The Ladder of Love: Growing Facebook Fans | Beth’s Blog

The Ladder of Love: Growing Facebook Fans

Case Studies, Engagement

Ladder of Love on Facebook

I was lucky enough to spend my last afternoon in Alaska  driving to Talkeetna with Aliza Sherman who lives in Alaska who I’ve known since 1995 and with Cassandra Stalzer my host!    I love the framework she created for identifying and cultivating Super Fans on Facebook.   I like to call it the ladder of love!

The very first step is getting attention and getting people to “like” or join your Facebook page.    There are many creative ways to promote your Facebook page to promote your page to your target audience and get them join or like.    Here’s an example from the Food Bank of Monterey County, a Lucile and David Packard Grantee that I’m coaching this year.

They launched their page slowly and had about 100 fans.    Earlier this week,  TysonFood Hunger Relief blog offered to donate 100 pounds of food product for every “like” on their page.    They’ve increased their fan base by 4 times or over 400 now – and the odds are good that there will be a truckload of food delivered to the Food Bank on October 4th.    What’s nice about this approach is that it isn’t a contest and the only “winners” are the people who are served by the Food Bank.

Don’t forget about the importance of the Facebook feed.   Fans  won’t visit your page,but they may see your news in their news feed. Getting people to like or comment on your Facebook content improves the chances that more people will see it in their feed, an algorithm referred to as “EdgeRank.” TechCrunch goes into more detail about Facebook’s EdgeRank here.

The big mistake that many organizations make is that they stop at the “attention” phase of the ladder of love.   Getting people to click the “like” button and join your Facebook is only the first step in a deep engagement strategy.    You have to provide good content so people it will catch your fans attention and they will like your posts.   And, of course, you need content that inspires good conversation.   (Using spreadsheet aerobics will help you hone your content and engagement strategies on Facebook)

But to bring your fans higher up on the ladder of love – to loyality, leadership, and evangelism – takes consistent engagement and relationship building.

When I was in Alaska, I asked Mary D Barber what nonprofit did the best job of engaging its audience on Facebook consistently?  She pointed to the  Anchorage Concert Association. When I examined their page, I noticed they engage with audience before, during, and after shows.

What I found later after interviewing their Executive Director, Jason Hodges, is that before each show begins they make an announcement from the stage.  They ask patrons to pull out their smart phones, take a photo of the person sitting next to them, and post on their Facebook page.  Then they ask them to shut the smart phones off.

Once you have this level of consistent engagement, you will begin to see leadership and loyality and be ready to reach out to those emerging super fans who will become your evangelists and spread their love for your mission all over the social web.

How have you used the “ladder of love” to plot your Facebook or social media strategy?


20 Responses

  1. Ed Nicholson says:

    Great advice, Beth (as usual). Thanks for the shoutout.
    I _love_ the tactic from the Anchorage Concert Association. Turns the sometimes-nagging “please turn your phone off” reminder into fun, viral activity. Really creative.

  2. Glenn says:

    I too like that tip about the cell phones. I’m going to share this post with my co-workers.

    I like the steps above, but the image gives the impression that loyalty doesn’t start until after leadership. I think we all realize that’s not true. I can be loyal to a cause or a product and never reach the final step. In fact, only a small percentage of people will.

    I’m loyal to a lot of brands, both consumer goods and causes. But I prefer not to have a relationship with them. A very few, yes.

    Now here’s where this post resonates with me. The majority of the very few brands I do want to engage with me have a poor social media strategy. Yes, you have a Facebook page, but rarely do you attempt to engage me in conversation, rather all you do is post announcements. You fail to offer a reason to keep me engaged. So, while I may be one of your followers, I’m not deriving much benefit from your social media presence. That inhibits my willingness to spread the good word about you.

    I read a dozen or so blogs every morning. For your blog or Facebook page to make the cut, you must offer me something of value. A fun contest to participate in, a nugget of knowledge about your brand that educates me and is easy for me to pass along. Perhaps, depending on your brand, it makes my community a better place.

    It’s that “Discussion” tab on Facebook. How active are your discussions? That’s where you get the evangelists engaged.

    Ask me for feedback about a strategy, the name of a new product, or a t-shirt design.

    Push beyond the announcements and generate multi-voice conversations and show us how your brand benefits from our participation.

