6. Encourage creativity. Starbucks: "For the first time ever, we have a Starbucks Card with Braille on it! We are very proud to bring this to our stores. Do you have an idea for Starbucks? Share it here. You can also view others' ideas--vote on them, comment, and then come back to see ideas in action."
Why it works: Besides generating product ideas, crowdsourcing gives fans a sense of ownership of the brand.
7. Tackle the issues. ABC News: "'There are still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason,' Obama said. 'That refusal continues to be the main stumbling block.' Do you agree with Obama, or was it a bipartisan failure?"
Why it works: Posts that spark debate among fans are particularly well-suited to brands that produce content, though relevant content can easily be "borrowed" and reposted to get the conversation going. Take care to create an environment in which fans feel comfortable posting and discussion stays friendly so it does not adversely affect brand perceptions.
8. Commemorate milestones. Sony Playstation: "Happy birthday, PS3! With PS3 turning 5 today, the world's best game designers celebrate by naming their 3 favorite PS3 games of all time. What are yours?"
Why it works: Much of Facebook user activity revolves around sharing and celebrating milestones like birthdays, weight loss, and accomplishments. Share your brand's special moments and invite your fans to do the same.
9. Participate in seasonal traditions. Macy's: "Black Friday is just one week away! If you could choose anything at Macy's to go on sale next week, what would it be?"
Why it works: Holidays and seasonal events (such as back-to-school) offer merchants ample opportunity to creatively draw customers to their merchandise. Go beyond gimmicks and sales pitches to really get fans in the spirit. For example, Macy's did not just promote their Black Friday sale; they opened a conversation about holiday wishes.
Just Have Fun
10. Connect your brand to fans' passions. Best Buy: "What is your favorite song from The Beatles? Today in 1962 The Beatles released their first single 'Love Me Do' in the UK."
Why it works: Make a connection with things that people are passionate about. Post a game for fans who like games. Or, start a discussion about a band if (like Best Buy) you sell music-related products.
11. Fill in the _________. Burger King: "Fill in the blank! When I'm listening to my favorite radio station, I crank up the volume when I hear _____."
Why it works: One-word response activities like fill-in-the-blank questions are a quick, easy, and fun way to get fans to respond without requiring a lot of effort. Be sure to avoid over-focusing on your brand; fans know who you are already.
12. Play a game. Capitol One: "You've only got a couple days left to grab exclusive Capital One rewards in @FarmVille and @Pioneer Trail! Hurry over to find out what's available."
Games strengthen the bond with current fans and increase your following when they encourage friends to play. Capital One's Visigoth invasion of Farmville, through product placement with Zynga, is an example of linking the real and virtual worlds.
13. Offer deals, contests, & promotions. Amazon.com: "Like this post if you have entered the Amazon Win with Friends Sweepstakes! Who did you pick for a chance to win with you?"
Why it works: A good deal or a chance to win prizes is almost guaranteed to attract new people. For example, Amazon's sweepstakes also encourages participants to involve their friends.