In the past, I worked with a client to grow their Facebook page in order to:
- Increase brand awareness in new markets for upcoming location openings,
- Improve customer service response times, and
- Create another source of direct revenue (rather than pay the high percentage of revenue through other third-party websites)
In just a few months I grew it over 356%, increased post views 3,130%, and post feedback 692%. And we created a direct source of revenue that broke even in the first month and began generating substantial revenue in a short amount of time.
Facebook Marketing Series Introduction
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to dive deep into how you can grow, engage, and make money from Facebook marketing.
I like to give Facebook a hard time. But there are certain cases where it’s the right marketing channel — as long as you use it correctly… and understand where it excels, and where it falls short.
Here’s an overview of what we’re going to discuss over the next four posts:
- The 3 Best Ways to Get More Facebook Fans (Without Advertising) — This post!
- The 4 Habits of Highly Successful Facebook Brand Pages
- How to Increase Your Facebook ROI Without Wasting Time & Money
- Why Your Facebook Marketing Might Fail (And How to Fix It)
Why Growth is Essential: The Dynamics of Retention Marketing
Social media (and Facebook) is great for retention (or keeping people engaged and interacting).
But as time goes on, people start interacting less and less. Subscriber recency is an important concept. The further away they get from initially joining, the less attention they give and an unsubscribe (or “unlike”) becomes a lot more likely to occur.
For example, every time you send an email campaign, someone unsubscribes. Always. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it. (You can limit or reduce it, but you’ll always see at least an unsubscribe rate of a ~0.5% or less.)
Sames goes for Facebook. While you need to keep frequency up (at least 1-2 posts per day), each time you post an update, people will “unlike”. There’s a natural churn between new fans coming in vs. the older ones dropping off.
And that’s where most companies struggle.
Because many people only reach their “inner circle” — or family, friends, and close customers or clients. And they don’t have a way to systematically and reliably grow it beyond those people.
Over time, these people pay less and less attention. (Unless you’re great at continually increasing engagement — next week’s topic!)
Large companies make up for this not with brains, but budget. Advertising is the quickest, easiest way to get more Facebook fans. But for many, it’s just a quick fix. There’s a short-term boost, but it covers up flaws. Like… are people engaged, going back to your website, and actually buying anything? Or are they just there for the nonsensical “memes” and cat pictures?
But before we get to those things, you have to create a growing page first. And you do that by creating systematic campaigns. You create strategies and tactics that you can consistently run over and over and over again while still getting good results.
So here are three of the best ways to get more Facebook fans (without advertising).
Inbound Growth Strategy #1: Capitalize on Your Existing Assets
The easiest, “low-hanging fruit” is to start with your own existing marketing assets. These are things like:
- Customer/client database
- Website traffic
- Email lists
- Other social networks
- Offline traffic
Chances are, you’re already doing some of these things. But chances are, you’re not doing enough.
Marketing 101 Refresher: “Distribution is the process of making a product, service or message available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user, using direct means, or using indirect means with intermediaries”, according to Wikipedia (Yes, I just quoted Wikipedia. My MBA professors would be so proud.)
Now let’s apply this to growing your Facebook page.
Each of those sources mentioned above are different channels. Quickly jot down some ideas about the reach (the number of people on a daily/weekly/monthly basis), and the frequency (how many times these people in each see your message during that time).
Increasing reach is always good. But many companies fall drastically short on frequency.
The basics — like putting a Facebook icon on your website — is a start. But it’s not good enough.
- How can you increase the frequency 5x by being clever, not spammy?
- What are the different ways you can improve placement of each message and get their attention?
- How are you motivating and incentivizing the specific actions you want them to take?
Almost every brand can do a better job integrating their online marketing with their offline presence. It helps to start by breaking down the customer lifecycle, and then think about each stage of their experience. So can you:
- Use external-facing signs, that show specific, redeemable incentives to get strangers in the door?
- Put up big TV’s in each location that show off past customer reviews and testimonials from your social accounts?
- Encourage customers to “check-in” (and tell their friends) while they’re still in your location?
