Top 10 Facebook Best Practices (How My Fan Page Grew to 700,000)
NOTE TO FACEBOOK REPS: If you happen to stumble across this post, which I’m sure you will, please don’t ding my Facebook page for sharing a “how-to” on building and engaging on your site. Your algorithm is brilliant and I promise not to pretend to know it (especially, because you’re likely tweaking it as we speak).
For most of you who aren’t familiar with my Facebook page, it is aptly titled Happy Wives Club, and has officially crossed the 700,000 mark.
For those who visit this site often, you know I exclusively write posts related to shining a positive spotlight on marriage around the world.
Never have I ventured into writing about things like social media or building a Platform and after this post, I will happily return to writing articles on my passion: Inspiring marriages to go from good to great and from great to extraordinary.
But after studying Facebook for more than 2,000 hours over the past several years, and being asked by more bloggers and authors than I can remember to share my tips on building and engaging a Facebook community, I decided it was time to write this post for them.
A couple weeks ago, I was speaking at the SITS Girls Bloggy Boot Camp in San Diego, and a professional blogger came up to me afterward pretty excited.
She said she’d heard me give tips on building a Facebook page at the same conference in Dallas months before and her page went from less than 30,000 likes to 117,000 in less than 3 months.
She applied the principles I mentioned in my talk and wanted to thank me. When she first approached me to share this news, I had to think about when I’d spoken about Facebook because I couldn’t recall giving a talk on that subject. Then I remembered someone else at the conference was speaking on the topic and saw me in the room and said, “Fawn Weaver with Happy Wives Club is here and she probably knows more about Facebook than any of us,” and asked if I had anything to add.
I casually spoke for less than 5 minutes on the topic and from that 5 minutes, this blogger more than quadrupled her community.
There are three major social networks I use consistently: Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. I am a believer in doing one or two very well rather than trying to figure them all out (learned that from Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform, which I highly, highly recommend for building and engaging a like-minded community) so I manage Twitter and Facebook myself and have a community member manage Pinterest.
Pinterest is amazing because we can upload a post written 4 months prior (like this one and this one) and have it go viral, being shared more than 1,000,000 times. No other social network can, as consistently, take old content and make it new again.
I love Twitter because I have connected with some of the most amazing people through that social network. Many of which are highly influential and unlikely to have reached out to me any other way. They followed me, I followed them back and then a relationship began being built. I connect with bloggers most often through this social network and find their smart phone app to be the easiest, by far, to use.
That being said, my absolute favorite social network is Facebook. (Pinterest and Twitter reps: please don’t ding me for this…I love your networks too!!) The reason Facebook is my favorite is that is how I connect daily with this beautiful community of more than 800,000 women. I’m wordy (as you can tell by this post) so 160 characters or less is really tough for me to create a meaningful dialogue.
Yes, Facebook is constantly making algorithm changes that drive me a little batty at times because I have to spend two weeks trying to figure out what changes were made and how to adjust my posts to ensure the Happy Wives Club community sees them. But it’s worth it.
Facebook is my number two driver of traffic and when I was releasing my book, Happy Wives Club, it was one of the main ways I shared it with the world. My Facebook page has continued to grow at an average rate of between 1,000-2,000 a day for the past year.
Of course, there are anomalies when my Facebook page absolutely explodes, like the week Glennon Melton with Momastery.com answered on her blog a question I posed to her as a part of the blog tour for my book. Instead of using my website, she included the link to my Facebook page and then Huffington Post picked up that blog post.
On top of that, because of the launch of my book, #HappyWivesClub was the #1 hashtag trending worldwide on Twitter. All this made for amazing growth. More than 16,000/day were hitting “like” on my page and my engagement sky rocketed to 300%. But as I said, this is an anomaly. Most of the growth on my Facebook page has been good old fashioned hard work and a desire to build an engaged community.
Now, I know for most brands and bloggers, Facebook is the most frustrating social network. I’ve heard every complaint under the sun. Some of them are valid but many of them simply aren’t accurate. What I’ve learned is if you just go with the flow and try to see each change as an improvement, you’ll find something great in each change (this is the same principal for a happy life, by the way ).
