Are your efforts to build a bigger Facebook following failing? Are you seriously fed up and embarrassed by the deafening silence that greets your business’s Facebook Page updates? Join the club. Facebook has become a conundrum for businesses, thanks to their frequently changing algorithms about who sees what in their newsfeed.
Yet Facebook is one of the main destinations for our customers. According to TechCrunch, Facebook has 669 million daily active users as of 2013 which adds up to 20 billion minutes of usage per day, and those numbers are only growing.
Most importantly for entrepreneurs, your lifestyle business’s success will be judged by the size of its Facebook following as it is still one of the major metrics when it comes to online social proof (whether you like it or not).
So how can you build a bigger following for your lifestyle business? Here are a few tips.
1. Make it personal
The hint is in the name. Facebook is a massive online repository of people. People are interested in other people, and they want to see some personality behind your lifestyle business, not just another cookie-cutter brand. You can inject personality in a number of ways, even if there is more than one person involved in your business.
Post photos of yourself and/or your team or business partners, provide updates of the behind the scenes workings of your biz and share photos and other updates from the social events that you and your team are involved in. Make your Facebook followers feel like they are getting special access to a friendly, fun community.
2. Ask a friend
It makes sense to keep your personal Facebook profile separate from your business’s Facebook page. Your best buddy from school might not be interested in your range of sports supplements, and neither is your Auntie Edna.
You may also prefer to keep your more personal Facebook updates, such as pictures of your family, private (at least as much as that’s possible with any online service). Having said that, as you persevere with your lifestyle business, you will begin to make a bunch of new friends who are interested in both your personal life and what your business is doing, and it makes sense to leverage this.
As an admin for your business page on Facebook, you’ll be able to see how many of your friends like your page, and it will also remind you to invite those friends who haven’t liked it yet. So from time to time, especially as you amass more friends related to your industry, it doesn’t harm to send out an invite to those friends who are still on the fence or just aren’t aware about your page.
An even more effective technique would be to send a personal message to friends who you consider particularly influential and ask them to share your page with their followers. You might also want to consider posting about your biz on your own profile too, as it won’t harm if a few more people click on those links to your latest blog post or product offers.
3. Make your business social
You know how you’re already following a bunch of lifestyle businesses and liking their updates and commenting from time to time? Well the likelihood is you’re doing that with your personal account. Because many Facebook users only tend to add people they have met personally, especially if that person has a private account, this will probably do very little to increase your followers.
However, Facebook allows you to switch from your personal account to your business account via the settings icon at the top right of the page (the one that looks like a cog wheel). This means you can now follow other pages in your niche and when you comment on their updates other users will see your business’s name instead of your own.
If you’ve done a good job at branding your biz, and have a catchy name or good profile pic, then your comment will stand out amongst all the ones from individuals, and the people who follow that page will be much more likely to click the like button on your page too.
4. Understand what Facebook wants
It’s well known that just posting links to your site on your Facebook page and expecting a surge of traffic doesn’t work. Even if you don’t understand all the ins and outs of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithms, if you think about things logically it’s fairly obvious – Facebook doesn’t want people to leave their site. That’s why things like pictures and status updates, which don’t require people to view another web page, get seen by many more of your followers than a link to your site does.
If you’re serious about building a decent Facebook following, you need to see your Facebook Page as a separate entity with the specific purpose of building a community within the walled garden of Facebook – rather than just a way of getting people to visit your site. This may feel like somewhat of a pointless task as it won’t lead directly to profits, however you will be increasing trust in your brand and spreading that brand amongst Facebook users, so it definitely has value.
5. Go into more depth
Start posting more in-depth content on your page that you aren’t posting anywhere else, and you will soon see your engagement grow, and with it, more people will notice your page and be persuaded to follow.
One of the major benefit of Facebook over Twitter is that you can post longer updates. Use this to your advantage by adding the beginning of your Facebook update to Twitter, with a link through to Facebook so people can read the full thing. This can be set up to happen automatically and you can even choose what types of updates to send to Twitter, e.g. only status updates and photos, not links.
I’d advise using this sparingly, but if you did it once or twice a day for instance, it would be a good way of reminding your Twitter followers that you are providing much more in-depth, and unique content over at Facebook, thus giving them a good reason to follow you in both places.
6. Post pretty pictures
Most online marketers are very aware by now that pictures are a hugely popular form of online content, especially ones with inspiring quotes or cats! It’s so much easier for the casual Facebook user who is catching up with the latest updates on their commute to digest a simple photo or illustration and like it or share it, than it is to read an entire blog post or watch a video.
So whatever your business is selling, make sure you are frequently posting attractive pictures of your products on Facebook, and if you customize those images by adding your business’s name and logo there is more likelihood of people finding your store should an image go viral and end up being spread far and wide.
7. Run Facebook-specific competitions and special offers
There are a number of services such as ShortStack which make it easy to run special offers and competitions via your Facebook Page and you can reward customers with exclusive content if they like your page, or you might make following you or sharing your page with their friends count as a competition entry. This is a great way of increasing engagement and also raising awareness. Of course you could also either code your own app or hire someone to do it for you.
8. Hand over your cash
There’s no doubt that Facebook’s own advertising can be effective at getting your page in front of a whole new audience. There’s also no doubt that Facebook are increasingly pushing their advertising as an option, and it’s pretty clear they are artificially limiting the reach of your status updates to only a small percentage of your followers so that you will be forced to pay for the privilege of getting your updates seen. Still, they too are a business and need to make money, so who are we to blame them?
The best thing about Facebook advertising is of course the ability to target people who have stated specific interests relevant to your lifestyle business or to target friends of your current followers by highlighting that their friends have liked your page or a specific status.
However you will need to judge whether this is a worthwhile expense – it might not be, if your Facebook followers are not also becoming paying customers to a significant enough degree.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Facebook marketing is becoming a science in itself. It’s clear, at the very least, that any online marketer worth their salt needs to stay up to date with the company’s changing rules.
The suggestions above are solid principles that will help you build your Facebook following and engagement without necessarily having to pay Zuckerberg and co. through the nose for it. As with Twitter, you will need to consistently make an effort to post unique and interesting content and engage with both your followers and influencers in your niche.
I would argue that this hard work will pay off, because potential customers are more likely to trust you when they see that you have a popular and vibrant Facebook community, and people who trust you are much more likely to buy from you.
Do you have any tips for building a following on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.