Facebook is a popular marketing tool for businesses interested in reaching customers. In fact, when asked to choose the best platform for reaching customers, 55 percent of marketers chose Facebook, and 67 percent said they plan to increase their Facebook marketing efforts. With so much attention being paid to the most popular social network, it’s only natural that businesses are looking for ways to more effectively reach customers through the site.
The first step toward marketing to Facebook’s more than two billion monthly users is to build a page. Once you’ve created that page, however, the next challenge is bringing customers to it. While building your page, you’ll likely spend significant money and effort trying to convince Facebook members to like your page. Facebook will lead you to believe that the key to winning those new fans is to spend more in advertising, which will then reach more people who may choose to click that “like” button. Unfortunately, this method won’t get the results you intended. This guide will help you learn the perils of purchasing ads to win Facebook fans, as well as alternative ways to build your follower base quickly.
Why Fans Are Important
The first step toward building a presence for your business on Facebook is to set up a page. Once you’ve added some interesting content and filled out all your basic information, the second step is to gather an audience for your posts there. Unfortunately, those millions of active members include plenty of businesses like yours who have already mastered the art of building a customer base on the site. But simply having followers doesn’t guarantee that those followers will actually view and take action on your posts. It’s important to stock your Facebook presence with high-quality, engaged customers who are genuinely interested in what you’re selling. Over time, those customers will care when you debut a new product or announce a limited-time special on your services.
The Challenges of Winning New Fans
From the start, businesses face a serious challenge, since Facebook’s analytics don’t kick in until they’ve gotten 30 likes. To monitor your progress, you’ll need to first pass that landmark. Many businesses start by inviting all their personal friends to like their business page, which is a mistake. You’ll not only be seen as spammy to friends who aren’t related to you, but you’ll also build a following of members who aren’t the least bit interested in what you’re doing. They only hit “like” to be nice. The most engaged followers will come from your existing customers and the people they refer, but how do you use Facebook to reach the many people who have never heard about your products?
Facebook’s Changing Algorithms
Facebook is always lurking in the background, watching member behaviors. The information it gathers is rolled into its frequent algorithm updates, which determine the content that shows up on user newsfeeds. For brands, this has complicated matters significantly, forcing them to pay to boost posts to even ensure they’re seen. For Facebook, this change naturally means more revenue, giving them an extra incentive to throw challenges at businesses that still post organically. For businesses, though, this has led to a misconception that the only way to reach customers on the platform is to pay. In the past two years, the number of brands promoting their posts has increased by 80 percent, while organic posts have decreased from seven percent to a meager two percent.
What Advertising Does
Paid advertising has always been a valuable way to get the word out about the products or services a business offers. Whether it’s a back-to-school sale or the launch of a new gadget, brands know that they’ll need to pay if they want to target a broad consumer market. But Facebook’s encouragement of brands to pay to ask people for likes puts an additional layer between businesses and the customers they’re trying to reach. Even if a customer likes a page based on a paid advertisement, there’s no guarantee that customer will make a purchase. Each dollar you spend on advertising should be geared specifically toward winning sales rather than building your audience.
Why Advertising for Likes Doesn’t Work
In addition to wasting money that could be better spent, advertising for likes also muddies your customer engagement statistics. When your page has a large pool of customers who liked your page based on an ad, then forgot completely about that page, it weakens your follower base. Facebook looks at a page’s overall engagement rate when determining how many people see your content. If you have 1,000 followers but only a dozen or so like or comment on your individual posts, you’ll get labeled as having an engagement problem and it will cost you in the long run. This will force you to spend even more to boost posts, pulling money from your advertising budget that could be better invested.
How to Get Authentic Followers
Getting followers on Facebook isn’t as easy as getting followers on Instagram, but that’s OK. Your business’s goals should be focused on quality, not quantity, when it comes to building a Facebook following. Here are a few ways to get highly-engaged customers on the platform.
- Create interesting, useful content. If all your posts are promotional in nature, you’ve already lost the very customers you’re trying to win. Plumbing companies can increase engagement by recording videos or linking to their own blog posts with how-to tips for consumers. Boutiques can feature fashion tips or show the latest trends. Think of ways you can help a broad consumer market, and you’ll likely see more shares from each of your posts.
- Tell your existing customers. Word of mouth is your biggest marketing asset. Make sure your loyal customers know that you have a Facebook page and encourage them to like it. Over time, they’ll share your posts with friends.
- Make it visible. Add a Facebook button to your website and encourage customers to “like” you on Facebook. Include a link when you send an electronic receipt. If you’re a brick-and-mortar shop, put a Facebook sticker in your front window or on your counter.
- Interact. Consumers like to do business with companies that care about their customers. When someone comments on one of your post, take time to thank them and answer their questions. Like pages of local businesses and interact on community Facebook groups in a positive, professional manner. People will naturally want to learn more about your business when they see you as a valuable part of the community.
Facebook likes are important, but it’s even more important to have customers who care about your brand. Take the time to build an engaging page and count on referrals to send customers your way. Over time, you’ll find the fact that your posts get results is far more valuable than a high follower number.
Kaley Hart is a San Diego based digital strategist and writer.
She loves working with small businesses, and telling their stories through social media. Kaley is very talented, but most impressive is her ability to identify any dog breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. Go Bruins!