June 2010
Copywriting Curiosities
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15 Status Update Ideas for Your Facebook Company Page
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Dear Robyn,

Here's how I see it: more and more companies, large and small, realize they need a Facebook company page. But most don't know how to leverage the page effectively. A Facebook page is not another way to spam your fans. It's not the place to promote, promote, promote. Why? Because it's NOT all about you and your company.

Think about it -- if you go to a party and you're cornered by someone who wants to talk about only himself, what do you do? Exactly. The same thing will happen to your fans if you abuse them.

I think most companies go into Facebook wanting to do it the right way. But they're just not sure how. One of the best ways to use your company page is through status updates. But you have to be careful: these status updates show up in your fans' newsfeeds, so the bottom line is that these updates need to be valuable in your fans' eyes.

And that's what stumps many businesses owners. "What the heck should I say when all I do is sell products A, B, C or services X, Y, Z?" Remember, value doesn't always mean money. Some people value humor. Others value education. Still others value being involved in your company's decision-making process. Think about your customers. What do they value? This will help you craft the right status updates.

Still need ideas? Not to worry -- the Copy Bitch to the rescue! Below, you'll find 15 ideas for valuable Facebook status updates that almost any business can use. Customize them. Tweak them. Let them inspire more ideas.

Enjoy the issue, and hit me back with your comments.

Robyn (The Copy Bitch)
15 Status Update Ideas for Your Facebook Company Page 

1. Promote contests taking place on your site. People love contests. The prize can be a free product or service, a discount on a product or service, or some high-value prize like an iPad. I co-manage the Facebook fan page for AJ's Western Wear, and we recently ran a western landscape photography contest. All the contest rules were posted on the company blog and then we promoted the contest through the fan page, which had over 2000 fans at the time. This was a win-win: we gave something of value to our fans, and we drove traffic back to the blog. Plus, we were able to get multiple Facebook status updates out of it: the contest announcement, several reminder updates, and the update that announced the winners.

2. Run a contest on Facebook. This can be a little trickier to do since Facebook has some pretty stringent rules regarding contests on its site (it also has rules governing the promotion of outside contests on its site). You'll need to plan this one out, but, if done right, you can really engage fans.

3. Run a poll/survey. There are poll apps, but if you don't feel like dealing with figuring those out, simply asking a fun, easy, and/or provocative question can work well. I've seen radio DJs do a great job with this. One in particular comes to mind: J.J. Wright from Boston's oldies station 103.3. His questions always garner comments and conversation among his friends and fans, and that's a good thing. Note: you'll need to be logged into Facebook to see the page above.

4. Ask a question about your products or services. Remember, you've got some hardcore fans -- i.e. customers -- in your fan base (along with the band-wagoners). On the AJ's fan page, the owner will sometimes post a new style of western shirt and ask people if they'd buy it. She once showed two different handbags and asked fans which one they liked better. Talk about instant (and free) market research! Fans appreciate this because they feel their opinions matter, which, of course, they do. (They do, right?)

5. Think holidays. No one is expecting Status Updates of Enlightenment every time you do an update. A simple, "Merry Christmas to all our fans" is enough. One of the most "liked" updates we did on AJ's was a simple but heartfelt Happy Mother's Day. It doesn't have to be the major holidays either. Did you know July is National Baked Beans month? The offbeat holidays can make for some really fun (and funny) updates and comments. A good source for this material is Chase's Calendar of Events.

6. Think trivia. Every industry has trivia -- and not just the boring kind, but interesting stuff. Do "On this day in history" updates or "Did you know..." updates.

7. Think quotes. An occasional inspirational quote -- even if it's not directly related to your business -- can be a nice way to add some spice to the usual updates. The Quotations Page lets you search via keyword or author.

8. Think in terms of "the millionth customer." Remember when supermarkets and banks used to make big deals about the millionth customer? There'd be cameras and balloons and an oversized check for $5000 (or something like that)? Make a big deal over certain milestones on Facebook. Do a shout out to the 100th fan, the 500th, the 1000th, etc. Note: Wondering how to tell who the 500th fan is? Keep your eye on the fan counter in the left-hand column of the page. You might miss the moment you reach exactly 500 fans, but that's okay. When you look at your fan base, it begins with the most recently added fans. So, if you're at 508 fans, simply look past the first eight fans. The next one will be lucky 500. You can do a simple shout out in the status update (people love seeing their names called out for exciting things) or you could even award the person a prize.

9. Answer an FAQ. Come on. You get them all the time. The status update is a great place to answer these questions (and educate your fans while you're at it).

10. Announce new product lines or services. Let your fans know that they are the first to hear about it. You can make a short announcement in the status update and then link to a page on your website that gives all the details (a great way to drive traffic back to your site).

11. Share video. People LOVE video. Remember, YouTube is your friend. You're bound to find something related to your business. Or, again, you can occasionally post one of those viral videos that's going around, just to do something different. On AJ's Facebook page, we posted a video (the morning after the Academy Awards) of Jeff Bridges' Oscar speech for his role in Crazy Heart, which I had reviewed on the AJ's blog (Bridges plays a washed-up country music singer). We've also posted music videos of country music artists (e.g. we posted the official video for Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova" after it came out).

12. Broadcast your blog. Speaking of your blog (you have one, right?), you should definitely broadcast it to your fans. You can do it manually, meaning every time you write a post, you grab the permalink and then use it in your status update -- along with a little intro. Or you can automate it through something like Twitterfeed. It will depend on your fan base. I originally automated it on the AJ's Facebook page, but we found people didn't click on the links or leave comments. So I started customizing the intro copy and posting the links manually. This increased the number of comments, "likes," and traffic to the blog. It's worth the extra effort.

13. Promote your vendors. Do a shout out to vendors. It could be a vendor directly related to your business -- on the AJ's site, we do shout outs to our jewelry artisans -- or it could be a vendor who delivers really amazing service, like whoever/whatever you use to deliver packages. This info could be interesting/helpful to fans, and it's a nice way to recognize someone outside of your company.

14. Think current events. Current national events or world events can be good topics to do a status update on. Avoid controversial topics -- your fan page is not the place to endorse a political candidate. Instead focus on current events that everyone is talking about (the earthquake in Haiti comes to mind). A caveat: anything you say should be delivered in good faith, i.e. your company backs what it's saying.

15. Think product or service names. Ask your fans to help name a new product, service, or promotion. On the AJ's fan page, we sometimes do this when we get a new shirt in and we want a fun name to go with it.

Two bonus tips:
1. How often should you post status updates? This is going to depend a lot on your fan base. To start off, do a daily update. Experiment with your updates, and see what types get people "talking." As you build your base and your community, 2 to 3 times a day can work (especially for b2c industries) IF what you're saying provides some sort of value.

2. Ugh! I can't do this by myself. If you're a sole proprietor, get in the habit of going to your company page at least once a day and doing an update. If you have employees, share the responsibilities. It's easy to make people page administrators (i.e. when a person logs into his or her personal Facebook page, the person will be able to toggle over to the company page in one click, do an update, and then toggle back to his/her personal page). Here's a good resource that walks you through setting page admins (it's easy, trust me!)

Do you need help coming up with a great status updates for your Facebook company page? I can brainstorm a month's worth for you. That would be a perfect project for Rent My Noggin. Check it out and contact me today.

Have a wonderful and safe July Fourth holiday. See you in a month.

E. T. Robbins Productions logo 
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