “Image :Like word 3d /Shutterstock

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (, & to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care.

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  • Great post Niall, couldn’t have put it better.  

    Social media should always be focused on the quality and not the quantity.  I’ve amazingly come across a business who set targets for their facebook fans?! They totally miss the point that social media is the ultimate communications and branding tool which can open up wonderful new opportunities if you get the balance right.  

    And for those who for the sake of vanity get caught up in the numbers, remember only you can see what traffic it’s driving to your website or to your business which is ultimately what becomes cash?

  • Thanks for the comment, Debbie! 

    I’m not opposed to setting targets as regards fans, but I am opposed to setting targets for fans and not having a system in place to engage with those fans effectively and sincerely. 

    While it’s a big platform in terms of numbers of people, Facebook is also a very competitive environment for biz, so much so that we are invariably competing for same fans. If you want to be effective on there, you got to do something more to stand out from the crowd, where as most businesses are just trying to same as everyone else.

    Taking one of the suggestions above and really flying with it, is one way to go 🙂

  • Brilliant post Niall!! 
    Again you are re-enforcing the benefits of being a connector online, and engaging, interacting, and not making it all about “ME”.

    A wonderful read, thank you

  • Liking this post! Especially point 4 – after all, what could be better than getting both engagement from your fans, as well as some potentially very interesting and effective marketing tips from the very users you are seeking to target! 

  • Great ways!  Many of these points could also be used by B2B companies, since it’s key to value your fans and followers.  2012 will be a great year for social media.

  • Móna Wise

    A great post Niall.

    It is a numbers game for sure. I remember reading an article, years ago, about the difference in ‘fans’ versus ‘true fans’. Fans ‘like’ you and true fans give you their money.

    I think customer engagement is vital to building a healthy community on your Facebook page and catering to their needs builds trust. The percentage of fans that will actually put their hand in their pockets and shell out their hard earned cash is still very small (less than 10 %) but they are still very important becuase of their social reach.

  • Thanks for the comment & check out “a few businesses” above for examples of B2Bs doing it well 🙂 

  • Thanks Anton, check out this case study from Glenisk:

  • Absolutely! I think one of the best ways to benefit me is to not make it all about me. Thanks for your comment, Elaine! 🙂

  • Thanks Móna, I think a combination of effective targeting and engagement is the way to go to turn fans into customers. But first, you’ve got to find ways to get your existing customers on there, because they are the ones that are most likely to engage an spread your message at the start. 

  • Elishbul

    Enjoyed that Post and an affirmation on the whole notion of treating Fans as real people with Businesses and relationships rather than numbers on a page for the sake of Edgerank. FB should be about building community and posting information that helps your community along not just your latest product launch has got to be key.

  • Exactly! Don’t think of them as fans but rather as people, then look to develop the realist (is that a word?) relationships that you possible can. That’s another reason why starting with your customers makes sense because you already have real relationships with customers. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  • It’s too bad i can’t search facebook for blonde busty girls. That would really help my facebook page since it deals with exactly that. Especially if their profile picture is in a bikini…

  • Facebook is a major tool which, if used well, can do wonders for developing your online presence. Its a marketing tool in its own way as you can gain immediate contact with other businesses.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    Conversation is definitely a skill that Irish people excel at. The groups you mentioned are fabulous resources so people and businesses can connect easily. I can definitely attest as a member of IABN that IABN takes networking and connecting seriously (but in a fun way). For those who want to connect to the Boston business community, keep your eyes on the Boston Irish Business Association (BIBA). This group is well connected and keen on helping Irish companies and American companies connect and succeed.

  • André

    Difficult to understand why Worldirish is listed here as it’s not even launched ?  Site says Beta ?

  • It does already have almost 14,000 signed-up members,André

  • Thanks for sharing that into, Elli.  

  • Thanks, Elish. Just as the Irish have enriched other cultures, people such as your good self help add a wonderful variety to Ireland.

  • Thanks Elaine… on this grand ‘soft’ summer’s ?? day 🙂 

  • Indeed, Marie. There are lots of Irish Business Networks out there alright. It is somewhat heartening to see some great collaboration now beginning to happen between some of them. Let’s get over our ‘silo’ mentality , in these economically challenging times, collaboration is the way forward.

  • John Twohig

    Great first post Pat, welcome to TYB may this be the first of many.

  • Niall I really like your emphasis on crowdsurfing. I think Facebook is a great platform to be able to crowdsurf mainly because facebook has great engagement with the users and it is so simple for a update to go viral and be shown to thousands if not millions of people!

  • Great post Niall,
    I think that Facebook can be utilized in such a great way if used correctly. Many people get frustrated because they dont get many fans or arent getting conversation and engagement from their fans. I think the best way to is to be authentic and original and your facebook fans will grow very organically and quickly!

  • Hi Niall – Ian is away at the moment, so I’ll leave him to answer that when he gets back 🙂
    Thanks for the comment – good question!

  • Thanks so much Noel. Much appreciated re: the clarification. As mentioned, although there may be no virus to date and while malware may be very rare, I would hate to think that I or indeed a reader would be that drop in the ocean. Great advice. I would still advocate getting Sophos. It’s free so what harm. Thanks a mill for reading and Happy New Year 🙂

  • Much appreciated. I have two more on the way so stay tuned. Happy New Year

  • Nicely explained, and often a touchy subject – especially with smaller firms – who foots certain bills, and how much “personal” usage is allowed?
    I think the debate (and the fears) will stretch into 2013 – education will lesson fears, but I expect it will be one of those – learn as we go – kind of business goals.

    Great post Nishadha, thanks!

  • For sure & thanks for the comment 🙂

  • Thanks Lorna, we missed you! 🙂

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