Simple steps to increase your online fan base

"HOW do I increase the number of folks who "follow" the station page on Facebook?? We only have one FB page and that's fine since I have a tough enough time posting on that with everything else going on."

That question is from Logan, who like the rest of us with a radio and podcast show,  have little time to nurture Facebook.

Facebook is a wonderful and free promotional tool that would be silly not to use, yet gaining followers takes work. In my experience, you get out of Facebook what you put into it. If you're active, then you bond with your fans. If you ignore it, then it withers at the vine. Just the thought of that is making me verklempt.

I have also found that the number of followers you have can plateau unless you take aggressive action.

Here are three free ways to increase your FB fans with very little effort:

1. Contesting.

Radio:  Take those sweet (Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Super Bowl) tickets that everyone would kill for, and focus the entire contest around Facebook. Make sure your listeners know they have to be involved somehow with your Facebook page to win those tickets.

We added over a thousand followers in just a few days using this technique: Have listeners sign up for (AMAZING) tickets (or a trip) on your website. Call a random listener during morning drive and tell them they have until 5pm to get 100 people to "like" your FB page. This will involve them plastering their Facebook, Twitter and email account with messages begging everyone to visit your page. Ask what they do for a living, and encourage others in their profession to support them by "liking" your page. Have personalities throughout the day contact the listener to cheer them on. If your FB follower count went up by 100 at the deadline, then they win. This contest created a lot of buzz around our FB page that lasted long after it was over. There is nothing sweeter than having your fans do the work for you.

Podcasters have to take another approach.  Podcast hosts don't have the luxury of a big venue dropping free tickets in their lap.  But there's always a way.  Have affiliate links? Contact the owners of the product and see if they'll give one up in return for mentions. Another prize idea is FREE advertising to someone who owns a business, has a website, needs a job, or is looking for a girlfriend. The prize could be an ad on your website! Or heck (and I know this isn't free), just go out and spend a few bucks on a prize. It may be worth it for the gained exposure.

Contests for both radio and podcasters:

  • Picture contest. Could be anything -- worst sweater, hottest wife, or ugliest car. Listeners submit their pictures to your FB page, and then narrow it down to the final 5.  The community then takes over and votes for a winner (important note:  the pictures can be seen on your FB page, but ALL VOTING MUST  BE DONE ON YOUR WEBSITE!   There's a strong chance the folks in the top 5 will get their friends and family to vote, too.
  • CC Me! To enter the contest, all your listeners have to do is send three of their friends an email DEMANDING that they 'like' your Facebook page and give your show a listen. How can they prove they sent the email? They CC you in the message.

Keep in mind that Facebook has a few rules when using their platform for contesting. Example - pressing the "like" button does not enter that person (that clicked it) into a contest. [1857]

2. Make it special. Save something special that can only be seen on your Facebook page. The picture of you and Bruce Springsteen taken at the IHOP last night -- that is Facebook only today! The video you shot of someone flipping off the mayor -- Facebook only. This one frustrates our website manager because they're the kind of carrots that should only be used to draw listeners to our website, but if the goal is to beef up your social network, then a short-term loss is a long-term gain.

3. Avoid being a non-stop infomercial. Keep your page updated with not only relevant information and promotions around your show/station, but also include conversation starters and random thoughts -- silly or serious. Facebook is a conversation between friends, it's not a Shamwow commercial. People will leave if (#1) they feel they're being sold something, and (#2) hearing from you too much. Keep your posts an hour apart, and keep it lite. Oh, and always include a link back to your website. After all, you don't want all your work to go to waste!

There are some high profile morning shows and podcasters that will easily generate a big following.  The rest of us have to do a little work, but a larger following is within reach if you give your Facebook page some love.   Good luck!