Successful marketing through Facebook is dependent on having a lot of friends — or fans — for your shop. It’s a challenge to motivate customers to take the extra step to go to Facebook and click on “like.” I’m inspired by a small tea shop here on Monroe Street in Madison that has over 3,000 friends.  How did they do it?

The simple answer is that Macha Teahouse invited its customers, one at a time, to become their friend. And once they became friends on Facebook, Macha delivered relevant content on a regular basis.  In addition to letting customers know what type of tea and cupcakes they have on hand, they engage them on a personal basis.

Last week, for example, one of Macha’s updates was “someone write a status update for us today, please!”  This elicited 10 comments, including one from Japan.  Interaction makes for great social networking, especially if you yourself respond to postings by your customers.

We plan to tap into the huge friend base at Macha Teahouse to get more “likes” for our shopping district.  We’ve committed $100 to give the first 100 of their customers who say they’ve become friends of Shop Monroe Street a dollar off on their tea or cupcake purchase at Macha.

Another business on Monroe Street, Brasserie V, increased its fan base by issuing a challenge to its existing friends to help the restaurant reach a certain number of fans by a pre-determined date. The reward was a promised charity donation.  We’re currently trying this approach for Orange Tree Imports, so please “like” us by December 24 if you want to help support music in the schools. 

You could also reward new and old fans with a special “Facebook only” special or coupon.  This type of value makes customers glad that they have signed on, and encourages them to share your link with their friends.  But be careful that you don’t offer something that will be too costly if it goes viral. You might want to add “while supplies last” to the wording.

It’s important to include the “like us” message in your advertising and your e-mail marketing, and on your e-mail signature, web site and on signage in the store. You could even post a QR code that takes shoppers using a smart phone directly to your Facebook page so that they can give you a thumbs up right away.

I do find it frustrating that no matter how many friends your shop has on Facebook, only a small percentage see your postings.  But the larger your fan base, the more people you’ll reach.  So go out there and make new friends!

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder