Ask, Incentivize, or Give Back: Tactics to Gain Facebook Fans

Jim Davidson

Promoting your social media channels through your email marketing efforts helps strengthen the relationship you have with your subscribers.  Earlier on the Bronto Blog, we addressed some basic tactics on how to position social requests through email. Taking those tactics one step further, let’s focus on the “draw” of how you can get subscribers to become your fans.

Measuring ROI from marketing efforts on Facebook can be challenging.  Measuring the growth and attrition of your number of fans is not.  While it may be out of your reach to build a nice graph showing your social media revenue trends, now is the time to focus on gaining Facebook fans who can engage with your brand in this channel that can influence a purchase decision. Many of your email subscribers actively engage with your brand and having them extend their interactions to Facebook can help lead to more conversation on your page as well as longer term loyalty by your subscriber.

You may have a Share With Your Network link in your email.  Great!  You may allow subscribers to like a specific product within your email. Fancy!  You may encourage email subscribers to “Like Us on Facebook!”  Well, that’s a call to action is rather bland and so ubiquitous that many subscribers are trained to ignore it.

So, what else can you do to convert a non-fan email subscriber into a facebook fan? What bold and dynamic tactics will help you to achieve that uptick?  My tactics of Asking, Incentivizing, Throwing a Party and Giving Back will lead you in the right direction.


Orvis - Tactics to Gain Facebook Followers - Bronto

By expanding beyond your “Like Us on Facebook” button, you can dedicate an email to communicating the value of becoming a fan.  Remind subscribers that they will have access to exclusive content, sneak peeks, and the ability to speak with other customers or an expert from your brand. Orvis achieves this by including a quick to read bulleted list of benefits of becoming a fan. (click image to enlarge)

Sharper Image - Tactics to Gain Facebook Followers - Bronto

In addition to communicating the value of exclusive deals, The Sharper Image reinforces the community aspect by showing the favorite products of Facebook Fans.  You can try sending a dedicated email to your existing subscriber base or include this message as part of a Welcome Series. (click image to enlarge)

Include content elements that are traditionally seen in your emails but also include colors and language that match a Facebook experience.  You can focus on one major benefit if you have one or include an easy to read bulleted list that details what the subscriber can expect if they become a fan.


Ann Taylor - Tactics to Gain Facebook Followers - BrontoWhile future access to exclusive deals and content sounds exciting, there is no immediate benefit to the subscriber.  Incentivizing the subscriber to become a Facebook fan is the most common approach to asking subscribers to take action. Both the Ann Taylor and Blue Nile examples feature the incentive prominently and include no other promotional messages. (click image to enlarge)


Do not confuse tBlue Nile - Tactics to Gain Facebook Followers - Brontohe subscriber with multiple promotional messages and limit the amount of copy used.  You should expect that many fans converted by an incentive may not be the most engaged and might unlike the page after they have received the coupon.  This is similar to what you would expect after a sweepstakes ends.

Throw a Party

Why not make your subscribers do some of the heavy lifting in order to receive a special offer?  Bronto customer Rainbow Shops launched a campaign to achieve 25k likes where Facebook fans would receive an exclusive coupon when the goal is met.  As of this post, they are around 30k fans so the goal was acheived. The Vitamin Shoppe took a tiered approach on their race to 75k subscribers by giving away gift cards at each tier up to 130k subscribers. As I am writing, The Vitamin Shoppe is close to their goal with 128k fans. (click image to enlarge)

Rainbow Shops - Tactics to Gain Facebook Followers - BrontoVitamin Shoppe- Tactics to Gain Facebook Followers - Bronto






A good first step to launching a program similar to these would be to review how many Facebook fans you are gaining each day.  Use this to determine the goal of your campaign.  It should seem achievable from the subscriber’s perspective and also be realistic enough to know that it will eventually be met.  Try a dedicated email to launch the promotion and include a mention within your standard promotional emails.  As milestones are met, or if you are not seeing the growth you expected, additional dedicated emails can be sent to inform subscribers of your progress and encourage more to participate.

When the goal is met, send an announcement that reveals the offer but do not limit the message to Facebook Fans only.  Use the big reveal as another attempt to gain additional subscribers who can access the offer on your Facebook page.

Give Back

Yes, Facebook is a social network, but it’s also a community.  Your Facebook page represents a community of people who enjoy your brand enough to be part of your network.  There are most likely common interests between your brand and your customers.  Identifying opportunities to bring in more like minded people into your social space by sharing an opportunity to give back benefits everyone.

New York & Company - Tactics to Gain Facebook Followers - BrontoNew York & Company donated $1 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for every Facebook like up to $50,000. While the email does contain basic navigation links, there are no promotional messages or incentives for the subscriber to receive other than the joy of giving. (click image to enlarge)

If you are interested in launching a similar campaign, consider which group would be a good match with your subscribers.  Communicate the relationship between your company and the organization who will receive the donation.  Set a cap for the amount that you are donating, state a deadline, and offer a way that subscribers can donate without having to like you on Facebook.

Focusing on increasing Facebook fans will help to position your company to explore revenue driving opportunities in the social network.  None of these approaches is the right approach.  Consider testing variations of each to determine which receives the best reception from your subscribers. After you’ve mastered converting subscribers to fans, check out More than a Fan: How to Drive Follwers to Buy, with some great tips to incentivize fans to purchase.

Have you tried any of these tactics?  Share some insights with me below.

Jim Davidson
Manager of Marketing Research