As a local business owner, Facebook should be a key part of your promotion strategy. But there are definitely ways to get it wrong; before we go into how to build your Facebook fanbase, let’s discuss one of the most common Like-building mistakes: buying Facebook Likes.

In a nutshell: not every action on Facebook is shown to everyone. EdgeRank determines how many people actually see your activity on their News Feeds; this is based on engagement.

So suppose you have 50 organic likes and you bought 50 likes – anything you share on the page will only show up to a percentage of those people. It would be safe to assume that the bought likes are not actually interested in what your page represents, so they won’t be engaging (reading/sharing/liking/commenting) with it. So fake Likes dilute the pool of people who see in your Facebook activity.

Plus Facebook penalizes you for it.

Page Optimization

First thing’s first, be smart about how you create your Facebook page. Here’s an article from Moz about how to optimize your fan page from an SEO perspective.

 

Okay, I have an awesome page. So how do I get organic likes?

1. Invite friends/family/coworkers who support you to like the page.

The first set of likes are more valuable since it increases your credibility and initial visibility. You can only send these invites to your personal connections if your business is connected with your personal Facebook account. Once you have these initial likes, there’s no need to send blanket invites to all your friends – if they’re not interested, they’re not interested and people who don’t interact with your content do not help you.

 

2. Have your social media links available on your website.

There’s an audience already interested in what you do, already looking at your material – those are the people you want Liking your page. Make sure to make the link to your Facebook page visible and even eye-catching on your website.

 

3. Look at interests and who’s around you.

Start doing research on your audience. Using Facebook’s Graph Search, you can find out other interests of people who would be interested in your product/service. So search for something like “Favorite interests of people who like Antiques and live in New York, New York” (the top three are “museums”, “photography” and “art” – you can thank me later, antique shop owners). Additionally, “Favorite interests of people who like [your competitor]” or “Clothing Stores liked by Designers” thereby filtering who actually liked those pages are also a good things to know. You can then use this information for your articles and offers.

But it’s not just your customers, what about other popular businesses near you? Is there a nice place for your customers to get a manicure while waiting for their custom iced cupcakes from your store? Interact with that business on Facebook (you can engage as your business instead of your personal page). Maybe it will be the start of a beautiful (and mutually beneficial) friendship.

 

4. Start posting and sharing interesting content.

Now you know what your customers are into, you should start using it to your advantage. Find articles you think will interest them and share it, write posts that promote discussions, share a variety of formats – images, text, videos etc.

But make sure you’re consistent! Create a content calendar and stick to it! Don’t post 100 times a day – people will hide you from their timelines – but have a level of quality and frequency that people can expect from you.

5. Offer incentives or run a contest.

Give people a reason to like your page! Perhaps showing they’ve Liked your page is a good way to filter people for coupons or promotions you wanted to do anyway. Maybe let them have a say in things by conducting a (relevant) opinion poll on your page; it would be a good opportunity to start a discussion. You cannot explicitly ask for people to like your page to get something, but getting a reputation for having incentives on your Page can spread from one fan to another.

If you want, you can even run a contest – but make sure to read Facebook’s promotions guide first. Facebook has their own app for contests which allows you to restrict the contest to certain demographics and which generates a unique url that you can use to promote. Make sure the contest guidelines are simple and that it’s easy to share with others. Again, you cannot ask people to Like to enter, but if the contest is relevant to what you do, it will direct people your way anyway.

6. Reply and interact with people.

Facebook is often used as a way for customers to give feedback. You’ll get people asking questions and people leaving negative comments. This is the perfect opportunity to win them over. Make sure you answer all questions and reply to both positive and negative comments, don’t just keep promoting yourself to them. Be friendly, have some fun, build a community. It will keep people interested and engaging with your page.

7. Facebook Ads

If you’re doing something like running a contest, it might be a good idea to get the word out more. Facebook has various types of promotions available. Although promoting your page itself might not be the best option (here’s a pretty cool expose video about one of Facebook’s own promotional schemes), you can still promote posts/content you put out there. There are a lot of options to look into.

8. Analyse and adapt

Use Facebook Insights to see what works and what doesn’t. Do people prefer pictures of your products or videos of product demos? Do they tend towards long or short posts? You can also see your Like statistics, your reach (how many people see your posts), and engagement. Work with what works and work on what doesn’t.

 

Some side notes on what not to do

Don’t explicitly ask for likes or comments in your posts. Facebook has been trying to crack down on what they have called “like-baiting”, although they did state that “genuinely trying to encourage discussion among [your] fans” will not be penalised.

Additionally, the trend of click-bait articles is also in Facebook’s sights. So if your article promises “mind blowing shoelace designs”, rethink how mind blowing shoelaces really are and keep your article title more relevant.