6 ways top-performing brands grow their Facebook communities

Wildfire examined 10,000 Facebook campaigns and here’s what the ‘super brands’ are doing to grow an active community.

Not all Facebook fans are created equal. It’s not about how many Facebook fans you have; it’s about how many engaged Facebook advocates you have.

A recent Wildfire case study, “How superbrands breed superfans: 6 best practices for 10x greater growth,” examined 10,000 Facebook campaigns in the last nine months to uncover what the most successful brands do to expand their active Facebook audiences.

There are a lot of tips out there, but this is one of the more comprehensive, recent studies that used statistics to solidify why these six best practices to grow an active Facebook community work.

Wildfire identified three key audiences that make up Facebook communities:

1. Joiners (83 percent): Although they make up a majority of your fan base, they do not help you get new fans or spread your messages. They simply participate; that is the end of their interaction.

2. Sharers (15 percent): This is the more active group that participates in your campaigns and spreads the word about them. This group reaches out to that “friends of friends” metric.

3. Advocates (1.5 percent): This group is your Facebook gold mine. Not only do advocates participate in and share your campaign, they have the ability to influence their community to do the same. This is the community you want to develop.

How important are the advocates, and how do you grow that community?

The top 10 percent of the study group, the “super brands,” doubled their sharers from 15 percent to 30 percent, and tripled their advocates from 1.5 percent to 4.7 percent through these six best practices. The super brands were three times as engaging, resulting in 13 times more growth than the average Facebook page.

1. Consistently provide multiple ways for your fans to engage.

If it’s within your budget to run one or more giveaways or contests at once, go for it. You will see the types of campaigns your fans and advocates like to participate in and talk about.

In addition to paid-for campaigns, other opportunities for engagement through Facebook tabs include:

  • Email subscription or quote application forms.
  • Relevant, custom regional data for your product or industry.
  • A career tab for your organization.
  • Pinterest or YouTube video integration.
  • Tools like calculators or quizzes.
  • Interactive product guides.

2. Provide clear calls-to-action.

Tell your fans how to interact with each post. Have them answer a question, or instruct them to do something like visit a link, watch a video, click “like,” or share.

As a side note, be sure to adhere to Facebook’s terms regarding contests, promotions and giveaways. Although it is still quite common, it is against Facebook’s terms to give away products by asking fans to comment on, share or like posts.

3. Post pictures.

A picture is worth a thousand likes. Anyone who knows anything about engaging Facebook audiences will tell you images get your fans going.

Integrate images wherever you can: posts, bit.ly links to blog posts in captions, photo albums, and your Timeline. Keep images bright, unique, original, relatable, positive, and most important, shareable.

4. Keep interactions relevant.

Don’t post about winter during the summer, and don’t post about events that happened two months ago. Use upcoming holidays, major sporting events (the Olympics are over now), major film releases, and current events to keep your conversation relevant.

Also, determine if political or religion-based conversations on your social channels align with your organization’s values and goals. These topics are very risky, and you may offend your advocates and the general public if you aren’t armed with a response strategy.

5. Mix up your campaigns and new offers.

Wildfire found that the campaigns people enter the most, like sweepstakes, coupons or promotions, are not the most shared. Other campaigns like personality-based activities and quizzes are shared more, but people don’t necessarily participate in them. Formulate a comprehensive strategy that will engage users from all levels.

6. Encourage interaction on several social channels.

Social media isn’t just about Facebook. There are hundreds of platforms out there. The super brands expanded across several networks, notably Twitter, YouTube and a blog, as well as visual accounts like Tumblr, Pinterest or Instagram.

These six best practices are how the top super brands use integrated social media campaigns and Wildfire Facebook apps to grow the social media playground for their advocates and sharers.

The bottom line is to be strategic with Facebook and everything else you do from a communications perspective.

Are you a sharer, joiner or advocate? Do these best practices work well for your Facebook communities?

Juli Peterson is an assistant social media strategist at Identity. A version of this article originally appeared on the Identity blog.

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