We’ve all had them – emails asking us to ‘like’ someone’s Facebook page to give them a leg-up the social media ladder.

But just like when you were at school, asking people to like you isn’t always the best way to go about making ‘friends’ (even virtual ones).

There are more effective ways to increase your ‘likes’, spread the word about your business, and build a community of potential customers.

Social media is very different from advertising:

Advertising is about interrupting what people are interested in.

Thousands of footie fans missed England’s only goal against the USA in the 2010 World Cup, because ITV decided to go to an ad break three minutes into the match.  Annoying.

The newspapers are filled with adverts that your eyes don’t see because you’re too busy reading the articles.

Sunday’s chill-out tunes on local radio are interrupted by loud adverts and irritating jingles (ISA ISA baby, anyone?).

Social media is about being what people are interested in.  Write content that your target audience wants to read, and they will come.

Case study:

Pampers has thousands of unique visitors to its online community every month, where it shares:

  • potty-training advice
  • recipes for weaning
  • sleep solutions
  • info of developmental milestones
  • a week by week pregnancy calendar
  • breastfeeding support

And once you register, you can take part in the forums, share problems and offer support to other mums. They don’t interrupt busy mums and expectant mums – their target audience comes to them.

Here are a few ways to get your Facebook page noticed, and liked:

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Be generous with your links to other sites and you will be rewarded - with more traffic and more inbound links (karma)

1. Share great content – not just yours

Yes, you’ll want to share links to your latest blog posts, because your Facebook fans will enjoy reading them (if they don’t, you’re not doing it right).

But by sharing links to other people’s content, you’re giving them a reason to check in more often –

2. Join relevant groups

Whoever you’re targeting, they’ll probably be members of other groups on Facebook – groups that offer a similar service as you, and groups that relate to their interests.

Join these groups, take part in the conversation, answer people’s questions – add value to the page and the group members will probably check yours out too.

3. Tell your friends

I guess you’ve already done this but if not, it’s a quick way to get support and spread the word about your page.

By telling the people you know, the people who care about you, you’re mobilising support that is ready and waiting.  You’re also increasing your motivation to make your Facebook page work.

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And like that... poof... he was gone - don't be that man - stay engaged with your facebook page to make it work

4. Engage with your page

Would you invite people to a party and then not show up?

Think of your Facebook page as your party – all those people come along to talk, network, have fun and then you miss it all.  Where’s the benefit in that?

After you post on your wall, don’t disappear like Keyser Soze.  Answer questions, encourage conversation, ask for feedback, share your tips and advice.

5. Reward your loyal ‘likers’

This one’s quite fun.  Think of all the ways you could give people an added incentive to like your page, something that they will like.

Have a ‘follower’ of the month – the person who’s engaged the most with your page, who’s shared the most, chatted with others, posted useful links.  Feature them on your page and link to theirs.

Give away badges for your followers’ websites.  And the obvious one: post special deals which are only available to your followers.

I booked a half price spa break earlier this year with a Facebook discount code that the hotel shared on their social media platforms.  It was win:win – they filled an empty room during a quiet month, and I had a day of pampering at a fraction of the normal cost.

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Shcool boy error - online spell checks mean you really can get it right - all of the time

6. Spell properly

It’s not a fancy marketing secret, this one.  It’s just a pet hate that I have to share.

If you can’t get your spelling right, what does that say about your business?

7. Team Facebook

No man (or woman) is an island – link up with others in your sector to plan and promote an event to the benefit of your target customers – perhaps an online webinar or a social media Q&A.

8. Tell them what to do

When readers get to the end of your blog post, their finger hovers over the mouse button – where do they go next?  Home page?  Related posts?  Or ‘share’ with their friends on Friends to bring you more traffic?

It’s hopefully the last one – but tell them.  Something like: “Would love it if you could share this with all your Facebook friends by clicking the share button”.

What do you think? How do you encourage ‘likers’ to your page?  Share your insider tips in the comments below.

And if you’ve got questions, come along to our live Social Media Q&A session and get answers to all your burning questions live.

PS  And I’d love it if you could share this with all your friends by clicking the Facebook share button below ;o)