Visualization of a Facebook fan page I created for a brand eclipsing 6-figure fans between April-May in 2009 (it has since grown to +700,000 fans).
Platform-specific communities can be a challenge to grow. It’s daunting because you’re probably already growing a voice for your brand on something like a self-hosted blog. But if you can spark rapid growth in a network external of your own, it can be a consistent organic referral source to the places you’re really interested in funneling traffic. Essentially, it’s a valuable outpost.
Let’s first look at some of the results of this page — then get into how it’s possible for you to do the same.
Before I share anything else, I do want to say Facebook fan page analytics leave much to be desired. They allow you to see:
- Total fans/basic subscriber data
- Growth daily
- % male/female
- Age range
- Top cities/top countries/top languages
- Basic interaction/engagement metrics
I cut off the data as it just lists more top countries/cities/languages and I only want to share a sample of what you see as overview data. But it’s disappointing because you can’t really drill down to see more specific trends in data of the fans of pages. It’s almost no different than basic web analytics with a few extras like age. The age range is interesting, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Why not show me more detailed buckets based on profile information such as education level, profession, etc. With groups this large there would be some interesting trends to see that wouldn’t be difficult for Facebook to display. Clearly they don’t want us knowing that much.
Interactions per post (likes, shares, comments) range from 12 to more than 1,300 – at this scale every image, post, video or link gets at least 100 likes/comments/shares.
Organic growth is consistently strong – with most days seeing around 500 or more new fans.
This brand is off and running – I have not been involved their community building since May, 2009. But you can see by the daily growth of more than 1,000 new fans, they already have attained the critical mass necessary to sustain organic growth daily without necessarily doing anything. Although they have started to also see some fan attrition in September (I took a look at the situation and they could actually do something to stop this if they wanted).
So how can you spark rapid growth on your Facebook fan page?
1. Spark initial growth numbers within the network quickly
If you’re looking to reach a wide audience, (this brand has mass appeal) reaching enough active users in the network to reach a tipping point is the first, crucial step. There are just more potential people to share/like/comment on your content you’re adding into the channel (which in Facebook helps grow a fan page due to the fact this activity shows up in user feeds).
An easy way to start is get multiple influential users to invite all of their friends to become fans of the page. If you can get 20 people each to invite 100 users, and encourage those users to invite their own friends, you’ll start to see growth. Use incentives if necessary – contests, rewards for joining, etc. Facebook has specific rules now (which weren’t in place when I made this page) that make some of this more difficult, but there are still plenty of creative ways to do this.
2. Leverage external traffic streams/subscriber bases
Take stock of all your communities, email lists, websites and any other place you have a digital presence. Start to call them to action to join your fan page. Add links to your blog sidebar, put a CTA on the homepage of the website you’re already marketing, add a link in employee emails, put links in your email marketing, etc. Put it bold and up front to start – the key is to funnel enough subscribers to the page where a natural cycle of growth begins by virtue of more people becoming fans. The strategy here is simple: leverage what you have to spark growth in a new community until it’s growing organically.
But remember: the long-term play is to consistently siphon people out of Facebook to a community where SEO/social media value can really ramp up and you’re not limited by the rules of playing in a network you don’t control. In other words: once your fan page is growing organically, flip the funnel: start to move people out of Facebook to your own, self-hosted platform like a blog or more valuable area than inside the walled garden. Users are going to be more valuable if you can get them to a place where it’s all signal and no noise (Facebook’s signal to noise ratio is terrible).
3. Continually update the page with new content
More content on the page is going to be more content for users to interact with. And, due to how Facebook has setup their system, users consistently engaging with content is a key component to growth. By reaching into the streams of individual users your brand can start to grow fast if your content is worth reacting to.
- Buy targeted advertising on Facebook’s platform
- Leverage your offline networks (TV/newspaper/magazine ads, etc.)
- Run a contest/promotion offline of Facebook, yet encourage users to become a fan during the promotion process (since there is quite a bit of red tape to actually run promotions on Facebook fan pages themselves)
- Create some unmissable content published exclusively on your Facebook fan page
- Frequently make special offer announcements and even new product announcements through the page first
- Hire a community manager to implement ongoing growth opportunities across all your social channels
- Buy Google ads to drive traffic directly to your Facebook fan page
- End your press releases with your Facebook fan page link
- Provide talking points to publicized team members to say become a fan in Facebook during interviews
Of course, there are plenty of additional methods for growing Facebook fan pages/platform specific pages. But any additional recommendations or ideas are going to be more specific based on the brand or product involved (the above are all quite general). To grow the above page to 6 figures plus, we did some creative/buzzworthy ideas too – but you’ll have to come up with those yourself.
The bigger thing to remember is know how you’re going to make your Facebook presence work for your larger digital strategy prior to doing anything. Without this, sure – you can grow something popular, but it should still feed a larger objective.