Inbound Now #3 - Rocking Facebook Fan Pages with John Haydon

In this episode, John Haydon and I discuss the dos and don’t of how to optimize your Facebook fan pages and how to get the most bang for your buck when trying to grow your Facebook fan page presence.

  • Including FMBL tips & Tricks
  • Strategies on growing your reach on Facebook
  • A look into the future of Facebook marketing


David: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Inbound Now, Episode 3. I’m joined here today with a very special guest, Mr. John Haydon. John runs a company called Inbound Zombie. They’re a social media strategy firm focusing on helping small businesses and non-profits with their social media strategy. He also does a lot of online campaign fundraising development, and he really knows a lot and can dig really deep into helping small businesses and non-profits with their Facebook strategies. So, thanks for coming on the show, John.

John: Thanks for having me. I’m glad you made it in the snow. I saw you walk in this morning.

David: All right. Cool. I wanted to get you on the show today to talk a little bit about how you built your business. You built your business through blogging and inbound marketing. We’re going to talk a little bit about that, then jump into Facebook fan page strategy, what businesses should really be focusing on to grow their Facebook fan page reach and the best practices there. We’ll dive into some further resources where they can really get to the nitty-gritty of how to do this stuff, and while this is Inbound Now and we talk about what’s currently happening, we also like to skate to where the puck is going. We’re going to get your insights on where you see things moving into the future and just get some insight into what we should be looking out for in this new year of 2011. Sound good?

John: Sounds great.

David: All right. Let’s jump into it. You started your business through your blog and using social media and other inbound marketing tactics. How did you do it? Could you kind of walk us through the process?

John: Yeah. Basically, this is something that I’ve worked on for a couple of years, and the first thing that I did was I found out through reading a couple of books and just doing some research online a few years ago that people are actually legitimately making a living with blogging. And I’m saying, generating awareness, capturing leads and so forth or whatever their business model is.

My first step is I had to ask myself, “What do I want to blog about?” And I had to pick something that I was going to be happy with, that I was could do literally to the day I die. Otherwise, there is no reason to do it, right? I eventually settled on doing marketing for non-profits. So, I decided to do some research in that niche as well.

Who else is blogging about this? What are they talking about? How much traffic are they getting? What are their topics? What’s their style and so forth? Who’s their audience? Then, I decided to narrow the niche a little bit further and talk about specifically using the Web, marketing on the Web. I found that there’s a huge gap. There were people talking about strategies and big ideas, but nobody was really getting down to the tactics, like how to do stuff.

Non-profits, I felt, needed to see that. I did further research, launched the blog, and then it took off from there. And I did a few other things that kind of propelled things even further, but the blog even till today – that was about three years ago –till today the blog is literally like my number one tool that I use to get business.

David: Right. You said when you started you just started hammering away, three posts a week, consistently for those three years. That’s a lot of content, man. You have to be reaping the benefits of all the SEO that’s coming from that. What results have you seen?

John: Well, my site actually did a little … you know how you have that HubSpot grader?

David: Right.

John: So, I use that tool. I actually have about, I think, either 6,000 or 9,000 inbound links to my blog. That’s a lot of links, inbound links. That helps me rise up to the top on Google. If you go to Google and you type non-profit marketing for Facebook, with Facebook or using WordPress for non-profits, marketing, those keywords, I’m on page one.

David: Right, and you kind of dominate those top rankings, right? And that’s all through your blogging and creating that remarkable content.

John: Yeah.

David: Kudos to you. You’re like a real life success story of this stuff working for you, and that’s driving those inbound leads. Another thing you said, so half of your business probably comes from search, and then the other half comes from social media. What kind of things have you been doing within social media to grow your business?

John: The blog itself is a social medium. And so, I put stuff out there. People comment on it. I reply back to them, and I can have a discussion in the comment section so that way people get to know me. Oh, what is John? John’s actually a person behind this website. He’ll listen to me. Then additionally I’ve used Facebook. I have a Facebook page. I’ve used Twitter as well. Twitter used to give me a lot of traffic.

