Getting a lot of people to like your Facebook page can be gratifying, but losing their loyalty can be equally devastating. You're usually left thinking "what did I do wrong, was it something I said?" That's if you're keeping track of your fan numbers close enough!
This is the unsettling reality for many companies and independent pages who are struggling to find ways to retain fans after enjoying an initial boost of popularity. So what is causing your fans to hit the infamous unlike button, and what can you do to stop more fans from doing so?
The Human Spam Filter Effect - Posting Too Frequently
If you've ever used an email client before you know about spam filtering - it's an automated mechanism that identifies spam-like content and throws it straight into the trash bin. Many Facebook users are so in-tuned with internet browsing that they've developed their own built in spam filter and are quick to discard overbearing, unwelcomed, and useless status updates. In fact, people get so aggravated by a high frequency of posts that they don't even want you having access to their wall anymore, and subsequently they unlike your page.
So how often should you post?
This is no rocket science and there is no magic formula. Each business is different so it's all about A/B testing. Besides, your emphasis should be on quality not quantity. The general rule of thumb is that if you don't have something great to post, don't post at all. With that said, if you're taking the time to research your market and pay attention to the requests, opinions, and interests of fans, you should be able to produce at least 3-5 good status updates per week to start with. Increase the frequency if you see a positive response and increased engagement from your fanbase. Again, test different scenarios and don't be afraid to fail at times...
Lack of Incentive - What Have You Done For Me Lately?
You may have forgotten how you got all of those fans to begin with; you probably offered some type of incentive. Maybe it was a discount, some exclusive content or app, some genuinely helpful information, or some wholesome entertainment that made them come back for more. Whatever it was, you're obviously not doing it anymore. Keeping fans on Facebook is a lot like keeping fans with any other type of media. If a television show is no longer entertaining, viewers stop watching, ratings decrease, and eventually it gets taken off the air. If you're noticing a steady decline in fan numbers, you need to take action immediately and reintroduce the incentive-based status update strategy. A good way to let your fans know that they're appreciated is to use a reveal tab/fan gateway to give them access to exclusive content that only fans can see. This will make your fans feel valued and motivate them to keep following your statuses to avoid missing any upcoming contest or giveaway. It will also encourage non-fans to join your page out of curiosity.
Failed Initial Targeting
Maybe the reason why they're unliking you is because they were never really your fans to begin with? It could be that in your rush to get as many fans as possible in the beginning, you may have neglected the process of carefully targeting your audience. There are lots of ways to get fans on Facebook, including buying them from marketing gurus that are equipped with all the latest tools and tricks. However, if you don't make an effort to ensure that your fans are properly targeted you could find a large percentage of them losing interest down the road.
So how do you do a better job of targeting your true fan base?
One of the best "organic" ways to attract fans that are likely to stick with you for the long haul is to advertise your fan page EVERYWHERE you can. Think beyond your website, e.g. email signatures, business cards, flyers, invoices, brochures etc... Another great way to attract targeted fans is do joint ventures with other fan pages in your niche. The concept is simple - you find already successful fan pages that have a lot fans who would probably be interested in your page, then you contact the page administrators and ask them what it would take for them to post a link to one of your statuses in their next update. However, the most efficient ways to attract laser targeted Facebook fans will require you to put your hand in your pocket: Facebook Ads! Using Facebook Ads you can target people by location, age, sex, marital status and most importantly INTERESTS. This gives you the ability to display your ad only on profiles that are likely to become fans and/or customers. Coupled with a fan-gated contest or giveaway, Facebook Ads is ridiculously efficient! Try different ad rotations and targeting options to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.
Your Posts Just Suck
There really is no better way to say it. Your fans are unliking your page for the simple reason that they are tired of reading substandard posts that lack useful information or entertainment value.
How do you fix this?
In essence, you need to learn how to post status updates that are captivating and share-worthy. Adding a dislike button to each one of your statuses using Status Magic (as explained in the previous link) might be a good way to find out what your fans do not like before they get so sick of your antics that they completely unlike your entire page.
Use media to your advantage.
If you don't have the resources, time, or skill to create your own quality media content, find it elsewhere on the web and introduce it to your fans. Sometimes being a known resource and sharing content that has already been created is all it takes. You'd be surprised how many people will stick around just because they know you always bring the best of the web to their fingertips. Think of websites like Digg or Reddit to find potential "viral content" that is relevant to your niche.
Use news and trends to your advantage.
Again, you don't have to be a world-class journalist and conduct interviews or author breaking news. You just need to point out the latest trends and occurrences that your fans are likely to be interested in, and maybe add your own spin or opinion on the matter. Remember that your fans are basically subscribers; keep them up-to-date and involved.
Be interactive and engaging.
When you're posting a status about an upcoming promotion, recent news, or a popular trend, make sure you pursue the input of your fans. Hold a poll, ask them to leave a comment, and give them the opportunity to engage in open dialect. Getting your fans involved is a good way to keep their mouse cursor away from the unlike button, and it also creates a buzz. If you're running out of ideas on what to post, check out this article.
And finally...Have a personality and be personable!
Don't be afraid to be funny, witty, and unique. Stand out from the crowd by acting like a human being, and not a status updating advertising robot. There is no preset formula that will make people like you. Facebook is a digital platform but it still operates in the real world; people like other people simply because... they're likable. What's the point of starting a page on a social network if you're just going to be antisocial?