In financial circles, they say that making your first million dollars is the hardest, but once you’ve made it, your next million becomes easier. Similarly, on social networks, getting your first 1000 fans or followers takes the most amount of thoughtful planning. Once you’ve got the first thousand, then you start to build up momentum and it gets easier.
When trying to attract your first 1000 fans on Facebook, it’s crucial to take only those actions that will get you relevant and targeted traffic. Because Facebook can be a place for spammers and fake fans, you want to be cautious and build your page on the right foundation.
What Can a Facebook Page Do for your Business and Why Should you Have One?
A Facebook Page can give you massive visibility on Facebook’s huge platform. As of June 2014, there are 1.32 billion people on Facebook and it’s likely that your business can attract a piece of that pie by establishing a page that people want to visit.
A Facebook page:
- Shows up in search results
- Is a hub or community for your brand
- Provides a platform of engagement for your audience and customers
- Lets you communicate directly with your fans
- Can be a great brand building and promotion vehicle
For these reasons, it may benefit your business to have a Facebook page. But not just any page – you want a page that truly communicates your brand and forms a vibrant community for your audience.
Here are the foundation steps to help you achieve just that.
1. Get the Right Page Name and Vanity URL
Getting traffic on Facebook starts with getting found on Facebook.
And to get found you first need to have the right Facebook page name. Ideally your Facebook page name should also be the name of your business. So if your business is called “Enchanted Flowers”, that should be your FB page name. Sometime business owners get a bit over-zealous with trying to stuff a lot of keywords into their page name – Enchanted Flowers, Party Decorations and Wedding Bouquets, for example. Your Facebook page name is not the place to stuff your keywords because you want to keep the name simple, obvious, and memorable.
Once you’ve accumulated 25 Likes on your page (more on that below), you qualify to get a vanity URL for your page. So instead of your page URL reading some alphanumeric combination like “www.facebook.com/54udtsvrbrkgudv” it would read “www.facebook.com/enchantedflowers”.
This is marketing gold because it means that in your online and offline promotions you can simply ask people to “fan” you on Facebook by saying: “Go to Facebook.com/enchantedflowers”. Simple and obvious.
You can only change your vanity URL once after setting it, so spend some time thinking about the right words, the right spellings and about keeping it short. If someone’s already taken the URL you want (bummer!), come up with a few alternatives that define your business, e.g. facebook.com/EnchantedFlowersAustralia
2. Optimize your Facebook Page Description
The next place to add some more SEO magic is in your Facebook page’s About and Description sections. This is the place most people check to see if they’re on the correct page. You want to immediately reassure them that they’ve found what they’re looking for by having consistent branding and copywriting with your website and other marketing materials.
You should put your keywords in here so that people searching for your business or products on Facebook can find you. Try and keep the descriptions short (between 140-155 characters) so that they show up in full in search engines. Keeping them short will also help them show up in full on mobiles, giving you an added advantage there.
If you’re a local business, prominently display your address and phone number in this area.
3. Design Your Cover and Profile Photos
Facebook is a highly visual medium, so you want anyone landing on your image to immediately see powerful images that accurately depict your brand. Think big here and go for the messaging rather than selling.
What’s your brand’s overall message? Does a particular image or quote encapsulate what you’re all about? Then use that.
4. Tweak FB Page Settings to Suit your Requirements
Go to your Page’s Settings and make sure to tweak these features to suit your Page’s functionality. For example, if you want your Page visible to Australians only, you can choose that in Country settings. You can tweak other settings such as age, post targeting, privacy, private messaging, replies, etc.
By doing this you are able to narrow your target market to a defined set of characteristics. This helps in getting more relevant fans on Facebook and keeps the spammers away.
5. Build your Content Strategy
Before you’re ready to unveil your Page to the public, you need to have a few posts up there already so people don’t reach a blank page. And before you can put up content, you should first develop your content strategy.
Your content strategy doesn’t have to be too complicated. And initially it will be more of a testing strategy since you may not yet know what will work or not with your audience.
So develop your content strategy, but keep it flexible. Your strategy could be a simple Excel sheet containing information on how frequently you’ll post, what you’ll share, and the type of post it’ll be.
Try and mix up post types between images, links, text, video, questions and more so you can then test which type gets the most engagement. Facebook is constantly changing it’s algorithms so one type of post might be popular and then suddenly start receiving fewer views. So its best to vary up post types to see which ones perform well.
Your followers may want to know more about your business but they also likely want to hear your commentary on things they are interested in. Can you post some links to interesting articles and provide your thoughts on them at the same time?
