There are a lot of things I don’t know (like customizing opt-in forms for instance… that bottom one took me 20 minutes to set up and I didn’t even design it!).
However, there are a few areas where I’d give myself a deserved pat on the back, and one of them is Facebook marketing.
Over on Sophistefunk.com, I’ve managed to build up a following of 6,683 (as of this post) fans for my site’s fanpage, and it’s been pretty rewarding for my stats: my number one traffic referral is Facebook, direct from my fanpage, with YouTube being a close second.
I’ve seen a lot of people do Facebook marketing (and social media promotion in general) very wrong, so I wanted to show you how I used simple content marketing and “focus” to grow a loyal fanpage in a few short months.
Facebook benefits from smart content marketing just like anything else, and also just like anything else, it’s going to take some traffic to get where you want to go.
I’m mentioning that here because I don’t want people to get unrealistic hopes up for what I’m about to go into: in order for most of this to work well, you’re going to need some kind of traffic; 10 unique visitors a day does not make a multi-thousand followed Facebook page.
So, before you get into Facebook marketing, do the unthinkable: stop marketing, stop connecting, and start creating something that people will want to come to.
Facebook is a great means to drive additional traffic, but you have to get the ball rolling yourself with outstanding content and amazing guest posts.
Is Facebook Worth It?
What is undeniable though, is that Facebook is getting big:
- Over 500 million active users
- 50% log on during any given day
- Average user has 130 friends and connects with 80 pages
- Average user shares 90 pieces of content each month
So yeah, ol’ Facebook is a behemoth right now, and could become a valuable part of your content marketing strategy. (The foundations of which were laid when you started your self-hosted WP site… wait, you are doing that, aren’t you?)
Making An Effective Fan Page
For this guide, I’m going to assume you know (and are using) a ‘Fan Page’ on Facebook, we’re not getting into groups, and no way in hell will we be talking about setting up fake profiles (stop wasting yours and everyone else’s time, seriously).
Fan pages are where it’s at on Facebook, they are the easiest to build and require relatively little work for a fair amount of gain in both traffic and involvement with people who enjoy your content.
Your Info Tab: It Matters
One part of the fanpage that I often seen ignored is the info tab, which describes exactly what the fanpage is for.
You might think anyone landing on your page is already informed on your brand because they came they from your website, but you’d be dead wrong: many profiles on Facebook have the sharing of “likes” set to public by default, ie when some people “like” things on Facebook, it shows up in their public feed.
This means that Joe Schmoe who clicked “like” on your page could have the following show up on his wall: ‘Joe Schmoe likes Sparring Mind.’
I know what that is, you know what that is, but Joe’s friends probably don’t, and if they think Joe is a pretty smart guy, they might check it out, and I should have an informative info tab ready to explain it to them.
Landing Pages Convert Better
I’ll most likely do another separate post just on Facebook landing pages, as they are that effective.
Basically though, you are going to want a landing page for new visitors, it is the absolute best way to convert curious clicks to your page into likes.
For my page, part of my growth strategy was giving away a ‘freebie’ in exchange for a “like”, and I found that not only does it work quite well, it has a good stick rate, meaning that people generally stick around and don’t immediately unlike the page.
My focus on Sophistefunk is electronic music, so the giveaway had to be something in the niche: I found a great compromise by connecting with a few artists who let me giveaway their tracks for free (they were giving them away for free already, they just gave me permission to use them as a reward) and I offered up a mix of about 9 songs for people who “liked” my page.
I’ve since discontinued this as a few artists wanted to start using those tracks in paid albums, but I’m working on a brand new mix to giveaway for my page, since it worked so well.
You can do this for your page too, and setting up a landing page is easy if you use tools like Hike App for Facebook.
Think about something you can offer for free as enticement for them ‘liking’ the page, or team up with someone who can offer something like I did.
Getting More Likes
When it comes to getting more likes, there are essentially two legitimate ways: self-promotion of your page, and paying for ads for your page.
While I didn’t use any advertisements in building my following over at Sophistefunk, I will talk about effective advertising methods on Facebook, since some brands benefit from them a lot, while others (such as a music blog) wouldn’t as much as they would from self-promotion.
Obviously, the strongest place to promote your Facebook page is on your website, and for me personally, that is far and away the biggest source of new “likes” for my page.
The best way to ensure more interaction with your ‘Like Box’ is, simply enough, to have the box stand above the fold.
In fact, on my own site, I place it right below the subscription button (which directs users to a subscription page), because to me, the fan count was that important.
And here’s is where you have to decide if your fan page is really worth building.
For me, and for this site, it certainly was: music sites are very social, and demand social proof, people will not be trusting enough to share your posts and download tracks if they don’t trust your site.
Having thousands of fans let people know my site was legitimate.
It also let bigger names in the industry know my site would be good for promotion (interviews, and other exclusive content that is great for both me and the artist).
They can’t check out my pageviews or the size of my mailing list without contacting me, but they can see right away how many Facebook fans I have, and for my niche, this social proof was powerful.
However, the real strategy that I attribute to my fan page’s success was focus.
For quite some time, Sophistefunk included nothing but the Facebook “like” button on posts, and the ‘Like Box’ has been in a prominent position above the fold since day one.