Here are the most common complaints I’ve heard and my thoughts on each one:
COMPLAINT #1: Facebook only shows my posts to a very small fraction of my community. I worked hard to get those likes and they won’t even show my posts.
MY RESPONSE: Thank you, Facebook! It’s not that I don’t want to hear from the pages I “like” but take off your brand, author or blogger hat for a moment and look at it from your community’s viewpoint and see how it would feel if Facebook actually took your suggestion and showed all of the posts, from all the pages you “like,” to you.
Take me for example. I have 260 pages on Facebook that I “Like.” If each of these pages put up 4 posts a day (which is MORE than enough, in my opinion, and I’ll tell you why later), I’d be looking at more than 1,000 posts a day from people who are not my “Friends.” So when my friend in New York announced she was pregnant by posting the ultrasound picture on her Facebook page, I missed it because I was getting hundreds of posts in my timeline from the hundreds of bloggers and brands whose pages I follow.
Yes, I absolutely LOVE sites like The Dating Divas and enjoy going to their Facebook page often, but do I really want to see each and every post they put out? No. Why? Not because I don’t adore their posts but because I want to know my girlfriend in New York is three-months pregnant. Does that make better sense when you take off your brand or blogger hat and put on my “fan” hat? If not, give it some time…it will.
COMPLAINT #2: Facebook forces me to pay for anyone to see my posts!
MY RESPONSE: Put up better posts. And stop putting up so many. Listen, I won’t pretend to fully understand the Facebook algorithm. Those folks are way too smart (shout out to Sheryl Sandberg who was kind enough to contact me within a couple days of receiving a copy of my Happy Wives Club book and who, likely doesn’t know, my book and hers have been placed right above one another in Targets around the country for the past couple months) and my brain only attempts to partially keep up.
This time, take off your blogger or brand hat again and put on your “fan” hat. If you, like me, have liked 260 pages and want to read certain things they post, don’t you want to read their best? Seriously.
As a follower of many bloggers on Facebook, some of the stuff put up is just junk. It’s not well thought out, regurgitated filler from another page. Speaking of which, if you are taking graphics from other Facebook pages without giving credit, stop it. Karma is no joke and if you want your page to grow, I assure you this is not the way to go about it.
Someone took the time to create a graphic, and put a watermark on it or a URL, so leave it there. Why? Because that is what is going to also help you grow your page (more on that in my Best Practices section below).
Create content people want to see and more will see it. If you put up a post and Facebook shows it to 50 people in your community and 25 “Like” it, guess what? Facebook shows it to another 100. And if 50 of those like it, Facebook shows it to another 500 and so on (these aren’t the exact numbers, because I don’t know Facebook’s algorithm, but you get the gist).
Here’s an example of the reach for a couple recent posts of mine:
As you’ll notice, the post on the left was seen by close to 2,000,000 people. But you’ll also notice the post has a share-to-like ratio of more than 1-to-1. This is important. Not only how many people “Like” your post but how many think it worthy enough to share.
The post on the right was only liked by 365 people and shared by 23 people so Facebook only showed it to 50,000 people (which likely equates to less than 5% of my community size because some of those who saw this were friends of those who follow the Happy Wives Club community page).
If I were to guess how Facebook weights these things, posts that are “shared” would be considered more valuable than those simply “liked” and thus will be shown to more people. At least, that has been my experience.
COMPLAINT #3: Facebook doesn’t refer traffic to my site.
MY RESPONSE: Again, put up better content. Use images as often as possible, even when putting up blog posts that contain links. Putting the blog link in your comments and then writing in the status update to “see link in the first comment” is hurting you. I know you think you’re getting around Facebook’s algorithm with this “trick” but I assure you they are smarter than you. They really are. They’re smarter than all of us and the sooner we accept that the better.
For those accessing your Facebook page via their mobile (which is more than 50% of those who come to the Happy Wives Club site from Facebook), by not making the link easy to access, you have just lost hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would have been interested in reading your post had you made it easy for them to get to.
As I said, Facebook is my #2 referrer of traffic and there have been times when it has moved into the #1 position. If you post great content, and people click through, Facebook will show that content to more people. Promise.
