Hold onto your butts. I’m about to say something that’s going to blow your mind: I hate Facebook.
I know, I know. I’m a social media manager and I hate it. Like, seriously. It’s pretty much the worst.
But I keep using it. Why? Because despite my intolerance for the clunky platform, it still sends me over half of my monthly traffic AND my pages continue to grow, despite Facebook’s best efforts to stop people from seeing them.
So is Facebook dead? Unfortunately, no. Rather, the landscape is changing and thriving. Despite that, those of us with Facebook Pages set up know what a process it can be to gain traction these days. Changing algorithms, likes and unlikes, involuntary feed filtering, etc.. In short, Facebook isn’t the most brand friendly platform in the world. Not unless you have a budget from which to pay for it.
But for those of us unwilling to cut ties just yet, who want to use social media as a social place, or for those of you who are just starting out on the platform, I’ve put together my top 5 strategies for you to grow your Facebook audience. Execute these tips and you will increase your business and sales and build blog traffic at the same time.
Facebook can be a damn effective tool to organically grow (read: not pay for) your leads, blog sponsorships and brand awareness. You just have to know what to do with it.
1. How to Use Facebook: Show up.
Oh my god, you guys!!! If I hear another person whine to me about not gaining any new followers or engagement on social platforms when you YOURSELF can’t be bothered to show up, I’m going to pull my hair out. Or your hair out. Think of it this way: If everyone is automating, we’re all just talking to ourselves! How do you plan on finding new followers or increasing your income when no one’s around?
Additionally, every time you schedule and automate an update, you’re clearly telling everyone you don’t care enough about getting their business. Here’s why:
- You’re interrupting their feed. Not a hello, or a hi, or even a little like or re-tweet or share or comment or thumbs up to announce your arrival or departure. You just blast away, not caring about any other conversations you might be talking over. How rude is that?
- As in life, social relationships go both ways. You haven’t invested in them, so why should they invest in you? Auto-scheduling your latest post for the masses doesn’t do anything for them – it’s all about you; make it about them.
- Social media is social, it isn’t traditional advertising. You aren’t just selling a product or service, you’re selling a lifestyle. A brand. An opportunity to join the band-wagon of awesome that is you! What kind of experience do you think potential readers, clients or sponsors expect to have with you when you don’t engage with them like a real live person from the on-set of the communication? Be real, be authentic.
There is no great secret to social media: Be social.
You can’t build your business or blog on air, it takes consistent and passionate hard work. Un-sync your accounts, get rid of the IFTTT recipes and actually come to the party! No woman is an island and the only true way to make the internet work for you is to use it, despite what automation lords are telling us.
So here’s what you do: Block out some time. Schedule hard appointments in your iCal (or whatever scheduler you prefer) and use that time to actually be on the platform and execute the next 4 points. I generally mark off 30 minutes at the start and end of every day to BE there, as well as 2 or 3 (depending on my work schedule) 10 minute blocks through out the day. Then I use that time as effectively as possible. You really can do. it. right.
2. How to Use Facebook: Like, Share & Comment and @Tag the shit out of everyone.
Now that you have an account and you’re actually logged in, what you do is just as important as being there. And this is what you do: Engage. Develop relationships with other pages and bloggers. Go out of your way to search for them and then go crazy on their content.
Like their status updates, share their content with your audience (personal profile and public page), comment on their posts and always @Tag them so they know for sure you’ve done it! Not only does this increase the chance your update will get seen (especially if the content goes viral) but it also notifies them that you’ve shared and mentioned them by name. That kind of engagement can’t be bought… Okay, I think it can. But it definitely can’t be automated.
Is this a little fan girl? Maybe. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, this is how you do it.
Here’s what you do: Make a list of 10 – 20 brands, bloggers or companies you value and would like to develop a relationship with. Write them down. Now start liking their pages. You should do this from your personal account as well as your page if you have one. Then like, comment, share, @Tag and generally thoughtfully engage with the first 10 – 15 updates on their pages. This will tell Facebook you want them stay in your feed when you click away. It also shows them “whoa – there’s someone who cares! That makes me feel so good, how can I make THEM feel good?” Assuming they aren’t total douche bags, the reciprocity will begin.
