Have you ever wondered what are the types of fans that have liked you on Facebook, beyond the given demographics? The thing is this – it is impossible to please every single one of them with a single update and at the same time, bombarding your fans with updates of different nature will drive them away too.

The trick: Talk to them, not at them.

Truth be told, there isn’t a need to engage every single one of your fans all the time simply because not all of them can be reached at one go. Instead of trying to please everyone, try identifying the types of fans you have and understanding the 5 different types of Facebook fans will help you engage them better, at their pace.

#1: The Friend

These are the people you know and maybe you’ve invited them to like your page and they did. Many pages started with this to get a head start in the number of fans (and it is absolutely fine) but that also poses a challenge – to keep them engaged or ‘entertained’. I say it’s a challenge because they may not actually like what you have to offer, but did it as a mere form of support.

What to do?

While they are a challenge, they can work to your advantage as you (should) have a better idea on their preferences. Try breaking them into smaller groups based on their interest (e.g. sports / cooking / gaming) and ask yourself, “What would they like to see?” and try creating content in that area.

They make great sounding boards too! Ask them for opinions to see how are you doing thus far – are your updates too frequent? Are they relevant? Are they eye-catching enough? These are great people to receive honest feedback from. Occasionally, consider getting them to promote your updates / content for you.

#2: The Observer

This group of fans may have liked your page for various reasons – whether its because a friend did the same, something you posted caught their attention or they liked you by accident (it happens). Regardless of how they liked your page, these are fans that prefers consuming content instead of participating.

What to do?

This is a tough one and there’s no one way to do it. Experiment. And keep experimenting. You’ll need to be able to sniff out what content sells and what does not. Are your fans more receptive to photos, quotes, videos, product updates, event updates or polls?

Note: most observers are reluctant to post a comment but they may be good ‘likers’. Use that as an initial indication to determine which content type works and see if you can push it further the next time by initiating a simple call-to-action.

#3: The Customer

It is common for brands to think that this is the most important group of fans – but they aren’t (we’ll come to that soon). These are fans that your brand has come in contact with in one way or another – through a roadshow, a past purchase, a flyer that has created an interest in them or fans that are saying “Let’s see what you’ve got”.

What to do?

Don’t sell. Instead, provide value. Consider providing them social exclusives. Show them how you are improving and how mindful you are to meet their needs and expectations and always look out for opportunities to reward their support. KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese went as far as producing a ‘Likeapella’ to say ‘Thank You’ to 4,800 fans that Liked them on their Facebook page. Now that’s one special way to say thank you!

#4: The Advocate

Nope, these aren’t the most important group of fans either. These fans are awesome to have for every business (who doesn’t want their customers talking about them anyway?) and will actively ‘Like’, ‘Share’, comment and even reply to other fans on your behalf.

What to do?

Don’t smile to yourself and leave them be. Acknowledge their support, contribution and help by simple rewards and recognition. Tools like Crowdbooster are great (and free!) to identify which are the most engaging fans on your page. Mashable went to the extend of putting up a wallpaper of all their Facebook fans in their office.

#5: The Haters

These fans are what brands fear the most. In fact, this is the reason why many brands do not want to have an online presence – the fear of negative comments and bashing from the fans. However, this group of fans is in fact the most important of them all for one reason: a chance to show them (and the other fans) your dedication and sincerity to them.

What to do?

Address them and address them quick. Negative comments spread like wildfire over social platforms and it is up to you to reply them almost as soon as you spot them, but tactfully. Do not, ever, delete or hide their complaints for whatever reasons or to defend yourself. Instead, apologize first and seek whatever clarifications you would require and always offer to compensate.

In most cases, your Advocates will step in to defend against your plight and this is the perfect opportunity to show them that you indeed care and value your fans and to turn haters into lovers.

Everyone is a Potential Customer

By now you should have noticed that regardless of the type of fan they are, every fan is a potential (repeating) customer. Take some time to understand, to experiment and to converse at their own pace and you will be seeing results soon.

What type of fans do you have and how have you been engaging them? I would love to hear your thoughts!