What I’ve found over the years is that Facebook is a little bit more effective. Twitter is like this big ADD type of social medium where people just click on links and pass it all over the place. So, the bounce rate that I was getting on my website with Twitter was a lot higher. With Facebook, it was a little bit more focused because they were coming mainly through my Facebook page.

David: Right. I would agree. Twitter is more ADD. I think it’s faster to connect directly with people, but I think there’s more of an opportunity to use your Facebook presence for that conversation, that threaded conversation.

John: Yeah, yeah.

David: Cool.

John: It’s interesting when you think about Facebook versus Twitter. What’s the difference? To me, the difference is Twitter is about the conversation and talking to people almost real time. Facebook is more like the community itself, like it’s based on connections, whereas, again, Twitter is more based on replies and what people say to each other. Facebook is based on the actual network itself.

David: Right.

John: There’s a difference in how you would use them.

David: Businesses are starting to realize, oh, hey there’s 600 million plus people on Facebook. Maybe we should take a look at that. Maybe we should do something with that.

John: Yeah.

David: What are some of the things you see when businesses or non-profits are jumping into social media or jumping into Facebook specifically? What are they getting wrong?

John: Well, I think the biggest thing is the paradigm issue, the way that they’re looking at it. They see 600 million people using Facebook. So, they think, oh, wow, this is like a free huge email list that I can put stuff out to and, hopefully, something will stick. If I just have a presence there, something’s going to happen. But beyond that, they really don’t have much more restrictions. That’s basically the strategy, the most common strategy. Just get a presence, figure out what to do but not much more to it than that.

Little do they know that there is a community of actual real living beings on Facebook that like to share stuff. Fifty percent of these 600 million users, fifty percent of them are daily active users. They show up every day. They show up for a minimum of 30 minutes every single day using Facebook. And what do they do? They share photos. They talk about what they’re doing. They recommend movies. They talk about what they’re doing at a restaurant. They do a lot of stuff. So, it’s important to understand the culture of Facebook before you just jump on and start putting your stuff out there. You have to understand how that world works and what the native language is so that you can have people naturally accept you and then share what you have to say.

David: Right. And you know a lot of businesses are using it as kind of a glorified RSS feed, just auto feeding their blog posts to their Facebook wall or putting offers and just … it's not really what Facebook is for. Like you mentioned, people are sharing content, photos, stuff that’s funny, funny videos. So, that’s kind of what businesses should be creating, that remarkable content that will spread organically, not sending out offers or just auto posting their blog.

John: Yeah, it’s interesting. I feel like the most successful brands are the ones that have been able to create a situation where either customers engage with each other, they’re having little conversations on the wall, or they’re connecting with the brand itself and the brand is actually replying back to them and talking to them.

David: Right. What are some of the examples of a company that you’ve seen that’s just killing it on Facebook?

John: Well, again, I work mainly with non-profits. I can think of ones that I look to would be the Red Cross. The Red Cross is excellent. In fact, the interesting thing about the Red Cross is that they are almost like a thought leader in the social media world, at least in the non-profit marketing world. They are a very traditional organization, very, very traditional. For them to go from being very traditional and almost like we don’t want to touch the Internet to being a thought leader on Facebook and on Twitter, they’ve come pretty far in a very quick time. So kudos to them. They should be an organization to check out

Recently, you’ve probably seen the Hanes sock promotion that happened just before Christmas this last year where Hanes said, hey, we’re going to give away, I think it was 500,000 socks to the Salvation Army. All you had to do was go click the thing, I want to share a sock, give a sock to the Salvation Army. You do it, one mouse click, that’s it. What it does is it does good. It did something good, but it also enhanced the brand of Hanes. How much does 500,000 socks cost them to be able to do that in the environment of Facebook? That’s cheap for a brand like that. So, I think it was a smart move.

