Three Paradigm Shifts to Get More from Your Facebook Fan Page

By: Guest | February 17, 2011 | 

Nate RiggsNate Riggs works with mid-sized & large organizations to help them adopt and use social media communication tools, and build social media offerings designed to serve their clients.

All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.” – Pink Floyd

The boys from London have always been one of my favorite bands, and on a few different levels, it seems appropriate to start this post those lyrics. First, the classic song is essentially a rally cry against conforming to the status quo.

Secondly, I can’t help but be fascinated by the parallels the lyrics draw to how humans spend their time interacting in the vast context of this little website called Facebook. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

The truth is, Facebook is made of billions upon billions of bricks in the wall. Each time we choose to leave a status update, like content, leave a comment, check-in on Places, tag a friend, or share content, we add another brick to the massive wall that good ‘ol Zuck has convinced us to help build.

When you look at Facebook from that lens, us marketing and PR business folks need to change how we look at using our Pages to connect our companies and clients to the world of human Facebook users.

So what should we do to look at things differently? Simple. Work to shift our paradigm. Here are three ideas to make that shift.

Paradigm Shift 1 – Think of your page as an RSS feed, rather than a destination.

We’re stuck!

In the older days of the web, building destinations was the key. Our websites were carefully assembled and optimized to attract consumers and give them a reason to enter our online houses we built to promote our brand message, products and services.

While Facebook gives us control over what content we want to see on our page, the truth is that the large majority of users never move away from the default settings.

Facebook users spend the majority of their time trapped in vortex that is the wall. While I’m not sure of the exact science behind how the algorithm works, it’s easy to see that the content that is brought to each user’s wall is determined by how frequently the user interacts with the content of their friends and the pages they’ve liked.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an experiment you can try. Find one friend and one page you haven’t visited for a while and go interact on that page. Then, pay attention to what happens on your own wall over the course of the next few days.

You should start to notice that content from the places you’ve visited will slowly appear. Driven by your activity, Facebook will determine that you have a relevant interest in content from those destinations and in turn, begin to bring updates to you.

This can actually have a snowball effect. The more content that is pulled from a Fan Page to your personal wall, the more opportunities you have to interact with that content, thus solidifying the feed. Stop interacting with the content from those destinations, and eventually the feed will be broken and replaced with different content.

Paradigm Shift 2 – Focus more on measuring slices of effort as opposed to slices of permission.

Let’s say a Facebook user has visited your Fan Page, invested some time and interest in milling about your content and has decided to opt in by Liking your page. Great! They’ve given you a slice of their permission.

The thing is, that that all-important first step does not do much in terms of building the affinity for your brand that drives meaningful results.

Affinity is built over time by an investment of attention and activity that our industry has popularized as engagement.  If you include check-ins on Places, Facebook now provides 6 different ways that a fan can engage with your page.  The other 5 are well detailed in this video by my friend and Team Cbus teammate, Elijah.  It’s about 10 minutes, but totally worth a watch.

Elijah and I agree that each type of interaction can be assigned a numerical value based on the time and effort it takes for a fan to complete the action, as well as the percentage of growth or decline in each of those activities, week over week.

Remember that when a fan interacts in each of the six ways activity is distributed on their profile wall. Essentially, that means that by tracking fan activities, you can begin to get a picture as to how engaged your fans actually are with the conversation on your page.

And speaking of conversations…

Paradigm Shift 3 – Build affinity on your page by seeding conversations from the inside out.

Here’s a question for you to consider in terms of your business or non-profit: Who naturally has the strongest affinity to your brand?

Chances are, those who care the most are the same people who come into your office each day to keep bread on their tables at home.

Due in large part to the efforts of Tony Hsieh and Zappos, a focus on the importance of organization has gone mainstream in the past few years.  Couple this with the ideas of Shel Holtz and John C. Havens in their book Tactical Transparency, and you begin to see the foundation for what I think is a very powerful shift in how organizations will use Facebook Fan pages in the next few years.

The truth in most business is that the people inside who already buy into your brand mission want to talk with each other. Organizational communication folks have historically called this idea, “conversations at the water cooler”.

But today, Facebook Fan pages give us the opportunity to bring the water coolers online and ignite a real time conversation that can not only involve your internal community, but also the larger external community on Facebook.

When you are planning to grow your Facebook fan base, plan first to build activity among the people already inside of your company. Focus your content on ideas, information and fun activities that involve employees from all levels of your organization. Getting your internal fans engaged in the conversation will build a solid foundation that will make it easier and more attractive for people on the outside to join in.

What other ways would you shift your paradigm to get more out of your Facebook Fan Page?

Nate Riggs works with mid-sized & large organizations to help them adopt and use social media communication tools, and build social media offerings designed to serve their clients. He is a proud dad and lucky husband who enjoys music, photography and distance racing. Nate also blogs about business strategy, communications, parenting and life in Columbus, Ohio.

  • skooloflife


    I think it’s really interesting that you brought up having employees from all levels fo the company involved in Facebook. I work for an online travel company that is going ot be launching a new FB page and I actually suggested that we ask each employee to submit an update for the FB page, so we could crowdsource coming up with the content. Also many of the employes have been there longer than I have so I thought it would be appropriate to have them acutally supply some of the content. No doubt that getting internal fans is really the start and companies should encourage employees to interact with their brand’s facebook page.

  • nateriggs

    @skooloflife Thanks for chiming in. The approach works becuase it brings in different perspectives from the organization. Dell is one of the companies that took this approach to content in general early on. I’m not sure if they’ve applied it Facebook, but I personally think it makes for much more interesting stories.