Now, that we’ve talked about the top 3 complaints I hear. Let’s move on to the top 3 mistakes I see most often.
MISTAKE #1: You determine you don’t have time to engage on your Facebook page so you outsource it.
MY RESPONSE: Bad move. Facebook’s calling card is authenticity. People know when you’re being fake on that social network. And they know when it is not you putting up the posts. The Obamas have it right when they decided they would sign their posts “BO” and “MO” when it’s them so people know when they are engaging directly with them.
You’re not fooling anyone. If you have someone else running your Facebook page…your community knows it.
I am the only person with access to my Facebook page. I have no other admins. If someone is engaging on Facebook as Happy Wives Club, it is me. The reason is no one else can replicate my voice…or heart.
When I first began my Facebook page, I outsourced it to a social media company. They were wonderful. They really were. My Facebook page jumped to 10,000 likes pretty quickly. BUT, and it’s a big but, the engagement was in the toilet. People were clicking “like” but could care less about the mission of Happy Wives Club.
So I took over the account and engagement rose. Prior to Facebook’s recent algorithm change, which seems to have impacted pages with over 500,000 likes the most, my engagement was usually between 100-150%. That made it one of the most engaged non-celebrity pages on the web. Right now, my engagement is somewhere around 60% and it will probably take me a couple weeks to figure out what message Facebook was trying to send in this most recent algorithm change and responding to it in a way that gets my page back to 100% engagement.
Facebook is not free. It will take your time and energy but is worth it if you truly want to engage with your community.
If you choose to hire an outside firm to manage your Facebook account, still be engaged. Give them the content to post on your page. People did not follow you or your brand to hear from an outside firm. They followed YOU and you need to continue to deliver that if you are to not only grow your Facebook community but to increase your engagement.
MISTAKE #2: Using third-party apps to post on Facebook.
MY RESPONSE: Wowzers! Stop that. I love BufferApp but not for Facebook. I think Hootsuite is wonderful. But again, not for Facebook. If you aren’t posting live, make sure to use the Facebook scheduler if you want your posts to be seen.
I know, I know, it’s more convenient to post to all your social networks at one time. But again, I ask you to take off your blogger or brand hat for a moment and this time put on the Facebook hat. Why in the world would they want to show something on their site you haven’t even taken the time to post there?
Create content for Facebook that is specific to what your Facebook community wants and desires from you (which is oftentimes different than what your Twitter and Pinterest communities want from you).
MISTAKE #3: Not proactively looking for those on the Facebook site who your message might resonate with and should know you exist.
MY RESPONSE: There are few things in life where the motto, “If you build it they will come” is applicable. In most cases, that is not the case with Facebook. As of October 2013, there are more than 1.25 billion Facebook users. If you want to reach them, I recommend three things:
1. If you have a website, make the Facebook button visible and at the top. Don’t make it difficult for those who have already found you through other means to find you on Facebook (or your other social networks for that matter). Many only include the “Share” buttons on their pages. I highly recommend including the “follow” button in a visible place everywhere you are on the web that will allow it. (If you look at my side bar, you’ll see the button at the top and then again midway down on the sidebar using a different design.)
2. Create quote memes or attractive graphics with your URL at the bottom. If I were to guess how most find the Happy Wives Club Facebook page, it is because of the quote memes I post (I recently hired someone to help me with this because art truly is not my gift so it was taking me far too long).
There are tons of services out there that can help you create the best graphics. When I first began, I created them all in Powerpoint because I didn’t know how to use Photoshop. And then I found sites like PicMonkey that make it easy for folks like you and me to be able to create great graphics for free.
When I’m traveling and don’t have time to create a new quote meme (and my new graphic designer doesn’t either), I have a handful of like-minded sites I visit with similar missions and I’ll share their graphics with my community. This way, my community continues to be encouraged each day, even while I’m traveling.
But whatever you do, do not rip them off of other sites and add your URL. Bad juju. If you do that, others will likely do that to you in return. This is something I know first hand as people crop my URL off all the time and post the meme on their own pages.
