How to Get More Likes on Facebook

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.

Facebook_fan_growth_rate_100DaysofRealFood

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.

Free Meal Plan Incentive

Lisa’s incentive

Luckily, Erin Chase (founder of 5DollarDinners.com and co-founder of digitalcolab.com) came to the rescue. Erin is one smart cookie and suggested that Lisa

  1. Create an incentive for people to like her Facebook page.
  2. Promote the incentive both on 100 Days of Real Food and on other blogs through guests posts.

 

So Lisa stayed up until the wee hours of the morning creating a free meal plan as an incentive, added a like gate to her Facebook page, and then wrote a guest post for 5DollarDinners.com.

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.

Note: This was pre-insights so data points are sparse

Note: This was pre-insights so data points are sparse

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.

Two ways to promote your incentive

Two ways to promote your new incentive

And Now It’s BONUS TIME!!

What? What? Yep, here are some Facebook tips straight from Lisa Leake herself:

  1. 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.
    pumpkin spice chart
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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). :)
  5. 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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this insight. I really can see the gateway being a great tool to get “likes”. I think rafflecopter seems to do a similar thing to incentivize social media following (but is for giveaways only). In your case, it seems like the 5dollar dinners post was a perfect little accelerator. Lisa already had great content and a great message, but it looks like that favor gave her that little bump to get new people’s eyes on her site … then commenting … and then it snowballed and the algorithms start working away. I sometimes wish I had a more extreme message – it can be hard when you are not in the business of shock value or extremism to get that initial herd to start liking/commenting (which is what in turn brings you up in people’s news feed).

    Mari Smith has some good advice about using the FB ads most effectively. Assuming you have good content to promote, there are ways to be more selective and more effective using the paid features, which I think can be useful to get the ball rolling (absent a fairy blog god-mother like 5dollar to give you that little boost … I am keeping my fingers crossed). So for a beginner, honestly the way the FB algorithms work, ANY clicks on your content are good clicks to bump you up in the feed. So I am experimenting with that a little bit and seem to be getting decent engagement from the (tiny number of) new users we are getting. And of course, using my teensy following as a test audience, paying careful attention to what gets the most engagement and likes/shares (not always what I would expect … e.g. Hidden Spinach Meatballs… really? Not exactly earth shattering). :)

    • Jason says

      Hey Laura – In absence of shock value (most of the content on 100drf is not extreme) you can organize a challenge or transition for your audience to participate in. The “event” and participation aspects can be good for converting browsers to followers. An email drip campaign can help with engagement. Getting that core group of initial followers (on Facebook, your blog, or wherever) is important. You have to start somewhere and branch out from there (to your point about FB ads). I can see your point about paying for ads early on, however we’ve never paid for FB ads at 100drf because we were concerned about quality. I’d be curious what you you paid and what your results were, if you care to share.

      • says

        Ok I’ve played around a bit and am only using small $ amounts. For my most recent ad, it seems to be more quality people because I targeted it very specifically. The new paid likes are trickling in slowly (which is a good sign to me) at about 7-10 a day. As for cost, it has worked out to about $0.24 per page like for these more “quality” people (it is billed on clicks, not likes, but that’s how the math has worked out). I still celebrate every page like, and get sad about unlikes (big frowny face), so these 7-10 a day are at least morale boosting if nothing else!

      • says

        Jason I’ve been thinking about your suggestion above for a challenge to the readers. What do you guys think about a “lunch share” challenge. One of the things I’ve been talking about is my coworker and I bringing each other lunch to save money, eat better, etc. Would that be something fun you think people could get behind? Like a month of lunch sharing with a friend? Anyone else … Honest thoughts?

        • Jason says

          Laura – You would know better than anyone else what would both a) embody your site’s core focus and b) resonate with your readers.

