So you have a great Facebook fan page – maybe it’s a business, or perhaps it’s a promotional page for your band, or even a page you intend to make a living from by selling t-shirts or by acquiring opt in emails – how do you go about building an engaged and targeted fan base for the lowest cost possible?
You’ve all seen the ads, “Get 10,000 Facebook fans for $29”, or maybe you have read articles advising you to buy the lowest possible cost Facebook fans to achieve “social proof” (regardless of their country of origin) or whether the fans are even interested in what your page is all about. This seems like a great idea at the time – until later you watch your Facebook fan page crash and burn under the weight of the fan base’s indifference and lack of engagement.
Whether bought either directly from Facebook or via third-party services – buying cheap likes – that is sub-$0.01 likes purchased without niche targeting and regardless of geographical origin, cheap clicks are almost completely worthless to you. Many of these users will be inactive and via the many third-world “click-farms” that Facebook still struggles to deal with.
While you can actually acquire very cheap fans by using laser-focused targeted ads with just the right message and image (check out this article for more information), generating random fans this way will destroy your entire Facebook page’s engagement ranking – which in turn will bury your posts way down the Facebook timeline, creating a circle of spiralling lack of engagement and comment, likes and shares.
I’ve spent a great deal of money testing this ‘cheap like social proof’ idea myself and can confirm that it is definitely not conducive to creating a prosperous and successful Facebook fan page, and you will find it very difficult to create a popular fan page based on these cheap likes and inactive fans later on.
Facebook’s algorithms are largely based on how “engaged” your fan base is – that is: are you posting worthy, interesting and captivating content? Quite simply a highly-engaged fan page (such as the now famous George Takei page or a mega-fan page like the Lad Bible or Buzzfeed) will always reach far more people than a page posting content, video and status updates that are not relevant nor even mildly interesting to the page’s fan base.
Despite Facebook’s much publicized minor algorithm tweaks that come and go each year, posting engaging content consistently will always be the most reliable method to increase your fan base, while keeping your engagement score high and attracting 100s of new fans to your page for little or no cost. Not to mention a targeted fan will keep on “liking” your posts, and sharing your content with their (often similarly niche targeted) friends.
Acquiring organic fans this way has far, far higher value to your Facebook page and web based business as a whole than any fan that you have bought – either via Facebook’s own ad system or via a third-party vendor.
Even with the highest engaging content posted to your Facebook wall you can find, if you don’t have any fans to start with, or too few fans, you won’t make any headway. You will need to have in place or purchase a reasonable base of targeted fans to build your empire on, and the most efficient and cost effective method to get these is via Facebook’s own ad system. We would recommend obtaining at least 2,500 targeted fans for your page to start with, and if you can stretch to it – 10,000 fans is a great place to start from if you are aiming to build a huge fan base for your page. If done the right way, you can build this seed fan base for very little cost, just around $0.08 per like for a targeted, active and geographically centred user.
The reason you need this initial base of fans is due to the way Facebook distributes fan page posts. There are so many millions of pages on Facebook and users are usually subscribed to many hundreds or even thousands of fan pages that the timeline simply cannot show all your posts, all the time, especially if you post many times per day. So Facebook will only show around 5% of your posts to your fans at any one time, and not – as commonly thought – all of them. This is what is known as “organic reach”, and is a score that can increase, or drop, at any time, either via Facebook algorithm tweaks, or by your own fan page engagement score. Simply put – the more engagement you can get on each of your fan page posts, the higher your organic reach will be and the more people will see your posts (inorganic reach would be considered any reach you acquired via paid means – boost this post ads, etc.).
In fact, posting engaging content can be so powerful in increasing organic reach that it can even spread to your other, less engaging posts as well. That is posts that might include a link to your Adsense website for example, or maybe an advert for a new product, or even a landing page for an affiliate product. The real secret sauce to success is by sandwiching your “money making” posts in between highly engaging content; you will increase the organic reach for that post. In other words, it’s free advertising that can be consistently utilized day after day, year after year.
So how do we go about building our Facebook fan pages to eventually reach many thousands or even hundreds of thousands of targeted, organic followers? Well, before we lay out the roadmap to get there, be aware it won’t happen overnight. With the best techniques and viral content in the world, building a large Facebook fan page takes a lot of time – we are talking months and years, rather than weeks. Sure, you might have some weeks when you gain over 1,000 fans (my own fan pages consistently gain many hundreds of fans every week), and if your content goes viral, then boom – you’ll gain a huge number of followers almost overnight, but you just can’t guarantee content will go viral.
