8/15/14 update: Facebook has banned the like gate. Read my post on the subject here.
Just about every blogger wants to know how to get more likes on Facebook. If you’ve ever been to my wife’s blog 100 Days of Real Food, you’ve undoubtedly noticed her massive Facebook following (900k as of today). Go there now and write down the number of Facebook fans. Seriously, do it. Then go back when you are done reading this post and see how many new fans she has gained in that time. It wasn’t always this way, of course. Take a look at growth over time.
The beauty of social media is that it can grow at a near exponential rate. But just like compound interest on savings, it feels like nothing is happening at first. So how do you get the ball rolling? I will tell you what worked for Lisa, but first let me tell you the story behind it.
The Impetus for Action
Back in the Spring of 2011, Lisa had the idea to write a cookbook. She started doing some research and talked to an agent. The agent was complimentary but gave her some tough love. Apparently today it’s very tough to get a book deal without a platform, which is basically an existing fan base you can sell to. Lisa had 1,200 Facebook fans that she had worked very hard to amass. But in that 5 minute phone conversation, she realized she needed “tens of thousands.” Oh my.
- Create an incentive for people to like her Facebook page.
- Promote the incentive both on 100 Days of Real Food and on other blogs through guests posts.
And the results?
The $5 dinner mom guest post I did today with my new meal plans (where you have to “like” me on facebook to get them) gave me over 1,500 new fans so far…just today!! – an email excerpt from Lisa Leake on 4/19/11
You can see the dramatic up-tick in daily likes in the graph below. The key early on is getting farther up that exponential curve more quickly.
When Lisa contacted the agent again a year later, she had 67k fans, which definitely qualifies as “tens of thousands.” She ended up hiring that agent and has a book scheduled for publication in August of 2014 with Harper Collins. You go girl.
How to Create an Incentive to Like Your Facebook Page
So the incentive is a freebie you give to your readers, such as an eBook, checklist, video, etc. In Lisa’s case it is a free meal plan. But how do you only provide it to people who have liked your page? You use a free little app called Static HTML to create a fangate. How cool is that? I’m going to detail exactly how in a future paid course, including screen shots and step-by-step instructions on how to install and customize your tab. I’ll even provide some sample HTML code so the coding illiterate (like me!) can implement easily.
3 Great Ways to Promote Your New Incentive
So you installed the app and thought you were done? Well the incentive fairy doesn’t exist. You have to tell people about your new incentive so they will take action.
1) As previously mentioned, contributing a guest post to a blog with a large audience, coupled with a clear call to action at the end linking to your instructions page, can be a great way to gain new fans. Here is Lisa’s original guest post from 4/19/11 (here she included instructions on the guest post, but we later realized it’s best to include a link to your own instructions page). Lisa basically doubled her Facebook fans in a day with this method, and it really got the ball rolling. Once you see the impact, you’ll want to do it again and again.
2) Another idea is to place the incentive in your top level navigation where people are sure to see it. Then you can put money-making navigation next to the eye candy! Notice the placement of our shop page sandwiched between the freebie and the highly used recipe index.
3) You can also promote your incentive through a Hello Bar at the top of your page.
And Now It’s BONUS TIME!!
What? What? Yep, here are some Facebook tips straight from Lisa Leake herself:
- Get More Shares: Post “shareable” content. One way to do this is to reinvent old content. This is probably my most extreme example, but when I first published my “Pumpkin Spice Latte” recipe in 2011 it got a few hundred “likes” on the post. Then I “reinvented” it 2 years later by adding this chart below, which when posted directly on FB generated over 21K shares (in total – after posting it on FB twice – here and here). Now those “shares” will only translate into “likes” on your post when you publish the link on FB (as opposed to a picture), but when cool charts are shared on FB then more people see it and may decide to “like” your Facebook page as a result. Pay attention to fast-growing Facebook pages to get ideas for “shareable” content.
- Be Active On Other Pages: This is not something I’ve done myself, but I’ve seen it work for others. Use Facebook as your blog page/name and comment on others in your same niche. You may pique their followers’ interest and garner new likes. But be sure to be tactful…don’t comment multiple times on the same thread with non-value added content or repeatedly share links to your site.
- Share The Love: Even if you are doing fabulous things don’t just talk about yourself on your Facebook page. I got this advice from Carrie Vitt with Deliciously Organic once and it was very well received. When appropriate, be sure to showcase the work of others that you respect by sharing or posting their content. What goes around comes around (sometimes) plus your followers might like to learn about new, great resources from you.
- Be Authentic (i.e. Break The Rules): I am not sure if what works for me will work for others, but I almost never follow any of the “Facebook rules” that are floating around. They actually drive me a little crazy to the point where I occasionally do the opposite just for fun. Post your link in the first comment? Sorry, but you have to admit that is pretty annoying to the end user. Only post pictures? Sometimes I just don’t want to (or don’t have a good pic). Only publish posts that are under a certain number of characters? Thankfully, this isn’t twitter. I honestly just say what I want to say and how I want to say it. I don’t avoid certain times of day or days of week. I may occasionally just publish a text post if I don’t have a link or if I really want what I am saying to be the focus. And sometimes I practically write a novel right there on Facebook, but that happens to be how long the message is that I want to convey. But my goal is (usually) not to “say something great on Facebook in the most effective way” – I am simply sharing my thoughts, feelings, and/or something about my day. Now sometimes this info may come out in a bullet point list (just because I am a type-A organized person), but for some reason I never run out of things to say on Facebook or barely ever have to sit down and “think of something to post.” I think that’s because I regularly just pull things out of my day that I think will be relatable to my audience. One thing is for sure though, I am always real – flaws and all. And – from a “shareable” or “likeable” perspective – sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong. And that’s okay because when it goes well it’s fun to have that extra reward (although not always expected).
- Create An Incentive: As detailed above by Jason…giving people a reason to like your page (and making sure they know about it) certainly can’t hurt!
So if you wrote down Lisa’s Facebook fan count when you started reading this post, check it again. How many fans did she gain while you read this? How many do you get in that amount of time? In a day?
Oh and in case you are wondering, I’ve got a very cool incentive up my sleeve for Pro Blog School, but it’s going to take some time to develop. In the mean time you can just like my Facebook page anyway to show the love
Now it’s discussion time. What are your best tips for growing your audience? Let me know in the comments below.