          But off the cuff I’d say go with something that identifies your “brand” of Good, Not Perfect. Perhaps a drip campaign identifying various common areas of life where people struggle with not knowing where to land in the spectrum of bad and perfect. Like working out, eating, spending time with kids, selecting a car, picking a health plan, how much to save, etc. Again you know your biz way better than me so this is something you have to figure out.

          To do so I’d brainstorm on a ton of ideas and then pitch the best to a small group of people that you feel represents your audience and see what resonates with them. In the end it if someone feels transformed or makes some small victories they are more likely to share your site via word of mouth (the best) or social media as well.

          • says

            Thanks for the feedback – so tough to pick one challenge that is concise, quantifiable, something people can commit to. I’m going to keep brainstorming for sure.

  2. says

    I read this right before I fell asleep last night (on my phone) and I swear I had a dream about it last night.
    Great info, I’m going to start implementing some of these ideas. But I do hate the fangates, although they seem like a great way to get the ball rolling.
    Very helpful, Jason. Thank you!

    • Jason says

      Hey Jackie – I hear you about fangates, but hopefully if you like the incentive someone is offering you’ll like their other content as well. And given all the work we do there’s nothing wrong with requesting a tiny bit of payback in the form of a like, in my opinion. Glad you found the post helpful and good luck :)

    • says

      Jackie I think I had a dream about this, too :) And just to be clear people can still like your page without going through a “fangate.” They just can’t get your bonus material without giving you a “like” (and I agree with Jason it’s not too much to ask – especially since they could technically turn around and just “unlike” your page right after getting it)! People do that on occasion of course, but many more stick around for the long haul.

  3. says

    This post is inspiring and aspiring. I don’t have much to add since my Facebook fan count is only just over 5k. But my favorite is #3 share the love. (I have only grown since taking this to heart.)

    I have made amazing connections with other bloggers, sharing the love goes a long way.
    Plus, I like to share information I like and that I know my fans might appreciate as well. Networking with other bloggers means a support system to an otherwise rather lonely endeavor.

    So excited for this website, Jason. Thank you!

    • Jason says

      So true, Stephanie! It’s refreshing that most bloggers I’ve networked with share my view of abundance. We have so much more to gain from helping each other out and learning from one another as opposed to viewing each other as competitors.

  4. kim says

    The Static HTML app is unavailable…I tried it today to use for my new blog.
    Any other suggestions? RATS! I was really looking forward to using this and reaching out for guest posts:(

      • Kim says

        Thank you Jason! I appreciate your quick response. I am one of 100 days biggest fans.
        Thanks for this website! Look forward to learning from your genius!

      • kim says

        one quick question about the “recipe index” page at the top of Lisa’s blog…
        did she manually hyperlink all of those recipes by herself or was there something that helped her link all of the recipes from the blog into alpha order onto the recipe index tab?
        Thanks so much!!!

        • Jason says

          Kim – That was created manually and is updated by a VA (and sometimes me) when new recipes come out. We hope to move to something automatic with the pending site re-design.

    • Jason says

      Ha ha thanks Laura, good point. I don’t really use Pinterest, but that’s something to consider! We do on 100 Days of Real Food of course.

  5. says

    I’m so excited that you are doing this! Lisa’s website was the SOLE inspiration for our family to eliminated all processed foods from our home! After we started eating this way and telling people about it, I realized so few people understood what we were doing (and why), so I thought starting a blog would be a fun way to share what we were doing with my friends and family. Now that I’ve been doing this for a little while, I realize how much I want to grow my blog’s audience to help spread the word about why processed foods are so bad for us. Right now, it’s all just a fun hobby, but I would be lying if I said I had no desire to monetize it someday! It’s definitely been tricky trying to grow my audience, though! I’m very anxious to see all that you have to offer/share. I will definitely be following along closely! Thanks so much!

    • Jason says

      Hey LeAnn – I’m glad Lisa’s site has been so helpful for your family! I’m anxious to get all the info out there. I’m re-living a lot of things I saw Lisa experience by starting my own blog, which is helpful. Glad to have you following.

