It was a lovely Friday afternoon. I was own my way to the old town of Vilnius, listening to Pat Flynn on the Smart Passive Income podcast, when I heard him say this: “Let’s stop talking about traffic, let’s talk about people because these are real people coming to your website.” – so simple, yet so often forgotten, right?
And that immediately reminded me of Facebook likes. Not the post likes, but Page Likes. The more I talk to business owners, the more disappointed I get – it appears that 99% of them just want to know how to get more Facebook likes, for free… *facepalm*
If you are, however, someone who wants to build their Facebook page in legit ways, read on.
I’ve already talked why such obsession over page likes is wrong and I will repeat it again – page likes don’t have any value, unless they are contributing to your end goals: traffic, leads, sales, customer support, events attendance, etc.
More importantly, the very phrasing of ‘how to increase Facebook likes‘ is dead wrong – ‘Likes’ is just a vanity metric. Instead of trying to get some mechanical likes, you should invest into attracting real people, fans, followers, a community, that show you their gratitude and affection.
That being said, I’m not against Page Likes as such. I believe there are two main reasons a business would choose to be on Facebook, both very important: 1) To build an online community, and 2) generate sales.
Which is why today I will drill on the first part – building an online community on Facebook – by sharing 15 ways on how to get free but genuine Facebook fans for your business page.
Ready? Scroll down or jump into what you need the most:
- Invite Friends,
- Import Email Contacts,
- Add a Facebook Like Box / Page Plugin,
- Add Pop Up or Scroll Box,
- Encourage Social Sharing,
- Polish Your Facebook Page,
- Optimise for Search Engines,
- Do Online Cross-Promotion,
- Use Offline Promotion,
- Engage With Other Pages,
- Embed Facebook Posts,
- Deliver Epic Content,
- Incorporate Storytelling,
- Provide Stellar Engagement,
- Run the Marathon.
NOTE: I’ve summed up the entire article into a handy .pdf checklist that you can download for free and keep for future reference:
Assuming that you’ve already created a Facebook page, an obvious way to start off would be by getting the support of your friends. You can send them an invitation to like your page by using the built-in feature ‘Invite Friends‘, which you can find by clicking on the three dots next to the ‘Message’ button on the cover photo:
If you have more than a thousand friends, however, this could take a looooong time. Grab a cup of coffee or download the free Google Chrome plugin to invite all your friends with a single click. Be careful though – this would invite all your friends, and that might be a terrible mistake.
Every single day I get an invitation from some friend to like their page. And although I could show my support by following it, I would be a terrible fan! Most of those products or services have absolutely nothing to do with what I like or what I am interested in.
If I don’t care about it, I won’t engage with the content. If that’s the case the with the majority of fans, you’ll have barely any engagement on your posts and it will kill your organic reach – do you really want to go that path?
Hint: invite only those friends that would be truly interested in what you have to offer.
Hint 2: better yet, announce your new business page by sharing it on your personal profile, and promote that for a few bucks – if people are interested, they will like it by themselves, if not, you are better off by keeping them away from your page.
2. Import Email Contacts
That’s another built-in feature that can give you a great initial boost, especially if you have many subscribers or current clients (like an e-commerce site or an established blog).
Go to your business page, click on those three dots again and select ‘Import Contacts‘ (note: this used to be found under the “Build Audience” button at the top right corner, but Facebook has just recently changed that):
Import the contacts by connecting to your email provider or simply choose to upload an email list (this is great if you’re using something like Mailchimp – export your subscribers into a .csv or .txt file and use Import Contacts to send them an invitation):
After you send out the invitation, people will get a Facebook notification from you, as well as an email to their inbox that invites them to like the page, just like this:
Hint: some page owners said that they can’t access the Import Contacts feature – I learned that you can solve it by changing your business page category to ‘Local Business‘. Try that, and see if it works. If it doesn’t, good luck with getting help from Facebook Support… ,)
Hint 2: According to Facebook’s help page, “…you can import contacts up to 5 times for a maximum of 7,000 contacts per day per Page. You can upload a maximum of 5,000 contacts at a time.”
