By Samantha Bangayan

Engaging, optimized wall content is the most effective way to actively communicate with your fans on your Facebook Page in your social media marketing efforts. The more happily interactive fans you have, the more potential business you can create via Facebook.

To figure out the secrets of small business experts, I chose the top Facebook pages in the field and analyzed their wall posts. These were the six most engaging pages of the Social Media Examiner's 2011 Top 10 Small Business Facebook Pages (Note: Make sure to check out my follow up with 4 More Facebook Page Wall Tips for Small Businesses). Engagement was determined by the number of people talking about them – a new Facebook page metric that measures conversation generated about your page content in the last week.

The final selection of fan pages analyzed cover a wide diversity of small businesses, including: GardenQuest, Intrepid Travel, Arizona Pro DJs, Easy Lunchboxes, Brasserie Sixty6, and Dog Training Ireland. I'd say that's a rather diverse group.

Below are the six facebook page wall tips for small businesses:

1. Vary Your Calls to Action

Yes, it’s been proven that asking for Likes and Shares can work well, but try to avoid bombarding your audience with requests that seem one-sided (i.e. they Like and you become popular). Instead of “Please Like,” give them a reason to even if it’s only mildly related to the post or doesn’t have anything to do with how much they “like” something at all:

  • Intrepid Travel simply posted, “Ever been upgraded? ‘Like’ this post to brag a little…”
  • The Arizona Pro DJs asked their fans to Like their post of a music video about a paint party with the comment, “Like if you want to have a paint party!”

Also encourage engagement with varied types of questions or leading comments:

  • Share a quote and ask a related question: ‎"A dream you can dream alone is only a dream. A dream you can dream together is reality...” ~ John Lennon. Where do you & your favorite travel companion dream of discovering next?
  • Post a fill-in-the-blank sentence: When it's Friday night, I am getting ready to ___________.
  • Ask a true-or-false question: True or False? A wise traveler never despises his own country?
  • Trivia question and let your fans know that you’ll post the answer the next day: Can you guess what this scrumptious fruit is? Where does it grow?
  • Use the Facebook Questions feature to poll your fans: What’s your favorite dish at Brasserie Sixty6?

2. Respond Speedily

People are more likely to post if they know that they’re going to receive a response. For example, fans know they can depend on the page admins of Dog Training Ireland to respond quickly, sometimes within minutes, so you’ll often find wall posts to book their dogs or just ask how their dogs are doing. On a majority of these pages, the page admins were almost always the first to respond to everyone that posted on their walls with questions or requests.

Some page admins would respond to even the simplest “Thank You” while other pages would let their fans interact more with each other, leaving only an occasional Like here and there. On the other hand, complaints and negative feedback are your number one priority -- deal with them rapidly and with courtesy. I noticed the admins of Easy Lunchboxes direct a customer to her personal email address and GardenQuest responded to a technical problem by informing the fan that they’d let their IT team know as soon as possible.

3. Show You Care

Apart from consistent and quick responses, these top pages always found a way to show they care about their fans:

  • Intrepid Travel posted on behalf of one of their customers and fans to see if anyone would be going on the same trip.
  • Dog Training Ireland passed around missing animal announcements on behalf of their fans.
  • GardenQuest explicitly let their fans know that they loved the pictures they post and encouraged them to post more.

4. Be Informative

Fan pages should be all about the needs of the audience. Helpful tips and links to articles of interest were common wall posts on these top pages. It may be beneficial to start a series, such as GardenQuest’s “Friday Fun Fact” or Arizona Pro DJs’ “Music Monday,” both to keep you on track with your marketing strategy and to give your fans something to expect and look forward to.

Build relationships with others in your field by promoting their products that may be of interest to your community; when doing so, make sure to tag the other person or company. And don’t forget to ask your fans’ opinion on the product.

5. Influence Emotions

There is one blatant trick to engagement: photos and images. Pictures are more likely to be shared when the have more impact on a person’s emotions, whether they surprise you, make you feel indignant, or tug at your heartstrings.

Intrepid Travel and GardenQuest even have photo series such as “Photo of the Day,” “Where Is It” (fans guess where the photo was taken), and “Guess the Fruit.” Pictures don’t even need to be relevant to your fan page’s theme or content; for example, most pages shared Halloween-related photos because they apply to fans of all ages and backgrounds.

When you share a photo, don’t forget to tag where you found it or share directly from the original post as an opportunity to connect with other Facebookers. Ideally, you would also post original photos to update your fans. Dog Training Ireland is an expert in this area, posting up to 12 photos a day via mobile phone. More photos mean more interaction and with over a thousand photos in their fan page album, this fan page also had the highest percentage of engagement out of the six pages (11.8% of their followers interacted with the Dog Training Ireland fan page in the past week).

6. Sell a Lot or Not?

What was most surprising to me is that there were mixed messages about selling and self-promotion. General advice is that you should focus on engagement instead of blatant selling. The idea is that selling is a byproduct of the relationships you develop. I’ve been taught the 80-20 rule, for example, where only 20% of your posts should involve a sales message.

Even so, at first glance, Brasserie Sixty6 and Arizona Pro DJs seem to engage their audience well even though their wall posts are primarily focused on self-promotion. Upon further analysis, they may have spiked engagement because Brasserie Sixty6 had recently run a successful contest and the Arizona Pro DJs get a lot of interaction from the teens who attend their events and seek out photos. Notably, these two pages also had the least unique wall posts from fans; their audience mostly responded to wall posts from administrators. The lesson here is that your strategy will depend on the profile of your audience and what you want to get out of your fan page.

Personally, I preferred the selling style of Intrepid Travel, Easy Lunchboxes, and Dog Training Ireland. They had much lower levels of blatant self-promotion (5 to 20 posts per month) and would naturally tie a sales message to an informative post or an interesting piece of media.

Keep an eye out for the follow-up post on what these top Facebook fan pages can teach us about welcome pages, custom tabs, and post frequency!


What has worked to engage your Facebook fans? What hasn’t? What ideas are you going to try and implement from those above?

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