A 3,500% increase in fans/likes, engagement and sales on Facebook? (a case study)


When I first started marketing via social media, I didn’t understand Facebook. A blog was the central focus of my social media programs. I’d create a blog post and push it out via Facebook and other social media channels. And that worked well at driving traffic to my blog. As for engagement with my readers, I got some comments back, even some people interacting with each other on occasion, but nothing earth-shattering.

Over on Facebook, I had a whole bunch of content, but no interaction and not many fans. I’ve seen a ton of Facebook fan pages like that.

But about a year ago, I found the key that unlocked the Facebook engagement factor. At that time I took over the fan page of one of my clients, The Fresh Diet Opens in a new window(whom I wrote about  last week). When I began working on The Fresh Diet’s Facebook pageOpens in a new window, it had 96 fans. At first it was business at usual: Write a blog post and put it on Facebook; add The Fresh Diet’s Facebook link to emails; etc. The net result: In three months, The Fresh Diet had accumulated 300 fans.

Since January, The Fresh Diet has seen its Facebook fan base swell to over 3,500 fans. Here’s how we did it:

  1. We asked questions — sometimes controversial ones — that drew fans out.
  2. We held contests. At first these were held every few weeks, but now they’re going on almost all the time. And they’re simple: caption a picture, name a feature of The Fresh Diet’s business, etc.
  3. We also held more elaborate contests. Recently, The Fresh Diet held a video testimonial contest and was blown away by the results.
  4. I know you’ve heard this one many times by now, but The Fresh Diet spoke in a real voice. The voice of The Fresh Diet’s Facebook page is me — goofy, earnest, caring, sometimes a bit snarky and sarcastic, but always real. I call myself The Fresh Diet’s “fearless FB leader,” and they now call me by it, too.
  5. To tie items three and four together, The Fresh Diet’s fearless FB leader is known for “overgiving” contest prizes. Goofing around one day, when it was just too tough to choose between two contest winners, I named four winners. Pretty soon, I coined the phrase “overgiving”; The Fresh Diet’s Facebook fans now wait in anticipation to see how much free food I give out.
  6. Find and nurture your brand’s dominant influencers. Early on in my work with The Fresh Diet’s Facebook page, I noticed half a dozen people started to stand out. So I built a relationship with them, not as a strategy of course, but a real relationship. As brand ambassadors, these people have become the voice of The Fresh Diet’s Facebook page, too. And I find new ambassadors all the time!
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask people to do things. Promote your page, run a contest, take over for a bit. When you build real relationships with real people, not just “fans” or “likes,” they’ll walk through fire for you (because they know you’ll do the same for them).
  8. Go crazy. Last week, I asked an actress and singer to do a music video for us (we have lots of famous people on The Fresh Diet). She was totally honored and did a homemade video — even gave me a shout out in it. The Fresh Diet holds contests where people write songs about their favorite meals, or they have to rearrange the lyrics in a song or slogan to be about The Fresh Diet. Our fans love it.
  9. In my next column, I’ll continue to detail some of the ways you can build engagement and sales on Facebook.

7 ways to make the Inc. Magazine 500 Fastest Growing Companies list in a down economy like my client did


I’m not really big on self-promotion or self-congratulations — especially here in my column. However, I’m quite pleased to “admit” that one of the companies I work for has made Inc. magazine’s fastest growing companies in America listOpens in a new window.

So, what does it take to make the list? While it’s not Inc.’s criteria, I’ll tell you from my perspective what you and your company need to do to get there.

But before I do, let me tell you a bit about the company in question. The Fresh Diet Opens in a new windowwas founded in 2005 in classic entrepreneurial style — in the kitchen of CEO Zalmi Duchman with Executive Chef Yosef Schwartz . The company creates gourmet meals that are healthy, portion controlled and delicious (Chef Yos is a Cordon BleuOpens in a new window-trained chef). The meals are prepared fresh and hand-delivered to clients’ homes every day.

For this luxury (or is it?), customers dish out about $35 a day (most order a month’s worth of Fresh Diet meals at a time — about $1,100).

So, how can your company follow in The Fresh Diet’s footsteps and makeInc.’s 500 list? Here are seven ways how:

  • Identify products that create fanatics and advocates. It’s easy to go into the meal delivery business and not deliver food daily, or by hand, or buy top-quality meats and produce. But why do that? The Fresh Diet constantly strives to exceed its customers’ expectations.
  • Build a persona around your business and your people. It’s not enough to just be a business these days. With social media and peer recommendations fully in play, companies must put a face to the nameless, faceless corporate entity. Use social media as a way to connect with your customers. But don’t do it as a strategy. Connect in an honest and personal way, in a real voice. For a good example of how The Fresh Diet accomplishes this, check out its Facebook pageOpens in a new window.
  • Take risks, but calculated ones. Develop a mentality of testing — everything from marketing channels to individual campaigns. But also calculate the risks. Test small and do your math up front; big results can potentially be found in tests of all sizes. Even companies that are struggling should test. By making testing part of your culture, the rewards will outweigh the risks.
  • Empower your employees to think and act independently. The days of micromanaging employees are over. Empowered employees are more productive employees. Find great talent, then let them do their thing. OK, so sometimes they won’t do what you thought they should do, but that will be offset by things you never would have thought of.
  • Use all of your channels. I’ve seen too many companies get stuck these days by a specific kind of thinking: online retailers who only market online; direct marketers who fear advertising online; etc. Don’t fall into that trap. The Fresh Diet survives quite nicely in the online and traditional worlds, where it’s tested and rolled out many successful programs.
  • Understand that messaging needs time to develop. Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither should your messaging. Going back to developing a culture of testing, your marketing message falls into a category that should be constantly tested. And even if you hit it big and have “control” messaging that works, always strive to make it better.
  • Handle customer service issues promptly, and look to resolve each issue in the customer’s favor. Know that an upset customer is a brand ambassador waiting to happen once their issue is resolved (which says much for the lack of customer centricity with other brands).
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