I have never included a link on the homepage to our Twitter account, or to the YouTube channel I use for promotion.
I knew what I wanted: Facebook likes, and I knew I had to focus to get them.
Trying to build all of these social networks at once, and linking to all of them directly in your sidebar with big distracting buttons, is likely to have the opposite effect of what you want.
Simply put: too many choices can cause people to become overwhelmed, and subsequently choose nothing instead.
My options were clear: get email updates, or join the Facebook page.
Not surprisingly with a social topic like music, the FB page was favored, and grew rapidly.
And I think my site and my brand is much better off for it, rather than having my followers spread thin on FB / Twitter / G+ / Tumblr, etc etc.
Content Marketing On Facebook
The main goal with your content marketing on social networks should only be two things:
- Keep followers happy
- Drive traffic back to your site
People follow your social networks to connect with you and get interesting updates.
Keep them happy, and give them what they want, and they in turn will give you want you want: more social sharing.
How to keep them happy has proven to be fairly simply.
Make Your Fanpage Useful
But seriously, we have to talk about some effective use policies here.
The first thing I want to talk about is post timing.
One thing you need to realize is that Facebook is not Twitter.
Some things that fly on Twitter (ie, posting 10 times a day, nobody bats an eye at that on Twitter) simply don’t work as well on Facebook.
Dripping updates to Facebook works much better; you obviously want to post whenever there is a new post on your actual website, or when you want to make an announcement about your business, but you should be spacing 3-5 posts per day, rather than the insane numbers you’ll often see on Twitter.
That brings me to my second effective use policy involving post timing: when to post!
A number of studies have found generally conclusive results for when Facebook users are online:
Although most posts and comments appear around 3:00 p.m. ET, posts published in the morning tend to perform better than those published in the afternoon.
Additionally, the top of the hour (:0 to :15 minutes) tend to see more interaction than other parts of the hour.
A tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) summary of that article could basically be put like this: post before work, post at lunchtime, and post right after work.
If you are running a FB page with a regular 9-5, this makes things pretty easy: do them during the free time right before each transition, and you’ll actually be posting at the optimal times already.
So before you head off to work, an early FB post will likely bring in some great interaction, more than a post at 10am when people are already settled in to work.
Post Interesting Updates
Other than posting related links and updates to your page to keep people interacting with it, there are a number of specific things that you can do to spice things up and get a surge of interaction on your page.
Ask Your Fans Questions
Getting fans involved is the best way to show the value of your page and to inspire loyalty; people will be more likely to stick around if their voice is heard every once in a while.
Asking your fans questions is a great way to get people to interact, but on their own terms.
What you are going to specifically ask is going to depend on your niche, but I’ve found that open-ended questions typically generate the best (and the most) responses.
Not only do questions promote interaction on your page, they can be damn useful for honest feedback.
Pat Flynn used an example on a new design for a niche site: hundreds of people left comments, many critiquing the same parts of the new design, which he later used to make changes.
Your fans opinions are the most important opinions to consider for your brand, so listen to them closely.
One of the best case studies I’ve ever seen for a contest on Facebook I found through KISSmetrics, in one of their posts on Facebook. The contest was described as follows:
Here’s how it worked:
There were a certain number of entry slots available, and it was on a first-come, first-served
basis. Contestants entered by posting their “superhero name” and abilities to the page’s wall.
Entrants were then pitted one-on-one against each other in a series of ten minute heats.
During each heat, the entrant who got the highest number of “likes” on their status moved on
to the next round. The catch here was that only people who are fans of the page can like the
A number of factors came together to make this contest a success:
It was something different. Many companies run simple sweepstakes or contests where the
first to answer a question correctly gets a small prize, but this was intense and much more
of a game.
It got people involved. Entrants needed votes, so they recruited their friends.
It was active. This wasn’t just a contest where you submitted an entry form and waited.
You actually had to do something to have any chance of winning.
It gave away a valuable prize. Nobody’s going to put that much effort into it for a $10
It was drawn out. The fact that the contest ran over multiple days offered more
opportunities for people to get involved with the contest and recruit others.
It was fun. This might be the most important point here. The contest was not only fun, but
it got downright hilarious at times.
So, essentially, this company, for $100 worth of products, got their fan page hundreds (if not thousands) of new “likes”, who will now get updates whenever they post.
The key thing here is that most people will not unlike a page after they’ve liked it, as long as you put out quality updates and don’t spam their newsfeed (much like any other content marketing mediums, like blogs).
Make Sure Your Updates Are Quality
Above all else, and to retain these new followers that you have been gathering, you need to make sure what you are posting is quality content, each and every time.
This is even more crucial than Twitter because as I’ve mentioned, FB updates should be less frequent, so you gotta post the good stuff.
Things to keep in mind:
- Don’t post endless updates about the same thing
- Don’t clog the news feeds of your fans
- Post links to articles related to your niche
- Once in a while, post discounts or other ways to save on your products, exclusively on your page
- Post new product announcements
- Share information on online tools your fans might find useful
If you keep your fans happy, you’re hard work in gaining few fans will have been well spent, as you see your pages “likes” increase rather than decrease from disappointed fans.