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  • HowieSPM

    Hi Nate thanks for the thoughtful post. My experience has been that due to high volume in the wall feed (like Twitter) we see barely a snap shot of what flies by and due to that I think our friends and family come first second and third for priority. I am a fan of Arment-Dietrich and rarely if ever see their posts, but then I spend maybe 10 minutes a day looking at my feed, and like 29 hrs on twitter LOL. And very few brands are people so passionate enough they want to interact beyond buying their stuff. I can think of only 2-3 that I ever go directly to their page for.

    My question is do you think there is anything Facebook can do to change this behavior? Is it functionality or does it go deeper?

    I have done countless studies and blogged about this including just this week. Where Brands with a gazillion fans get no one (statistically) participating on their page. Starbucks most glaring though in their defense they barely do anything on the page. 18million fans getting 400 wall posts a day statistically is zero.

  • Thanks for a great post, Nate.

    Paradigm Shift 3 really struck a chord with me. Especially where you say, “When you are planning to grow your Facebook fan base, plan first to build activity among the people already inside of your company.” Upon reading this, I thought to myself, “Duh!” Why didn’t I think of that? Admittedly, this is something my organization has completely overlooked….but it’s so simple and makes such sense!

    Thanks for helping to me connect the dots. I’m excited to take this back to my team :).

  • FollowtheLawyer

    Sounds like buzzes and clicks right now, but I look forward to wrapping my head around it. Thanks!

  • nateriggs

    @KatieFassl Thanks Katie. What I think is the added benefit for focusing from the inside out is that your company, over time, will become a much more enjoyable place to work. I’m always facinated when I see companies that have a strong culture where employees feel connected to each other.

    Over time, connectedness is built by the frequence of communication. The more people are taking to each other, the more chance they have to build deeper relationships. Internal focus of something like a Facebook Page (while it’s also externally visable) make the chance of those conversations happen MUCH greater.

    Please don’t take this as shameless self promotion, but if you want to see how it worked for one of my clients, there’s a case study you can download over at CMI – 🙂

  • nateriggs

    @HowieSPM Really good question, Howie. I’m not sure it’s as much of a functionality issue on Facebook as it is a human condition based on affinity. In Facebook’s world, actions on a page signify some form of affinity (or at least it seems that way to me). The more actions you take, the more likely it is that FB’s technology will determine that there should be a pipeline of content delivered to you. What’s beautiful is that once the pipeline is established, taking actions in regard to what ever page you had an affinity for becomes easier because the opportunities are deliverd to you via content.

    That said, Facebook does not create affinity. Affinity is built IRL. I think that MLB team pages are an interesting example of this. Go check out the official pages for the Reds or the Yankees or the Red Sox. Talk about active fan bases! Why? People have a strong affinity for baseball and their favorite team. In those cases, the fans are there to talk to other people that are like them. The admins for the team really only seed the right information to get conversations going on current topics.

    While you affinity to where you work might never be as strong as a baseball fans affinity to their team, I think organizations can apply the same approach internally.

  • nateriggs

    @FollowtheLawyer hehe. I think we will all be trying to wrap our head around the whole Facbook thing for quite a while to come… 🙂

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  • HeatherAdams

    I really hope and pray that human race doesnt use the Paradigm Shift for money, greed, fame.,business. All that is putting out want want need need entitlement issues. and it becoming so important in my life and aware why noone will ever truly get it , because they abuse it.

    3 examples just as yesterday that implied to me

    I love helping people my very favorite thing to do, i do it because i love it do people take advantage of absolutely is heart breaking oh hell yeah am i ‘m gonna stop hell no

    all i want in return is to respect it, dont abuse it

    a woman waiting at a bus stop, i had pulled over cause my glasses fell under the car seat,

    i could see she was fishing for a ride without saying it, which is lying and hate when people resort to that, so i offered her ride i would hope if i need a ride someone do that for me, after 2 hrs of driving running my self pretty much out of gas her destination turned to be a crack house, heartbroken, why didnt this person just say im drug addict, i need a ride to a dealer, i would given her cab ride money and never thought about it again, but to decieve and personally take something i love to do is pure hate and greed.

    2)a down on his luck person i thought was a friend and to be honest spending way to much time trying to help him, just because i could see he was sad, had nobody,a very close to snapping kinda person and i was hoping i could elevate a another person worry that really wasnt a true worry, like money, rent, food..again with the glasses fell under the seat pitch black while i was in his neighborhood if he could turn on his front porch light so i could see, you thought i was asking for his soul a real big inconvience right? eventhough i was only in that area because you asked for cough medicine, and take you on errand. i was insulted i got sick and cried im still sad about that .i would never remind those people of how hurtful that was to me, but i never want to help them again, and when i feel that way i have taken them out of my realm. i just hope whomever read this really wants what they wish for, really need when they say it, and when a nice person comes along with no strings attached to help, dont abuse it, think your entitled to it and just respect it, and for those who like to help never expect payment, a compliment and never mention to the person your helping that your helping its a no string attached for u to just do it because you love it. its a new day time to find what i can get into, and im pretty sure someone out there will be like quit being sucker ,you deserve it that if you know it happens over and over again. my response i see your point , my point is its not supposed to be that way it is and its sad, but its very soul rewarded it becomes their karma luggage not yours.

  • HeatherAdams

    i had to vent somewhere, so i really could start over today thanks for listening or erasing hating i really dont care but at this moment time yal just really helped me thanks and i do really appreciate it

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