Facebook has been an incredible opportunity for small and large businesses to build their brand and engage with their users.

One problem that many business owners face, which I’m sure you can agree, is what you should be posting to the Facebook feed on your fan page.

The big brands have years of market placement, extensive customer lists, and huge advertising budgets and because of this they easily become case studies to marketers.

Using these big brands as examples doesn’t really help the small business owner because, in comparison, they are starting fresh, their community is a fraction in size, and there may not be nearly as many products and services to promote on the feeds.

I believe the best way to make the most of a Facebook fan page, when you’re stumped on ideas for status updates, is to take a flexible, template approach which taps into the personal side of your small business but leverages the updates by big businesses which have shown a considerable response.

A Quick Primer about Facebook Engagement

Since Facebook has rolled over their design to timelines, users and page owners have been up-in-arms about changes to the platform.

The most glaring issue is the fact that your message is not seen by the majority of your followers because of the ‘edge rank’ algorithm used by Facebook which, in its simplest explanation, is greatly determined by the previous engagement by your community.

You’re more likely to reach a greater amount of your followers if they have liked, shared, or commented on your update; doing too many low-response updates will slowly bottom out your reach (and vice versa).

To compensate for this lack of reach, Facebook has implemented ‘promoted posts’ in which you pay to get the most exposure to select updates; this may be seen as a cash-grab since all messages were seen before the major update but we can’t go back so promoted posts will become part of your marketing campaign on Facebook if you wish to max out your message.

On the other end of the spectrum, Facebook advertising has been a staple for affiliate marketers seeking leads to their products, services, or other desired results such as building a list. As small business, such as yours, do not need to invest heavily into the advertising platform to see a decent return on investment; quick campaigns to build exposure around giveaways, fan pages, and product promotions are just a few examples of utilizing Facebook advertising effectively.

And this brings us to the most important element: Facebook fan page engagement.

As noted, your message is filtered by the platform which means that you’re not reaching nearly as many individuals as you may have been lead to believe. The current “work around” seems to have been the clever use of photos, polling, and giveaways to increase the ‘edge rank’ on your fan page.

Likewise, integration of the fan page and its content onto your website, email list, and direct marketing has shown significant impact on encouraging interaction with fan page followers. You’re not relying on just the Facebook platform to get found – you’re integrating the platform into your current assets and using it as a vehicle for unique, social experiences which may not be readily found on your website.

Engaging Facebook Status “Templates”

The effectiveness of status updates pooled into this ‘swipe file’ greatly depends on the type of community you’ve built on your website and fan page; some may not work whereas others could spark extreme levels of interest. It’s best to give each a try over the next month (or two) and measure which has shown a better gain than others – then, integrate them into your Facebook marketing strategy.

1. Teaser Videos – Try showing a short teaser of a new product or service launch.
2. The “Fill in the Blank” – Ask an open-ended question and leave a “_____” for users to fill in.
3. Testimonial Photos – Take feedback about your business, add it to a picture, and share it.
4. Timely Questions – Big event in your industry? Ask a question about it.
5. Coupon Promotion – Share a respectable coupon code (10%+) as a picture and text.
6. A Weekly How-To – Exclusive how-to’s on select days of the week.
7. Gift Ideas – Share your ideas and ask for suggestions about gifts.
8. Playful Rebranding – Take your logo, products, or services and give them a silly redesign.
9. Quick Clips – Start a micro video diary about what’s happening in the business.
10. Duke it Out – Do an Either/Or scenario where the winning side gets something special.

The current trend, no doubt, is pairing your message with a funny, thought-provoking, or amazing piece of photography since it quickly captures the follower’s attention. Inject one of these Facebook status examples and the engagement level should increase once a discussion begins to pick up.

For additional examples, take a look at these resources for killer Facebook brand pages:

Take a look around at some of your favorite brands represented on Facebook to get a few ideas for your next FB update; you’ll be surprised to find the various methods big brands use can easily be replicated for the small scale business. Engage your users.