Then, smaller organizations, one that I really like is an organization called Kids Are Heroes. They just have a really solid community on Facebook, people sharing stories about other children who are doing really good stuff in the world, that type of thing.

There’s a local organization in Massachusetts called the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, and they have a situation where the fan base has taken over the page. The admin can barely get a word in edgewise. Meanwhile their supporters are just talking about stories like, “Hey, I found out I had an aneurysm. Here’s what happened.” People are really supporting each other, and that was their goal. They wanted to create that.

David: You definitely want to see that organic growth, and there’s some ways to do that. Instead of just auto posting from your blog, you post content, behind the scenes stuff that only your Facebook fan page fans can see. And then, posting in a way that evokes emotion or a response, like asking a question because everyone has an opinion, and they’re going to toss it in there. It’s just going to grow from that organically.

John: Yeah, yeah. You mentioned it earlier, like the auto posting thing, like a glorified RSS feed, just posting the same stuff that you post everywhere else. Usually, what I’ve seen in my experience is that the organizations that are successful are the ones that actually have a very specific plan for Facebook. They say, this is what we’re going to offer on Facebook. This is the discussion we’re going to have on Facebook. This is the content we’re going to have on Facebook. These are the events and activities and all this. You’re not going to find it anywhere else.

What that does is it automatically creates a situation where people like the page because, guess what, it makes sense to them. I’m going to get this if I click this button right here. I’m going to like the page. I’m going to opt in to this type of stuff. If I want to get something else that they have in their email list, I’ll join that, too. But duplicating the channels just with the same stuff doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s not that effective.

David: Right because people want to consume the information the way they want to, and if you’re just posting the same thing everywhere, it’s going to start looking like spam. They’ll be like, ah, okay, and they’ll basically hide your page. That’s something you don’t want to happen.

Speaking of fan pages and growing your fan base, what are some of the best ways that you’ve seen to kind of acquire new fans and grow the reach of your Facebook page?

John: Okay. The first one is to use existing assets, like if you have a huge direct mail base. Come up with a direct mail campaign where you can send out a direct mail piece and say this is what we’re doing on Facebook and make it really creative so it’s compelling and people make that effort to actually go to the Facebook page.

People also might have a huge email list. They have no Facebook fans, but they might have a huge email list. They can simply write a super compelling email. The subject line is the most important thing so that the people read it and then explain to people what they’re going to get on Facebook. They’re not going to get it anywhere else, but this is what’s happening on Facebook. They can dovetail that with an event.

Let’s say that they launch the Facebook page. Then they send out an email about all this cool stuff that’s going to happen, including a great event next Tuesday night at 7:00. It’s going to be a special chat with someone cool and you can ask all your questions and get them answered. Those kinds of strategies have been pretty effective.

David: Right. That’s something that Social Media Examiner does where they add Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. so-and-so is going to be on to have a live Facebook discussion, and they’ve seen a lot of growth out of that.

John: Actually, I work with an organization, Charity How To. We partner together. We put together webinars. We often do free webinars, right? And we used to just answer questions during the webinars, but now what we do is we keep the webinar short, maybe half an hour, 45 minutes, and these are the free ones. We say, “Hey, if you have any questions, ask them on the Facebook page. John will follow up later.” Then, I just answer all the questions. Huge spike in fan growth, like really easy strategy.

David: Right. Another page that I’ve seen doing it is the Jake and Amir page from CollegeHumor where they give, basically, the bloopers of all the videos that they make. They put the bloopers for only their Facebook fan pages.

John: Yeah.

David: I think, watching bloopers is even funnier than their funny videos. It’s a great way, and they’ve seen exponential growth with that.

John: Yeah. But see, that’s smart. That’s smart because guess what? You’re not going to get the bloopers anywhere else. Facebook users are smart. They have a choice. They don’t have to like your page. But if you give them something that’s interesting like that, that’s a perfect example. Let’s put our bloopers on Facebook, nowhere else. Great. That’s the reason I like the page. Awesome. I like bloopers.

