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How to Get Your Customers to “Like” You

By: Dave Kerpen
Last updated 7/19/2011

The Like is More Important than the Link
Ten years ago, if you built a Website for your company, you didn’t expect thousands of strangers to just visit it, did you? Instead, you used other marketing initiatives and assets to direct people to your Website and spread the URL or link wherever you could.

Today, the like is more important than the “link.” Getting people to your Website may help them learn about your company and maybe even buy something, but getting them to like you on Facebook does two essential things that will contribute to long-term success.

First, when people use the like function, they subscribe to your updates, allowing you to have a conversation with them on Facebook forever (unless you erode their trust and they unsubscribe). Second, it introduces and endorses you to every one of the user’s friends. The average person on Facebook has 130 friends, so with every like, you’re exposing your brand to another 130 potential customers, or more. Can you imagine if every time one individual visited your Website, she shared that fact with 130 of her friends?

Simply put, the more likes content receives, the more often it will be viewed, and the number of people seeing and accessing the content will grow over time. There are long-lasting effects of the like in Facebook search optimization: once you acquire a like on your page, any of that person’s friends will see this during future searches.

How to Get to the Like: Develop Your Value Proposition
How do you get people to actually like you on Facebook? No matter how well-known your brand is currently, you’ll need to provide a value proposition to your customers, staff, vendors, and partners—some sort of benefit they will receive from becoming your fans. Don’t just tell them to like you, tell them what’s in it for them, and tell them in a way that’s about them, not you.

Consider the following two different calls to action:
Like us on Facebook now at
Facebook.com/LikeableMedia.
versus
Ask us your social media questions anytime at
Facebook.com/LikeableMedia.

The first one is totally brand-centric. Why would you possibly read that and decide to like our company unless you already knew us, loved us, and trusted us? The second call is consumer-centric and is likely to generate a lot more action, not only from people who already love us and trust us but also from casual, first-time customers and maybe even prospects. Did you know that you can’t ask questions or post on a company’s wall unless you already like it on Facebook? You probably hadn’t thought about that, and neither did all of the people who just clicked the Like button in order to post their question.

Whatever you can do to encourage activity on your Facebook page will in fact encourage likes, without actually asking for them. For instance, Oreo asks customers on their packaging: “To dunk or not to dunk? Let us know at Facebook.com/Oreo.” They’re encouraging people to share their opinions, not just telling them to like Oreo’s online content—yet, more than 17 million people have liked the company on Facebook.

By giving people a value proposition for joining you and then surrounding your customers with that value proposition, or others, at every opportunity, you’ll convert customers into fans, and that’s where things begin to get interesting.

Top Ten Reasons Consumers Like Fan Pages on Facebook*
1. To receive discounts and promos
2. To show support for brand to friends
3. To get a “freebie” (e.g., free samples, coupons)
4. To stay informed about company activities
5. For updates on future projects
6. For updates on upcoming sales
7. Just for fun
8. To get access to exclusive content
9. To learn more about the company
10. For education about company topics
*Based on report from CoTweet & ExactTarget2

Getting the like approval is essential for everyone but even more important for smaller businesses and new organizations, which can utilize such free social media and word-of-mouth marketing to grow their fledgling companies. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone in your organization’s circle of influence to like you. Just don’t do it without creating value for whoever that audience is. You’re not going to get likes from anyone without giving him or her a valid reason. On the other hand, you’re also not going to get likes from anyone without reminding him or her to like you. Give them value and opportunity, and your vendors, partners, staff, and friends will join you.

Where Should You Tell Customers to Like You?
You should provide potential followers and fans with value propositions to like you in as many places as possible. Here are a number of places to consider integrating the call to action to your customers:
1. On your Website
2. On every e-mail you send out as a company
3. On every staff person’s e-mail signature
4. On every business card handed out
5. On every brochure you print
6. On every receipt you hand out
7. On every piece of snail mail you send out
8. On every inbound phone call to your company
9. On every outbound phone call from your company
10. On packaging (as in the Oreo example)
11. On in-location signage

Some of these more antiquated techniques, snail mail and brochures for example, are given new vitality and purpose both for you and your consumer if you can connect them directly to your online social network.

Text to Like
Most people don’t carry around their computers with them wherever they go, but just about everyone has their phone with them almost all the time. Facebook has a little-known “Text to Like” feature that’s powerful in converting anyone to like your page without being in front of a computer. Simply type “like [page name]” and send to FBOOK (32665) from any mobile phone connected to your Facebook account, and you’ll like that page. Don’t believe me? Test it out right now—I don’t mind—grab your phone and text “like LikeableMedia” to 32665. Then you’ll be able to ask our company any questions you have about social media or this book, and receive a quick response. (Thanks for the like!)

The “Text to Like” feature has vast implications for any business with real-life physical locations, any product sold in stores, and any retail or restaurant locations or government services. Imagine if you’re waiting in line at a deli or a department store, and you see a note posted near the register that reads, “Text ‘Like Our Store’ to connect to us on Facebook and get 20% off your next purchase.” As a consumer, you are provided with an incentive that makes this offer compelling, and if you are already a customer, it is more likely you will probably check it out. As a marketer, consider how to integrate such marketing and advertising into your customer’s experience.

If you take a long view on such activity, the rewards are bountiful. Sure, you might not sell as much to that customer as fast as you had wanted to by focusing on getting the like instead of more immediate sales. But, with the power of Facebook’s social graph, you create an average of 130 potential new customers when one user likes you. If that customer comes back to you weeks later and brings a friend or two, isn’t that more valuable than a single, initial sale? More long-term opportunities are therefore created for marketers less focused on immediate sales and more focused on obtaining likes.

Action Items
1. Work with your team to create your value proposition, not for a sale but for a like. Why should your customers like you on Facebook? What’s in it for them? How can you craft this value proposition into a short, catchy call to action? What value proposition will you offer employees, vendors, and partners?

2. Brainstorm all of the ways you can integrate this call to action into your current marketing and communications practices. Write down anything and everything. Then, determine which are actionable immediately and which may be actionable over time. Operationalize the like.

3. Create a 15-second elevator pitch to tell your customers and anyone you come into contact with why they should like you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter. Make sure it’s a reason that would resonate with you as a consumer.

Once your current customers have liked you, you can begin to earn momentum using contents, ads, promotions, and the organic virality of the social graph. But until that happens, you’ll be listening and talking in a vacuum. Don’t just tell your customers to like you, tell them why they should like you. Make it about them, not about you, and you’ll get the likes and follows you’re craving to grow your social media network and sales overall.

© 2011 by Dave Kerpen. All rights reserved. Adapted by permission of the publisher from Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and Other Social Networks). Published by McGraw-Hill.

About the Author(s)

Dave Kerpen  is cofounder and CEO of Likeable Media, (http://www.likeable.com) an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm with offices in New York, Boston, and Chicago.