- Add a call to action (CTA) to each customer receipt for a specific action?
- Follow-up via a lifecycle email within the hour after purchasing to thank them, ask for referrals, and leave a review?
But it should serve as a perfect example of how most brands are only scratching the surface when it comes to capitalizing on your existing marketing assets.
Inbound Growth Strategy #2: Partner with Other Brands
Business development is how you scale social media growth.
Because the fastest way to grow something online (whether we’re talking about website traffic, your email list, or Facebook fan page) is to drive users from an existing source.
So take a step back, broaden your horizons and look around for partners that would be a good fit for cross-promotions, contests, and more.
These could be industry brands (related, but not competitive), nonprofits and charities, or simply other companies who might target the same customer/client demographic.
In this last case, don’t worry too much about your specific industry. What’s more important is (a) that the organization’s clients and customers fall in your key target segments, and (b) the organization is a good fit with your brand, positioning, and purpose. (So if you compete on cost, then don’t go hitting up the Ritz.)
Two quick examples…
Hypothetical Example – Professional Services: I provide marketing services to (mostly) small and medium sized businesses. And I’m an independent practitioner, so I don’t have a big budget or brand name to help me get attention for my services. But I do have my skill and expertise to rely on. Therefore, I could target and approach other independent service practitioners — like an attorney and an accountant — and create a sweepstakes for a “Business Strategy Bootcamp” where we will work directly with 1 – 10 people for a half-day on improving their (1) marketing, (2) financial, and (3) legal positions.
Want to take this even further? Each partner is responsible for donating something. I will use my expertise to run the campaign and take care of logistics. The attorney can donate money for advertising and promotion because they’re usually short on time. And the accountant can donate time through reaching out to their influential clients, nonprofits and other key contacts to help increase awareness as well.
Our out-of-pocket cost? Very low.
Our return-on-attention and possibly investment? Very promising.
Real Example – Travel Industry: In the past, I ran a large social media promotion campaign where we sent a group of bloggers around 6 different cities in a couple weeks. Each step of the way, I found other brands who would donate their own product (i.e. hotel rooms, events and attractions) in exchange for free promotion.
Inbound Growth Strategy #3: Work Closely with Bloggers
The final piece of the puzzle is to find people who can help you both (1) create compelling content and then (2) promote it.
Bloggers are a perfect fit because they can provide your company with so many different benefits where brands typically struggle. They can essentially do your social media marketing for you, create interesting and compelling content, and also connect you with their own audience, friends and peers.
But there’s a problem. Most brands screw this up. They *assume* people want their lame widget. (Why wouldn’t everyone want my free graphic t-shirt with a funny saying!?) They force it. They’re insistent.
It’s like trying to hit the sack on the first date.
Unless you have a really compelling offer (like you’re either Bran or Gelina), and the incentivizes are amazing (like a nice car, a villa overlooking the ocean, and copious amounts of top-shelf booze), then you’re going to need to work on your seduction.
Don’t pitch them; court them. And in exchange for their cooperation — and relationship! — you can eventually:
- Donate products or services in exchange for their precious time investment
- Hire them through sponsorship, to create content for you, or promotion to their audience and peers
- Promote them to your own audience, customers or clients and give them exposure to become more well known.
Also notice that I’m highlighting bloggers and not journalists. Specifically, single author blogs if you can. That’s because they’re motivated by very different things. And the engagement of the audience is usually a lot better — meaning you’ll get a higher ROI even though it might be smaller in number.
But You Can’t Stop There…
“Likes” are great. They’re a start. You need begin generating more Facebook fans if you want to see any impact on your business.
But “Likes” don’t translate directly into more profit.
Driving sales with social media is difficult because there’s no user intent. People don’t naturally go to Facebook to buy things (like they do with SEO or other channels).
And that’s especially true if there’s no engagement. Because interaction and engagement is the missing step before driving sales.
Problem is… Facebook uses a specific algorithm called EdgeRank to deliberately prevent brands from reaching their fans.
So if we want to start driving sales from Facebook, then we need to start by increasing engagement and defeating EdgeRank.