Want to win on Facebook? Command your niche, hire interns to put in some serious social media hours, and give away something you normally charge for. That was Tim Ericson’s strategy. And Tim, the CEO of CityRyde, has nearly 4,300 fans* and a Fairfield Small Business Challenge Facebook contest win–he gained the most followers in three weeks–to show for it. I asked Tim for his tips and techniques to help get serious small business traction on Facebook.
What strategy did you use to win the Facebook challenge?
We have two college-age interns that have been working with us. They know Facebook extremely well, so we basically gave them free reign to develop a strategy for getting additional followers.
The first thing we came up with was a way to tap into our existing network. We gave away our reports that we normally charge $120 about the bike industry for free to anyone who liked our Facebook page. We sent that to our newsletter list of thousands of people from transportation departments all around the world, and then got an amazing response. It didn’t cost us anything to do that campaign, but we got a huge response.
Since then, we’ve been leveraging the Facebook profiles that we have, and have been marketing directly to the people that have an interest.
How many hours did you put into that Facebook campaign?
The interns pretty much worked 20 hours a week each on that. They spent a good amount of timing building it, and we saw massive results in a short period of time.
How powerful a tool has Facebook been in growing your business?
Our strategy has been–instead of just having people like our business, what we’ve done is branded the generic bike sharing information portal. When people look bike sharing information, they find our information page and ultimately come to our website. It’s been a great tool that’s brought in a significant amount of traffic, 20-30% increase in traffic through our website. A lot of that was coming through Facebook.
We keep a pretty extensive blog on the industry. If you search for anything bike sharing related, our blog comes up first. Having this on Facebook, actually pushing it out to people who see the news feed, has gotten us a much better response from our existing followers. A lot of people who come to our website for the first time come through our blog, but if they like us on Facebook, they’re getting a constant reminder that we keep it up to date.
Can you give entrepreneurs any advice on expanding their businesses using Facebook?
This competition was kind of a kick in the ass, we really needed it to push this strategy forward. Everyone pops up a Twitter account and Facebook page, but very few people really go out there and create a campaign to generate followers, and then ultimately follow up to turn it into revenue. You’re better off not putting up a Facebook account unless you’re going to really go out there and create a campaign to make it worthwhile for your business.
We had 100 followers beforehand, which was nothing, and now we have something we can actually leverage.
How many followers do you have now?
4,301. We went from 100 to that. I think we were a little higher before–naturally some people dropped off after they got the free report–but kept the majority of people, which we’re really happy about. We’ve integrated our Facebook account with our email campaigns, Twitter and our blog, so literally Facebook is the portal where all of our social media directions come together in one feed. That makes it pretty attractive.
*At time of writing.