Getting traction on your Facebook page is hard. We all get that. Not only is it a pain to get the right kind of people to follow your brand’s page, keeping them hooked in so that your posts receive decent engagement is even harder. Here’s a 2-step Facebook ads strategy to uplift your page’s engagement that I have used multiple times.
Before I get to the strategy, here’s some (sad) data: The average organic reach of Facebook Pages dropped from 16% to 6.5% between 2012 to 2014. And this year, most pages with a sizeable community report that their organic reach is as low as 2%.
TL;DR See the below Slack Conversation
If you are in a hurry, check out the below Slack conversation. Warning; it might give you a strong sense of déjà vu. My solution and the gist of this post is also captured in my response to the conversation.
So here’s the process:
Note: it’s a rather detailed guide. Take your time to read it, chew it, digest it and get all the juice out of it. Feel free to bookmark it or send it to your pocket for reading later.
Step 1: Page Like Ads to Acquire Targetted Fans
This seems fairly obvious. Where most brands make a mistake is in thinking that they should first acquire a large number of page fans and then start posting content. This rarely ever works. In fact, as your fan base grows, your reach typically falls and often exponentially. It does not matter what figure you have in mind for the size of your page’s fan base – you cannot wait till you have reached that number before you start focusing on content.
Think about it like the opening of a shop. You create this super-awesome flyer that pulls in people to your store like a magnet. However, once they do come in, what do they find? Stale bread and mouldy cupcakes? The content needs to be *fresh*, relevant, eye-popping and useful.
Targeting the right audience:
Targeting the right audience is easier said than done. It’s almost become a buzzword with countless tools with bloated pricings promising to feed you tailor-made audience insights. While I am not saying that these tools are utterly useless (or am I?), mastering the facebook ads manager is more than enough to get you where you need to be.
What’s important is to know what to look for and then where. How to look for it is fairly simple. Essentially, there are three areas you need to concentrate on:
- Know your competitors and target their fans: When they said keep your friends close and your enemies (okay your competitors shouldn’t really be enemies) closer, it could not have been truer than in this case. Look at who your most relevant competitors are and target their fans. But don’t stop there. Often brands have multiple pages; sometimes pages dedicated to each country or city, pages for certain types of customers and so on. Target them as well.
- Know your customer demography: Who are your existing users/readers/clients/partners? What’s their usual age bracket, gender, occupation, marital status, employment status? The more you know, the better it is. More details on this in the below segment.
- Define proxy interests: For every hardcore data point like age, gender, occupation, etc., there are a hundred more and sometimes far stronger indicators that help identify if the person is right for your content. I call these proxy interests. These are usually lifestyle or purchase preferences and interests that are hard to miss.For instance, if you are trying to target digital marketers, chances are that you are using “Digital Marketing” related pages and work designation as parameters on Facebook’s advanced targeting window. Or, you might be targeting other Facebook advert managers. However, there are far stronger proxies. One I have used multiple times before is called the Purchase Behaviour. Nested inside that, are various kinds of purchases including “People who buy Business Marketing Services”. There you go!
Take cue from your product’s or business’s customer data:
This is one of the first things you should be doing anyway. After all, what’s the point of being on social media if you don’t know who’s buying from you anyway? If you use customer insight tools like
If you use customer insight tools like Intercom (fantastic product), mixpanel or similar, you’ll get per-user data which you can segment, dissect and analyse to your heart’s content. You can learn precious little bits of information about your target audience here. For example, which content piece gave you the most leads and what was the biggest referral source, combined with demographic details.
Look at audience insights on Facebook for your page to get even more correlated data. The nitty gritties of analysing user data is beyond the scope of this post so I’ll move on.
It’s a clockwork process:
The strategy to increase engagement on your facebook posts is a two-pronged approach that needs to function like clockwork. The below steps show the process of how as your advanced targeting with page like ads starts delivering, you can use more data and even more advanced Facebook targeting options to further fine tune your acquisition:
Use Custom Audiences & Facebook Engagement Audiences
There are two kinds of custom audiences you can use on Facebook – Custom Audience from user data and Lookalike Audience in which Facebook uses an unknown number of variables and proxies to figure out more people similar to custom audiences.
