There are plenty of methods you can use to grow a Facebook page by investing money. You can buy all kinds of expensive software, you can purchase traffic, you can send PPC users your way, and it all relies on money. This, coming from the social platform you were likely roped into using with a line like “It’s free to use!”
The good news is, Facebook can be free to use, it just takes a little more work. You can grow your audience and your reach in a variety of ways, all organically, without the infusion of cash so many marketers resort to.
The best part is, when you’re rivaling these marketers with your organic-only approach, you can dip into the cash flow and use it like rocket fuel to blast past the competition.
1. Study Your Audience
A lot of the power of Facebook comes in the immense wealth of data it collects about every individual person using the site. You can study all of this information, from demographics to interests to spending habits, through Facebook Insights. Therefore, the first step to success on Facebook is to study the data Facebook provides. Make up a handful of user profiles, creating archetypical proto-people you can manipulate.
2. Target That Audience
The information is no good if you don’t use it, of course. Once you have these proto-people profiles, you can use them to target your posts. That’s right; you can target posts even if you’re not explicitly boosting them or running page post ads. Your targeting options are somewhat limited compared to the ad system, but you can still target general demographics to get the most out of individual posts.
3. Use the Right Tone in Posts
If you’re running a daycare, you don’t want your Facebook posts to sound like they’re coming from a corporate boardroom. If you’re running a B2B valve company, you don’t want to sound like you let your five-year-old run your social media accounts. Finding the right tone to match your audience is critical for social success.
4. Experiment with Post Variations
It’s very easy to fall in a rut with business marketing, both for free and for paid options. Once you find a few post types that work, use them, of course. The trick is to keep experimenting on the side, to find more types of posts that work for your audience. You should always keep an eye on your engagement metrics and see if your best post types decline over time. If they do, it’s a sign that you’re posting too much of the same sort of thing, and your users are growing bored with the formula.
5. Be a Real Person
This comes back to the tone discussion, but it’s worth a stand-alone point of its own. Just look around for some of the most viral and beneficial posts made by brands. You’ll note that the one thing they tend to have in common is that they’re generally signs that the person running the social media account is both witty and real. Responses are organic and human, not focus-grouped and meeting-prepared into oblivion. Be a real person, even if you’re representing a brand.
6. Be Relevant to User Interests
When creating a good post that will expand beyond your natural reach, you need to fit within two categories. The first is “things relevant to your industry.” It doesn’t matter what your industry is, you just need to be relevant. The second is “things interesting to the people reading it.” You can post the most interesting news you can find about your industry, but if it’s about the inside workings of your B2B communications, your consumers won’t want to hear it.
7. Be Relaxed and Open
One of the strategies used by Fortune 500 companies in their marketing is the sense of openness and disclosure in their messages. People want to feel secure in communicating with you. They want to get the sense that there’s something special in your social profile, and that it’s being used for something more than just marketing. That’s why sharing tertiary information rather than sales messages is so important.
8. Update Consistently
This, along with the next tip, combine to give you a content schedule. You need to post at consistent times across the day and across the week. Users like schedules, even when they aren’t consciously seeking you out at those times. You’re building a subconscious rapport with your users, training them when you expect your messages.
9. Update Frequently
One of the factors that goes into Facebook’s calculation of whether or not to show your post is how often users see your posts in general. If you’re only posting once each week, your users aren’t seeing messages from you very frequently. If you’re posting several times every day, there are many more opportunities for your messages to get through.
10. Curate Content
The 5-3-2 rule, and variations of it, have been floating around the Internet for years. It’s a rule about the content you post on social media. The idea – and you can skew the numbers here – is to post X items from non-you sources (the 5), Y items from your own sources (the 3) and Z items that are direct sales messages (the 2) in a given time period. In other words, post a bunch of content you didn’t create, to make your page a source for all industry news, not just your own messages.
11. Post the Right Types of Content
Facebook has different types of posts. Text posts, link posts, photo posts, video posts, polls, ads, and so forth. You need to mix things up on a daily and weekly basis, posting some of each type. Find the right balance amongst types of media you can create.
12. Post at the Right Times
Much has been said about posting at the right time of day for maximum social exposure and engagement. It’s your job to find those right times for your audience, rather than to parrot what other people are doing for their pages. You can also consider posting off peak hours, for the late night infomercial effect.
13. Use Better Images
There’s a lot to learn about images on Facebook. Pick the right size and shape for a given post. Use the right style of image, be it photography or digital art. Add text, or don’t. Make sure the resolution is high enough, it’s not compressed to hell, and that it’s readable on mobile devices. Learn your way around image formats, or hire a graphic designer.
14. Use Customer Service Opportunities
Facebook users will often come to you for customer service questions. Some you will be able to answer publicly, as they impact most of your users. Others you will want to take to a private discussion. You should never ignore customer service; it converts frustrated users into brand advocates.
15. Devalue the Importance of Reach
Reach, by itself, isn’t a potent metric, for one reason. Who cares if your post reaches 1,000 or 5,000 of your users? When it reaches 5,000, the top 1,000 are still your thousand most engaged users. The people you truly want engaging with your brand are going to be among those in even the smallest reach numbers. Reach isn’t as important as many people seem to think.