There's been much to-do about the Facebook Like!... Implementing the Like Button on websites, how we can all get more likes, and even the new Talking About This statistic on Facebook Pages, which also has to do with likes.

Small business owners often ask me how they can get more likers (fans) to their Facebook Pages. Many see increasing this number as the most important factor that reflects success of their Facebook community.

Is it?

Any online community manager knows that activity on the page equals a thriving group of brand evangelists. That interaction leads to organic growth to the community, which is key to evolving passion among fans for a thriving, on-going Facebook community.

A newer concern, fan engagement is also highly reflective of the Talking About This (TAT) number.

So what should we really work to encourage?

I recently partnered with Dorien Morin-van Dam of More In Media on an exercise open to any Facebook Page Admin that wanted to increase their Facebook Likes. We were co-hosts.

We designed the Pre-Holiday Facebook: Game Of Like to help Facebook Page owners gain more likes. Our secondary goal was to prepare Pages for the upcoming Christmas holiday season.

Here are the highlights of how we set it up:

  • It was FREE, FUN & EASY!
  • Blog posts were written with all Game Of Like guidelines and circulated to both of our networks.
  • We used a Facebook event page as our home page.
  • Co-hosts invited participants Any participant could invite friends too.
  • Mainly, all participants liked each others' Facebook Pages. (Co-hosts too).
  • Like Achievements could be completed at any time during the game.
  • We did NOT make a list of participating pages on purpose.
  • Winners would be announced at the end of 10 days based on accumulated points from the game components.
  • The Grand Prize was a feature blog post out to more than 2 Million people, a month feature on both Idea Girl Media and More In Media Facebook pages, and follow-up interview posts highlighting winners business operations. Two prizes; two winners.

Dorien and I quickly heard from a considerable number of nay-sayers that reacted with, This type of tactic does not work. Those speaking may have been among those that had participated in previous similar projects where the primary focus was increasing the number of Likes.

Others actually read through our plan, and with raised eyebrows commented, Not your typical drive for likes.

A little sneaky, Dorien and I included educational components to the game, called Like Achievements, which would give participants hands-on experience creating a thriving Facebook community.

Was it really all about the Like?

So we set off on a wild 10-day ride with small business owners, nonprofit stakeholders, independent consultants, artists, well-trafficked websites, and public figures!

Co-hosts got little sleep chasing participants around Facebook, but it was exciting to see what our Game Of Like-ers were willing to do to win. In addition, our connections increased or were strengthened, and we saw our new friends experiencing the same. New friends, potential collaborative partnerships, and techniques learned.

How was the Pre-Holiday Facebook: Game Of Like won?

Our two winners tackled Like Achievements early and often. They accumulated points that set them ahead of the pack. Very cool that both ladies were developing new businesses and we were able to help propel them into their niche!

The result of the Pre-Holiday Facebook: Game Of Like was spread far and wide.

Some Likeable Numbers:

  • 224 people signed up for the Facebook event.
  • 25 people invited their friends to join the game.
  • 16 people referred others that also played along!
  • 24 people carved pumpkins.
  • 23 people reached 250,215 tweeters with 151 tweets on Twitter.
  • 11 blog posts by others were written about the Game Of Like experience.

There are now 73 players interacting in a private Facebook Group to learn more advanced techniques on turning new fans into active fans and keeping fans engaged. Studies show they have about 30 days. Exploring other social networks may be part of future plans for the group.

Evaluating & Looking Forward

Those that have tried similar projects would tell you something like this is a lot of work. Each would consider if it is worth it.

I think it is, as linking with like-minded people always brings mileage. However, there are some helpful hints to offer

12 Ways To Optimize A Facebook Game Of Like

1. Be organized well in advance.

If something is hyped as FREE, FUN & EASY, to a large network, chances are people will hop on fast and furious. While we did have a plan and finished some things in advance, both co-hosts were also running their own business. So there were times we were completing something just before it was needed.

Here are items that can be prepared a few weeks ahead of time:

  • Customized tabs on co-host Facebook Pages.
  • Freebies (Tools/Lists promised to participants).
  • Email address for communication specific to the game.
  • Tracking sheet for points.
  • Skeleton blog posts ready to post.
  • Crafted tweets & posts ready to go.

Preparing these even two weeks ahead would assure smooth sailing.

2. Create a logo and images for frequently discussed game topics.

A specific image for the Facebook Event page began to serve as a logo. It could then be adapted and similar graphics used - for frequently mentioned topics throughout the game. Such as: Housekeeping, Success Tips, Like-Checks to see that everyone is on track, and conversation on Like Achievements.

