Increasing your brand’s visibility on Facebook won’t get you a $136.38 ROI per fan, but it will solidify customer relationships on the most important social network in the world.

Tactics to stay on your fans’ radar — begin with targeting their news feeds & making your updates count

This is part 4 of a 4-part series on using Facebook strategically. Updated a few hours after publication to include news from Facebook about its upgrade to Pages today. Also see: • Part 1: Demystifying how Facebook’s news feeds work • Part 2: 15 ways to increase your Facebook stature • Part 3: Cheat sheet: Key principles of social media marketing on Facebook

JD LasicaYour brand or business has a Facebook Page. That’s nice. Are you getting much traction, and is it worth your investment of time and effort?

I get the sense that many brands understand that Facebook needs to be an important part of their business strategy. But they’re fumbling the execution. What steps should your business take to increase your reach and visibility on Facebook and to turn supporters into paying customers?

And how will Facebook’s upgrade of Pages, announced today, affect managing your brand’s Page?

First, a dose of cold reality: Your brand isn’t reaching as many people as you think through its Facebook Page. Most people who “like” your Page never go back to it. Jeff Widman of BrandGlue found that 88 percent of Facebook members never return to a Page once they’ve clicked the Like button.

Your opportunity lies in engaging with fans through their News Feed. (Let’s call them fans until someone comes up with a better term.) But here’s a second harsh truth: Only 1 out of every 500 updates makes it into your fans’ critical Top News feed, which is how 95 percent of Facebook members get their updates (excluding mobile users), according to Facebook itself. (The percentage of Page updates visible in a user’s Top News feed may be even smaller today.)

Bottom line? Many of those status updates exquisitely crafted by your Facebook team will never be seen by the vast majority of your fans.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Several major brands — Starbucks (nearly 20 million Likes), Skittles (15 million Likes),  Adidas (7 million Likes), Best Buy (2.5 million Likes), Target (3.8 million Likes), Buffalo Wild Wings (3.9 million Likes) and others — have learned how to use Facebook intelligently, as a conversation-rich public square rather than as just another marketing/promotional channel. With the time users spend on Facebook now far exceeding the time they spend on Google, and with traffic driven by Facebook often matching or surpassing Google referrals, it’s time to turn your Facebook presence into a larger conversation strategy for your brand.

Here are 15 tips for your business to stay on your customers’ radar by increasing your visibility and reach on Facebook.

Connect Facebook to your website

1When Facebook unveiled a slew of social plug-ins last year, it benefited not only Facebook but businesses, too, by lowering the barrier for people to react to products and services. When someone clicks the Facebook Like button on your site, an average of 40 of their friends see it. Genius! (See Mashable’s use of it at right.) Other plug-ins include Comments, Recommends, Like Box and Registration — see which ones make sense for pages on your website. Twisted Oak winery, for example, lets people Like and post Facebook status updates about specific wine bottlings. As the Spaniards say: ¡Perfecto!

Find your rhythm

2You’ll want to post regularly: Try to get into the habit of posting every day — and certainly not just when you have a marketing announcement. One or two strong Facebook updates per day is better than a half dozen scattershot updates that fly by and don’t have the staying power to attract people’s feedback. You may find that you have a more active community that responds to frequent postings. Every brand is different, so  find the rhythm and pace that work for you. Use  Facebook Insights to see which updates resonate with your fans.

Use the 80-20 rule

3It’s not all about you. Brands starting out on Facebook almost uniformly focus on pitching themselves. What they eventually discover is that Facebook is about conversations. You want to stoke conversations and Include links to stories that are interesting, remarkable, sexy, funny or newsworthy — whether they’re on your site, blog or an outside website. Use visuals if possible — our eyes are naturally drawn to imagery. As a rough rule of thumb, post four status updates on items about outside news items or discoveries for every post promoting a product. And when you do mention a product or service, try to do so in a helpful  way.

Interact, be brief, be topical — and be human








4Businesses obsess about creating perfectly tailored content. But the best content is short and snappy. Buffalo Wild Wings studied their most successful updates last year and found that, overwhelmingly, their most popular postings were 10 words or fewer (see chart above). Wow! While your updates are important, conversation is key. Facebook rewards genuine interaction. Strong interaction with your fans helps brands show up in fans’ news feeds. Use a wide range of conversational techniques: Educate, inform, entertain, be engaging. Comment on current events. Occasionally be provocative and invite passionate debate. Use the comments to say “thank you,” and, in general, don’t delete negative comments. Have a light touch, have fun in a smart, positive way and be funny if you’ve got it in you. Leave the copywriting and marketing-speak in the office. Let down your guard and be real. Or, as Buffalo Chicken Wings says, “Post like a friend, not a brand.”

Use the right media











5As we covered in part 2, Facebook rewards certain kind of status updates — video, photo albums, Facebook Places check-ins — over others, like plain-text postings. So whenever you can, think visual. Retail stores like Ikea (image above) can easily add a homespun charm to their Facebook presence (“Posing on his Stockholm chair with his Barnslig curtains!… lol”). Use an under-$200 Flip HD camcorder, Kodak zi8, video-capable iPhone, Android device or the like to capture  live events, then upload it to Facebook or YouTube and share some details in your status update. Mix in different kinds of updates: interviews, contests, multimedia, events, photo albums.

Use @ tagging strategically






6 One of the most underutilized tools in Facebook is its tagging feature. When posting an update about a person, aligned brand or cause, be sure to type @ in your update field followed by their name. Facebook will automagically drop down a selection for you to choose from (see above). When you post it to your Wall, it will also post to the Wall of anyone you’ve tagged (maximum six tags per post). Think about when the person or business might welcome this. Just be careful: There’s a fine line between spam and content that you think is valuable. And use common sense: Never use a tag to slam a competitor. Also see “Some tips for new Facebook Page administrators” below for tips on how to tag — Starting today, brands can Like another Page as a Page and tag that way as well.

Target by location or language

7 Many brands aren’t aware that Facebook allows you to target your updates by location or by language. You can update fans about an event taking place in their city, let followers know about state-by-state product rollouts or speaking tours, or send important updates to people about a disaster in a confined area. You may have followers who speak languages other than English — they’d be thrilled with an update in their native language, assuming you have Page administrators with that skill set. Send an update in Spanish without alienating your English-speaking fans. Facebook Pages also allow you to target private updates to fans. These show up in a user’s messages folders, under “Updates,” although not everyone welcomes these missives. See more tips on how to target Facebook wall posts to specific fann.