To create great quote memes, consider getting a monthly account with an image source (or taking your own photos, something I’m not skilled at so I buy them). I use ThinkStockPhotos.com which is a royalty-free images service by Getty Images. Then find the right quotes, add your URL to the quote meme (preferably designed into the image – which is what I do now to protect my images from having the URL cropped off) and voila – you’re on your way to getting your URL shared around the web!
3. Set aside a Facebook budget to find new community members. Of the 1,000 “likes” the Happy Wives Club currently gets on average a day, less than 30 of them are paid. Yes, you read that right. The percentage of organic likes on my page is 97%.
I spend between $2-5/day on Facebook ads and have run the exact same ad since 2010. It’s simple, not tricky (like using a Dr. Oz picture and pretending he has anything to do with your page), and tells women about this Club. The ad simply invites them to join a club for women like them.
Figuring out the ad thing takes some time and can be expensive initially. The reason is you have to figure out where your core audience resides and that takes some time. For me, I created a separate ad campaign for every English speaking country around the world (I told you I’ve spent a lot of time on this). I used the same ad but created a new campaign for each so I could see the performance of each one.
I quickly discovered I was spending more than $1/per like in the US and Canada and less than $.10 in the Philippines. So I adjusted my ad spend for each of those countries. I knew I had a worldwide message so it didn’t make sense to limit it to the US. Even still, US residents account for more than half of my Facebook community because they have seen posts from my Facebook page on their friend’s pages, as well as Facebook recommendations.
I wish I could give you the best advice here but all I can say is test out a number of things. I personally prefer PPC (pay-per-click) ads but PPI (pay-per-thousand-impressions) might make more sense for you.
Facebook has a lot of options. Try them out but make sure to stay within a budget that allows you to maintain the campaign in the long term (not just the short term) because it might take someone seeing your ad and then seeing three of their “friends” share something from your page before a person actually clicks through.
People sharing my posts on their page and Facebook suggestions, not ads, is how most find my page. Only a small number of people actually click through the ad (a part of that is the graphic is really bad because I created it before I had any idea how to design) but them seeing it and then seeing the name Happy Wives Club again and again on their friend’s pages cause intrigue. They come to the Happy Wives Club page, see what we’re all about, and decide for themselves if they want to join.
I’ve seriously just written an eBook here (maybe I should have thrown this in a PDF and sold it for $1.99? Oh well…) so I’ll just wrap this up with this:
Top 10 Facebook Best Practices:
1. Engage yourself. If you want to hire a social media person, go for it. It’s your money. But make sure you are continuing to engage and stay connected because people are following your voice and your heart, not a social media company.
2. Use graphics. Lots and lots of them. The rule of thumb is those on Facebook are incredibly visual. You will get more likes and shares if you use more graphics. And something as simple as image size makes a larger difference than you might think.
Stick to the best Facebook sizes. Of course, the best sizes could change but as of today, the ideal size for quote memes is 403px X 403px. This size displays well on mobile devices, as well as in your timeline.
When you upload links, my recommendation is not to use the image they pull from the site as it is inevitably reduced to 400px X 209px. What I do is take whatever my post graphic size is (which is usually 403px X 605px – the latter number doesn’t matter as long as it is a vertical image and isn’t too much longer than 600px) and crop the portion of it that will make the best image at that reduced (400px X 209px) size. Then I click on the hyperlink below it that says, “Upload Image.”
*NOTE: BufferApp gives different Facebook size recommendations than I use and they are much savvier than me so maybe try both sets of sizes and see which one works best for you.
3. Don’t over post (I generally post 2-4 times a day at my peak times). Just like TMI is not good in all other areas of life, it’s not good here either. I spent months figuring out what time was best to post. I would post on one day at 5am and then the next day at 5:30am and then the next day at 6am and so on. I did this for two months to figure out what time the HWC community was engaging online.
Lucky for you, Facebook now has a nifty tool that does this for you. Just go to the Insights tab and then click on the Posts tab and you’ll see your best times to post there. Now, you’ll still want to test out what times work within an hour of the times Facebook shows because I can tell you my most engaged time each day is about an hour off from what Facebook says. But then again, they’re having to gather info for 1.6 billion pages so narrowing it down within an hour sounds good to me.
