From the this blog’s humble beginnings Facebook has been my go-to social network. Because I am always travelling, I use the website to connect with my friends from all over the world and using it to promote my blog seemed like a logical next step.
I like to set myself lofty goals and when I began blogging, I decided to aim for the moon. “I’m going to get one thousand Facebook fans by the end of this year!” I promised myself, already fretting. How on earth could I get one thousand people to care about my stories, let alone in the space of a year?
Here we are, eight months later and my blog has amassed an incredible 1.5k Facebook fans with dozens of new readers joining every day. If my audience continues growing at the same rate as now – around 200 new likes every week – my blog should have over 5k fans on Facebook by the time it celebrates its first birthday
. And that’s in addition to the 4k currently following me on Twitter
and 1.4k on Instagram
. Whoa – I can hardly believe it!
Many people have been asking me how I managed to grow my likes so fast and I have finally decided to share my “secrets” with you. I didn’t spend any money on advertising, let alone the £6 I paid Facebook to promote my page during the first month of the page’s existence. You don’t need advertising to grow your audience – just dedication, hard work and time.
I’m sure there are other bloggers who grew their social media following even faster and what works for me may not work for you. But for whatever they’re worth, here are my thirteen very lucky tips for getting hits and building an engaged audience – this is how to get over 1k Facebook fans fast and for free!
1. Write kick-ass content
I know, I know – what a boring way to start this otherwise super exciting list. But if your content isn’t incredible and your headlines catchier than herpes, no one will bother reading it.
If you’re struggling to come up with a topic, check out my 50 travel blog post ideas
. These might work even if your blog is in a different niche altogether, as I list some useful tips for creating viral content.
2. Pictures, not links
When I was just starting out, I simply pasted a link to my article and wrote a short description. That’s how it’s done, right? NO! WRONG! In my experience, links do not get half as much reach or engagement as photos!
What you need to do is create an eye-catching image. You can make your own using Photoshop, but if you’d like to save yourself some time please let me introduce you to Canva, your new best friend! Canva is a free online service which helps you design stunning images – anything from Facebook and Twitter headers to business cards and blog graphics. Pretty much all the featured images on my website (including the one in this post) have been designed by Canva and I suspect they are one of the two main reasons why people click on my posts. Use horizontal, not vertical pictures – they look better on Facebook.
Once you’ve crafted the perfect featured image, just upload it to your profile add a description and – most importantly – a link to your blog post. I use Bitly for shortening my links, because it allows me to track how many people clicked on it, which is pretty useful in determining where you’re getting most traffic from!
UPDATE (27/8/2014): Facebook is currently changing its logarithm yet again and has stated that it will start giving preference to links over pictures with manually inserted links. I recommend you try both approaches and see what works better for you!
3. Highlight like a kindergartner
Whenever you upload a new post or picture to your Facebook profile, don’t forget to highlight it by clicking the arrow in the upper right corner and clicking “Highlight”. This will make sure the story always appears on all users’ timelines, unlike other posts which become hidden over time.
4. Use your Facebook profile
Now, you could just leave it at that and wait. But for an extra boost, I like to share the image on my personal Facebook profile for extra exposure. I do this by switching to my personal account and tagging myself in the photo I just shared on my fan page. This ensures that when my friends like the post on my personal profile, their likes show up on my blog’s page as well.
5. Invite your friends
Following up on the last point – don’t forget to invite all your Facebook friends to like your page. Is it spammy? Maybe a little, but I usually love hearing about my friends’ and acquaintances’ new ventures – so why shouldn’t they care about mine? The worst thing that could happen is that they ignore your request and think you self-centred. Well, boo hoo! A few years from now, guess who’s going to be sipping margaritas on the beach and happily typing away on their laptop? You!
Inviting your friends to like your page is especially important when you’re just starting out – much like money makes money, likes make likes. If people come to your page and you only have a dozen fans, they will think twice about joining their ranks. But once you acquire a solid number – usually at least 500 – people will see that what you’re saying is interesting to many people and happily click “like”.
Don’t forget to add a link to your fan page to the mini bio on your personal profile as well – it’s right below your profile picture, which is where people’s eyes automatically fall first!