There have been numerous studies on the best times to post on Facebook, and while you can certainly refer to these studies for guidance, the only way to know for sure what time to post is to test it yourself. Your industry, your location, your audience and your content will together determine the most optimal posting times for you. Don’t forget to directly ask your audience what times and frequencies work for them!
6. Invite Friends
Once you’ve set up your Page to your liking and posted a few items on it, it’s time to start inviting groups of people to Like your page. Start with your friends and colleagues who are already on your Facebook account. Your first goal is to get to 25 Likes to be able to get the Vanity URL.
Instead of just sending a mass invite to your friends, consider sending them a small note to let them know what the page is about, to invite them to join and to let their friends know about it too. Your aim is to get as many trusted people to form the first layer of Likes for your page.
At this point, I should mention that many businesses purchase Likes from companies called “link farms”. And they do this to build up a fan base rapidly. While you can certainly purchase 1000 fans and have them show on your Page within a day or so, this strategy will eventually backfire.
Most of the Likes purchased by link farms are fake Likes. That means the individual who has Liked your page has made an account on Facebook for the sole purpose of Liking pages and getting paid for that. He has no genuine interest in your brand and will not engage with your content.
So even though you’ll get the requisite Likes you were after, your page engagement will tank and there might be lots of spam posted to your Page – neither outcome is desirable and especially not when you’re just starting out.
Page engagement is important as it is an indication to Facebook as to how many of your followers are interested in what you have to say. If you have thousands of fake likes that are not engaging then, to Facebook, this looks like people are not interested in what you have to say. This means they will show your posts less in the news-feeds of your fans. You can still ‘buy likes’ by advertising in Facebook in a more legitimate manner. This can work, depending on your business but will often be quite expensive. If you do decide to use some Facebook ads (so that an ad for your page appears on the right hand side of users pages or in their news feeds), you need to be careful with your targeting. If you create an ad that is seen by ‘All Australians aged 18-50′, this is an extremely untargeted ad – it is going to be costly. Think about your target demographic. Include in your ad audience targeting the types of interests they have.
If you want to attract genuine fans to your Page, the best strategy is to build it up slowly and steadily. While it’s certainly true that your page may prove to be very popular and gain a lot of fans organically in a short amount of time, you shouldn’t rush to purchase fake Likes at the cost of genuine fans.
7. Promote your Page
Once you’ve got your Vanity URL and some content on there, you can then branch out and start promoting your Page everywhere:
- Embed a Facebook Like box on your website and other web properties.
- Link to your Facebook page in your email signature and in your signatures at the forums and discussion groups you participate in.
- Invite people from selected groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc to join your Facebook group, being careful not to spam any group and keep in line with their promotional guidelines. You can also advertise to people in these groups using Facebook ads with custom targeting.
- Put your Facebook page’s URL in your business cards
- Put the Facebook page URL in all your print and digital adverts
- Put a link in your presentations or wherever you deliver a speech
- Promote your page on all your other social networks
You get the idea.
8. Respond to Comments and Jump in the Conversation
Now that you have content and fans, it’s time to start engaging! Talk to your fans as you would to any customer who walks into your store. Respond to their comments. Encourage them to leave a response. Appreciate other commenters who answer questions before you’ve gotten to them. In other words, start building a community around your shared vision.
When your audience sees you actively participating in the comments section they’ll be more likely to comment on your posts. And when they do, their responses and Likes show up in their friends’ news feeds and ticker, thus giving you more visibility.
9. Hold Relevant Contests and Giveaways
One of the fastest legitimate ways to get those initial fans to your Page is to hold contests. But by that I don’t mean hold contests to give away the latest iPhone. Not that that doesn’t work – in fact it works a little too well – but the problem is you never know if the fans arriving on your page are just in it for the free gift or are genuine fans for the long haul.
Instead put a little thought into what contestants will win. It should be something that ties in directly with your business. So a bakery, for example, could create a competition to win a box of their newest cupcakes. An interior designer could offer a free house paint consultation. A website design firm could give away an e-Book on the beginner’s guide to website design.
Whatever you offer, try and make it consistent with your business and it’s values. That way you’ll be more likely to attract genuine fans who will stay on your Page and engage with your business for a long time to come.
Getting your first 1000 genuine Likes on Facebook can take up to a few months to achieve. Remember to get the basics right so that you can establish a strong foundation for your page and be ready to welcome the thousands of relevant fans who will eventually interact with you.