  3. John Haydon says:

    Beth – I’m curious. How do recommend that Page admins identify a superfan? By amount / quality of engagement? Once they are identified, what are you recommendations for nurturing that relationship further?

  4. I love the idea of taking a photo of the person sitting next to you and posting it to facebook. I used to work for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and I’m going to share this tip with them. A unique, attention grabbing activity like this would also probably help the unfortunate event of someone forgetting to silence their phone.

    The ladder of love is a great visualization. I think there is a lot of undefined gray area between interaction and participation. I look at a “like” as a great step in verifying the content I’m posting is interesting – but it isn’t until I see comments that I can see participation not just between the page and the admin/org but between fans themselves. This is an important step in the process/strategy for us.

    Wall Conversation is a great way to identify interests of different users and a perfect time for the admin to jump in, ask questions or just say thank you for engaging.

    Thanks Beth!

  5. erica says:

    Definitely appreciate the aikido move with the cellphones in the concerts – brilliant.

    I, too, am interested in John’s question about the factors for IDing the Superfan. Any chance you’ll respond with a follow-up post?

    Also, Jason mentions the difficulty in linking the sm strategy with ticket sales and the quantification of ROI. Any more insight on that front?

    Thanks (as always) for your work.

  6. Beth says:

    I think it is a two step process. the first pass is to capture the names of people who are liking and commenting. some social media management software does this really nicely. then the second step is to get to know these people and come up with a proposal for them to amplify and spread your org’s mission.

  7. John Haydon says:

    I’ve found that does a good job with these types of reporting.

  8. Beth says:

    Here’s a few other tools … like spreadfast and a few others documented here:

  9. Roxanne says:

    Hi Beth.

    I completely agree and like your ladder of love example. Once the friends are on our page, we must keep them there. I have challenges at times with not enough content to provide since our mission is so large and our website is so small. I want to sometimes share items and information (content) from third parties but do not quite know how to pick and choose what is credible and what is not. (the organization I am with is medical related)
    Because most people are not doctors on our page, I always have an issue looking for things written in simple terms.

    any thoughts?

  10. Kiara says:

    Hi Beth,

    Great article. I am compelled to share it on my FB page. 🙂


  11. […] So I emailed Beth Kanter, who has been writing for and about the nonprofit sector for a decade. She said she has also had trouble nailing down where the idea began, but she’s written about it in general here, and specifically for Twitter and Facebook. […]

  12. Many thanks for that information. It’s very much appreciated! Thanks again.

  13. Justine says:

    Hi Beth,

    Thanks for this post and for providing great examples to colour this Ladder of Love!

    I’ve been trying to engage with our supporters on Facebook, asking them questions every now and then and sharing photos/videos from our work overseas. So far though our response has been lacklustre…a few ‘likes’ here and there but it’s rare for someone to take the time to comment. I guess it’s just a matter of finding what appeals most to our audience and this is something we need to continue refining.

    Enjoyed reading Glenn’s comment as well about creating value and a reason to participate. Need to get more creative with our messaging!

    Thanks again!

  14. […] Beth Kanter is the leader in guiding nonprofits through the big, scary maze that is social media.  The Networked Nonprofit:  Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, which Beth wrote with Alison Fine, is a super starting point.  If you work in, lead, are on the board of, or love a nonprofit, read this book.  It will spark your imagination and put a fire under your butt. […]

  15. You had me at “creative ways” to promote your Facebook page, but I literally said “wow!” out loud when I read about the cell phone/concert idea. Great idea! I think all of us who have performance or public gatherings could utilize this idea to our advantage. Thank you for this post on the Ladder of Love!

  16. […] the Ladder of Love: Growing Facebook Fans post by Beth Kanter. Beth suggests the answer may be more about what happens off Facebook than the […]

  17. […] the idea began, but she’s written about it in general here, and specifically for Twitter and Facebook. She says it’s a commonly used concept in her […]

  18. […] strategist use to shape a campaign.  Some are tool specific The Twitter Ladder or the Facebook Ladder or it may describes different levels of engagement across channels. Flickr Photo by Gary […]

  19. Your by no means to old to start your Martial Arts Training, nonetheless you do have to keep in mind at our age the body takes longer to recoup.

  20. […] website contains great titbits like “How to measure social media outcomes” or the “Ladder of Love: growing facebook fans.” She’s also a fantastic trainer; just read her summary of training food advocates in […]