7 Strategies to Grow Your Facebook Audience
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At the beginning of the year, Mark Zuckerberg rocked the marketing world with a series of announcements stating that Facebook is going to usher in a great deal of changes in 2018 and beyond. Throughout January, Zuckerberg made three major statements regarding algorithm updates to be rolled out.
- On January 11 -- Content posted by friends, family and groups will receive more visibility in the News Feed than content posted by businesses, brands and media. This is to encourage “more meaningful social interactions over passively consuming content.”
- On January 29 -- Users will see more local news on their News Feed and less divisive national news.
- On January 31 -- Zuckerberg rehashed the first two announcements and added that the News Feed would place a higher importance on the credibility of news outlets and public pages. Algorithms will favor content that comes from “broadly trusted and high-quality sources in order to counter misinformation and polarization."
The goal for these changes is to bring Facebook back to its original roots and objectives -- to focus on personal connections and encourage positive, active engagement.
So what does all this mean for brands, publishers, news outlets and influencers?
Truth be told, it’s going to change the game quite a bit. Simply put, your content will no longer appear in News Feeds like you are accustomed to. The strategies that worked well in previous years are going to need a makeover.
1. Create content exclusive to Facebook.
Throughout all of Zuckerberg’s announcements, there is one underlying message that operators of public pages need to keep in mind: He wants people to stay on Facebook. In other words, Zuckerberg and his team do not want users navigating to other sites from their News Feed. This means that your updates featuring an external link to your own website -- like a blog article -- will not be favored as much as Facebook-exclusive content.
Fortunately, you do not have a character limit on Facebook and can post longer updates. However, if your goal is to use Facebook to generate more web traffic, not posting a link to your content may seem counterproductive. Here’s what you can do:
Let’s say you want to post a link to your latest blog post. In this case, I would post an update with “7 Facebook Audience Growing Strategies for 2018” at the top. Next, I would post the seven section headers underneath, with maybe a sentence or two for each. Now, being as how I still want to get traffic to my content, I can post the published link to the full article in the comments. In turn, I’m getting my main points across with exclusive Facebook content while still giving my followers a link to the external page -- all without hurting my organic placement.
2. Go live!
Ever since Facebook Live was rolled out in early 2016, it was obvious that it was going to be a big deal in the future. It’s no secret that Zuckerberg loves video content. He even went on record a couple years ago claiming that soon "the majority of content we consume will be video.”
Studies have found that live video gets 10 times more engagement than traditional videos. Even better, most of these interactions are in real time. That being said, this format needs to play a huge role in your social media strategy moving forward. There is no way around it. Live video is a fantastic way to give your followers a raw look into your brand and the value you provide. There are many strategies for accomplishing this. If you are a B2C company, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look into your operation is a great way for people to see you in a different light. In the early days of Facebook Live, Dunkin’ Donuts gave viewers a live peak into their kitchens and how their famous pastries are made. The engagement levels of this live stream blew every other video they produced out of the water.
Another common tactic for live video is Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions. This is a phenomenal way to broadcast your wisdom while getting engagement in real time. A lot of brands are also hosting live Q&As with special guests and influencers. Whichever strategy you choose, the most important thing to remember is you need to let your personality shine while providing expert insight.
If there is one thing that is blatantly clear with the direction Facebook is going, it’s that live video is going to hold a lot of weight. You are wise to plan your strategy around this concept.
3. Be relevant.
At its core, this idea is nothing new. However, it definitely needs a mention. A major goal of these Facebook updates is to get people to actively engage in the content they are exposed to. As a brand, your strategy on Facebook should place less focus on talking about yourself and more on addressing issues in the common interest of your audience.
Burger King did an absolutely phenomenal job in using a Facebook video to educate its followers on the hot topic of net neutrality, with an incredibly smart branded twist to it. If you haven’t seen the video, it’s definitely worth the watch. Burger King is proof that you can use your platform and brand to spread awareness about certain issues that pertain to the masses. This video alone got well over 300,000 shares.
Another thing to keep in mind when producing video is that you need to plan for mute. Reports claim that 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Be sure to always add subtitles.
4. Be local.
As Zuckerberg’s second major announcement stated, the algorithm change would show more content from local news sources in the users’ area. He also noted, "Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement.”
Now to me, this is one of the most interesting and beneficial aspects of the update. Essentially, it now gives brands an incentive to improve their presence in the community and discuss certain topics on a local level. Brands are now encouraged to do things like start fundraisers, attend/host events, collaborate with local businesses, and of course, get to know the people around them.
There are many things you can do right now to improve your presence in the community. Something that many brands are currently doing is starting their own podcast and inviting local guests. This is an awesome way to network and expose your wisdom to new, local audiences.
5. Focus on groups.
In Zuckerberg’s first announcement, he mentioned that users would see more content generated from groups. One of the common observations is that a great deal of meaningful interactions occur in Facebook groups and tight-knit communities. These are formed around things like TV shows and sports teams. The interactions are generally positive because the people involved in those groups typically see each other as friends brought together by a common interest, as opposed to random strangers on the internet.
Brands can use this concept to their advantage. For example, I run a digital marketing agency. There are all kinds of groups out there based around topics like SEO, content marketing, PPC, etc. By joining these types of groups, we can offer our insight and expertise to the right people in the right place. In turn, we are developing connections with like-minded people and brands while growing our network.
6. Offer specials for Facebook audience engagement.
One of the greatest aspects of Facebook is it gives you the ability to start public conversations and advance them with all kinds of viewpoints and opinions. The result being that you, your followers and anyone else who pays attention gets a whole new perspective on the given topic.
The trick is simply getting people to engage, especially early on, before you have a sizable following. When this is the case, offering some incentive to add to the conversation is a great way to gain likes, comments and, most important, shares. Depending on your niche, you can get as creative as you want with this incentive. It could be a chance to win a free ebook or seminar, or if you run a B2C company like a restaurant, a free meal or gift certificate.
The key here is to encourage active engagement with your incentives. How will each action benefit you and your audience? Perhaps the best approach for this tactic is to offer incentives for an expert take or answer to a question. Given that each scenario here will be different, all the engagement you encourage should ultimately point to improving the general status quo.
7. Know when to boost.
It’s no secret that boosting content on Facebook is getting more expensive by the day. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can spend a fortune without seeing a substantial return. Given the new update, a great deal of your followers may never even see your post unless you promote it. With organic reach plummeting and boost pricing on the rise, you need to know exactly when boosting a post is necessary.
First off, there are three ways to boost a post on Facebook:
- Boost to your followers only.
- Boost to followers and their friends and family.
- Boost to a new audience through targeting.
The option you choose depends entirely on your goals and nature of the content. For example, let’s say you produce a post with a broad topic like “How to start a business with no money.”
This is a post that could potentially benefit a mass number of people. So it would be a wise move to boost it with option 3. You could target people with interests around entrepreneurship, small businesses and startups. This is a great way to get your content in front of more interested eyes while promoting your expertise.
Keep in mind, boosting a Facebook post can be very expensive, depending on how many people you want to reach. If you are aiming for the stars, the content must be of the highest quality and provide a level of value people cannot get anywhere else.
Many businesses and public page owners saw (and still see) Zuckerberg’s announcements as a death sentence. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is just another fork in the road. Ultimately, Zuckerberg, and the people behind the scenes, want Facebook to be a more positive online environment. If you want your public page to survive in this new era of organic reach, you are going to need to adopt these core values and know how to create content accordingly.