Getting people to like you is a concept that was around long before the internet – anyone that spent more than a couple of hours in the playground at school can tell you that. In many ways, asking someone to click the Like button on Facebook isn’t so different from those shy moments by the bubblers at school when you’re hoping these new-found people you are talking to are going to like you.
For starters, you have to put yourself out there for strangers to even know you exist. You also have to have something to offer or something interesting to add to an existing conversation in order to get anywhere. A packet of Burger Rings might have cut it at recess, but you’re going to have to try a little harder on Facebook.
Many small business owners hear about how great social media is and throw a Facebook page up, only to have no one interested in what they post. If you just create a page and start posting, it’s not going to take off straight away.
One of the first places to start is with your existing Facebook friends. Usually this can get you at least 10 or so Likes to get the ball rolling. If you are a complete newcomer to Facebook, then you can ask friends from the real world, suppliers, and even staff to Like your page to get you started.
Stay at home mum
Jody Allen, founder of Stay At Home Mum, created her page in July 2011 and is now on the cusp of 100,000 Facebook Likes. She started off by asking other mums that she knew to Like her page, which got her up to 175 followers.
“They were just my friends from my own Facebook network,” she recalls. “Then it went down by five Likes one day and I was devastated. I was going to close it down.”
Jody had been hovering at around 175 fans for about six months, and not gaining much ground, but was persistent and continued to post every day. The way a Facebook following grows organically is by having people not just Like a post but also to share it to their own Facebook Wall. That way, it appears on the news feed of people in that fan’s network, and they might be curious enough to click on your page and Like it.
“Initially, the page was just something I did for something to do,” Jody explains. “It was never intended as a business. One day I just thought ‘you know, I might really start talking about what I’m passionate about on there’.”
Jody didn’t have much of a strategy to her posts when she started out, but then she started thinking about what her audience would really be interested in. The first example of this was when she talked about how she bought 2kg of mincemeat and turned it into 10 different meals.
“Within a week I had 2,000 Likes, and then in a month I had 10,000, and now I am knocking on the door of 100,000,” she says. “The difference between just having my friends on there and the big jump was definitely the quality of the status update.”
Jody’s most successful post ever was a write-up she did on freezer cooking. Being a mother of two young kids, she found that it was a struggle to find the time to cook. She looked into an American idea for cooking enough for a month and freezing it, but decided it wasn’t appropriate for Australia.
“I bought a couple of books on it, and it didn’t really cross over to Australian audiences,” she says. “We didn’t have the same foods, quantities, and recipes. I thought I could do a better job of this.
“I sat down and worked out how you could freeze a month’s worth of food for an Australian audience. Other people were intrigued too, because a lot of other mums had exactly the same problem as me.”
That post took off and was being shared all over the place. Eventually, Jody would write a 40-page eBook on the topic and she has sold more than 6,000 copies of it.
“It just went viral. I had no money to start this business up or anything. I started doing two or three status updates per day,” she says. “Stuff like ‘this is how I sort my pantry out’, and I sort of found my niche and it just exploded from there.”
Symply Too Good
For Annette Sym, author of the Symply Too Good cookbooks and founder of an online store of the same name, getting started with Facebook was made easier by getting in so early.
“When I started, I had an account for myself, which is only for people I know, and if people try to add me on that one I just send them a message saying ‘I would love you to Like my Symply Too Good page’,” she says.
Annette started her Facebook page more than five years ago, and her first Likes came by promoting it through the monthly newsletters she sends out and on her website.
“I get more Likes on Facebook after a newsletter,” she explains. “That was the biggest way to get people to Like me. Also, when I go to an event where I am presenting, people will go to my page afterwards and Like me.
“At the moment we probably average 10,000 hits on the website each week,” she says. “But going back years ago it might have only been 3,000 or so. But it was still enough that it generated some interest in Facebook as well.”
One of the things that Annette has found success with is posting a thought of the day each day. She only posts them on weekdays, choosing to give followers and herself a bit of a break on weekends.
“It is work though,” she admits. “But what I’ve done in the last six months is, on a Sunday afternoon, I have put something up that’s a bit random and I’ve had a really great response from it.
“For example, I put a puzzle up on my page and I got nearly 1,000 comments,” Annette adds. “It was basically ‘look at the puzzle and post the first word you see’. If people see that on their feeds they are more inclined to come in and Like the page – especially if they think there are other things of value. It’s all about making sure you are giving value to these people that are going to Like you.”
Karina May is the content editor at ServiceSeeking, a website that allows people to post a job they need done – like having a leaky tap fixed by a plumber – and local businesses provide quotes for the job. She has helped grow the company’s Facebook page to over 7,400 Likes.
“Aside from the usual call for friends and family to Like our new Facebook page, we got our first followers by sending a ‘thank you for trying us out’ email to all new users that received quotes through the website,” she says. “In the email, we asked users to give us feedback through Facebook and they did just that, describing their experiences and liking our page.
“We’ve also popped a link to the Facebook page in the signature of our emails to users, which has helped to gain us more fans.”
James Eling founded Marketing4 Restaurants, an agency that helps restaurants with their marketing, and he has grown to 1,641 Likes on Facebook. While it might not be as big a number as some of the other examples, James has built up a highly engaged audience.
“Getting your first followers is the most difficult,” he explains. “It is really hard because even if you have great content, you will only get a few people to Like your page. We got friends and people at work to Like the page and a few of our closer customers. From there, it is just a question of posting great content semi-regularly.
