In my social media consulting for clients of Virante Inc., by far the most frequent question I get is “how can I increase my number of followers/fans?” Here are the top tips I share with our clients regarding building a large (and engaged!) Facebook fan base:

The number one piece of advice I give clients is it pays to work diligently and patiently at building your social media following. Sure, there are gimmicks and services out there who will (or claim they will) get you hundreds or even thousands of followers in a short time. But my experience (and the experience of every analyst I trust) is that these followers end up being pretty much worthless. You want followers who want to be your followers; who engaged with you in the first place because they had a good reason to do so. Those kinds of followers are most likely to stay engaged, and their engagement is what builds your following.

The truth is, in most cases that takes time. But the reward is worth it. And the good news is that if you do the careful work initially, and maintain it, eventually exponential growth will come. The reason for that is simple: by starting with a base of real followers and continually engaging them in ways that add value to their lives, you build an army of people who will share your name and content with others, and who will encourage their friends to become your followers.

Engagement is key because it is a big factor in FaceBook’s EdgeRank, the algorithm Facebook uses to determine what actually gets seen in users’ news feeds. The more engaged fans are with your content, the more likely Facebook will display your posts.

Here are my favorite tips for building your Facebook fan base:

  • It sounds like a “duh,” but never forget that social media is, well, social! If you are serious about building a fan base who will champion your cause, then there is no substitute for engagement. Keep a careful eye on your page’s wall, and respond to your fan’s posts and comments. Fans will stay much more engaged with a page if they believe there is someone “real” at the other end.
  • Peruse our social media tools tag on this blog for lots of useful sites and apps to help you keep track of engagement on your page (and other social media outlets). I particularly recommend HyperAlerts, the best way to get notifications when fans post on your page (better than Facebook’s own notifications).
  • Most pages simply don’t post enough. Mileage varies, of course, but my experience is that as long as you are posting interesting, useful, and engaging content, even up to three to four posts a day is not too much. Users typically miss much of what is posted because of the glut of content in their feeds. Therefore, it is important to post at various times of the day. Watch your pages’ Insights page to see what times of day gets the most response.
  • Vary the type of content you post. Post any new content from your site. Post links to other sites with content relevant and useful to your followers. Post “warm fuzzies” (occasionally): personal glimpses that make you more “human” to your fans (office party, milestone in an staff member’s life, pictures from an event -use your creativity). Post questions and surveys that encourage interaction from fans.
  • Whenever possible, end a post with a question that encourages fans to make a comment. It can be as simple as “What do you think?” or “What would you do in this circumstance?” or “What are your own tips for doing this effectively?”
  • Frequently include a call to action in your posts, encouraging your fans to “like” or comment, or to share the post with their friends. Studies show that user engagement typically increases when such calls to action are present.
  • In line with the previous suggestion, don’t be afraid to repeat important posts; just do the repeats on different days and at different times.
  • Click the “Edit Page” button and select “Resources” for a number of ways to further promote your page:
  • Add Facebook Like buttons to all content and posts on your site. The Like button now posts a full “share” of your content to the visitor’s Facebook wall, and this is seen by that visitor’s friends. Obviously, this is a huge way of getting your page in front of more eyes. Facebook recently introduced a Send Button as well, that allows visitors to send your content to specific friends or groups.

This page: 21 Creative Ways to Increase Your Facebook Fanbase has many other great ideas. Not all of them will be useful for you, but many are worth trying out.

In conclusion: it sounds like a “duh,” but the main thing to keep in mind is that the social web is, well, social! The best way to build a truly engaged fan base who will become your volunteer marketers is to be engaging yourself. That takes time and creativity, but the payoff can be huge.

What other tips have helped you to build a large, well-engaged fan base on Facebook?