There’s a lot of information available for growing from a few hundred fans to a few thousand, and beyond. There’s comparatively less information on getting those first few hundred. As they say, even the longest journey begins with a single step. Creating a Facebook page is that first step, and the next hundred miles are spent struggling uphill in the snow to find your fans.
Only once you’ve reached the top of the hill can you snowball into a larger audience; you need to fight your way to the top first. How can you get in that position? The first step, of course, is creating a page. Create a new business page if you haven’t already. Then:
Fill Out Profile Info
Your profile information is important. Consider that in today’s world, people tend to assume you already have a Facebook page. If they get an invite to your page and see that you only have ~10 followers and your information isn’t filled out, what will they think? Chances are they’ll decide you’re an imposter or a fake, abandoned page. If you want to avoid this impression, you need to set the stage before you invite the guests.
Your about information provides credibility. You need to link to your site and write a quick description. It doesn’t need to be much; just something credible that shows you’re definitely who you’re claiming to be.
Create and Use Great Pictures
Facebook has some odd dimensions for their business page images. The profile picture is a 180 pixel square, inset into the cover photo by 16 pixels, with a 5 pixel border. The cover photo itself is 851 – yes, not 850 – pixels wide by 315 tall.
You can use Canva or another photo-editing suite to design from a template for these, or you can hire a graphic designer and work out a design yourself. Either way, you need both a profile picture and a cover photo. The cover photo can act like a billboard, advertising your new page. The profile picture should be a logo or something recognizable about your brand.
Invite Interested Facebook Friends
The number one way to get started with Facebook is to invite a bunch of your friends from your personal account. Ideally, you will invite the most interested, potentially engaged users. You can also just go down the list and invite everyone; you never know who will become a great brand advocate.
You can also add your employees and encourage them to do the same. Depending on the size of your company and the size of the networks your employees maintain, this can bring in quite a number of users.
Post Immediately and Regularly
No one is going to follow a page that doesn’t post anything. You need to have a few posts, and possibly a pinned announcement post, up and running before you invite your first few people. Welcome new users, talk about the benefits of following your new Facebook page, run a contest; it doesn’t particularly matter what you post in the beginning, so long as you’re posting.
Once you’ve established that you’re active, you need to remain active. This means coming up with a content calendar, mixing together posts you write with posts you find interesting around the web.
You should have a basic idea of who your audience is, and you can begin to curate content for them. This means sharing content you like that your users might like, but that you didn’t write. Share links to outside content to test the waters.
One fringe benefit of curated content is that you get to experiment. You don’t need to invest the time and energy into researching and writing about a new topic; just find something that exists and curate it. If your users like it, you know you can add that topic to your roster of valuable subjects. If they don’t, it wasn’t your content that fell flat.
Install a Website Like Box
The like box widget on Facebook is a nice bit of reminder plus some peer pressure to follow your page. It shows up in a sidebar or footer, wherever you choose to implement it, and it displays the profile pictures of people who like your page. When a user visits your page, they will see the profile pictures of friends of theirs mixed in, if they have any friends who like your page.
The point of a website like box is to encourage users passively to follow you. A more active way of encouraging them would be to write a blog post announcement about your new page. You can also use an exit popup to capture users as they leave.
Share in Your Newsletter
Your newsletter is a captive audience of people who are already interested in your business and your website. Chances are good that they’ll jump on the chance to follow you for more frequent updates. If you’re sending out a weekly or monthly digest of your best posts, be sure to mention that your Facebook page will be posting your updates every day.
You can also establish a new Facebook link in the footer of your email newsletters for every message. This way you’re never sending a message without a link. If you don’t have large, graphical newsletters, add it to your email signature.
Share on Other Social Networks
If, for some reason, you’ve never created a Facebook page but you have a presence on other social networks, you can promote your page there. This is a rare situation, but it might come up if you’re creating a new page for a side event or sub-business. Tweet about your page, post about it and link to it on Google+ and LinkedIn, create images and pin them on Pinterest and post them on Instagram.
Run a Promotion or Contest
Contests are a great way to attract new users, but you have to run them properly. You need to stay within Facebook’s contest guidelines. You need to give away something appropriate for your audience, but not something so widely desired that it attracts valueless fans. You also need a deadline, otherwise users will drop off when they realize the contest never ended.