“Posts that are humorous, cute or controversial work best, along with pictures of food,” adds James. “I don’t know why, but people are really interested in food photos. We have one photo of cheesecake and a milkshake taken from the top of the Q1 building on the Gold Coast with the great beaches in the background and it was seen by over 12,500 people.”
Getting your first 100 Facebook Likes can be tough. The very first ones should be friends and family members – you can harass them to get you started. Beyond that, though, you need to provide some value to prospective fans of your page.
Graham King is a business coach and founder of Rexov, and has over 20,000 Facebook Likes on his I Love Life page. We asked him for his tips on getting your first Likes.
1 Be clear on whom you want to be following your page.
2 If you aren’t using your business name, you will want to name your page what your target market is looking for, or what the essence of what your business is.
3 Search out other fan pages that may have your target market and follow them.
4 Network and comment on what other pages are saying, and always make sure that what you are saying is adding value to the conversation. Like comments that your target market make.
5 Post regularly, with updates, articles, and photos that are relevant to your target market. The more you can get your community to Like and share, the more you will attract.
6 Remember, this is social networking; people don’t want your product or service shoved down their necks. Use the 80% content, 20% marketing rule, and you will do just fine. Give them a reason to want more of what you have to offer. On your ‘about us’ page is where they will be able to find out who you really are and your website address, brand focus, etc.
Nicole Jones is the founder of Market Me Marketing, and has over 5,800 fans on her page. We asked her for some tips on getting from 100 to 500 Facebook followers.
1 Make sure you have connected with your current customers and mailing list contacts. Is there a Facebook icon on your website and blog? On your business cards and promotional material? Have you informed people on your current mailing list, that you now have a Facebook page? Have you added your Facebook URL to your email signature? Current contacts are some of the highest quality fans you will ever find – they might just be waiting to be connected with you on Facebook.
2 Run a giveaway or contest. People love to get something for free and they love to win. Consider running a giveaway for a two-week period, with a prize value of around $200 (something worthwhile and relevant to your audience). Encourage your fans to enter and share with their friends. Facebook has strict rules as to how competitions and giveaways are to be run, so make sure you read up on the guidelines. See: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php
3 Post regularly. I recommend that people post at least once or twice each day on their pages. When you post something on your page that is good quality and that encourages interaction, your fans will interact by either liking or commenting on the updates you post. Their friends then see what they are liking and commenting on, and they also can connect with you. If the content you post is good, people may even share your updates with their friends. This is one way your page can grow fast.
4 One of the great things Facebook allows users to do is share photos, updates, and links really easily. The posts that Facebook favour the most are images. They also catch the eye quickly, and share information faster than someone reading a lone status update. Consider some inspirational or funny images that are relevant to your Industry, and give your fans something to smile about and share. This is another way your page and your content can easily go viral in a hurry.
5 Begin using Facebook ads. They are as targeted as you make them (e.g. age, location etc). They can be set to run at a certain amount each day (e.g. $3 per day), you can change them when you want to, manage them directly from Facebook, and they direct traffic to your Facebook page. Set some ads, and test their effectiveness, and if you need to change their content, you can easily do this from the Ads Manager.
David Olsen is the APAC Community Manager for customer relationship management powerhouse Salesforce.com. We asked him to give his tips for growing from 500 to 1,000 Likes.
1 Facebook continues to make it increasingly hard to avoid paying to continue to grow your business page. But there is one often-overlooked option still available – to invite your email contacts from within Facebook itself.
If you have an existing customer email database, Facebook will allow you to upload a CSV list of email contacts that Facebook can then ‘suggest’ should Like your Page. You can continue to do this until your page reaches 5,000 Likes, but don’t expect miracles from this method. Conversion rates are not high, but are increased by running this in conjunction with an email campaign directing customers to Like your Facebook page.
2 Facebook advertising becomes almost unavoidable at this stage – the cost involved doesn’t have to be bank-breaking. When you are already investing your valuable time administering your page, using advertising to boost the return on investment (ROI) of your time makes plenty of sense.
At this stage, if you haven’t established how you plan to calculate ROI from your Facebook page, stop and do so now. Sure, it’s nice to have people say ‘I love your Facebook’ but if it’s not generating ROI on both your time and money being invested, start looking
3 To get started, visit facebook.com/business and explore the guides, start with a small campaign (e.g. $100) and test out some ad designs, copy, targeting options, and bid prices – then continue to tweak and improve on what works best over future campaigns.
4 For more information, I highly recommend the book Killer Facebook Ads by Marty Weintraub (and his company’s blog www.aimclearblog.com); it’s a great resource for both new and existing advertisers.
What to avoid
Graham King, business coach and founder of Rexov, also has some tips on what to avoid.
1) Avoid naming your Facebook page your real name. The problem with this is, if you comment on what other people are saying, you will just look like any other member of the general public making a comment.
2) I see a lot of small businesses buying fans. These are often not real people and also not going to be your target so will never buy. There are also others that give away prizes to get fans. Unless that prize is aligned with their business, again they are not necessarily going to attract the right people.
3) The next thing is businesses that are always selling and adding no value whatsoever to their fans. You don’t want to do this.
4) The biggest mistake I see people make is visiting other pages and putting up a link to their page. There are many flaws with this. It’s considered rude and most people won’t see it anyway.