facebook-like_kleinFacebook continues to be one of the top social networks for small businesses, mostly because of it’s size and the sheer number of people who use the platform regularly. But with algorithmic changes that are seemingly making it harder for small businesses to reach their fans, it’s important to look for legitimate ways to reach more fans and/or increase the number of people who like your business.

Recently, my friend Liz Jostes at Eli Rose Social Media discovered and clued me in on a relatively new feature that addresses a problem regularly faced by businesses: how to get more likes for your business fan page.

Unfortunately, many businesses obsess over their number of likes as if it is the only meaningful metric, and they use that number to compare themselves to their competitor. Add to that the fact that many in the marketing consulting world are playing into these fears, and stress the “like” metric at the expense of more meaningful numbers. This is where I jump on my soap box and tell you that if your marketing/social media hired-gun keeps throwing the growth in your number of likes in your face, it’s time to get new help. I’ve bumped into quite a few situations where “prestigious” agencies and consultancies are manufacturing likes for their clients in ways that are deceptive and downright unethical.

Likes, on their own, are meaningless. Remember, there is a person behind each of those likes, or at least there should be. The only thing that makes those likes meaningful is if the person behind the like is truly interested in you and your business. This is why it’s always a bad idea to “buy” likes and followers.

But, aside from all of that, the number of likes CAN be important. That is if you are attracting the right kind of likes. Obviously, if you have more fans who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, you have a greater chance to build engagement, and to get those folks to spend money on your goods and services. Think of it as the same thing as getting more people to come through your door. The more there are, the greater chance there is of increasing your sales.

One of the things I’ve always liked about Facebook is that it’s hard for a business to go out and seek likes. It helps prevent these businesses from getting too spammy. We certainly don’t want every business out there trying to get us to like them in a way that is similar to friend requests. But is there a middle ground?

This is where Liz comes in with this video featuring great information on how to use a relatively new feature. You’ll have to watch the video for full details, but the idea is that when people engage with your page, not all of them actually like it. They might come and like your individual posts, while not actually liking your page, because they saw a friend engage with you.

Make sure you watch the entire video so you can see how easy this is:

In Liz’s example here, she talks about Facebook contests. Contests are often designed to draw more people in, beyond your existing fanbase, so they are perfect for what she is talking about here. But as I was watching the video, I realized that I was sitting on a potential goldmine of new likes for my business, and didn’t even realize it. While I do the occasional contest, I also get a lot of engagement on my Facebook ads and boosted posts. Most of them are designed to reach more than just our regular fan community, so a high percentage of those who like our paid posts are not already fans. Now I can take more advantage of this.

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By following Liz’s instructions on the video, I was able to nearly double the number of new likes we get each week. Granted, not all businesses spend money on paid Facebook ads, but we do, and in addition to the normal bump in fans that this gives us, we now can increase that fanbase quite a bit more. When people see our posts and like them, that’s an indication to us that they are interested in what we do, and so they are part of our target market. Not every one of them will end up becoming our fan, and not all of those new fans are going to be highly focused customers, but we are experiencing healthy, meaningful growth, with an accompanying growth in engagement and conversions. The ad might be their first exposure to our business, but through the social nature of Facebook, some of those new fans are becoming actual customers.

In the case of the image above, our paid ad generated 291 post likes, and also got us about 30 new page likes. Of those post likes, about a third were people who weren’t our fans. By following Liz’s instructions, I was able to invite them, and so far have gained an additional 31 page likes. Overall, by using this tactic, I have seen our weekly new fan page growth nearly double from what it was previously.

What a great way to increase the ROI of our ads!

If you’re running contests or ads of any sort on Facebook, give this a try. It’s an easy way to spur on your growth without resorting to dubious tactics. This is a case where potential fans are coming to you, and you now have the opportunity to take action and bring them into the fold.

Have you tried this newer method of inviting people to become fans of your business page?