In total, we used 9 images to signal players throughout the Game Of Like. Creation of these could also be added to the list of things to do beforehand.

Keri Jaehnig of Idea Girl Media discusses 12 ways to optimize a Facebook Game Of Like

Pre-Holiday Facebook: Game Of Like Logo [Original image inspired by Milton Bradley

3. Provide all the details up front.

Both Co-hosts published lengthy blog posts for readership to make sure all information was shared before the beginning of the game. While it was a lot for people to read and digest, this provided all guidelines to reference for anyone interested.

Sub-topics to consider:

  • Basics.
  • How to win.
  • Grand Prize specific details.
  • Describe how anyone wins just by playing.
  • Exact instructions on how to earn points.
  • Promotional Materials & acceptable ways to promote.
  • Fine Print.
  • Like Achievements & how to successfully complete.
  • Jump Start directions So they can correctly begin to play.
  • Links to free exclusive materials participants get just for playing.

A few of those were re-posted individually to make the information more clear.

4. Offer ways for players to promote the game.

We allowed several options to spread the word! Inviting from the event page, posting to other social networks, email, and blogging.

It is important to make sharing easy Sample tweets, posts, and email blurbs were provided so anyone could copy and paste without hassle. On Twitter, we used the hashtag, #gameoflike.

5. Use other social networks to attract participants and report/promote.

Very key. Chances are that those on other social networks are also on Facebook. Dorien and I posted, where appropriate, to spread the word to as many people as possible. On networks such as LinkedIn, we posted to groups only where permissible.

Observing etiquette and spam policies is vital, or you risk ruining your credibility.

Following up with results is a good idea, as long as you observe etiquette.

6. Find an assistant.

At least temporarily! For Game Of Like, co-hosts were playing along with participants to get to know them and lead by example. That alone is time consuming without considering day jobs and family.

If at all possible, find a trusted person to help with some administrative duties so that you can concentrate on socializing within the game. Suggested tasks for an assistant: Emailing freebies, tracking points, management of your Facebook page behind the scenes.

7. Be open to spontaneous activity!

"]Keri Jaehnig of Idea Girl Media collaborated on a digital costume party for Pre-Holiday Facebook: Game Of Like

Pre-Holiday Facebook: Game Of Like Halloween Costume Party [Image inspired by Milton Bradley

Completely unplanned, we had a digital pumpkin carving party, and a costume party to celebrate Halloween. These activities drew people in for some fun, and helped us get to know each other better.

After all, its not only about the Like!!

8. Plan and announce a grand announcement Give details in advance.

People need to know what theyll win, and when they will know results. Have these details set in advance, and do not stray from what you promise. It is also true that people wont like you unless they trust you.

9. Post on the event page often to offer helpful hints to participants.

Once we reached 60+ players, it was important to make sure details on game specifics were easily findable for players tracking their own progress, and also players new to the game.

Details to post often: Reminders on how to post and tag, reminders of deadlines, encouragement to players, details on Like Achievements, answers to commonly asked questions.

10. Make helpful information & useful tools available.

Some of our originally posted details were not thorough enough for some participants very new to social media. We ended up making three video tutorials to help people be successful. We also posted links to helpful articles written by others across the Internet.

11. Set up a private Facebook Group before the end of the game.

This allows for some de-briefing, and a build on what was learned. This also strengthens ties made during such an endeavor and forms a strong circle for future projects.

12. Like Achievements front and center!

This is the most important Regardless of what you call these learning opportunities, its not all about the like! What comes after the like engagement is the real value here. And providing steps to help people connect is the real key to success.

We designed seven Like Achievements as the base of how the game would be won. These involved photo, video, branding, collaboration, specific interaction, and reading related published material after finding it on the Internet.

If we would have said, Go read Launch How To Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond The Competition, by Michael Stelzner, participants may not have done it. But we made it a fun challenge with high points value, and we found that people were attracted to completing it. The real kicker? They were lovin the book, and even kept the Launch Fan Page quite busy!

Honestly, as an organizer, I found myself envious of those working to complete Like Achievements, because they were fun, and made people smile.

Summing It Up

The final result was better than expected. Had more people played, we may not have seen quite the quality of relationships formed.

Many participants reported new Facebook Page likes between 65 and 100. Some were telling us lower numbers.

This endeavor would have run away without some help. Anyone that considers trying something like this should consider partnership to share the load!

Could we have centered the goal on the number of Facebook Likes achieved?

Yes. We may have even gotten more people to participate.

Do I recommend that as the main objective?

No. In the end, a successful Game of Like is best focused on the engagement - building relationships - and what happens AFTER a mouse clicks the Facebook Like Button! ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you agree?

What else might we have considered during our project?