Make your customers feel like they’re missing out if they aren’t interacting with you on Facebook.

First off, let me get this off my chest – organically building your audience does not mean pulling out your wallet and buying “likes”. Never mind the fact that many of these companies that “sell” Facebook likes often times have issues with their PayPal accounts being closed or worse, demand upfront payment and never deliver the goods. How do you “like” that (no pun intended)?  The other major issue with buying likes is that the “likes” really don’t like you. They aren’t interested in engaging with you and they will never have anything to say relative to the conversation you want to have with your audience.

Enough of that.

Back in the early days of the internet, there was a misconception very much like in the move “Field of Dreams” when Ray Liotta told Kevin Costner, “if you build it, he will come,” sadly that rarely applied to your website and it now rarely applies to your social media networks. You may have the most incredible Facebook timeline page but there is one critical element missing – an audience.

You want an audience that will endorse and ultimately become evangelists for your brand, your products and services. You can also use that audience to bring new people to the fray. Getting your existing audience to interact in the conversation increases the chance their connections will notice this and thereby do the same. Remember, every time someone interacts with your brand via social media it is free advertising for you, so keep that in mind before spending lots of money on the Facebook advertising, and rather invest some of those dollars into the steps below.

1) Once you have a great page in place, it’s time to make some big noise to start growing your Facebook audience. Announce to your customers you’re there (via email, existing newsletters, website updates etc) and let them know they should be there with you. Give them incentives to be there, such as product offers, exclusive content, coupons, promotions and other initiatives. Most of all make them feel like they’re missing out on something if they aren’t with you on Facebook.

2) Information analysis is king when it comes to social media marketing. It’s your way of proving the value social media is adding to your company. Use simple tools like Facebook insights (Understanding Facebook Insights from our resources library), can give you a clear idea of what types of posts have been engaging with your existing audience. Check out your top 10 posts and bottom 10 posts and adapt your strategy. If polls you created and posted are getting the best results, post some more. See what kind of content your audience are most and least interested in, and give them more of what the numbers say they want.

3) Ask. Ask for help, ask for likes, ask for engagement and ask your audience their opinion, ask them what they want to talk about. Don’t simply rely on pushing your posts to keep them engaged. Prompting them to be – and staying engaged will be reflected by the impressions on your posts and your wall.

4) Keep your fans informed about any special deals, potentially with additional emails with direct links to your page (a direct link can also be easily measured to show the successful click through rate), but be careful not to overload them. Make them feel special by offering deals and discounts only available on your social network sites. Make your audience feel appreciated and valued – this will inspire them to engage and communicate more with, recommend you to their friends via Facebook, and post positive comments. This can also show people who aren’t following you on Facebook the potential perks of doing so.

5) Be proud that you’re on Facebook, and shout about it. Add the page link to your email signature, add icons to your website in as prominent a position as you can. Many recent surveys have shown that customers are more comfortable placing their customer service inquiry via a social media portal, so it is in your best interests to offer your Facebook brand page as an outlet for this and to be publicly seen doing so.