01/17/2012 01:26 pm ET Updated Mar 18, 2012

Getting Fan Scaling Right for Your Business

What is fan scaling? It's the process of building up the number of your fans for your fan page. Can it get too big? Can it get too small? Yes, it can, and what ultimately matters is the comfort level you have with the number of fans you have for your fan page. Take a look at your business and your fan page. Is your business local? Is it a national business with thousands of employees, or just a small amount of employees? Do you sell products? Do you market services locally?

The number of fans you have depends on what kind of a fan page you have. If you're just strictly a local business such as a restaurant, professional services, or a food truck, then there's no need to spend thousands of dollars of advertising in Facebook to get thousands of fans all over the country. That would be wasted money with a ROI that really doesn't reflect the local goals of your business. What you should be aiming for are at least a thousand fans or more if your business is located in a mid-sized city with a population of at least half a million people. You can do that for simply just a few hundred bucks in advertising on Facebook.

However, if you're a business with the goals of selling lots of products to a wider customer base, then it makes sense to invest in large-scale online marketing to get a wider number of fans for your fan page. So that way your brand gets a competitive advantage over other business brands with similar lines of products. The number of fans you have on your fan page also forces you to think in creative ways about your brand, and how you can best interact with your fans to get them talking about your business.

Also, you can't simply be content with just posting occasionally to market your products and your business. Think outside the box. What will engage your fans the best? A boring wall post with a simple status update about an event, or a wall post that links to a news article or your blog with a photo about the event? Your own Facebook Insights will likely have shown that rich media such as photos, rich content (i.e. link to relevant news articles, blog posts, or video), get a higher fan engagement than just simple wall posts. It's because Facebook's EdgeRanker algorithm tool tends to rank wall posts that contain rich media as having a higher engagement rate than simple wall posts.

If you have under a thousand fans and you're in a small city, creative content on your Facebook fan page will keep your fans engaged. Fan engagement is important, not just for keeping your fan numbers the way they are, but for the organic nature of what they do with your fan page. Your fans will share your wall posts, "like" your links, rich media posts, and custom tabs on their News Feeds. It means their friends, who aren't fans of your page, will get to see the content from your page on that News Feed. It's organic growth, and it's the best one because it's all based on word-of-mouth about your fan page. You don't have to pay anything for that. It helps keep your fan base easily manageable because you're not advertising nationally, but locally, and your fans are from your city, so there's a natural ceiling for them to reach.

On the other hand, if you're a business looking to do national outreach about your brand because you want to get as many clients as you can for your products, you will need help to accomplish the number of fans you want for that goal. Large-scale online advertising is recommended in this scenario. One great way to keep your advertising content interesting is to simply advertise your wall posts as "sponsored story" ads so they appear as an unique way for people to interact with your fan page. Don't post boring ads, just as you wouldn't post boring content on your wall. Make them stand out.

And once you start your ad run, and you've optimized for the best ad content, you'll see your fans grow for your fan page. When the ad run ends, the fans still grow largely by word-of-mouth at this point. But there's the usual drop-off in the gains of fans for your page, and that's fine. What it just means is that you've reached a normal plateau in your fans for your page. Now is the time to engage with your fans, and continue that organic growth through creative content such as custom tabs, rich media, and links to relevant news articles mentioning a product of yours or your business or what's happening in your industry.

Don't also be afraid to reply back to your fans. They love that! There's nothing worse than a hit-and-run wall post where the fans respond, but no one responds back to them. Why should they put the time on your fan page when you're not putting your time in replying back to them? It all comes back to customer service, and that's what fan scaling the right way is about. Serve your customers (fans) well through creative content, smart advertising, and you will see the benefit of that investment back.