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.