In the last couple of years I’ve seen such an enormous interest in Facebook Pages among the orthodontic practices we work with here at TeleVox. They’re often asking how they can get more people to “like them”, what to expect from their fans and what to post on their wall. It’s neat to see a practice go from a brand new blank Facebook page to a lively page with hundreds of fans, a lot of pictures and people commenting on almost every single post the practice puts up on their wall.
But for many other practices, excitement turns into frustration as soon as their Facebook page is live and they realize that they’ve got a mostly bare space with no fans, no one saying anything and nothing happening [cue the chirping crickets]. This usually occurs when a Facebook presence is launched before the practice develops a well thought out social media strategy. Whoa, wait a minute; social media strategy? I’m starting to sound like one of those social media marketers who throw around words and phrases like “transparency” and “join the conversation”.
While I think there is a lot to be said for having a plan for what you want to do with your Facebook page; I also know that it’s just not practical for everyone. Sometimes you just have to dive in and find your own groove. Look for new ways to build up your presence and value gradually. And yes, sometimes it does take a while to get people interested. Remember, you’re competing for the attention of fans checking their Facebook news feed only because they’re watching “Dancing with the Stars” and it’s a commercial break. The key is to work at it and keep trying new things.
If you’re wondering what kind of “things” to try out, consider these:
Get a Makeover
For your Facebook page, of course. There are some limitations as to what you can and cannot customize with your page but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any opportunities to give it a fabulous look and feel.
You can start with your profile image. Is it interesting? Does it reflect your brand? Ask around for opinions, especially from people who have an eye for what looks good. Graphic designers, artists and people with a great sense of style could offer interesting and helpful perspectives. Also look to other Facebook pages for inspiration. Check out what Facebook Design did with their logo. Or Best Buy with their towering profile image.
Another way to give your Facebook page a great look is by adding a branded default landing tab, which would allow the user to see an intro page instead of the default wall tab. You can find an example of this on Coca Cola’s Facebook page.
These branded pages are typically created with the help of a designer and a web developer experienced with an application called Static FBML. The Static FBML application allows a developer to work with a blank canvas and code the page with whatever layout and links you choose. You can choose whether or not you want your customized page to be the first thing your viewers see, or if you want it to be just another tab they can click on once they’ve reached your wall.
Change the way you post
Facebook page owners often make the mistake of either updating too frequently with boring, irrelevant posts or not updating enough. If you’re constantly boring your fans, you run the risk of them “un-liking” you, which is obviously not something you want. If you’re not doing anything at all on your page, chances are no else is either and you defeat the purpose of having one in the first place.
The key to achieving a good balance is to only post when you have something meaningful to share. Think about topics or questions that might compel someone to comment. Think about what kind of response you want to get out of your fans. Once you post something, read your comments and respond to your fans. Let them know you’re listening.
Find ways to reward your fans
People instinctively want to know wha’s “in it” for them. Of course there will always be loyal fans, friends, and relatives who will stick with you no matter what. But if you want people to notice you and continue to pay a visit to your page, give them a good reason to. This can be achieved through prizes, contests and giveaways or by simply providing content they would enjoy or value. Think about the kinds of questions your patients typically ask you and look for ways to start a conversation about these topics through your Facebook page.
Show your fun side, but balance it with professionalism
For many people Facebook is an escape; it’s entertainment, it’s a way to keep in touch, and it’s a way to stay informed. From its inception, it’s been “social” media. So being “all business” might make you look like a stick-in-the-mud. It could give people the impression that you’re out of touch or that you’re totally missing the point of Facebook. Yes you do have business objectives but don’t be afraid to let the multi-faceted fun side of your office shine through.
Share your good deeds!
Does your practice actively participate in community or philanthropic events? Share it through images and words on your fan page. This not only helps to draw in awareness to causes that are important to your practice, but also helps you form relationships with fans who share a common interest.
Get your fans excited about wha’s going on in your practice
Is your office being remodeled? Why not snap a few before-and-after shots and share them on your fan page? Seek feedback, ask questions and look for creative ways to bring your fans into the mix. Even something as simple as showing them pictures of the two waiting room chairs you’re considering – snap pictures, post them on your page and poll them on which chair they like the best. Let your fans feel like they are a part of all the new and exciting things that are happening in your office.
Be an admirer
This is often a missing piece with many Facebook pages. They’ve learned how to talk about themselves and shine the spotlight on their achievements but they haven’t quite figured out how to recognize others. Great ways to do this are by posting a message of congratulations to someone on your wall, linking out or sharing someone’s article, or by “liking” or praising someone’s comment. Another way to show admiration is through an application available on Facebook called “Favorite Pages”. This application can be added to your page and would allow you to display links to other Facebook pages you like. It can not only provide value to your fans, but also demonstrate that you’re proud to support other local businesses within your community.
Create events and invite your fans
Having a cook-out at your office? Invite your fans to attend. The events function on your page will allow you to see who will be attending so you can easily plan ahead.
Try out a few applications
We already mentioned the Static FBML application as well as Favorite Pages but there are so many new and interesting applications you can easily add to your page. If there is a blog for your practice, you may want to consider adding an application that will allow your page to display your blog feed. Social RSS is a commonly used application for adding your blog content to your page and allowing your fans to stay up-to-date with your blog.
Another useful application is Poll. This application allows you to create custom polls to display on your Facebook Page. Fans can vote through this application and view the results. This is a great way to energize fans and keep them interested in wha’s going on with your practice.
Advertise your page on Facebook
If you only have 10 fans and want more, why not advertise? Facebook ads run on a cost-per-click basis. They are easy to create, easy to maintain, a great way to spread awareness of your practice and cheap compared to other PPC marketing – usually under $2 per click.
Originally published in The Progressive Orthodontist, Q3 2010