The Internet user of today is a spastic, selfish person with little direction and a short attention span. These are your users. When you’re trying to broaden your Facebook audience, you need to consider them. You ask, “Will you Like my Facebook Page?” They ask, “What’s in it for me?” It’s your job to have a satisfactory answer to that question. The better your answer, the easier it will be to grow your audience.
Before you dig into the good answers, what about the bad?
- “You’ll be among the first to see my new content!” Yes, and they can do that by following your blog RSS, which doesn’t clutter up their Facebook feeds.
- “You’ll be able to interact with your fellow users.” Too bad that, for a social network, Facebook users can be surprisingly antisocial.
- “” No answer? Time to try harder.
Now, onto the good list. Here are six incentives you can use to attract users to like your page.
1. Like-Gate Content or Tabs
The easiest way to provide something of value in exchange for likes is to make a like required to access content. You can gate apps, entire content tabs or even off-site blog posts behind a required like. It’s like sites a decade ago that had premium memberships, even if those memberships were free; it’s a way to require users to opt in, so you know the people reading your content are at least invested to a certain level.
There are several plugins and apps that allow you to gate content, both on and off Facebook. On Facebook, you’re mostly limited to likes and follows for your page as a whole. Off-site, you can go with Facebook likes, Twitter follows and other social metrics.
Facebook actually specifically mentions gating content in their guides for running and promoting Facebook pages, so don’t worry about breaking some buried clause in the terms of service – at least not until they change it again.
2. Likes as Promotion Entries
This one is becoming increasingly common. Run a contest of some kind. Put up a product, or a deep discount coupon, or a suite of products or something else as a prize. In order to enter the contest, require that the user like your page. If your contest is sufficiently compelling, users will be more than willing to like your page.
There are a few caveats to running a contest on Facebook. You want to provide something of value and interest to your users. You want to make sure your prize is related to your business, as well. After all, you’re trying to get a larger audience for your marketing. If you’re giving away an iPad, after all, you’re just attracting people who want iPads, not people who care about your product offerings.
Many of the contest apps that require a Like as an entry to the contest also give you options for multiple entries. Asking users to share the contest and verify it is one way to bring in more engagement on Facebook. You can also ask them to follow your Twitter and retweet a particular post to expand into another social circle.
3. Featured Follower Content
Hold a contest, but forget about using likes as entries. Limit this one to only those who have liked your page already, that takes care of that. Instead, make it something a little more intensive, like a photoshop or photo taking contest. Ask users to put forth their best creative efforts. Heck, you could go with a simple caption contest if you want. The method of the contest is not the important part.
The important part is, when you choose a winner, feature that winner’s content. Give them a prize, if you have one. Otherwise, being chosen as a winner is the prize all on its own. Promise to link to the business of anyone who wins, for a little added kick.
A monthly contest, ongoing, with a different theme but the same general rules every time, will draw a crowd. The first few months may be small, but as word of mouth grows, particularly from past winners, you’ll have more and more entries. Each time you pick a winner to feature, you tell everyone else that hey, maybe they have a shot. After all, they can do better than the one you picked, right? You’ll have people liking your page so they can enter, and others liking the page just to see past entries and winners.
4. Coupons for Followers
How about something a little simpler, a little easier? Don’t bother with any of those fancy apps. Don’t bother running a contest. You don’t need to go through the trouble of verifying posts and removing spam accounts from your entries.
Create a new custom tab and gate that tab behind a like, just as you do with normal gated content. What do you do with this tab? Regularly publish coupons and special offers in that tab, offers that can’t be found anywhere else.
What’s the stop a dedicated user from taking your coupon codes and reposting them on deal sites? The answer is nothing, unless you make everything dynamic. It takes a little more work, but you can hard-code coupons or deals into the URL, if your shopping cart system allows it. Users will need to click the actual link to generate a one-time short-duration code that gives them the deal. It’s almost not worth it; many users who find your site through a deals page will go on to like your page just to have first crack at later coupons.
5. Stickers, Badges and Achievements
What if you don’t want to feature your users – or have too few submissions to sustain such a contest for long – and you don’t have the profit margins to give out regular discounts or products? Why not go the extra mile and turn your Facebook page into a game?
Start by creating an app that keeps track of progress. Create a whole pile of badges, stickers or whatever. Meaningless graphics with point values attached if you like. Play on the urge people have to compete with each other. Reward badges for various engagement factors, such as commenting on a post, sharing a post, liking a post, following you on Twitter or whatever else.
It’s up to you if you host a leaderboard or give out prizes to the people who complete their boards first. Just be aware that you need to verify the metrics that earn badges, or some people will try to game the game.
6. Idea Crowdsourcing
There are a few big name companies out there who use their audience as a source for ideas, and twist it around to look like it’s a benefit to the customer. In a way, it sort of is; if a user has a winning idea for a product they want, and you pick their idea and make the product, they win by having the product available. You might even consider giving the person identified as the originator of the idea a free copy, just to add that much more incentive to create unique ideas.
Create a place where users can submit ideas and vote for the best ideas. Consider implementing the best ideas, and give credit to the idea originator. Users will compete to get their favorite ideas implemented with recognition, and it’s a free source of inspiration for your business.