3. How to Use Facebook: Use Facebook Groups. A lot.
Pages might be seeing a dwindling in numbers but Facebook Groups aren’t. The differences between the two have been talked about at length. I wouldn’t feel pressure to start your own though – join or request invites to groups that already exist. The reasons for this are two fold:
- You already have a captive audience and a base of members to learn from, pitch to and collaborate with, sans all the hard work of building up the audience. These relationships you build will help spread your content, services and mission as well as potentially become clients or fans themselves.
- You can be an authority without running things and taking on all the pressure of maintaining a group. That’s a lot of work and if you’re struggling to “make it” on Facebook, I wouldn’t suggest adding more pressure to yourself. Start small, build up.
My only suggestion is this: Pay – and heed – special attention to the group’s rules and regulations. Some only allow self promotion on certain days, while others don’t allow it at all, while still others have a free for all, anything goes kind of mentality. I often find the latter to be a waste of time; no one reads or engages with each other, they just link dump and run which is akin to automation (see point 1). Instead, focus 20 of those 30 minutes we talked about at the start and end of each day participating in groups that nurture your business, blog and community.
So here’s what you do: Search for groups in your niche that foster community, encourage sharing and communication and ultimately provide value for you and your business. Then see point 2 for how to behave in them.
4. How to Use Facebook: Engage as your public page, rather than your personal profile.
You have an opportunity each and every time you log into Facebook to softly sell your brand as an investment – one you care about and one that cares about your community, thus developing trust, rapport and engagement all in the same moment. You do this by engaging on Facebook as your public page, rather than your personal profile.
Every time you thoughtfully comment, like, share or otherwise engage with someone else’s content as your page, your page’s name is linked to in that person’s feed. That means their audience can click it and come to you, they can click it and come to you and if you’re savvy and active enough, you’ll start to develop something of a reputation: You’re someone who genuinely cares. And if you care about them, they’ll care about you. And when they care about you, your influence, authority and sales go up.
Here’s what you do: Log in on the Desktop version of Facebook. If you click the little drop down button in the blue bar at the top of the website, you can select which admin account you want to browse Facebook with. Select your public page. Now click “home” and start harassing the shit out of other pages (see point 2).
5. How to Use Facebook: Talk WITH your readers, not at them.
I’m the first to admit that the Peppercorn Creative Facebook Page following gets a bit neglected. I should do more there for sure – it’s part of my kick ass (and make more money) actionable steps plan.
But the She Eats Facebook Page (my food blog) doesn’t and I can barely keep up with all the comments and shares and likes. Why? Because I talk with my audience instead of at them on a consistent, but not annoying regularity.
Those are two very different ways of engaging and showcasing your knowledge and expertise. Think about it: When you share something and you yell “look at my latest post!” or “buy my newest product”, your audience doesn’t tend to have a huge click through rate. This is because we’ve become immune to the white noise of traditional advertising. Ads are everywhere. And they suck.
So again, you’re selling a lifestyle, not a simple product or service. A whole package, if you will. So when you wrap up the “look at my latest post” or “buy my newest product” in a story about the brand – the lifestyle – you suddenly go from bad TV commercial that everyone fast forwards through to human being trying to make a connection and provide value and service to your audience. And we all want that.
So, here’s what you do: Make it personal. Think about what it is you truly sell – what’s your mission? Then the next time you do a Facebook page status update, take 3 minutes to write 4-6 sentences that give the product or post some context. Maybe ask a question at the end. Then include the link if there is one. See? That’s not so difficult. And if you work this in conjunction with the tips above, you’ll see your page grow and you won’t have to pay for a single ad.
Of course, you’ll need to experiment and monitor your Facebook Insights to see which page posts get the most views and engagement (links, photos or basic status updates) depending on your audience and what days or times are optimal (or hire someone to do that for you).
Does this method take longer than paid for advertising? For sure. But social media is about being social to develop the long term, sustainable gain in income; Short term, get rich quick schemes rarely work out well for anyone. Least of all your brand.
Be authentic to you, your voice, your brand, your business and your audience. And then watch your Facebook presence, brand loyalty and income grow.
Do you use Facebook? What works for you? What doesn’t? What’s the most tricky thing about Facebook? Do you automate your updates? Do you show up? What do you struggle with the most? What do you enjoy about Facebook? Share your thoughts below or email them to me!