    • Jason says

      Thanks Jennifer! I look forward to figuring this whole blogging thing out myself. My expertise is with the business side of blogging.

  6. says

    My issue is the age of my clients. I am servicing senior citizen’s and they still read the newspaper. Facebook is rather foreign to them. Most do email out of necessity, to talk to grandchildren, so they do check it once in a while. My best bump was an article in the paper. I just did another one which got the message back out there and I offered an Open House, with food of course. Unfortunately, the weather was cold and rainy and very few attended. I like the idea of a blog. I have lots to talk about!! My mission in life is to help senior and disabled people through water aerobics. I’m just not sure if I have an audience that would understand what it is and would take the time to read it. Thoughts?

    • Jason says

      Hey Linda – Unfortunately no one can really predict exactly what is going to take off. It requires passion, some skills, and a little bit of luck. Lisa had 6 months worth of blog post ideas before she started, so I’d suggest seeing if you can do the same. I agree your demographic poses a challenge, but you never know, children of senior citizens may be the ones finding and reading your blog to help out their friends/family members. And whatever you choose, at some point you just have to put yourself out there and see what happens. It should be something you’d enjoy doing for free. Good luck!

  7. Sheri says

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge. This is all very exciting to me! And extremely frightening!! Eeek! I have no site at the moment, but I’ve been daydreaming (and freaking out) about the possibilities. I am passionate about criminal trials. My husband would call it an obsession. :) I’d love to be able to provide the type of information I feel is lacking when I have searched for updates. Embarking on such an adventure would be a tremendous hike up the learning curve!
    I look forward to receiving more helpful advice and tips.
    Thanks again!

  8. Melissa says

    I love this blog and Lisa’s blog 100drf! You guys are such an amazing inspiration in so many ways! I also liked your FB page (without any incentive ;) ). I plug 100drf and problogschool when I can!!

    • Jason says

      Aww thanks Melissa. I appreciate you spreading the word. I’m just starting out with this blog so need all the help I can get. :)

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing the goods Jason! We just implemented something similar on our Facebook page now now— and it was because of this post. Appreciate your transparency and just your passion for helping others build their blog into a business.

  10. says

    One ore question about getting more “Likes”. I love how Lisa used the meal plans, at is awesome. Trying to figure out what to create to use the same way. Wondering who you think of offering a free 45 minute consultation (my first apt, 90 minutes is $120), versus using Information, like understanding the food label or some other article. What do you think would work.

    • Jason says

      Shelby – I would not recommend the consultation route. You want something that people feel they can instantly get and put to use (whether or not they actually do so). A consultation requires some action on their part in the form of scheduling the session and clearing time to participate. Downloading an ebook or worksheet being taken to a secret landing page with your top 5 free resources or something like that will likely have a better conversion rate.

  11. says

    Hey Jason,

    Thanks for doing this. I’m working on getting the word out on my Shakespeare for Kids books and really just starting to hit the blogging world myself.

    But, my question to you is which is better: to have a large facebook contingency or email database? I see advantages of both, curious of your opinion.

    Thanks again.

    Brendan

    • Jason says

      Hey Brendan,

      They both have their pros and cons, so which is “better” would depend on your business goals and communication preferences. The good things about an email list are:
      1) You own it and are not at risk of a 3rd party shutting down your account
      2) You can reach 100% of your list (open rates are another story)
      3) It can be profitable IF you are effective in selling to it

      But email can be expensive. We spend about $500 a month on it.

      On the other hand, Facebook is free and has the benefit of growing your fan base, but you are at risk of Facebook shutting down your account or changing the rules on you (i.e. to get good reach).

      Ideally you would use both. Use Facebook to grow your fan base and send traffic back to the blog, where you have a lead magnet to get email subscribers. Serve that list well to retain active subscribers and sell to it enough to make it worth your while. Some do little selling and then sell hard on a few promotions to get a few big hits of income while not saturating their audience with too many sales pitches.