David: Yeah, exactly. I think consistency on updating that content is also important. Keep people kind of in that mode of receiving that exclusive content, so they remember why you joined.

John: Oh, yeah, yeah.

David: So, when you’re creating a page, your business has set up a Facebook fan page. What can they do to really pimp it out and make it the best, as optimized as possible for people landing on it?

John: Oh, yeah. The first things is to be careful about the page name. And by the way, you can change the page name until you have like a hundred fans. If your company is something like Sunflower, which doesn’t say anything to me, but if it’s like Sunflower, We Make Great Brownies, we bake great brownies. I’m just making this up. But the page name has to have something that actually says what the business is so that people can recognize that, and if it’s relevant to them, they might investigate it.

Nine times out of ten the page name is really what’s getting spread around Facebook. David just made a comment on the Sunflower, We Make Great Brownies page. “Oh, I like brownies. That’s cool. What is David saying?” That’s one thing.

It’s really a smart idea to create a custom tab so you can get a static FBML application, which is free, add it to your page. Find somebody who knows a little bit of HTML and make a custom tab with a compelling image and a call-to-action to like the page, preferably bullet points. Like this is what you’re going to get if you like our page and make it attractive.

BrandGlue actually did a study where they found that pages with a custom tab are 20 percent more likely to convert a fan than a page that didn’t have a custom tab. So that’s almost an imperative is to have a welcome for a brand new person. First impressions last.

David: Right. In the settings, you can set it up so that custom tab shows up if they haven’t liked your page yet. If they’re just landing on your wall, yeah, they can see some of the stuff you’re updating, but with that custom tab, with the call-to-action, maybe even adding a YouTube video to kind of explain what the page is about or what your company is about.

Another great thing that I’ve seen in custom tabs is adding in a form for them to sign up for your email newsletter. It’s a great way to grow your list that way. There’s a lot of cool things and, like you said, make it pretty. If it looks ugly, it kind of turns people off.

John: The other thing you can do is you can give something away in exchange for liking the page. Facebook has this functionality with FBML. You can hide content and then display it all of a sudden when someone likes the page. That’s almost like with the brownie company. Let’s stay with that. Last time we used hiking shoes.

But with the brownie company, hey, if you like our page, we’re going to give you a coupon off a bunch of brownies, or we’ll give you our best recipes or something like that, something that people could use.

David: Right. That’s a little more advanced, hiding stuff from people, but it’s something once you get your custom tab set up, it’s something to start thinking about in your Facebook content strategy.

What apps have you found that are majorly useful for Facebook fan pages?

John: Okay, static FBML is good. That’s a basic one. Events Application, so if you are either doing webinars or if you have in-store, like promotions or something like that, creating an event, use the Events Application on your page to promote that.

The wall, I think, is actually one of the best applications ever, like everyone ignores that, like what’s going on at the wall. But that’s really powerful because the more that you can connect with the fans and get them all fired up over interesting stuff, the more awareness you’re going to spread throughout Facebook. And increased engagement always leads to fan growth. Fan growth kind of feeds that engagement a little bit more.

David: Right. One of the things with the walls that people miss is using the “at” symbol on the keyboard, kind of like in Twitter when you’re adding somebody. But you can do it in Facebook, and that’ll tag that person or that other fan page. It’s a great way if you’re writing about that person, it’ll basically show up on their wall as well. Don’t spam people. We talked about that last time. Don’t spam people with this method, but if you are talking about someone else, let them know. It’s basically building that relationship with that other person that you’re talking about.

John: Yeah, yeah. It’s all about doing this thing that no one expects. In the non-profit world, there’s a lot of competition because they’re all chewing on the same grants. We’re the Red Cross. So we don’t want to promote the United Way. But they really need to get in the habit of promoting each other. Hey, the Red Cross could say, the United Way is doing great work in Haiti. Everybody, we all should support that.

Wouldn’t that be remarkable for them to do that? They would differentiate them clearly from the norm which is to be so competitive and insular.

