The 4 Secrets Successful Brands Use to Grow Their Facebook Fan Bases

Opinion: Facebook is worth your time and energy and will continue to be a smart investment

What do leading brands do in order to cost-effectively grow their likes?
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While a handful of other social networking platforms have emerged over the years, Facebook still remains the staple of the bunch. If you want to be successful in digital marketing, you have to get Facebook right.

But what do leading brands do in order to cost-effectively grow their likes? They have more than a few tricks up their sleeves, and small business owners would do well to pay attention.

According to statistics curated by Zephoria, there are currently 2.072 billion monthly users on the Facebook platform, a 17 percent year-over-year increase. Of those users, 1.74 billion access Facebook at least once per day on a mobile device. The average user spends 20 minutes on Facebook per visit, and more than 510,000 comments are posted every 60 seconds. Nearly 5 billion pieces of content are shared on a daily basis.

If activity and engagement are key factors in the success of a social networking platform, Facebook is clearly the leader. As such, leading businesses invest much of their digital marketing time, money and energy into growing their Facebook fan bases.

As you look to do the same, here are some of the strategies you’d be wise to learn.

Understand your target audience

The very first thing you have to do is understand who your target audience is. An audience that’s composed of 73 percent women between the ages of 18 and 25 is going to be a lot different than an audience that consists of 75 percent men between the ages of 55 and 60.

If you misinterpret who your audience is, you’re going to push out the wrong content and fail to realize your potential. As a result, everything you do from here on out will be less valuable to your brand.

Develop engaging content

Once you understand who your audience is, your attention should shift toward creating engaging content that resonates with your followers and stands out above the noise. With thousands of pieces of content shared every second on the network, your content must do something that’s unique, exciting, or relevant in order to be noticed. Images and videos are a great way to increase engagement.

Whether you like its style or not, there’s perhaps no brand that’s better at engaging its audience on Facebook than Dollar Shave Club. The content it puts out demands attention and is rarely passed over.

You don’t have to take such an aggressive approach, but there are lessons to be learned from how Dollar Shave Club handles content creation.

Cross-promote on your website

How are you at cross-promoting your Facebook page? You should be utilizing every opportunity you have to drive more people to your page, which includes leveraging your website and blog.

The Clunker Junker, a car recycling company, gives us a good example of how this can be done in a clever capacity. Notice how, on its home page, it doesn’t just include a Facebook icon and ask visitors to follow. Instead, it inserts a clever section that says, “These people like us. We like them, too.”

How can you get creative with your cross-promotion? Offer incentives: Sometimes people need a little nudge to dish out a Facebook like. If you’re having trouble building your fan base up with other options, consider offering incentives. This could look like offering a discount or freebie when someone likes your Facebook page.

Lots of brands actually do this when first building up their Facebook audiences, and it’s a pretty low-risk way to grow. Creating a “like gate” where you reward people who follow you is the preferred strategy. Other companies like to encourage people to like their page to be entered into a contest for even bigger rewards.

Look at the bigger picture

It’s easy to get mesmerized by Facebook and its massive base of daily users. However, in full disclosure, you have to know that Facebook isn’t everything in the world of digital marketing. Just as MySpace went from being the de facto social networking platform to essentially irrelevant in a matter of years, there’s always the chance that some other platform could sweep in and steal Facebook’s thunder.

To a degree, this is already happening. Snapchat and Twitter are major challengers, while Instagram—a Facebook-owned company—is also growing in popularity.

As you develop your social media presence and build your Facebook fan base up, make sure you’re also showing some attention to other platforms. You never want to become platform-dependent, especially when you have zero control over its future.

Having said all of this, Facebook is worth your time and energy and will continue to be a smart investment. Learn from the brands that are already excelling in this area and don’t be afraid to apply the same principles to your social media strategy.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.