      For email we use and recommend MailChimp (http://problogschool.com/freemailchimp), which is free for up to 2k subscribers and 12k emails per month.

      Hope that helps!

      – Jason

  12. says

    Hi Jason! Just wanted to thank you for the tip about Fangate. I’m trying it out today for the first time on Real Food Real Deals. I wrote a detailed post about how to save $1300 a year by buying real food at Costco. This is “cornerstone content” as they say, so I want to try to get some new followers in return for the Costco real food shopping list. Fingers crossed that it will work. I never knew how those little tabs at the top of FB worked, so thanks for the tip.

    • Jason says

      Hey Annemarie – Glad you found this post useful. Good luck promoting your post! Facebook has been pretty frustrating lately, but the changes appear to be affecting different people in different ways. Point being make sure you promote in other ways too. – Jason

  13. says

    What do you think now? Is it still worth it to grow the FB page with the newest fb algorithms? Should we still throw effort at FB or focus it all on email subscribers now?

    • Jason says

      Hi Sarah – The quick answer is yes, it is still worth it. I easily reach 30% of my likes on my page, and Lisa has had many posts in the past week that have reached 50% and some even at 70% on her page. While total reach is down, you can’t beat free. Facebook is still a good place to grow a community and engage with it, which can help your blog in ways other than just page views.

      That being said, I would place a higher priority on your email list, and make sure you diversify your social media efforts somewhat. And do what you like…if you hate Facebook for example, don’t spend time there. Find another platform or platforms that you enjoy. Don’t forget you get to make the rules in this journey :) – Jason

  14. says

    Hi Jason
    I was playing around with the Static HTML and setting up a fangate today as I have a nice giveaway I put together, but if I try to use the Static HTML it wants a monthly fee, and I can’t get the the Static iframe app to work. Is it worth the hassle, or a fee? And when is your video for dummies going to be ready?!!

    • Jason says

      Hey Julie – Static HTML is free if you use the basic fan gate (that is why we used it). They of course do offer monthly fees for easier implementation and other services.

      You might try Woobox HTML FanGate Facebook Page Tab as an easier to implement alternative. Let me know if you try it!

      Regarding timing on paid courses, I’ve been working on a free blog income calculator that will come first. That and of course 100 Days of Real Food work! – Jason

  15. says

    51 fans in the time it took me to read the post. Utterly amazing. I started with your first post and am reading my way forward. I am a brand newbie in the blogosphere with an incredible amount to learn.

  16. says

    Hey Jason, nice article. I’m really new at this, my food blog was launched just over a month ago. I’ve got four social media sites that drive traffic to my website. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and of course my Facebook page. I think I’m doing great with Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram are pretty good too, but my Facebook page is the absolute pits. It’s hard to create a buzz when only a small percentage of people who like my page even see something I post.

    When I first started I was thinking that if I had some extra money I would spend it on some Facebook ads, but that page has done so poorly I think money would be better spent on a giveaway I do on Instagram or Twitter. I don’t feel like the effort is worth it on Facebook. I think I do get a decent amount of traffic for something I post on my personal Facebook page though.

    When you guys saw that bump in traffic were 100% of your fans able to see your Facebook page?

    Jim

    • Jason says

      Hi Jim – Reach varies from month to month as Facebook turns their dials, but most bloggers noticed a SUBSTANTIAL decline in reach around December 2013/January 2014. This has made Facebook growth more difficult and more frustrating lately, so you are right to think hard about where you spend your social media efforts.

      We just got a tip from a friend to listen to the latest Social Media Marketing podcast. She followed the advice and has seen a noticeable increase in reach! So you know what I’ll be listening to this weekend…

      Oh and to answer your question, the first month I have reach stats for is July of 2011 (the right side of the graph), and we were seeing an average of 73% back then. – Jason

  17. says

    Loved your post! Thanks so much for sharing your advice! You’re right about your wifey’s page as well! She went from 1,464,536 to 1,464,562 in a matter of minutes!

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