Whether you’re a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or the head of a large global corporation, building up a community of engaged users on Facebook is a valuable way to grow brand recognition and boost sales.

It can feel daunting to start from square one in the social media realm when so many existing companies have long-established Facebook pages and twitter accounts, but it’s not impossible. If anything, businesses today have the advantage of fine-tuned, user-friendly applications meant to assist them with online marketing and brand promotion.

Aside from paying to promote a status update or setting up an ad for targeted audiences, there are several Facebook tricks that can help a company rank highly on newsfeeds and gain followers.

As the social media specialist for a boutique marketing firm in the Washington, DC area I’ve seen first hand how feasible it is to grow a Facebook community over time. Read on for three budget-savvy ways to effectively promote your business on Facebook and develop a following among current and future customers.

1. Post pictures

Images are the easiest way to boost your brand’s visibility. People are more likely to share, like, and comment on photos compared with basic text, video, or links to content. Pictures help generate a higher edgerank  (ie. skew the algorithm so your post ranks more highly in user’s newsfeeds), which increases the number of eyes on your post. If you have links to share with your followers, it’s a good idea to insert it as a bitly link and then include a separate, relevant picture. If you post as a photo status, you will get better exposure than you would just copying and pasting an article link directly into the status box.

Here’s an example of a picture with a bitly link that drove traffic to a blog post (on an external site), but garnered more attention on Facebook than a typical link post because of the photo that accompanies it.


2. Change the cover photo regularly

high-risk-pay2While you want to keep your main profile picture or company logo constant to maintain brand recognition, it’s helpful to update the business’s cover photo regularly. Frequent updates to the cover photo can increase the page’s edgerank score, boost visibility within friends’ newsfeeds, and help collect likes for your page.

One way to engage users is to offer cover photos that reflect broader themes. For example, it was originally difficult to engage with users on a Facebook page for a payment solutions company, High Risk Pay, a high risk merchant account provider. Updating the cover photo from stock images of credit cards to a more appealing, universal theme (a credit card slicing through a wintery skyline) attracted new likes and helped us grow the community.


3. Ask questions

Nothing boosts engagement like asking people how they feel. Everyone likes to give their two cents so if you interact with Facebook friends, you’ll likely get an earful – in a good way!

As users comment and engage with the page, your edgerank increases and again, the page will appear higher up on friends’ newsfeeds. The more interaction you can invite from Facebook friends, the better your odds of gaining new likes and expanding your community.

Some businesses have been on social media networks for years, while others are just starting out. Don’t get discouraged when trying to build up a group of friends or followers. Start small, update consistently, follow the tips above, and watch as Facebook “likes” attract more friends, who eventually transition to loyal customers and devoted fans of the brand.