DISCUSS: Are you a Facebook liker or lurker?

Hardly a week goes by when some enterprising colleague asks me how to identify, segment, market to, and effectively stalk (my words, not theirs) their company page’s Facebook followers.

While I know that folks at RapLeaf and Social Intelligence play this game, there are legitimate reasons why Facebook makes it damn difficult for you and me to pull this info. I hope I need not explain any further than by pointing-out the umpteen visceral reactions Facebook users have had to each and every change made to the social networking site.

But clearly, it is helpful to be able to know who’s liked you, yes? Your goals are to provide useful and valuable content, yes? Of course. And you want to know how many of your customers are there versus prospects and others. But useful content doesn’t always earn you the interactions or better yet, the leads you want. We will hear a lot about 2012 ‘being the year of engagement.’ Give it some thought each time you come across that idea. Ask yourself what you’re doing to earn your likes… to keep those likes. Take a look at Facebook Insights for your brand page. What do those numbers tell you? Are you connecting with folks at optimal times? Where do your followers live? US metro areas? The UK? Brazil? There are lots of questions to consider.

Many of you might be fan-gating “premium” content on your Facebook pages. Does that mean your likes are targeted such that visitors hang on every update you share? What’s the value of your gate? An iPad or some other prize? Or is it exclusive content that your stakeholders can’t get anywhere else? The former is fun (I actually won an iPad this way!) but the latter is where the value lies. To be honest, I don’t do business with the company that handed me that free iPad. I suspect most winners of these contests don’t, either.

I’ve done targeted fan-gating a couple times at EMC. It works with the right message and content. I’d even argue that given access to demographic info on EMC’s corporate Facebook page, that 75% of those “likers” are interested in what the company has to say. Are some of these folks employees? Sure, but they have networks too. And they need to be influenced same as any other.

So while you seek to know who your Facebook audience might be, take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing everything possible to deliver valuable content to targeted audiences. Are you listening to them and engaging in their comments? Do you have repeating commentators on your wall? Are you correlating your wall activity to other initiatives, both online and offline?

Lastly, what are YOU saying on your own wall? Are you asking engaging questions? Giving useful feedback? Or are you merely sharing links to other content? It’s perfectly fine to share content. Just be sure you’re asking folks to engage and not just click away to read that article.

Image courtesy norebbo.com

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