Hint 3: Do you use LinkedIn? Did you know that you can export your entire contacts list? Go to the Export LinkedIn Connections page, download the .csv file with all your connections, and use that to invite them to like your page. Boooyaa!
3. Add Facebook Like Box
If you have a website, then this is a no-brainer: use the Developers Tools to create the Facebook Like Box widget that you can easily add to your website. This is both a tremendous social proof and a superb way for new visitors to like your Facebook page without even leaving the site – BOOM.
The greatest thing about this widget, is that you will reach the people that are most certainly from your target audience – your website visitors (unless your website gets a lot of random traffic – in that case you might want to audit your content first and kill some of it, like I already did).
Need an example? Here’s how the legendary writer/blogger/coach Michael Hyatt is using the Like Box on his own website:
Hint: install the widget above the screen fold to have more chances to get it noticed.
Hint 2: you can even display your latests posts inside the Like Box, so people will have a better idea of the quality and frequency of your posts (thus, removing some of their objections or fears about spam).
EDIT: the Like Box is officially being replaced by Facebook Page Plugin – same thing, different name!
4. Add Pop Up or Scroll Box
Some would argue that a pop up or a scroll box is intrusive and makes people annoyed – aaaand that’s generally true (what can I say, it really is! At least most of the time…). But I’d argue that if you can clearly explain the value people will get by following your Facebook page, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Also, you can specify the number of days for the pop up to keep hidden after the visitors closed the window, which will decrease their negative experience. Just take the example of Bored Panda – you can hide the scroll box forever (or until you clear your cookies) by simply clicking on the option they provide.
In any case, the power of a pop up lies in a single call to action – you are damn sure people will notice it. But will they click?..
Well, Bored Panda added 24,1k new page likes in the just the last week, and I can bet the majority of those came from the like box on their site.
Hint: use the same Like Box widget, so that people can become fans with a single click. Don’t forget to add a strong call-to-action and explain the value they will receive by liking the page.
5. Encourage Social Sharing
Now that you have ways to capture fans on your website, it’s time to boost your content distribution – ‘But what does it have to do with getting more page likes?’, I hear you say.
Well, more traffic = more exposure = more opportunities to provide value = more opportunities to attract new fans (and clients) – agree?
You might be creating some mind-blowing articles, but what good does it bring if no-one ever knows about it? So go ahead and add the social sharing buttons on your website and give people the opportunity to like and share your articles or products.
6. Polish Your Facebook Page
You might not even know it, but there are dozens or even hundreds of people that visit your page timeline every. single. day (see for yourself under Insights -> Visits: Page and Tab Visits).
So before even publishing the fan page, make sure it’s 100% complete, in order to leave the best first impression on those visitors and capture their attention.
6.1. Set the Facebook Web Address (Vanity URL)
Nothing screams louder of unprofessionalism than a page without a vanity URL – set yours in the Settings, Page Info: Facebook Web Address. Done? Congratz, your page now looks 374% more professional!
Once you’ve set it, you can only change the vanity URL once, so make sure you have it right the first time. Oh, and you’ll need to have at least 30 fans to be able to set it up.
6.2 Create Kick-Ass Cover Photo Design
Cover photo and profile picture are the first and most prominent things people will see on your page, so I really believe a stunning design is crucial for any Facebook page. If you need some inspiration, have a look a my previous post, how to create a seamless Facebook cover photo design, and use the free template I created.
Also, Facebook had previously forbid page owners from adding any call-to-actions or website urls directly on the cover photo, but that’s already been removed from their page guidelines – feel free to add an arrow or a call-to-action on the cover photo if you want.
6.3 Add a ‘Hello’ Custom Tab
You can also utilise the custom tabs to convert even more visitors into fans. Although Facebook like-gating has officially been banned from the 5th of November, you can still add a tab that explains the value of the page and encourages people to follow.
6.4 Turn On Similar Page Suggestions
This is a short one, but important nonetheless.
Go to your Facebook page settings (Settings -> General Info) and make sure that ‘Similar Page Suggestions‘ is turned on – let Facebook do the job of promoting your page for you.
