Remember when you had to have a *.edu email address just to get an account on Facebook? Oh, how times have changed! I’m not even sure Mark Zuckerberg could accurately predict the kind of juggernaut his little project would become when he launched it in 2004.
Still, here we are, just about 13 years later and this one website has, with a small handful of others, completely changed how we consume content, interact, and engage online. I think it’s safe to say that Facebook has been and continues to be one of the most influential sites out there.
Facebook vs. All Other Social Media
I don’t want to give the impression that other social media networks are insignificant; specific platforms definitely cater better to some industries and niches than others. The reason I’m focusing on Facebook today is because it is the most adaptable, flexible, and customizable platform out there for conveying ideas over social media.
If you can make a marketing idea work on Pinterest, you can adapt it to appeal to your Facebook audience. It doesn’t always work the other way around. This is why I so strongly recommend testing everything on Facebook first. If it works there, it will usually work on other appropriate platforms as well.
As an example, your Facebook statuses may not always translate well to tweets given the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter, but the core message can be made to with the right bit of wordsmithing, coupled with a compelling visual.
With this in mind, I want to give you some useful advice today on how to grow your Facebook audience. Get good at this and you can adapt some of the same techniques to draw in more traffic on all your social channels.
#1 – Design a Good Page
In a previous post, I gave you a roadmap for developing a good Facebook page for your business. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend starting there and coming back here when you’re done. It is the first and most important step to increasing engagement and gaining followers.
#2 – Invest in Unique, Branded Content
Whenever I use words like “investment,” many of your competitors simply shut down and click away from the article. If you are still reading, congratulations. You are positioned better for success than most. It isn’t healthy to fear spending money to make money. From a purely economic standpoint, it’s the only real way to get ahead.
Far too many of your competitors rely on stock images and curated content, or they try to produce content in-house on a small to non-existent budget. You need to understand that the quality of your content speaks volumes about the quality of your brand.
Ask yourself: Do you want people to view your company as one that is cheap and cuts corners, or do you want them to recognize it as one with a commitment to quality and excellence? If it’s the former, feel free to go the cheap route, but do not be surprised if people don’t respond.
Figure out a way to allocate enough money for content creation that can at least deliver unique, well-branded copy and some custom visuals. Those two things alone will help elevate your brand in the eyes of a few passersby, and those passersby will be more likely to stay and have a look around.
Hire good writers to develop blog content and Facebook posts to go with them. Whenever possible, begin with visuals and write copy around them. Most marketers do it the other way around, and the fit between the two is never as good.
Even if your budget will only allow you to use stock images at the beginning, writing copy around them will create a far greater sense of congruity in your branding message than slapping only somewhat-related images onto a social media post.
#3 – Post Regularly
Also keep enough money in the coffers to be able to order more work on a specific schedule. Some content development companies will schedule posts for you on a pre-determined timeline. Use this service to your advantage and keep a steady, continuous flow of content streaming through your Facebook page.
The same holds true for all your social media channels and your website. Don’t get so hung up on updating Facebook that you neglect your other online properties, especially your website. Again, it comes down to keeping up an atmosphere of congruity and, bonus – Whenever you update your blog, you also have the opportunity to update Facebook!
#4 – Engage with Your Audience Regularly
Be part of the conversations you start. Don’t just throw content out there and watch what happens; interact with your audience. Let them see you active on your own page. It will help position you as an authority in your niche.
The right kind of posts will also get people to start thinking of you as a thought leader in your industry or niche. The more you do to keep your audience educated and informed, the more they will regard you as someone who is knowledgeable and trustworthy. This can only help you grow your audience.
Use friendly calls to action to get people to like and share your content. If you keep it simple, you will find more people will do it. Especially in the cases of certain visuals and multimedia, you don’t even need to explain why. Let the content do the talking and with just a little nudge from you, your friends and followers will spread your message for you far and wide.
#5 – Try Facebook Live
This is one area where people don’t expect a well-polished look and feel to the content. It’s live and low-budget, and everybody knows it.
Facebook Live is also a great platform for showing people your knowledge and expertise in real time. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just informative, entertaining, and real.
With that said, this part of Facebook can also make you look very silly if you walk into it unprepared. Live video doesn’t need to be scripted, but you need to have a plan. A dry run to make sure you can do everything you want to do without looking like you’re stumbling through the process is usually a good idea.
Also, if you hold special events or are part of any throughout the year, Facebook Live is a great way to help followers tag along on your adventures. Come on… When you see that little “Live” button in the corner of a video, it makes you curious, doesn’t it? That, right there, is the point of it: To raise curiosity and get people to stop scrolling long enough to hear what you have to say.
The best part about Facebook Live is that once the live event is over, Facebook instantly converts the content to a video post that can be accessed on demand, and more importantly, shared with a larger audience.
#6 – Share Content from Other Industry Influencers
While taking great care not to direct your customers to your competitors, it is always a good idea to share content that validates the information in your content. It shows that you adhere to things like industry standards and market demands.
Some of Facebook’s newer features can tell users from where content originates as well as who posted it. If your page name identifies your brand and industry well, you will get a fair share of likes and follows just by showing your face on pages related to your industry. It doesn’t even need to be a competitor, just a page that connects well with your brand.
#7 – Interact on Influential Pages
The concept here is similar to #6, but it has potential to get more people’s attention. The idea here is that you interact on industry pages, scan for conversations that you can use to showcase your expertise, and simply join the conversation.
If you come across as friendly and helpful, you will amass a good number of followers simply by being visible to them. The more you interact, the more attention your page will get (provided you aren’t churning up controversy or creating a negative image of your brand through your participation – that would be bad).
#8 – Boost a Few Posts Now and Then
Now we’re back to spending money, but the good news is that you have complete control over how much you spend and where with Facebook. There are loads of resources out there on how to create Facebook ads, but the easiest by far is simply by boosting posts.
Start by identifying a likely demographic (you will have loads of criteria to choose from) and throw $3-5 per day at them. If results are favorable, increase your spending. If not, you can try something else and not be out more than a few dollars for your efforts. Those dollars will replace themselves quickly once you discover the right audience.
#9 – Promote Your Page Everywhere
Pointed calls to action to follow you on Facebook should be on your website, in your email signatures, and on any and all content you distribute offline. You can even use things like QR codes to automate the process and instantly capture more follows for your page. That includes all online and offline content.
Make it easy for people, and they will follow through on a well-worded, simple call to action. Place follow buttons prominently on all your pages and make them big enough to notice and tap, even on small screens.
Put the URL and a QR code on your brochures and business cards. When you meet potential customers face-to-face, always say, “Be sure to follow us on Facebook,” somewhere in the conversation, and offer the means to do it right then and there. That is where the print content comes in handy.
Gaining new Facebook followers does not need to be a daunting task, nor do you need to follow all of the above steps to make it happen. If, however, you saw something here that made you think, “I should be doing that,” make good on that thought. Start making a few necessary adjustments and additions to your marketing strategy today, and you will start to see your number of followers increase before too long.
Develop great content and keep it flowing steadily. Be present on your page and stay in front of your audience all the time. I’m not talking about hours of commitment, just a few minutes every day will do. Reply quickly to questions and deal with negative comments privately.
Finally, don’t be afraid to spend money in the right places. Deliver quality, original content, and promote it responsibly over Facebook. The platform is so versatile when it comes to defining your audience that you are bound to find the sweet spot and start seeing profitable results before long.
Are you still struggling with getting followers? Leave a comment or join our closed Facebook group to discuss this in more detail.