Over the last few months, Facebook has been gradually decreasing the amount of organic reach any particular business can access without paid service. Even with paid exposure, reach for any given post is still low. While some marketers are abandoning Facebook as a platform with decreasing ROI, others are working smarter to draw in new users. After all, it’s basically a numbers game; if your reach is more or less fixed, the only way to reach more people is to broaden your audience. So how do you find more users the right way, and bring them into the fold?
Step 1: Know Your Current Customers
Unless you’re only now getting into the Facebook game, you probably have an audience on the site already. This gives you an excellent base from which to build. Essentially, what you want to do is learn everything you can about the users you already have. How old are they? What gender are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? Build yourself a handful of personas, the platonic exemplars of your customers.
You can then use these personas to predict how your users will react to certain types of advertising. You can also use them to target people like them. If, for example, you find that a large portion of your audience is women aged ~25 living around New York City, you can then reach out and target more NYC young women; chances are they will like your brand because others in their demographic already do.
Even if you aren’t part of Facebook already, you can make use of your existing market on your website and on other social media platforms. Use Google Analytics to come up with many of the same pieces of information. Your personas won’t be as accurate to Facebook, because you don’t see specifically the people who engage with your brand on the site, but you may be able to see interesting information about who specifically converts through your site. If nothing else, this can be a useful persona on its own.
Step 2: Monitor Customer Needs and Desires
As you learn more about your customers, you should also learn about what they want and what they need. Part of doing this is going out and working in the trenches, so to speak. You will want to monitor the posts of your users to find out what they like, what they want and what they need.
You can gather this information in a number of ways. You can monitor their public communications and see when they have specific desires and post about them. You can ask outright, with each questions targeted towards giving you a particular piece of information about a given demographic.
As part of this research, you also need to keep your business in mind. It does you no good to discover that your users are all interested in shoes if you have nothing to do with selling shoes. Specifically, you’re looking for information you can use.
For example, maybe your products are universally desired as quickly as possible. Offering same-day shipping at an additional cost might be the ideal way to meet that need while increasing your profits.
Step 3: Reach Out to Customers on Other Platforms
Specifically, reach out to the customers you’ve already contacted on other platforms and bring them into your Facebook audience.
• Post on Google+, Twitter and other social profiles asking anyone who hasn’t already to follow your account on Facebook. You can do this actively, or you can do it passively by including a link to your Facebook profile in the information sections of your other sites.
• Encourage users of your website to click social sharing buttons for individual posts. Use Facebook comments for your blog, to promote users commenting on your content. Occasionally ask users to follow you on Facebook through an announcement or other special notice.
• Leverage your email newsletter list. You can add a Facebook button to every newsletter. You can add a special section asking email users to follow you on Facebook. You can also take the list of emails and reach out to users on Facebook and other social networks.
Note that many of these techniques work to grow your audience on any site, and in fact can feed each other through cross-promotion.
Step 4: Run Targeted Ad Campaigns
Now that you have a wealth of information about your personas and, by extension, your audience, you can run highly targeted ad campaigns to bring in new users. This has all of the usual complications of a normal ad campaign. You need to come up with a compelling ad and, very probably, split test it with unpublished posts to test how effective different wording and different images will be.
On the positive side, you have a lot of your research already done for you. When you’re targeting a persona, you know some demographic information already and can limit your advertising. Why target the whole country if you can limit to just a specific area? Why target all women when you know the majority of those interested will be in the 20-29 age range?
You will very likely want to keep your ad campaigns relatively short until you strike a winning formula, and even then, advertising has a shelf life. Sooner or later a particular ad will play out and you will need to do some work to come up with a new one. Ideally, this will be a rolling task as various campaigns start, end, peak and decline.
Step 5: Run Contests Targeting User Interests
The same way you run targeted ad campaigns, you can run targeted contests. For one thing, you can use the contest as the attraction in your ads. For another, you’re basing your contest around what your users want.
Think about it this way; a contest has two parts. Part one is what the user has to do to enter. Part two is what they get out of it.
For part one, you want to require something that’s beneficial for you. Maybe it’s a referral. Maybe it’s a share on a post. Maybe it’s a like on a particular photo. Maybe it’s downloading your app. In any case, the entry needs to be something that benefits your brand.
For part two, you need to think about something your users want that you can provide. Avoid the iPad route. iPad giveaways are generally seen as scammy and they attract the wrong type of people. After all, if you’re giving away an iPad, you’re attracting people who want an iPad, not people who want to interact with your brand. A better idea generally is to give as a prize something your business usually provides. This way the winner gets something they would get if they convert and can see what your product quality is. They become a walking testimonial and, since they won a free product, they will be happy to talk about it.
Step 6: Ask For and Incentivize Referrals
You can require referrals – or shares, as the case may be – in a few ways. The most common is gating your content, either on Facebook behind an app or off on your website behind a social locking app. If users have to like your page or share a post in order to access more content, they’ll do so on one condition; your content has to be worth sharing and reading.
Contests are another surefire way to incentivize sharing. It’s becoming very common to require a like or share to enter a contest, and it doesn’t do much. If you go further and give away multiple entries for additional shares, you can broaden your reach.
Expand your Facebook audience to counteract the decreasing organic reach you see through Facebook. It’s quickly becoming the only way to survive without paying for extra reach every time you need to make an announcement.