Hint: while you’re in there, make sure the Comment Replies are also turned on, so that you can reply directly to each comment, as well as Post Privacy and Targeting, so that you can target individual posts to different demographics. #Winning!
7. Optimise for Search Engines
If you own a small restaurant or a bar, or any other local business, chances are that you do not have a website. Maybe you haven’t even signed up on Google’s My Business, making it more difficult for people to find your place. For that reason, some SEO on your Facebook page can do magic.
Go to the Settings -> Page Info and fill in all the information about your business: the short description and especially the long description that would include the relevant keywords, your products, awards, business hours and anything else that might be important.
You would be surprised about how many Facebook pages appear among the top search results on Google:
Hint: also, make sure you choose the right Category for your business page – Facebook users are increasingly using the Graph Search tool to look for information about places. If the category is right, you will have more chances to appear to the right audience.
8. Do Online Cross-Promotion
Unless you are a completely new business or have been living without the internet for the past 10 years, you will have some kind of an online presence, be it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or even Google+ – utilise that.
Start by adding a link to your Facebook page in your Twitter bio, LinkedIn contact information section, as well as Pinterest, YouTube and even Instagram profiles.
To take it a step further, try some of these:
- Connect your Twitter account to your Facebook page, so that each Facebook post goes out on Twitter automatically (be careful with that though – Twitter users don’t like Facebook that much),
- Link to your Facebook page by adding it as a Project on your LinkedIn profile,
- Use your company’s page on LinkedIn to share content from your Facebook page,
- Pin photos from your Facebook page to your Pinterest profile,
- Mention your Facebook page name in the comments of your photos,
- Include the link in the description and also as an annotation on the video itself,
- Simply add a link to your Facebook page to your email signature,
- Link to your business page in any email campaigns you send out,
- Add information about your Facebook page in the ‘Thank You for Subscribing‘ page – this is what I just recently experienced on the Social Triggers blog, and the idea deserves an Olympic gold medal.
9. Use Offline Promotion:
Are you a business with a large client base? Do you have many walk-ins to your store or return customers? Do all of those people really know about your Facebook page? No? Then it’s time you do some serious offline promotion – and in most cases that doesn’t involve creating anything new, just tweaking what you already have!
Simple ways to promote your Facebook page offline:
- Add your page name on your merchandise (T-shirts, hoodies),
- Add the page name on your business cards,
- Print the page name on your menu,
- Stick a Facebook sticker on your doors or the cash register,
- Add a flyer or pamphlet on each table in your restaurant, include the page name and a special hashtag, encourage people to check in,
- Include the link to your Facebook page on any prints: flyers, posters, ads in newspapers or magazines, even on bill-boards if you really want (just make it large enough, will ya?),
- Add a flyer with the page name to each package you send to your clients,
- You got the idea – get creative!
10. Engage With Other Pages
Yes, it’s a tough one and requires quite a lot of time and effort, but it can yield some incredible results. So what can you do as a page?
- Partner up with other pages:
- get in touch with other page owners and ask for their help to promote the page,
- Like other pages as your page:
- it will help you to get their attention,
- Mention other pages in your posts with @:
- if a page I like is mentioned in a post by another page (even if I don’t like that page!), the post can still appear in my news feed:
- Engage as your page:
- visit other business pages from your industry and genuinely interact with them: comment, like and even share their posts, if you think that your audience will benefit from that (as much as you enjoy your posts being shared, other pages do too!).
By doing this, not only will you become more visible, but you will also create valuable connections with those business owners which you can utilise in the future.
Hint: if you get another page to like your post, it’s very likely that such activity will be shown to their own fans too, just like this:
11. Embed Facebook Posts
It’s quite a new feature but I’ve already seen some companies use it for gaining new fans, and Post Planner is one example.
And here’s a live example of an embedded post – say hi!
Post Planner is getting tons and tons of traffic from various sources, so there is absolutely no way that all of those visitors would have liked their page already.
Embedding a post is a clever way to showcase their page content and incite people to click on that bad-ass “Like Page” button… Hard to resist, right?
12. Deliver EPIC CONTENT
You will not get any Facebook fans, unless you consistently provide high quality content – duh…
There is a reason why I follow The Humans of New York, although I’m thousands of kilometres away.
