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I know, I know… the number of fans you have isn’t important. It’s the quality of your fans and interactions that’s important.
But really, the numbers are important.
Let’s be honest: when you visit a Facebook page with a double digit of fans do you feel confident in that page? Do you feel like one of the cool kids getting in on the latest action?
Unless it’s a friend’s page and you’re liking it out of solidarity, I bet you’ll click away without a second thought.
The key is in the social proof.
Few fans = no social proof = not the “cool kids” table.
And once you dive a little deeper and realize that Facebook only shows your posts to a single digit percentage of those fans, your prospects of getting in front of anyone who cares is seriously diminished.
There are exceptions to every rule (like local businesses that will necessarily have a much smaller local fan count) but in many cases there’s a certain critical mass that you want to achieve so you can make your Facebook marketing efforts worthwhile.
As a closed platform, it’s much harder to garner followers on Facebook than on other social channels but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
In fact, there are a number of pretty simple things you can do to start bumping up your fan count and with a little persistence you’ll keep watching your numbers grow.
But before we get to the good stuff, let’s review a few “don’ts”.
Don’t Even Think About Buying Fans
The point is to get targeted fans – people who will care about what you have to say, be interested in interacting with you and possibly even become your customers.
Buying a bunch of fake or disinterested followers for the social proof is a bad idea.
Beyond having no marketing value, fake and disinterested people can actually harm your Facebook presence. By failing to interact with you and possibly even hiding your posts from their newsfeed, they’re sending signals to Facebook that your content isn’t important.
And EdgeRank is tough enough to contend with without the misery of your fake fans driving it down.
Don’t Bother To “Invite Friends”
If you’ve got several hundred friends this might seem like a good idea. It can be helpful to invite a few friends strategically if you’re just getting started and by all means, invite any that fit your target audience.
But mass-inviting people who probably don’t care but will like your page out of sympathy or guilt is not the most effective way to build a following.
Plus see concerns about EdgeRank above.
Don’t Ask People Who Have Just Followed You On Twitter To “Also” Like Your Facebook Page
This one will have essentially no effect on your Facebook page so go ahead and ask if you want. But it won’t win you any fans on Facebook or Twitter.
For starters, your new Twitter followers don’t know you and don’t care about you or your Facebook page. At best they’ll ignore you. At worst they’ll think you’re kind of dumb for opening your relationship with a completely irrelevant and clearly self-promotional request.
And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way here are some ideas you can use to really grow your following.
Add The Like Box To Your Website
For a long time I resisted this one.
Why would I go through the effort of getting people to my site only to drive them off to Facebook?
As I eventually became convinced, there’s nothing wrong with sending people between your various online presences. Your social profiles and website create a little ecosystem of you. Depending on where people are in their buying cycle, how they prefer to interact and how well you coordinate your marketing, bouncing people back and forth is a great way to build your authority and stay in front of your audience wherever they are.
Plus, you don’t actually have to take people off your site to like your page. There’s a like button built right into the box so people can become fans and stay on your site at the same time.
After we added the like box to our site one thing happened and one thing didn’t: our fan count went up and our visitor stats didn’t go down.
Invite People On Your Email List
If you’re successful with your list building and subscriber outreach, you can remind people that your business is also on Facebook and simply ask them to become fans.
This is a lot different than the Twitter cold-call because these are people you’re already engaging and perhaps even working with one-on-one.
Don’t be afraid to ask more than once – without nagging of course – because as you add new subscribers or old ones jump on Facebook at last, you can always gain a few extra fans.
Try A “Like Exchange”
You may wonder why this didn’t end up on the “don’t” list. The whole idea of “you like mine and I’ll like yours” sort of flies in the face of targeted audience building.
Indiscriminately exchanging like-for-like is a bad idea, yes.
But strategically exchanging likes can work. I’ve done it.
The trick is to find a group where you get to say “no, thanks” and the people in the group agree only to like those pages that they find relevant and valuable.
I’ve found groups like this on LinkedIn and other online networking sites. These are people who don’t like out of sympathy or guilt and they will actually engage with you.
You need to approach with caution but joining a group like this and listing your Facebook page there can work.
Approach this one with caution, too.
Yes, giving away products, services, coupons or discounts can up your fan count but you don’t want people liking your page just for a buck-off coupon and then ignoring you until the next coupon comes around.
Admit it – we’ve all liked a page or two because we were promised a cool download or special price. But how much affinity do we really have for that page or its content?
When you offer incentives, be sure it’s relevant to your business goals. Don’t give away a free crockpot if you make jewelry. I would totally take the free crockpot, then totally ignore your boring earrings.
The more closely you can tie your incentive to your business goals the better off you’ll be. Think free eBooks that complement your blog posts. Email courses or free webinars that demonstrate your value in a specific area.
Chances are, if someone likes your page in order to access a special webinar, they’re already interested in what you have to say and aren’t doing it just for the webinar – like they might be if you offered, say, a chance to win an iPad.
Run A Facebook Ad
Yes, sometimes you have to pay Facebook to promote your Facebook page.
It’s simple: run an ad that offers your incentive, speaks to someone’s interests, makes them laugh or think, and gives them a reason to like your page.
They can do it right from the ad – without even visiting your page, so the more compelling you can make the ad the more luck you’ll have.
Stand For Something
Always remember that people follow the “What’s In It For Me” model.
If you’re not incentivizing by way of a deal or offer then incentivize by engaging emotionally.
People are more likely to like your page if they can identify with you, your brand and what you stand for.
That might be a cause, but it can be as simple as a personality that people can relate to.
Here’s why people don’t like brand pages for hemorrhoid cream: because it says something about them that they don’t want to admit publicly.
But they will like a brand page for the opposite reason: because it says something positive about their identity.
Relate to your audience, be a personality that they can identify with and watch your fan count grow.
@ Mention Other Pages In Your Posts
While you cannot @ mention people individually, you can certainly mention pages. This can help if you’re working on building relationships or looking for opportunities to cross promote.
There is always a “you help me, I’ll help you” vibe. It’s the nature of the social human being!
It may take a little longer to build up relationships but you’ll never know what you can achieve until you try.
Comment On Other Pages As Your Page
This can be another great way to build relationships and to gain exposure to the audience of another page.
Click the little gear icon in the top right (or at least that’s where it will be for the next five minutes until something changes…) and you will see a menu that says “Use Facebook as” that will list all of the pages you administer.
Choose your page and then you can visit other pages to post or better yet, add comments, share their posts and engage in conversation.
If you get in the habit of adding something valuable, unique or interesting to comment threads, you’ll be more likely to get noticed and intrigue people.
Drive People There Before After During An Event Or Webinar
If you’re speaking at an event, teaching a course or offering a webinar, it might seem like common sense to stick your Facebook page address in at the beginning and maybe at the end and attempt to entice a few people that way.
I say: get more brazen than that.
I say ask people to take out their smart phones right now or open up a web browser and enter your Facebook URL (having a good vanity URL is important at this point so be sure you do). Tell them you’ll wait while they like your page.
While they’re complying, give them all the good reasons and benefits of liking your page and entice them with a teaser of the fabulous content, offers or other incentives you’ll provide.
Imposing? Perhaps. But if people have taken time out to visit/listen to/watch you then chances are they fit your target audience and if you make a request simply, pleasantly, with a good dose of WIIFM, I bet you won’t get a lot of holdouts.
And you won’t rely on their memory to find you later!
There you have it – a series of simple tips to grow your Facebook fan count without resorting to desperate tactics or sacrificing the quality of your audience. Try them all! Then find the ones that work best for you and keep going.
Do you have any other wise fan-building tactics to share that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!