Dear Copy Bitch: We just launched a company fan page on Facebook. I recently connected with someone who said he could get me 500 fans in a week for a reasonable price. Right now, I’m at 63 fans. Should I do it?
—Fanless in Florida
Answer: It’s the old chicken and egg conundrum, 21st century style. We humans tend to easily and willingly join crowded bandwagons. I mean, if 5 million people are fans of Starbuck and I occasionally drink Starbucks, well I should fan Starbucks too because, shoot, I might miss something BIG.
But let’s face it: most of us ain’t Starbucks.
Here’s my take: I’d much rather grow my fan base organically. And yes, that means it will likely be small for a while. Remember why you’re doing this in the first place: at the end of the day, it’s about conversions. It’s about sales. I’d much rather have a hardcore fan base of 500 people, most of whom are customers, than a fan base of 5000 people, most of whom have never (and probably will never) buy from me. If you’re truly a fan of a brand, I suspect you’ll fan that page, even if the fan base is small. The hardcore fan base will probably be more active on your page (if you engage them…don’t forget, social media is a two-way street), which will attract more fans.
I actually faced this issue with a client a couple of weeks ago. She’s an etailer with two stores, and we just launched a fan page for her newer store. She tried the “buy-me-some-fans” model, and oh man, did she get them: sketchy fans, fans in far flung countries, and fans with profile pictures that were, um, questionable. (Prediction: Fans-for-sale operations are the new link farms.) My client learned her lesson and ended up unfriending a whole bunch of these people. We’re now back to a smaller base, but a real fan base. And the fans are responding and engaging with us on the page.
So how do you get fans? You need to ask often. And you need to promote the heck out of your page: on your website, during checkout, on sales confirmations, on your blog, in your email marketing, through customer service, in your advertising. Ask your fans to invite friends. Join Facebook groups where your fans hang out. And always provide interesting and fun content that’s not self-serving. They will come. But it will take time and hard work.