I found the 4 times when the majority of my community is online and engaging and I only post during those times. This ensures all my posts get solid engagement and Facebook rewards you for that by showing your posts to more of your community because they know you are only posting what your community wants to see (no spam, please).
4. Figure out what your community wants most and give them nothing but that. If I post something and it’s a miss with my community, it is unlikely you’ll ever see anything like that on my page again.
Google Analytics is great for your site (love them!) but I wonder if you ever take the time to actually look at your Facebook Analytics? This is going to, by far, give you the most accurate and detailed information.
The above is a recent post of mine. Here I can see how many people not only clicked “Like” or shared this post but I can also see how many clicked through. This is one of the best ways to see what your community wants from you.
5. Do not copy my brand page. I say this partly out of selfish reasons and partly because it simply won’t help. Your community is different from mine and what yours wants and needs is different from mine. You can look at mine and others with high engagement for inspiration, but ultimately, you need to figure out what your community shares most (because that is how others find you) and keep giving them things they’re inspired to share with their friends.
6. Put in the time or bow out. Listen, if you don’t have the time to figure out what your Facebook community wants from you, then don’t even waste your time. Some social networks are good for those with no time. Facebook is not one of them. Either make the time to engage or find a different social network that suits your needs.
7. Don’t be afraid to expand your community beyond North America. I recently received an email from a Happy Wives Club member who was sharing my Facebook site with a friend. That friend then told her about a YouTube video about buying “likes” and concluded because my top city was Quezon City, I “bought” the fans. Nope. But I do get a lot of “likes” from the Philippines.
As a matter of fact, because the Filipino community has been so engaged on the Happy Wives Club Facebook page and blog, I traveled to Makati City and Quezon City -both in the Manila metro area- to interview happily married couples for my book. Time Magazine just named Makati City the “selfie” capital of the world because they post more selfies on Instagram than any other city.
So if you have a message that will resonate with Filipinos worldwide, I’d actively look for a way to engage them. I’ve found them to be the most grateful, wonderful, fun-loving people, who are also highly engaged on social media. Not to mention, most of them have tons of friends and family members living in the US so when they share your posts on their Facebook pages, they are being shared to a large number of people on both sides of the Pacific.
Although I don’t target those in the US with ads, you will notice in the screenshot above that my number one country in “fans” and engagement is, by far, right here at home. My top cities are all in the Philippines because they are densely populated and have tons of people on Facebook. But as you can see, that doesn’t represent the full picture.
By ignoring potential community members in other countries, you miss a great opportunity to introduce your mission/brand to not only them, but their friends and family in North America and Europe (the two areas with the highest Facebook ad prices).
Keep in mind, this is not limited to the Philippines. You might find your message resonates in Fiji or South Africa or many other places around the world. Bottom line is the US is only a small portion of the rest of the world so if your message can reach beyond our borders…go for it!
8. Don’t buy Facebook “fans.” They’re not real. I got an email a couple days ago from someone who seemed very genuine and said she was listed by Forbes as one of the Top 50 social media folks in the world. The odd thing is she was selling me on a company she suggested I use (and according to her email was not being paid to promote) to buy “real” Facebook likes. She said she was suggesting it because she’d looked at my Facebook page and thought I could use it.
My response was simple. Nearly 1K new likes a day, less than 30 of those are via ads…I think I’m doing okay. But I have to tell you, her pitch was strong and if I’d received it several years ago, I probably would have been interested.
As a matter of fact, I tried buying a small number of fans back in 2010 -before Facebook explicitly banned the practice- and realized very quickly that it’s no way to build an engaged community. Although the company claimed these were all “real” fans with genuine interest in my page, when I looked at the makeup of those who actually clicked “like” on my page, almost all of them were men from the Middle East. I’d say it’s pretty unlikely any of those guys had a “genuine interest” in the Happy Wives Club.
I learned then the only way to do it is through intentional learning and serving, and for the 4 years that followed, I’ve done just that.
9. Facebook parties are great…but not for engagement. Okay, so here’s the deal with the Facebook parties where you partner up with a ton of other bloggers and those on your page “like” their pages and vice versa. I tried this once a couple years ago and my experience led me not to participate in one again.