When you see these huge, popular and established fan pages with over two or three million followers, be aware these pages likely took years to get there unless they had an astronomical ad budget (which will be a rare case). Some of these huge pages even started at the start of Facebook’s popularity, many years ago and have had almost a decade to mature and grow.
So – with that in mind – the key to generating a massive Facebook fan base is to post a mixture of engaging, ideally unique content consistently and regularly every single day. A mixture of images or memes, uploaded native video (as opposed to links to videos on other sites such as YouTube), engaging status updates and curated posts from other popular fan pages are what you need to share on your fan page. By doing this consistently, you simply cannot fail to build a huge Facebook fan base, given enough time and consistent posing of quality, targeted engaging content.
You’ll need to post at least 10 pieces of engaging content per day, very consistently and at set times during the day when your fan page base is most active (this would be in the evening on or weekends usually). This is where Facebook’s built in scheduler or a third-party social scheduler such as Hootsuite or Buffer becomes invaluable; after all you can’t sit there posting to Facebook all day every day, you need to have a life too!
For more on automation and labour-saving social media tools – check out this article.
So you’re all set to upload the latest viral video from YouTube to gain massive engagement on your fan page. The problem is this kind of material is copyright protected, and Facebook can detect such content and will slap you badly for posting it. First, Facebook’s moderators will send you a couple of written warnings. The third time they may even delete your Facebook account if you consistently post copyrighted material such as YouTube videos, copyrighted music, other user’s funny photos or basically most content you didn’t actually create yourself.
So how do you post consistently brilliant and engaging material 10 times a day if you don’t own the copyright, and have limited content yourself? Well, that’s where re-sharing comes in – a way to increase engagement by sharing on your own Facebook fan page wall engaging content and viral videos other fan pages have uploaded, and thereby sneakily absolving yourself of any copyright worries. After all, you can share anything you like from other fan pages, and there will never be a copyright infringement because you did not upload it.
It’s important to only re-share content that is popular and currently trending, as this will yield the highest engagement from your fans, and thus increase your reach. The best content to re-share will almost always be native video content – you know those short, viral videos that you see every day trending highly on Facebook. You can also re-share memes, status updates and anything else you like from other pages timelines. However, due to Facebook’s massive push toward native video, by re-sharing videos you are leveraging the best engagement algorithm advantage you can currently achieve. Also Facebook’s native video is live-playing, which means it catches the eye of the user faster than any other content currently does.
Choosing a video or post to re-share is fairly easy – try to find videos that are currently going viral – up into the millions of views. Because this post is already highly engaged – with lots of comments, shares and likes – it will automatically be shown to a much larger number of your fans than your own, non-trending posts, simply by the nature of Facebook’s algorithm quirks. Funny, surprising and emotionally inspiring content will always work extremely well for any fan page you might have – but if the video is related to your own page niche then even better. For example if you have a fan page about grooming dogs and you post trending videos with dogs in your timeline, engagement for that post, and thus your organic reach, will be very high.
Tip: To make the task of finding trending videos that are worth re-sharing we have created “Reshare Hero”, a dedicated app and constantly updated database of trending videos currently engaging the masses on Facebook. The software is free of charge and very easy to use, check it out here.
So we have established that if a post is successful piece of content on another fan page, it already has the advantage of carrying with it a high engagement score and a powerful virality. This means if you re-share the post on your own fan page it will organically reach a huge number of your own fans – many of whom will like, share and comment on that trending content. They will go on to share that video via your fan page to their friends, and so the viral spread outwards continues. Their friends will see your fan page at the top of the post (or a link to your website, t-shirt sale or whatever message you have) and click through to your fan page, rather than the page the content originated from.
A secondary benefit to this re-sharing of successful content is that this highly viral post will in turn increase the engagement rank of your own fan page, increasing engagement of your own, less viral posts. This will result in many hundreds of new likes for your fan page every week, and over time this will turn into hundreds of thousands of new active, engaged Facebook followers.
We recommend re-sharing popular content every two to three hours on your Facebook page, during the twelve to fourteen hours peak period of your page’s fan base demographic. For example if your fan base is mainly U.S. based, and you are posting from the U.K., the most popular times to post would be from 4pm in the afternoon until around 4am at night. Your own Facebook fan page insights data can give you more information about your demographic, as will a third-party social analytic service such as Fanpage Karma.