Invite Email Contacts to Like your Facebook Page with “Tell your Fans”

Facebook Page admins can now send all their email contacts an invitation to Like their Page through a new tool called “Tell your Fans”. Contacts can be imported directly from supported email web services or uploaded through a contact file. The tool is available to “admins of any new or smaller Pages”, and can help businesses convert their email database they’ve built for years into a Facebook audience.

Facebook added friend-to-friend Page suggestions in mid-2009. Earlier this year, Facebook began allowing users to send app and game invitations to their email contacts. Previously, Page admins could only manually select friends to send invitations to, and couldn’t send them to those not on Facebook or who weren’t their friends.

Now, Page admins can go to the Page Admin Interface, click the “Marketing” sidebar navigation link, and choose the new “Tell your Fans” tool. It’s currently unclear what Pages qualify as new or small enough to use the tool, but in our testing a Page with 21,000 Likes that has existed for years still had access.

Admins are given two options: Upload a Contact file, or Find Your Web Email Contacts. Upload a Contact File lets admins use a flash uploader to choose an Outlook, Constant Contact, .csv, or other contacts file. Admins then see a progress bar as the file uploads.

Find Your Web Email Contacts prompts users to enter the email address and password for their account on one of many supported email services including Hotmail, Yahoo, and apparently Google, despite Facebook’s recent clashes with the search giant over data portability and contact sharing. However, when importing contacts from Gmail accounts, we’re seeing the message “Everyone on this list is already associated with your Page”, despite having many contacts who don’t Like the Page. This could be an unrelated error, or Google could be blocking the feature. Regardless, Gmail contacts can still be exported and uploaded through the first option.

Once the contacts have been uploaded or imported, admins see a list of names and email addresses who “are not yet associated with [Page name].” All contacts default to selected, but admins can uncheck boxes to exempt certain contacts from receiving an invitation. The language in which the invitations are sent can be changed. To ensure admins know what they’re sending, they must view a preview of the invitation before being allowed to send the invitations.

Those who have a Facebook account associated with one of the selected email addresses will see a Recommended Page sidebar module. This is much less direct and prominent than the Page Suggestions users get from friends which appear on their Requests Page and the Requests panel of the home page’s right sidebar.

Those without a Facebook account connected to a selected email address receive an email stating “Check out [Page name]. [Page name] is inviting you to join Facebook.” When the included link is clicked, users are prompted to “Sign up to connect with [Page name] on Facebook.” When they complete the sign up process, they’re brought directly to the Page.

The Tell your Fans tool will make it significantly easier to start a successful Page from scratch. It should lower the apprehension of businesses and other organizations about making the move to Facebook because they will be able to use their existing contact resources. Admins of Pages often purchase advertising to further grow their audience, so each additional Page that’s created or grown large enough to advertise because of Tell your Fans represents potential revenue for Facebook.  By getting businesses to dump their email addresses in to Facebook, the social network gains valuable data about connections between email addresses which can be used to power friend recommendations and more.

Update 2/5/2011: Many users have reported that invitations sent through Tell Your Fans have not been delivered. We are investigating the issue, but for now, Pages should not count on the feature.

Update 8/7/2011: We’re still receiving reports that this feature is broken and invites are not being delivered. Again, Page admins should not currently count on the feature to help them grow their Like counts. If you try the feature, please comment on this story with whether your invites were successfully or unsuccessfully sent,