The reason is my engagement dropped tremendously. Now, my posts were being shown to people who could care less and only followed me because of the prize we were promoting. I gained 20,000 or so followers, lost about 30% but my engagement went into the toilet. I also began receiving rude comments for the first time on the page…ever.
We’re a positive community, no judgement at all, so snarky comments are very rare. But immediately following the one Facebook push (aka party) I participated in, my engagement dropped and the number of rude comments went through the roof.
That being said, I know many who have found success with these Facebook pushes, but for the most part, those who participate in them see their engagement percentage dramatically decrease in the weeks that follow.
10. Recognize you have a community not “fans.” Unless you’re a celebrity, it’s unlikely people are following you just to know about you. Build a community. Take the time to get to know those in it. Find out why they are following you and how you can serve them.
Facebook is a very powerful tool and if you use it to be of service to others, you will find it is incredibly rewarding for you and for those within your community.
That’s all folks! I just wrote this post off the top of my head, without writing anything down first, so I’m sure I’m missing a few key points, and hopefully it explains like it sounds like one giant run-on sentence. When I sat down to write this, I had no idea it would be so long. Sorry about that…
As time goes on, if I think of things I forgot to add here or if Facebook makes any major algorithm changes that impact my engagement or page growth, I’ll put it in a section below entitled “Update” so you can see it.
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
(Quick plug: I traveled around the world in search of the universal secret of a happy marriage, and all the amazing details are in my USA Today® and New York Times® bestselling book, Happy Wives Club. The executive editor of Brides Magazine described it this way, “It’s like Eat, Pray, Love but not down on marriage!” I think I like that description.)
1. Of course, the day after I post this, the number of people “talking about” my Facebook page dropped to 290,000 – the lowest percentage in as long as I can remember. It’s a great thing this happened though because it reminded me of a best practice I forgot to include: Stay Calm…and just keep serving your community. With every Facebook algorithm change -or times of crazy busyness when you can’t engage like usual- you are likely to see a significant drop. No worries! It’s only the engagement for that week and you always have the current week to return your engagement to normal levels (exactly what I’ll be working on the next couple weeks).
Update on my “talking about this” stat. As soon as I posted the above update, I went to my Facebook page and clicked on Insights > Posts to see if the peak times and days of the week my community is engaging had changed. And guess what? It had. So I adjusted the times I posted and within 36 hours, my “talking about this” jumped up to 399,759 people. Within a week, that number had increased to 682,200.
Again, the only significant change I made to achieve the above results was adjusting the post times to match the newly listed times in my Insights>Post page. The engagement pattern of my community changed and so I needed to quickly adapt. On Facebook, the smallest tweaks can make a major difference.
2. Here’s a tip I forgot in the post: I don’t recommend status updates when posting quote memes or graphics (unless you’re introducing a post link). The reason is you might get alot of “likes” but will likely lose some shares. For instance, if I post a quote meme that says, “I love my life as your wife,” and write in the status update, “Love you, sweetheart,” all those who call their husbands, “Honey” or “Baby” or whatever pet name they choose will not share that graphic. You’ve just personalized it for you…and taken away their ability to personalize it for themselves. Test this out. All those I know who have made this switch have seen their “shares” increase tremendously.
3. I have a feeling I’m going to be adding a lot of updates in the days ahead. Just thought about another important point. ENGAGE with your community. Don’t just set up posts through a scheduler and then never go back to engage with those who posts comments. Even if you only engage with a few people per post, every time I respond to someone in my Facebook community, they get a notification that says, “Happy Wives Club likes your comment” or “Happy Wives Club just responded to your comment.” It lets them know that they matter and are actually engaging with someone real.
4. October 8, 2015 update: I was sending this link to a colleague so I hopped on to see if there was anything in this post from 18 months ago I’d change. Nope. Ironically, even with the addition of so many new social networks, not much has changed. My engagement doesn’t look much different than it did when i wrote this post. So as long as you adjust with Facebook’s algorithm changes a few times a year, rather than giving up, you will win with this social network. My Facebook like count as of today is 936,000 and my post engagement for last week was 8 million (it usually hovers closer to 4 million when I am engaging as mentioned above…but it’s a bit spiked this week…not sure why just yet but will study more and let you know).
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