Creating Something From Nothing: Harnessing Facebok to Attract Fans To New Brands

9 Comments 20 June 2010

image courtesy of thefost

You are a new organization or brand, and you want to build a Facebook presence. Pages are designed to most easily promote existing brands and organizations.  Pages cannot invite individuals to Like the Page – only individuals can invite other individuals to Like a Page. Pages cannot participate in Groups; only individual profiles can. Businesses cannot create an individual profile; doing so violates the Terms of Agreement with Facebook and subjects your company to being deleted and banned from Facebook.

You need at least 500 people to Like your Page so that it can begin to gain traction; 1,000 is even better. If you don’t have many customers, clients, or individuals familiar with your organization or brand, it’s difficult to gain traction  or buzz online because of limited interactions with your organization. How can a new brand or organization use the power of Facebook to attract people to its Page and gain fans? The bottom line: get creative, collaborative, and aggressive.

Here are some ideas to attract fans to a new organization’s Page:

1. Get Creative: Design the Page to retain fans and email addresses

Create a custom Welcome Tab as the default landing tab for your Facebook Page. You can design your own or try a free welcome tab application.  A few things to be sure and include:

Email capture. These are your most likely nonprofit fans! ONE.org has a great example of email capture in its Welcome Tab.

Why they should Like your Page. What value will your Page offer? A good example of this is EndCyberBulling’s Welcome Tab.

Latest call to action. Is your organization trying to encourage a specific action? Offer a special discount on classes? Create a box on your Welcome Tab that emphasizes how people who Like your page can get involved or take advantage of a good deal. The Human Rights Campaign asks for both your email address and that you take action today within their Welcome Tab.

Create an incentive for people to Like your page by offering special content. John Haydon came up with a great idea to offer free content only to people that Like the page. A hidden tab with the content appears once you click the Like button.

2. Use Internal Resources: Ask key staff and board members to build up their own Facebook accounts and promote the Page

Since only individuals can invite other individuals to Like a page, and your organization doesn’t have a large mailing list, the fan base begins with friends and family. Ask the Executive Director, Board members, staff, to begin collecting friends on Facebook, if they haven’t done so already.

Keep in mind that only up to 25% of  friends will Like the Page, if asked, so you need to invite a lot of friends!

If you have any mailing list contacts, send out an email asking people to Like the Page. If you haven’t yet built up an email list, then this is the time to start doing so.

3. Get Collaborative: It’s time for strategic alliances.

Who else can help you collect fans? Is there another nonprofit that you collaborate with or with which there is synchronicity? What groups exist out there that are naturally sympathetic to your cause? Some suggested actions:

Reach out to Facebook Groups. There may be existing Groups concerned about your issue. Join those groups, participate in the conversation, and reach out to the administrators of those groups personally. You may be able to become a co-administrator of the Group, or the Group admin may decide to add a link to your Facebook Page and post information on your organization’s behalf.

Don’t overlook Causes. Some fans may have gone to the effort to create personal Causes to benefit your organization. Again, don’t be afraid to reach out – these are “superfans” that are already interested in your cause – and ask for their help promoting and sending friends to your new Page.

Other Pages: If there are other Pages that could become natural collaborators, or of interest to your fans, add them to your Page’s “Favorite Pages.” You could also an @message in the status update letting another Page know you’ve added their Page as a favorite. Consider contacting the Page administrator personally and asking if he/she would post an update welcoming your organization’s Page to Facebook.

4. Get Aggressive: Promote your page with an Ad

Facebook Ads are an inexpensive way to attract new fans. You can create an ad for your Page and set the exact amount of money that you want to spend on the ad. You can target ads by different demographic groups, interest, likes, geography, and more.

5. Get Creative: Create a Marketing Campaign within Facebook to Attract Fans

Create a Facebook Contest using the Wildfire Application. Wildfire offers a very inexpensive option to create a photo contest, sweepstakes, coupons, trivia contest, quizzes and more. Pricing options are $5, $$25, or $250 plus a per-day charge.

Create your own event or contest within Facebook . Hebrew University created the “Einstein Birthday Celebration: Ask Albert” Event in celebration of Einstein’s birthday. The University’s Einstein scholar invited fans and non-fans alike to ask personal and professional questions of Albert Einstein himself. The most interesting questions were answered in a follow-up video. In order to generate traffic to the Event, Hebrew University asked several Einstein societies on Facebook to co-promote the event with them. The Event garnered 300 questions and a lot of new fans!

What other suggestions do you have for a new organization or brand trying to build a fan base within Facebook?  Can you share what has worked or not for your organization?

  • Debra, thanks for these ideas. I'm specifically looking for ideas on how to promote “space” – one of my clients is a “subsidiary” of NASA, so I need undergrads and grads in New Jersey studying science – a very specific target group, none of whom are in my regular social media groups. The Einstein birthday is a creative idea…I'm wondering if I can teach this group to be that creative.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Leora-
    I know that the social media team from Hebrew University wrote a lot of emails and reached out to a number of administrators of Einstein societies, both on and off of Facebook, until they found a few that were interested in the birthday Event. I think space/science lovers’ groups would be a great fit for your client. I’d love to hear back from you if you do find some great groups this way. One other thought is science clubs through the University – I bet they have Yahoo or Google groups, Facebook Groups, etc.


  • Debra, thank you for the great blog post, i agree with your point on
    “Create an incentive for people to Like your page by offering special content. John Haydon came up with a great idea to offer free content only to people that Like the page. A hidden tab with the content appears once you click the Like button.”

    @DannyBrown did a similar thing by giving away a free ebook only when people “like” his page on facebook. The results were amazing, he increased his fans.

    I never really knew about the Wildfire Application. Thank you for that.

    Keep up the great blog post.



    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Aaron-
    Thanks for stopping by! That Danny Brown is a smart guy – loved his idea of 12 for 12K. I remember that he gave away a free ebook, but I didn’t know about the results of incredible increase in fans. I’ve heard from others that the custom welcome landing tab really does have a much higher conversion rate to fans.


  • Anonymous

    The link to the Wildfire application doesn’t seem to work.


  • HannahCookingManager

    The link to the Wildfire application doesn't seem to work.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Hannah-
    Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve fixed the link. Also, Wildfire has a Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/wildfireinteractive?ref=ts.


  • Sharon

    Great post. Thanks for giving examples of how these ideas are being implemented. I've saved your info in a re-read file. Thanks


  • Thanks, Sharon! If you do implement any of them, come back and let us know!



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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