6. Join Facebook groups
There are two types of Facebook groups you should be joining if you are serious about making it as a blogger of any kind. Let me give you some examples from my niche – travel. On the one hand, there are groups like Travel Bloggers Network
, We Travel We Blog
and Under 1000 Club
which provide an invaluable source of travel blogging information and a great way to meet your virtual colleagues.
Check out Awesome Bloggers as well – it’s perfect for link exchanges, promoting your content on different platforms and driving traffic to your site.Being an active part of the community is extremely important – this way you can build relationships with other bloggers, which are the virtual equivalent of gold. Seriously, who else is going to listen to you whine about WordPress and discuss SEO over a glass of wine?
On the other hand, there are groups such as NOMADS or Travellers where you can post links to your articles and drive some serious traffic to your site. Just post a link to your article, write a short description and – if what you have written is interesting – people will not be able to resist reading what you have to say! Be careful not to spam the page and comment on other people’s links as well – this way you can convert one-off visitors into regular readers.
7. Get a Facebook widget
This should go without saying, but you must include a Facebook widget on your website if you are serious about growing your audience. You can get a like box here and then just add it to your sidebar using the code provided. Make sure it is displayed prominently in your sidebar and not tucked away at the bottom of the page!
8. Steal from competitors
Don’t worry, don’t worry – I’m not encouraging information theft of any kind. In fact, if your content isn’t fresh and original chances are you will never succeed as a blogger. What I’m really trying to say is this: go to a fellow blogger’s page and have a look at the pages they’ve liked. Then reach out to those bloggers, like their pages and encourage them to like yours back! Wash, rinse and repeat until you’ve spoken to every blogger in your niche – never.
9. Keep a regular schedule
I aim to publish a post on my Facebook page once a day. This not only engages my existing readers and keeps my post reach high, but also ensures that people don’t forget about my blog’s existence. Internet readers have short attention spans and out of sight definitely means out of mind in the online realm! Find a good time to post by going to the “Insights” tab, then clicking “Posts” and finding out how many of your fans are online during different times of the day.
10. Share other people’s content
It doesn’t always have to be my own content – in fact it’s better if it isn’t. If you share viral content which is trending on Facebook, the site will reward you by giving more exposure to your other posts.
If, on the other hand, you share your fellow bloggers’ articles, they will probably be very grateful and might even share one of your own posts! This in turn gives you access to their audience – a bunch of people who are clearly interested in the very topics you write about and hence potential new fans.
11. Post quotes
Do you know why people read your blog? There may be a multitude of reasons, but there is one underlying force driving them there – your site inspires them.
You know what else is inspiring? Quotes. They take seconds to read, but can give you food for thought for the rest of the day if not your life. Quotes will get you loads of likes, shares and comments so why not use that to your advantage?
12. Ask questions
You may have noticed that I finish every post with a handful of questions. Why do I do that? Well, partly because I really care about you – my readers – and want to hear what you think about my posts. But I also do it to entice you to speak up. It’s easy to just read a post and then exit the site – but comments drive up engagement and help people connect with your brand more directly. The more engagement a Facebook post receives, the more people will see it in their newsfeed – so start a heated conversation and you’ll be surprised by how many people have an opinion to contribute!
13. Promote on other social media
I have a large engaged audience on Twitter, which is perfect for cross-promoting my Facebook page on that platform. The simplest way of doing this is simply linking your Facebook to Twitter, which allows the page to automatically send out tweets with your latest posts. Chances are that many of your Twitter fans use Facebook as well and will follow you on that platform, too.
I’m still figuring what works and what doesn’t, but these are tricks which helped me go from zero to 1.5k Facebook fans in less than a year. I love interacting with my readers through my page and have found Facebook to be the biggest source of traffic for my blog. Growing your social media presence is particularly important if you’re a newer blogger, because you won’t be getting too many hits from Google just yet – so start today and let me know if my tips helped you!
Just remember – having many fans on your Facebook page does not necessarily translate into immediate success. You should never only concentrate on one platform, because you never know when it might suddenly become less popular or find another way to mess with you.
Personally, I have accounts and am actively building a following on Facebook
… and I could probably be doing more! Social media promotion is a never-ending commitment, so brace yourself for the journey ahead and enjoy it!
Did you find these tips useful? What other methods do you use? Do you have any further questions? Would you like to learn more about growing your social media fan base?