This is where you are getting into the content engagement + fan acquisition dual strategy. Based on your competition analysis, data on what has worked previously (as discussed above) and a combination of hypotheses, you have started pushing out content while you run campaigns to gather page fans.
Now, if you waited till you got a huge number of page likes without going equally hard on sharing content at the same time, you would be acquiring fans based only on your targeting choices and not based on any data that points to engagement.
This is why I had said that it’s a major mistake that people do when they do not match the pace of fan acquisition with content testing.
The below few tactics will further refine your page like ads by targeting people similar to who have already started engaging with your content.
You can fire up the custom audience dashboard either by going directly into it from the main menu in your Audience Manager or Power Editor, or from inside the ad creation workflow as shown below:
The new Engagement on Facebook option:
The new Engagement on Facebook option in custom audience creation is nothing short of a boon and something that has been in demand for a long time. It lets you target people who have interacted with your content in specific ways such as video views, have opted-in on your lead-generation ads, and similar. Now is a great time to test out video or interactive content out and use these as engagement signals.
Even if you are not comfortable using video as a content type (I have no idea why if that’s the case), you can still use lookalike audiences. Whether or not you have used lead-generation ads or videos in your content pipeline, the next step is to use lookalike audiences from the custom audiences you have created previously.
Next step: Run your page like ads on these lookalike audiences. More often than not, you’ll start seeing conversions coming at a far lesser cost. That’s because these people are very similar to the people who have already acted on your ads.
Step 2: Promote content to your fans only
This is the second step of the strategy. Why promote your content only to your own fans? First, because it’s cheaper. Way cheaper. It’s always an opportunity cost when it comes to money, no matter how much or little of it you have in your wallet. Second, in doing so, it funnels data into your fan acquisition strategy as detailed above. The third and the most important reason is Facebook’s algorithm.
As I mentioned at the start of the post, on an average, only about 2% of your fans actually see your organic posts. However, it doesn’t have to stay that way. In all my time helping brands with their social media marketing, I have learnt that on Facebook, it is a lot about momentum:
The Doppler Effect of Facebook Marketing:
Each time you promote a post and it gets traction, the chances of more of your posts being seen increases manifolds. It’s like the Doppler Effect of Physics where sound waves kind of leave a trail as the source of sound gets closer or farther from where you are standing.
In this case, the boosted post is the source and the effect can be seen in increased activity of the other posts of the page as well. Especially the posts which are posted immediately after the boosted post. Now do not expect the engagement to be anywhere close to the level of the promoted post. In fact, the change will barely be perceptible in the beginning.
However, if you look at your historical data, you’ll notice that each time you promote a post to your fans, other organic posts get a small share of the hustle and bustle. If you keep the frequency and quality up, you’ll also notice that your organic reach is increasing steadily. You can target only page fans using the connections option or directly from your page by clicking on the “boost” button below any post.
The Law of Interaction and Decay:
As a post gets old (and by Facebook’s standards, old can mean as little has 6 to 12 hours), the chances of your fan seeing it on his or her newsfeed gets slimmer by the minute. However, Facebook bumps up a post once just before it buries it into oblivion. Just to give it one last chance at redemption.
If you have been promoting your posts to your page fans and this particular fan reacted to the post because of that, chances are pretty high that the bumped post will also show up on her newsfeed. And I am sure you are already seeing it; create equally high-quality content the next day and you just gained a far higher chance of being seen by this loyal fan.
Facebook also tracks a user’s 50 most recent interactions and gives these engagements a lot of importance when deciding what to show next in the news feed. Hence, even more reasons to not just acquire and forget.
Bonus Step: Promote Content to Friends of Fans
This is an extremely powerful tactic I have often used to fabulous results. I am sure you have often seen a page post on your personal news feed which says “liked by Jane Doe (your friend)”. When you promote a post to your fan’s friends, they see how they are connected to your page via their friends. This often has a major positive impact on the target audience. It’s natural that you are going to trust or at least be a little curious about a brand that your friends love and are interacting with.
You can target friends of your page’s fans in the same place shown above; under “connections” > “Facebook Pages/Apps” > “Friends of people who like your Page”.
There you go, a rather simple two-step Facebook ads strategy to ensure that your page’s engagement skyrockets. Over to you; if I have missed something or there are other great ways of content amplification available on Facebook that I’m missing, I’d love to learn of them!