During the first minute you spend reading this, 293,000 Facebook users will update their status, and 136,000 photos will be uploaded to the social network. Not only is Facebook the world’s largest social media network, with 1 billion active users, it has the world’s most engaged audience. The average length of a visit is 20 minutes, and 50% of 18-24 year-olds log on to Facebook as soon as they wake up each morning. Research indicates that Facebook users are 60% more likely to recommend a brand they follow to a friend. In order to tap into the network’s potential, it’s critical to expand and engage your following. Here are 10 proven tactics to grow your audience:

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1. Content, Content, Content

In order for your brand to stand out among the steady stream of content in the average Facebook user’s news feed, you need to post high-quality content often. The average length of a Facebook post is around 3 hours. Brands who incorporate visual content into their strategy see an average of 65% more engagement.
2. Know your Fans
Even though you might not know your fans personally, it’s important to continually work towards a better understanding of what makes them tick. Pay close attention to the types of content and topics that drive the most likes, comments, and shares.

3. Show up
If you’re not deeply involved with your page, why should anyone else be? Continually monitor your feed, and respond quickly to comments, questions, and compliments posted on your page. 42% of modern social media fans and followers expect a response to customer service queries within 30 minutes. Nurturing your following can show that you can, and inspire better engagement rates among fans.

4. Block Trolls

Your company needs a distinct strategy for dealing with social media complaints, and the plan should include a policy for dealing with trolls. It’s essential to work toward resolution on real customer service issues, and 84% of consumers “like or love” it when brands respond to their questions or complaints. However, if an individual isn’t seeking resolution and is only trying to start an argument, act quickly to avoid damaging your brand’s reputation online.

5. Define Your Community

As a social media manager, you’re responsible for building the kind of community you want to foster. Post content that inspires discussion and engagement, not arguments. If you want a casual and humorous environment, look towards memes and other tactics to define brand personality.

6. Optimize for Facebook

Many brands who are new to social media mistakenly assume that what work’s best on Twitter will also be an effective tactic on Facebook. Research indicates the opposite is true, and it’s essential to learn and absorb the best practices for each individual network you adopt. Using a full URL on Facebook, in lieu of a shortening service like Bit.Ly, has improved engagement rates 300% for brands.

7. Study Facebook Insights
While social media experts can compile research and crunch numbers on hundreds of Facebook accounts, the only people who can definitively tell you what works best for your brand is your fans. Make friends with Facebook’s Insights API, and use the data on your readers’ demographics, taste, engagement and other factors to direct your social media strategy.

8. Don’t Spam
While it may be tempting to share an abundance of curated content and your own blog posts with your fans, it’s important to avoid being perceived as a spammer. Post original content often, but avoid overloading your fans’ feeds, so they don’t un-like your page.

9. Post Outside Business Hours
While the majority of companies post primarily during business hours, research indicates that it’s not necessarily the best approach. Not only are the chances higher that your fans will be online after work ends, you won’t have to compete as hard for attention amidst a sea of branded posts. Evening and weekend content typically has 20% higher engagement rates.

10: Ask Questions

The most effective content creator for your brand is your fans. Let them do the talking, and share their thoughts. Question posts are twice as effective as other kinds of content, and simply asking your fans to engage could be the perfect way to spark a relationship.

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