David: Absolutely. Another useful one, the built-in video app. If you’re posting stuff to your fan page, you can use YouTube, but you can do it right through Facebook as well. I found it very useful. You can like that video when it pops up. It’s just right there, really easy for people to do it.

If you’re thinking about sharing audio through your page, there’s a site called, and these will all be in the show notes. Basically, it enables you to record audio and then post it directly to your Facebook fan page. If you’re doing audio tips on this or that, you can kind of keep people engaged that way.

John: Appbistro is another resource for Facebook page applications. Appbistro, that’s basically like a clearing house for Facebook page apps where you can go and you can select a category. And, oh yeah, I want to run a coupon thing, or I want to do a Groupon type of situation. You can find applications. Some of them are free. Some of them are paid, but then, at least, they filter it for you so you can get the good stuff.

David: Right. And then, one of the things that people overlook a lot. A lot of people have smart phones now, like the market penetration of smart phones is growing, growing, growing. Everyone’s going to have one within, I don’t know, two years. But one of the things I like to do is I’ll be in a live event. I’ll take a picture. On every single fan page they give you a custom email address to email pictures to your fan page. I don’t know if you can do this directly through Facebook apps, like the iPhone app or the Android app. I don’t know if you can post to fan pages, but using that email address can make updating a breeze.

John: Oh, yeah.

David: That’s something I’ve found majorly useful.

John: You can do a status update. You can do video. You can do photos. It’s very, very simple. You don’t have to have even an iPhone. You can have an ugly BlackBerry that just has email and everything else is broken on it. You can just take a photo, send it by email. You’re golden.

David: Exactly. What are some tools that you have found really useful to kind of streamline updating through Facebook?

John: I actually like using Facebook itself, like just go to because that’s the environment that everybody’s in anyhow, for the most part, either that or their mobile phone, like the iPhone. So I either just use the Facebook page or my iPhone because that’s what everybody else uses. It’s important to me to see what their experience is going to be.

The other one is HootSuite. What I like about HootSuite is that you can do Twitter, and you can do Facebook, and you can do even LinkedIn and Foursquare. I don’t know why you would do Foursquare from your desktop, but you can do all these things at once. You can even schedule updates on Facebook, and you can even post to multiple Facebook pages. That’s a pretty powerful application. It has a desktop version and a phone version.

David: Right. I think HootSuite is, I use it every day. It’s awesome. TweetDeck is another one that’s very similar to HootSuite.

Another thing that I would recommend to people out there watching is using bookmarklets where it’s just like a bookmark. You drag up to your bookmarks bar where you’re on a blog post and you’re like, wow, this is great. I should share this on my Facebook fan page. Instead of copying that URL, going to Facebook, putting it in, you can just click that. There’s also browser plug-ins that do this. I think one’s called Shareaholic. Basically, I tell people this is socializing your browser, making it completely easy and efficient to update your social networks.

John: Yeah. The other thing I can think of is if you have a blog for your business, which all the HubSpot people and viewers should really have a blog, right? If you have a blog, you could just hook up that RSS feed onto your Facebook page. You’ll find people on your wall and they’re commenting about it.

David: Right.

John: Regardless of all of this automaton, all of these cool tools, I think it’s imperative for Facebook page admins or marketers to show up on their page once a day and look at it and see what’s going on and be there as a person. Because guess what? You will never ever automate in true engagement. Engagement means there is a person on the other side of the website, and I feel like I’m being heard. You will never automate that. Because guess what? The users will catch on. They will know. Oh, this is just some bot doing its thing. They’ll know it.

David: Right. It’s important to be present. Having a Facebook presence doesn’t mean that you’re present there. You need to be there, kind of watching, seeing the interactions happening, because you’re right. It’s people talking to people. It shouldn’t be automated. Some of these tools, they allow you to do that, and that can be bad if that’s all you do.

What are some of your favorite resources to kind of keep in touch with what’s going on in Facebook, and what you should be looking out for?

