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4 Ways to Make Your Facebook Posts Shine Using Facebook posts to stay in touch with -- and advertise to -- your target market is just plain smart. Here's how to do it right.

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In their book Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising, online marketing and Facebook ad experts Perry Marshall, Keith Krance and Thomas Meloche explain the game-changing tactics of paid Facebook Ads and how you can gain more on your investment—in clicks, customers and profits. In this edited excerpt, the authors discuss how you can use your Facebook status updates as free ads for your business.

When you post a status update on your Facebook page, everybody who liked the page may potentially receive a copy of that message in their news feed along with a thumbnail image. Your brand is instantly in front of hundreds to thousands of customers free of charge, and your status updates essentially become free Facebook ads.

Unfortunately, very few of your fans may ever receive your status updates. Why? Because not every one of your status updates is a turbo-magnetic social media magnet—and Facebook doesn't want to feed uninteresting status messages to their users or overwhelm users with too many status updates.

If you want your updates routed to your users for free, you need to learn to write good messages and include rich media. But it can be a challenge to come up with great status updates, especially if you're doing this 200-plus days a year. To make this challenge easier, get yourself a series of good sources for articles, quotes and ideas that offer RSS feeds. Then direct these sources into a single location where you can quickly review the ideas and come up with each day's status messages.

There are multiple things that can inspire good status messages, including:

  • Quotes
  • Articles
  • Funny and educational videos
  • Blog posts
  • Websites
  • Events that happened on this day in history
  • News

It's important to spark conversation than just repost interesting stories. Following are four methods you can use to initiate conversations with your prospects and customers.

1. Almost always end with a question. Ending with a question invites conversation from your fans, and conversation is positive feedback.

For instance, if you're running a Facebook page that features children's books and you run across a great list of 100 books every child should read, you may be tempted to just post a link to that list as a status update. The problem is, posting a link to a list of books doesn't really invite feedback. This list could be used instead to inspire a Facebook message that invites feedback:

"My favorite book when I was growing up was: _________________."

Now, instead of posting a link to a list, you've posted a simple question that invites immediate feedback. Users can quickly respond, have a bit of fun and go on their way.

2. Make people feel good about themselves. People go to Facebook for some form of escape. It you want people to like a message, send a message that makes them feel good about themselves. We call these types of status updates "love your mother" messages. Basically, the post is some version of "Press like if you love your mother."

On a page dedicated to parents of homeschoolers, the site posted the following status update:

"Did you know that on this day in 1887, Anne Sullivan began teaching six-year-old Helen Keller? Press 'Like' if you think everyone who teaches six-year-olds is a "Miracle Worker" in their own way."

It's not a surprise that this status update received a home run, with a response rate over 2.5 percent. It's positive, affirming, informative and makes people feel good about themselves and what they've accomplished.

3. Give away free cupcakes. There's another type of status update that several small businesses have built entire marketing business models around. We call these "free cupcake" messages, inspired by Sprinkles Cupcakes. Sprinkles, which had surpassed 500,000 fans the last time we checked, frequently posts this style of status message:

"The first 25 people to whisper 'Make my day' at Sprinkles of Palo Alto will receive a free special cupcake."

Every business should give away cupcakes! If you own a store, what's your cupcake? As a coffee store, you could give away 15 free lattes a day but in return collect 250,000 fans, who'll become the least expensive marketing operation you've ever had.

Facebook needs to see responses to keep sending your feed to your fans, so you need to get responses on your post. Our recommendation for anyone using a free cupcake strategy is to write a status post like:

"The first 25 people to whisper 'Make my day' at [your business] will receive a free special cupcake. Press 'Like' if you love our cupcakes and tell us why!"

Now you have the people coming to the store for free cupcakes, and everyone's encouraged to press "Like" and add a comment. Give someone who makes a funny comment a free cupcake at the local store, and post that person's picture on your Facebook page to demonstrate that you sometimes give free cupcakes just for funny comments. (But don't only ask for a "like" in your status updates, as Facebook now discourages this. Ask for comments and responses, too, not just a like.)

4. Post pictures, videos and links. Funny pictures, emotionally moving videos or really valuable links are great status updates for your page. The best way to score with your status updates is to post items that get reposted. In our experience, funny or emotionally moving videos top that list -- especially stuff that's drippy, sentimental or inflammatory. (Be very cautious of inflammatory!) Of course, you can always do a call to action in your post as well and request that fans share the video:

"Please, let's get the word out. Repost this video to your wall—tell your friends!"

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