Are you letting Kevin Costner write your Facebook marketing plan? Bad move, guys–don’t you remember the failure of Water World? But today we’re talking about one of his non-flops–Field of Dreams. Lorraine has written before about the famous “if you build it, they will come” strategy for web traffic. While this might work for magical baseball fields, it’s probably not a great idea for your Facebook fan page.

“But Allison!” you cry, “everyone’s on Facebook! They’re pleading for me to put daily updates about my plumbing company there! All  I have to do is create the page, and they’ll appear in their multitudes, and all my worries are over.”

Absolutely–everyone’s on Facebook. New data released by the company reveals they’ve hit a whopping 901 million users. But that doesn’t mean they’re seeking your company out. Think about what you do when you sit down at the computer to use Facebook for fun. Are you hunting down every company you’ve ever done business with, or are you stalking your exes and playing Farmville?

So does that mean Facebook is useless? Not by a long shot. Facebook remains an invaluable tool for giving your most dedicated fan base frequent touches to keep you top-of-mind, and turning them into dedicated brand advocates. But before they can do any of that, they have to know you’re there. How do you go about doing that? Glad you asked.

  • Start with your personal friends. If you have a personal account, invite your friends to like the page. This is easily done via the admin panel on your fan page. Ask your friends to “like” the page with a brief note. Why? If they’re really your friends, chances are they’re invested in your success and want to stay up-to-date on your activities. Maybe some of them are already your clients. Start with the people who have the most reason to like you, and expand your base outward from there.
  • Tell customers. We recently had a client tell us about all their dedicated clients who just loved them. He couldn’t figure out why they weren’t all jumping onto their Facebook page. We asked him if he’d told the customers he was on Facebook. Crickets. No matter how much your customers love you, they probably don’t love you enough to randomly use Facebook’s awful search function to find you. Put signs up in your store, incorporate a mention of your page into your phone script, have your salespeople mention it. Don’t put the onus on your customers–tell them you’re there and why they should like you.
  • Make it worth their while. If you’re on Facebook, your competitor probably is, too. And they’re chomping at the bit to have access to those same customers you want, ready to shove their content down their throat. But customers are smarter than that. They want to know what’s in it for them. Do you have exclusive coupons only for Facebook fans? How about loyalty incentives? Information they can really use? If your information isn’t useful, no one’s listening. If you can’t name a reason someone would want to follow your Facebook page, you’ve got problems.

Facebook is no longer a wild west; it’s now an established marketing tool and a crowded space. If you aren’t telling your customers where they can find you and why they should like you, you might as well be standing in an empty cornfield, chasing down a dream that will never come.