There is also a reason why I follow the Economist, Jon Loomer Digital, Social Media Examiner, Marketoonist or NBA among many others – I find their content highly valuable, interesting and entertaining!
How can you do that too? Start by answering these three simple questions:
- What are my goals? (traffic, leads, sales, conversions, sign ups, walk-ins, mobile app installs – what is it?)
- What is my target audience? (their age, sex, location, profession, interests, family status – get as specific as possible)
- How can I provide value to my target audience? (what are their biggest nightmares? Their dreams? How can I solve their problems?)
Once you have these three questions figured out, you will find it much easier to come up with a number of communication topics for your business page – just pick a problem/need and offer a solution!
Hint: make sure you are sharing all the different types of posts – text, photos, albums, links, events, videos – so that your fans have various opportunities to engage with your content. Not everyone clicks on a link, and not everyone comments on a text-only post, but some do and will.
13. Incorporate Storytelling
Yep, stories are a type of content, but I feel they deserve a separate mention.
If you really want to connect with an audience and help them relate better to what you have to say, there’s nothing, nothing more powerful than good storytelling. In fact, there’s even a scientific evidence proving that stories have a real influence on our brains – insane!
If you’re still not convinced, listen to Gary Vaynerchuk slap you in the face with the importance of storytelling for the 21st century business:
Now that I’m thinking about it, that’s exactly why I follow the Humans of New York page too – brilliant stories. Every single story is unique and powerful, and I can’t help myself but crave for more – don’t forget storytelling the next time you’re sharing something on your page.
14. Provide SUPERSTAR ENGAGEMENT
Just image for a second, what would happen if you brought 10,000 completely random people to a stadium to listen to a sales pitch – sure, some might listen because it’s free, but the majority will either completely ignore you or walk away (if not worse) because they have so many better options.
If you really think that you can just pay $5 on Fiverr to buy a few thousand page likes that will suddenly make you millions – think again. It’s gonna take much much much more than that…
So how can you build a strong community then?
First, don’t broadcast, but engage. You will make your content ten times more engaging by asking questions – a universal symbol of showing that you are interested in others.
Second, respond. There has never been an easier way to talk directly to your customers. Treat any comment on your posts as gold, and make your fans feel appreciated for it – if you can deliver on that, people will keep coming back and will take their friends along with them.
Pat Flynn and Gary Vaynerchuk are both killing it:
Remember, Social Media is not meant for broadcasting – there should be much more emphasis on Social, rather than Media. So the next time you’re thinking about increasing your online community, make sure you really understand how such a community would interact offline: the things they talk about, the struggles they’re facing, the tone and even vocabulary they use… – once you have that defined, bring the same concepts online.
15. Run the Marathon
I wish building a Facebook page was easy, I really do. It would make our lives so much easier if every single time we created a Facebook page, thousands of eager fans would rush in and immediately form a strong, engaged community. But it won’t happen.
I shared many tactics and strategies on how to attract genuine fans for free, but in the end you will still have to pay, just in a different currency – your time.
Social Media is a marathon my friends, and it’s a loooong way towards the end of those 42.2kms. However, now you have a great list of suggestions that will help you to achieve it, if you just have the grit.
Step after step, day after day – just keep going!
Bonus Tip: Use Strategic Facebook Advertising
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s this: focus on the quality of fans, not the quantity.
Although technically it is possible to build a crazy big Facebook page with no advertising (easier if you already have a strong offline community), it’s difficult and time-consuming. In most cases you will be better of by kicking off your fan page with some strategic advertising, especially at the very beginning.
My advice: instead of just running simple Page Like campaigns, keep your end goals in mind and focus on content promotion or lead generation. Or at least target your current clients and website visitors through Facebook custom audiences and convert them into fans – this will ensure that you’re attracting only the highest quality fans, those that are interested in what you have to offer.
And that is it! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you did, remember to share it with others and be sure to get the free checklist I created.
Cheers and talk soon!
P.S. have I missed anything? What are You using to attract more Facebook fans? Let me know in the comments below!