Five simple tips for increasing your Facebook fan base

Your Facebook fan page provides a great vehicle for building your business and extending your reach. Here are a few ways you can get more fans on board.

Facebook fan pages are a great way to communicate with clients and potential clients. Using a fan page, you can stay in regular contact with people currently using your services or those who might be interested in doing so. It's public relations around a picnic table instead of the boardroom. You can use a fan page to share product announcements, promotions, special discounts, workshops, webinars, and so on -- most any information you want to share with the public is appropriate for a fan page.

However, unless you're a celebrity, getting people to visit your fan page takes a bit of effort. The following tips are easy to implement and should garner new fans quickly.

1: Send out invitations

The simplest way to get folks to join or like your page is to invite them. It's free and probably the most effective method of reaching the most people. There are at least two ways to invite people to your fan page:

  • Add details about your Facebook fan page to your email signature line. Don't go overboard; keep it as simple as possible. This method isn't intrusive; it just shares the information.
  • If you have an active mailing list, use it to extend an invitation.

2: Tap into online opportunities

If you have a Web site or blog, connect it to your Facebook fan page. Using a Facebook Plug-in, visitors to your Web site or blog can also view your fan page feed. Make it easy for folks to find your page, and they will probably take a look.

Many people are active on Twitter but not Facebook, or vice versa. Tweet new information on your fan page regularly, but don't be obnoxious about it. Anytime you run a contest or giveaway on your fan page, Tweet the details and include an invitation to join the page. You can also link your Twitter page to your Facebook fan page.

If you have the funds, consider buying targeted advertising on Facebook itself. At the bottom of any Facebook page, click the Advertising link and run through the easy-to-use wizard to learn more about targeted advertising. Another option is to buy Google ads.

Link your personal Facebook profile to your fan page. Join related fan pages and leave comments so others can learn about you. Some will follow your link back to your page. Use discretion in this area. You won't want to use this with your direct competition -- that's crass, and people won't like you much for it.

3: Don't overlook offline opportunities

There's also a lot of potential offline -- you just have to think differently. You can add your Facebook fan page information to press releases, TV ads, newspaper and magazine ads and articles, and so on. Add page information to your professional bio, business cards, letterhead, brochures, and even invoices.

4: Offer freebies

Occasionally, you should use your Facebook fan page to sponsor a contest or giveaway. In fact, fans might expect it. If you can't give away your services, which is the most practical suggestion, give away related toys and accessories. These items don't have to be expensive, either; they just have to be of interest to your fans. Make periodic announcements via your fan page first.

Using Facebook for contests and promotions is a bit trickier than it used to be. However, you don't have to have the contest or promotion on Facebook. Just make liking your page a condition of the process. It's not as cheesy as it sounds; everybody does it and people are accustomed to it.

5: Participate and have fun

The first four suggestions are of a technical nature, but I want to encourage you to have fun with your Facebook fan page. The more fun you have, the more new fans you'll entice and old fans you'll keep. Participation should remain on topic (as an IT professional, you probably shouldn't share your political and religious leanings), but you must participate. Your fans want to hear from you and the more the better. Nothing will kill your fan page quicker than boredom.