Many businesses are rushing to build up their Facebook 'fan' base, but what's the value of a fan if you don't know how to effectively message them and get their attention? Below are a series of very simple tips for how to get your Fan page status updates noticed. Special thanks are owed to the other panelists joining our CEO Victoria Ransom at the Web 2.0 expo session, "From Faceless to Fantastic,"where some of these tips were discussed (@ekaterinawalter, @ttaxchels, @smcilnay and @angelathp) and in particular to Jeff Widman at Brand Glue.

But first, you might be wondering why such tips are even necessary. Aren't all status updates seen by fans? The short answer is, no. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine which updates and stories will appear in a given person's newsfeed. While no one knows exactly what this algorithm is (besides Mark Zuckerberg!), it largely depends on how much engagement a particular story receives. So, if you send an update out to your fans and it receives a lot of 'Likes' or 'Comments', it will be exposed to a much higher % of your fans in their Top News stream and there will therefore be a much higher likelihood that your fans will actually see your post than an update that gets few 'Likes' or 'Comments'. So sending out posts that are highly engaging is extremely important to the success of your Facebook marketing strategy.

TRICK #1: Ask fans to 'Like' your update!

[caption id="attachment_906" align="alignnone" width="355" caption="Check out the great engagement with this post-- 29 people indicated they "Like" it, which was likely aided by the direct prompt to do so right in the message!"][/caption]

This may sound trivial, but it is hugely powerful - when you post an update out to your fans ask them to show their support by clicking on the 'Like' button of your post. For example, if you send an update about a new product feature instead of simply saying: "We're excited to announce the release of our brand new navigation, " say something like: "We're excited to announce the release of our brand new navigation. Click the 'Like' button if you like this change". We have tried this over and over again and on average we see 200-300% more 'Likes' when we make direct requests like this.

TRICK #2: Encourage comments by asking yes/no questions

A powerful way to encourage comments is to ask your fans questions when you post an update. But you'll get a much higher response rate if you ask questions that require very little effort to answer, like yes/no questions. For example, you'll get far fewer comments if you ask "Tell us what you think of our new homepage design" than if you ask "Do you like our new homepage design - yes or no?". Of course, if you're looking for concrete feedback from your fans you may prefer the first approach, but if you are wanting maximum exposure for your post the latter approach will yield a significantly higher number of comments.

TRICK #3: Don't use the Facebook links box!

You may have noticed that Facebook provides an option to attach a link to your fan page status updates. What you may not know is that you'll generally get fewer clicks on your link if you use this feature rather than simply including a link in the body of your update.

Don't do this...

[caption id="attachment_907" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="The link button outlined above will attach a link to your post, but its best to avoid using this tool, and just paste the link right into your text."][/caption]

Try this instead...

[caption id="attachment_908" align="alignnone" width="344" caption="Pasting a link you wish to share with your users directly into your message has proven, with testing, to have a significantly higher user click rate!"][/caption]

TRICK #4: If you post your own videos, do use the Facebook video upload

Just as Facebook provides functionality to attach a link to your update, so too does it allow to you attach a video to your post. While we recommend against using this functionality when posting a link, we do recommend that you use the 'attach' functionality to add your own videos to your updates. Why? If you upload your video via the Facebook 'attach' functionality it will automatically embed a 'Like' button into your video, thus giving you the opportunity to build your fans when people share your video. If you simply link to a video on YouTube or elsewhere there will be no 'Like' button automatically embedded in your video.

Try this out...

[caption id="attachment_910" align="alignnone" width="540" caption="Upload videos which you have on your computer using this uploader tool-- it automatically inserts a "Like" button right into your video!"][/caption]

You get a cool feature with it!

[caption id="attachment_911" align="alignnone" width="346" caption="By uploading this video directly into the video uploader tool pictured above, users can now click directly on "Like" within the video as they watch."][/caption]

TRICK #5: Target your messages to different segments of your audience.

[caption id="attachment_913" align="alignnone" width="338" caption="If you have a message that's only relevant to a certain geography of users, target them right in your update!"][/caption]

Did you know that you can push out status updates that only specific segments of your fan base will see? For example, if you have a global business and you have an offer that is only relevant to your Canadian customers, you could push out a story that only your Canadian fans will see. Likewise, if you have Spanish speaking fans you could target them exclusively with an update written in Spanish. Right next to the "Share" button in the messaging box is a targeting tool-- while the default targeting is "Everyone," you can limit the outreach by location, all the way down to city/state and by language.

If you have a message that you don't need or want all of your users to see, you can customize who the message will be revealed to, by using the functionality built right in to the message box!

Target your message right down to the city!

[caption id="attachment_914" align="alignleft" width="341" caption="You can target you messages by location of your users, as deep as their city, and even the language they speak!"][/caption]

TRICK #6: Make it worth your fan's while to look out for your updates!

Razorfish published a study awhile ago that asked consumers why they fan and follow brands. The greatest percentage of people, by far, responded 'for the exclusive deals & offers'. So if you want your fans to watch out for and look forward to receiving your updates, you should reward them from time to time with special offers like coupons, giveaways, contests and more. We've seen companies that offer regular deals (e.g. Friday specials or Tuesday giveaways) build highly engaged fan bases. So why not get started by creating a promotion today ;)