For most business owners, their biggest Facebook challenge is keeping fans consistently engaged. Whether you have 135 or 13,500 likes, the only way to really profit from a business page is to motivate fans to click, share and, eventually, act by buying a product or signing up for an event.
Unfortunately, persistently low engagement is a catch-22. Your brand page's EdgeRank score -- Facebook's algorithm for determining how content is featured in the News Feed -- is determined largely by user interactions. If your EdgeRank drops, your updates can languish, meaning users won't see them and may not interact with your page. That will result in an even lower EdgeRank.
But when applied consistently, these three strategies can turn the tide and increase fans' interaction with your Facebook page:
1. Market content with images.
The rise of the social networking site Pinterest underscores how much people love images and, more importantly, love sharing them. Visual marketing is about creating what I call relevant viral content -- content your core audience can't resist sharing. They're the people who are most likely to buy from you, so focus on catering to their interests with relevant and appealing images and strong calls to action.
Here are a few techniques to try:
Showcase key industry influencers. There's something irresistible about quotes. I recently posted a bright yellow image of Seth Godin with a quote that got more than 100 shares the first day. This isn't about selling. It's about crafting a message fans care about. As a bonus, it can show the big players in your field that you're listening.
Highlight your expertise. After a live chat on her Facebook Page, international speaker Carren Smith posted an image containing one of her inspirational quotes and this call to action: "Please share this message with someone who needs to hear it."
Tell a story or share news. Every time you decide to post something -- a brand update, an upcoming event, etc. -- ask yourself, "Can I tell this story in a picture?" For example, show a happy user explaining how your product led to a success or memorable moment, instead of another routine product shot.
Ramp up lead generation. Create a series of visual images relating to a new marketing campaign or product launch. Just remember to include the destination link to drive traffic to your campaign.
Have fun. Most people aren't on Facebook for business. They just want to have fun. So, be playful, just as Los Angeles-based pet photography business Little Friends Photo did with a "fill in the blank" photo that received 314 likes and 113 shares:
2. Ask better questions.
If you pose questions and get only silence, you might be asking the wrong ones. Before posting a question, put yourself in your fans' shoes: "Would I really take the time to answer this?"
Here are a few effective question types with some real examples:
Yes/no: These questions often get the most responses because they take just seconds to answer.
Feedback: "I need a cover designed for my next book. Think I should run a design contest on Facebook? If I get 25 YES responses, I'll announce details next week." Bonus: Your audience is involved in the outcome, which means they'll care more about the product.
Emotional/provocative: "Who here feels like they're fulfilling their LIFE's PURPOSE right now, and how do you know?" Provocative questions work best when you know the topics and themes most likely to ignite a reaction from your audience.
Value add: "I just finished my new e-book and I'll release it next week. Who wants a free copy of chapter 1? Say YES and hit 'like'!" Bonus: This is a great way to get momentum before a product launch.
Fun and fast: "Quick: 'Hunger Games' or 'Avengers'?" It's nice to mix in entertaining questions, especially if you can later use the answers as new content.
3. Use video teasers.
Video can quickly establish rapport and, on Facebook, that goes a long way. Just remember to keep the videos short -- one to three minutes at most.
Here are a few approaches to consider:
Ask a question. Use the tips above to create a short video instead of a status update, and solicit responses in the comments.
Offer a quick tip. Outline one tip you've covered in a blog post and ask users to go to a custom URL (within a Facebook app such as Lujure) for the full post.
Make a short video about an upcoming event. It could be a webinar, book launch or other live event. Drive viewers to a sign-up link within Facebook.
Share a funny story. If you're a great storyteller, show it.
If engagement is your goal, always ask yourself, "What's in it for my fans?" If you can provide value week after week, your fans will be more likely go the distance -- and the results will speak for themselves.
Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Amy Porterfield is the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies (For Dummies, 2011) as well as a speaker and trainer, teaching small businesses and entrepreneurs how to drive more traffic, leads and sales with Facebook marketing.