Innis Maggiore attended three weeks of Facebook Bootcamp this past fall in search of the best social media positioning tips. Most of our associates attended the six-webinar series. Designed to help companies better market on Facebook via content, advertising and technological whiz-bang, we figured if Facebook was putting it on, it would be a marketing revelation!

While it wasn't all that, one item is worth noting -- the same question kept popping up in every webinar, asked at least two to three times each session. The question on everybody's mind: How do I get more people to like my page?

Waiting with bated breath, most of us expected some sort of social media positioning grand statement from Facebook unlocking the mystery of the marketing universe. After all, these guys have to be the kings of marketing (or at least know something about social marketing ROI)! We were disappointed by the answer that was provided over and over again: "Coupons.sweepstakes.discounts.contests."

Really? Yes, really! If you're willing to sell your business soul to the deep discount demons, you might just find a few more willing individuals to like your page. How about solid social media positioning guidelines, such as brand/image-building? Nope. PR/unique content? Nope. Cat videos? Naughta.

The Facebook webinar presenters then suggested ads and sponsored stories to "promote" these deep discounts. While we shouldn't expect anything other than a little self promotion, the general feeling from our vantage point was one of disappointment. Is the social media magic pixie dust wearing off?

This question perplexes a lot of clients: Why is it that we (at ABC Co.) can't seem to attract more Facebook fans? Before you answer that question, a more appropriate question to ask yourself is: How many businesses have YOU liked on Facebook? (And you can't count the local restaurants you frequent because of their deal of the day.) Your answer? Probably zero to one. Add in the few that offer discounts and you might get up to five. But how quickly will those disappear once the contest is over or the coupons quit coming? put on a sweepstakes that got me to like it, but I quickly hid the near daily posts when the "deal of the day" kept appearing in my News Feed. No thanks. Advertise on the right-hand side of the page, but don't interrupt my chain of friend updates.

So, what's the answer? It's not all that clear, but let me share some insights that might help you develop your company's social media positioning and presence on Facebook/Twitter.

First, and with a big shout-out to one of our clients (Roy at GuideStone Financial Resources) who pointed this out to me, consumers follow the personality behind the business much more than the business itself. Compare the following (as of 6/11/12):

  • Bill Gates (6,902,973 followers) vs. Microsoft (240,520 followers)

  • Mark Cuban (1,102,434 followers) vs. Dallas Mavericks (206,760)

  • Jeff Probst (209,812 followers) vs. "Survivor" (98,246 followers)

  • Ryan Seacrest (6,990,951 followers) vs. "American Idol" (623,593 followers)

Do you have a personality that speaks to the brand and is interesting enough to develop a strategic social media positioning plan and a social network following?

In reality, we all "like" people, not things. A business is a thing, not a person. A brand, especially in the B2B space, lacks any sort of personality to give most people a reason to engage in a conversation. There are obvious exceptions (Apple, the Aflac duck, Starbucks), but these brands had an offline following long before they had an online/social media presence. Please prove me wrong, but I contend you won't find either a B2B or B2C company that has a whole lot of Facebook fans. The personality behind the company? More likely.

Second, consider where you place responsibility for your social media positioning development. Is it in customer service (one valid possibility) or your public relations department (a second valid approach)? Promotion? Maybe, but not for most companies.

You should pick one or both and be intentional about who's responsible for managing your social network presence. Typically, when you determine from the above valid options HOW you want to use social media as a platform, the opportunity for success (and lots of fans) rises considerably. When you place social media in isolation, it's unlikely to succeed because it becomes clear to your customers/prospects that you have little clue how it fits your brand and you just advertise, advertise, advertise. Social media is very transparent and your motives will be exposed quickly if you don't have the right game plan.

Third and finally, keep an eye open for SEO opportunities. I'm not a big fan of auto-following simply because it elevates quantity over quality. But if you find some keyword concepts that draw eyes to your posts and you can gain quality likes/follows, don't hesitate to use some of the tools that exist to auto-build your fan base. We did this for PURELL® when it launched the world's first green-certified hand sanitizer, and the number of auto-followers around "green products" was astounding. Retweets were in the thousands. Blog mentions . like crazy.

I wish I could give you the magic formula to make your social media positioning wildly popular on all of your platforms, but if I could, I'd probably publish a book and be on a speaking circuit making oodles of money. It's just not that easy. Trial and error. Test and optimize. The above ideas will hopefully get you going. Also, when using social media, consider using our Testing New Media worksheet. Many clients have found it to be very helpful in planning their social media positioning tactics.