Money Can Buy You (Facebook) Friends, But Can It Buy You Customers?

Of the many avenues to advertise online, Facebook is one surefire way to get your brand out to a growing public and get people talking. From corporations to personal brands, Facebook presents pages as a way for people to discuss their mutual interests, and the social network allows the owner of the page to see what the chatter is all about. More likes should mean more business, right? This isn’t always the case. Many publicity-seekers will “buy” likes on Facebook to build their credibility as the volume of people who have liked their page grows.

But what’s the real reason for having so many likes on your page, or so many fans following you? The ultimate goal is for business to be booming. The problem with buying fans or coercing someone to like your page without actual interest is that a large number of fans doesn’t necessarily equate to profit, especially when you have to pull teeth for them to view your page. Paid fans aren’t interested in buying what you have to offer, and they won’t interact with your fan page — because they simply don’t care. Buying fans should be avoided because it’s a waste of time and money. Although it may make you look more credible, it won’t matter when trying to turn a profit.

You Don’t Have To Endlessly Promote Yourself

Another no-no in the Facebook publicity game is using your personal profile to promote your business. Sometimes, embarrassing things can come up on Facebook without your approval. (There are steps to avoid this, but it’s better to play it safe when your livelihood is at stake.) That unexpected photo on your personal profile can lead to disaster in your professional life. Promote your business through a professional business page, and keep your personal life separate from it. It’s safer for you and the people who have a vested interest in your venture.

Mass-Friending Is For Amateurs

Mass-friending is another no-no and could ultimately create a giant backlash if you abuse it. It’s also a worthless, time-wasting venture. If you ask 1,000 strangers to be your friend on Facebook, you’ll get a percentage of them to be your friend or like your page. But how does it benefit you in the long run, other than looking popular online? Again, fans and/or friends do not always equate to paying customers. Conversely, if word gets out that your business is constantly spamming people in an attempt to build your credibility, some users may get annoyed and become tongue-lashing critics. You turn into the little brother who just wants to play.

Instead of begging people to follow your fan page, lead the game. Spend time on the services that you offer and make people actually want to follow you. Give them an incentive to like your statuses and visit your page daily. These incentives will first and foremost drive your sales, but they’ll also create happy (repeat) customers, and, most important, they will get people talking.

Creating A Long-Term Brand Rather Than Short-Term Fame

So you’ve built a fan base and seen it flourish. Your sales begin to increase, your brand is credible, life’s good. How do you sustain this social media-fueled business/client relationship? There are two factors to keeping your fans engaged over the long run. The first is to keep your fan page up-to-date and effective. Continue to post relevant information and incentives, while giving your audience new and fresh content to gossip about. Second, and more important, however, you need to move your relationship off Facebook. Use other avenues of contact such as email, direct mail, or phone calls. Taking advantage of multiple lines of communication makes your interactions more personal, and it shows your dedication to connecting with your audience.

If you choose to exclusively use Facebook, make sure you post relevant, engaging content at least once a day, or you run the risk of boring your audience. A bored audience leaves the theater throwing tomatoes. Create unique content that delivers real value to your customers in order to keep them engaged and craving more.

Stay Ahead Of The Game

Always, always, always push fresh, unique content. Complacency is life-threatening online. If you don’t stay ahead of the game, your audience will surely get bored and look for other experts in your industry who can provide them with the content they want. Once you have your fan base established, you need to spoil them. Flatter them daily with new content to interact with, and watch your audience build upon itself.

Invest your Facebook time in cultivating good, lasting relationships with the demographic you truly need to target. Garnering thousands of fans who have no interest in your work is much less valuable than building a following of hundreds of fans who see the necessity of what you do — and who are willing to talk about it.

Brian Moran is the director of online sales at Get 10,000 Fans, a marketing agency and blog that teaches business owners how to make money off their Facebook pages.

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