John: Well, Dan Zarrella is coming out with a book. It’s already out. It’s on Amazon. It’s called “The Facebook Marketing Book” or something like that. So, he’s got that. The Facebook Marketing Bible is at a website called Inside Facebook. Inside Facebook is, I think, one of the best resources. Social Media Examiner is another website that has great, great stuff on really everything social media but a lot of Facebook stuff. Mari Smith writes for that. I think those are really the best resources out there. There are webinars, too.

David: One thing I would add into the mix is, when you’re thinking about you custom Facebook tab and landing page, and you can set up multiple custom tabs to do a lot of stuff. For inspiration on that, check out, and it just has some really awesome, well designed, user friendly tabs there, custom tabs that you can kind of take a look at and be, wow, that would be great.

Then, it’s just that FBML is the same as HTML. So, get your designer or do it yourself.

John: HyperArts, too.

David: HyperArts, yeah.

John: That’s the free online FBML bible basically.

David: Right. They have a bunch of code samples. So, if you’re not a coder, they lay it out for you. You copy and paste, change the image and change where it’s going and you’re good to go. Absolutely.

Coming up in 2011, where do you see things going?

John: I think and here I am getting my crystal ball out. I think what’s happened is that a lot of brands, and I see this with non-profits. People get on the Facebook wagon. They have a page. Oh, we’re on Facebook. We’ve got the cool custom tab and all this stuff, and then they get a whole bunch of fans and guess what? They start flat lining. Their page goes silent. Nothing’s happening. What are we doing?

Then, they realize like, oh, we actually don’t know what we’re doing. I think what you’ll see is that there’s going to be a lot more focus on developing strategies and methods, like a methodology almost for effective use of Facebook. So that they can actually get the return, like, why are you on Facebook as a business any how? You want to make money. You want to get customers. You want to spread the word about your business. Right?

You need to know that that’s happening and how can you do that. You have to measure it. I think in the next year you’ll see much more effective ways and best practices to measure what you’re doing on Facebook. Email marketing, when it was new, people didn’t know what the heck was going on. Now, there are proven best practices for email marketing. Same thing is going to happen with Facebook.

The other thing that I think is going to happen is Facebook Places. We’ll see a lot of really cool stuff happening with Facebook Places, which no businesses are hardly even using it. I think only Starbucks is using it. That’s a really powerful location-based marketing service, and it’s totally under utilized. I think by the end of this year you’re going to see some really great case studies with Facebook Places.

David: Right. I think geolocation services will kind of rise this year, and more brick and mortars will adopt. It adds a strategy because it’s basically like a free loyalty program with a lot of these things, and just utilizing those, I think, will be awesome.

Then, like you said, revamping your Facebook strategy, like why are you there? You may be posting status updates and you’re not seeing any return. One of the main things with a Facebook fan page is you want to get people back to your site. That’s like one of the main goals in my mind. There are other things you can work on, but think about how you can grab people’s attention and then kind of bring them back into your website and then convert them into a lead.

John: The other thing, I mean, this will be huge, too, like ecommerce. Ecommerce applications are coming out of the woodwork for Facebook pages. So, now brands and small businesses, retail outlets, if they sell anything online, they’re going to set up an ecommerce application right in their Facebook page so people won’t go to their website. Because honestly, I think Facebook users like to stay on Facebook. They don’t want to go to some website. So you need to have a complete version of your website within your Facebook page. If you want to get money from people, you have to do an ecommerce app. I think that’s going to be another huge thing for Facebook this year, is this use of ecommerce applications. It’s going to be prevalent.

David: Cool. John, where can people find you online?

John: Well, you can go to, and I’m sure you’ll include the link below. Then on Twitter, it’ll be @johnhaydon, just @john haydon. And that’s it.

David: Okay. Cool. Well, I appreciate your time coming on the show and sharing all of your Facebook insights. I think it was really helpful, and there was some great stuff in this interview.

See full post here: How to Rock Your Facebook Fan Page with John Haydon