Guest Post: How I added 8,000 Facebook fans in 5 months

tim emerson Guest Post: How I added 8,000 Facebook fans in 5 months

Tim Emerson is a graduate of my Niching for Hippies course and someone I did a case study on a while ago. He’s also a big believer in the power of slow marketing.

When Tim told me that he had over 8,000 fans on his facebook page whereas I only have a half of that, I was extremely curious as to how he did it and asked if he’d be kind enough to write up a guest blog post about it. I think you’ll really appreciate his ideas here. 

You can read it below . . .

Full disclosure—I am not a fan of social media.  It’s scattered, busy, a distraction, a time sink.  Further, I’ve spent a fair amount of time pissed off at Facebook.  So I’m an unlikely author for this blog post.

Nonetheless, I went from being “stuck” to adding 8,000 fans to my page, https://www.facebook.com/KwanYinHealing, in just five months—and more are still coming.   This page has also become one of my key promotional strategies.  Here’s how that happened.

I actually didn’t mean to open a Facebook fan page.  I had constructed a simple website with Yola.com, and one of the options was to publish to Facebook.  So, on April 6, 2012, I figured “Why not,” and clicked it.   Voila.  Kwan Yin Healing had a Facebook page. 

It slowly added a few fans.  Then a few more.  And a few more.  This would take patience.   I saw the various “How to get 10,000 fans” promos, but while I’m sure these guys know their business, it’s the anti-thesis of the calm, peaceful image I wanted for my business.  Nobody’s going to come rushing to Kwan Yin Healing because my opt-in box is bigger, brighter, redder, and in your face before we get past “hello” – and if they did, the fit would probably not be good.  I’d just have to be patient. 

Facebook, however, is not patient, and likes to change the rules frequently.  One of these changes was deciding that just because fans like your page doesn’t mean they should be seeing your posts in their feed.  Unless, of course, they’re teenagers, and compelled to like or comment on virtually everything.  My fans…aren’t, and don’t.  So my fan count, at 623, sat their at 623, and the “talking about this” number dropped to around 20 a day.  Facebook offered a solution—pay to have your fans see your posts!  As you might imagine, this didn’t make me the happiest of campers. 

But then something happened, and that day, my page started climbing again.  It continued to climb, daily, and still continues to climb—it’s at 8,921 as I write this. 

What changed?   There are four key elements to my strategy, and I also have a few points about ads, as well as how I use Facebook to attract clients.   So let’s dive in.

1)  I got clear about my page’s purpose and message.  

Without this, nothing else matters. 

Understand that no one comes to Facebook to buy stuff.  They come to relax, to see funny or inspiration quotes and pictures and videos, to interact with their friends.  So not only are they not there to buy, but they resent attempts to sell them.  Imagine you’re at the park, on a walk, enjoying a show, and people interrupt you to sell their products and programs.  “Leave me alone,” right?  And they will leave you very alone instead.  

For Kwan Yin Healing, the cover photo, a forest waterfall, the same as on my home page, sets the tone for the peaceful, flowing feeling I wish to create, and one very compatible with my point of view about healing, about my work, and about me.  The posts on the page are all inspirational quotes and related material that fit with this theme.   Things I like but that don’t fit this energy, I post on my personal page instead.  It’s encouraging, reflective, helpful, inspiring, peaceful, and fits nicely within my Taoist/Buddhist perspective, without being spiritually dogmatic.  There’s no agenda here.  It’s a place to relax.  That’s why people follow the page. And that’s why they trust me.  

Nor is any of this mere theory.  This is what my own clients tell me.  “I like your page—it’s consistent.”  Yeah.  It’s hard to trust someone you can never quite rely upon.   You know what  you’re getting when you like my page. 

2) I paid attention to what got positive response and adjusted.

What’s nice about Facebook is that you can see how many likes and shares each post gets, and a report about the “virality” of each post.  The big losers here are text posts.   People already see a sea of text, and skim it at best.  Plus, at a glance, all text looks the same.  

Pictures are the rule on Facebook.  An inspiring quote with a corresponding image gets—literally—ten times the virality. According to Edgerank Checker, the median Facebook virality is under 2%.  My page’s posts typically hover around 20%.   Facebook is a visual medium.  

And just having a photo isn’t enough—the text must be part of the photo.  Typically, content creators post this over the face of the photo.  When I create content (which I do rarely), I use InDesign to create a matching box above or below (or both) the photo with the text.   But either way—this way the photo and message get shared—many times more than otherwise.  Including your site link on the graphic is a good idea as well.  While shared photos are credited by Facebook automatically, links can get buried. 

Every so often, I’ll share something I think readers would like—free Eckhart Tolle talks, or Louise Hays, or Wayne Dyer.   And they always fall flat, with virality around 2%.   This surprises me.   It’s why we look at numbers.

3) I worked out a simple system for keeping the page active while spending very little time on it. 

There’s a joke that floats around periodically:  How to be more productive on Facebook?  Delete your Facebook account and get to work. 

While I sometimes create content, most of my page is repurposed from other pages.   When I see something I like, I check out their page, and if it fits well, I’ll like it, and add it to my Interests list.   Every day or two, I’ll quickly scan down the Pages feed for appropriate things to post.   If it’s great, but too small to read, I’ll pass it by.  The other pages appreciate the shares, and I’ll just add a short comment and my webpage.  That’s it.

I’ll also check out the comments, and like most of them, so people know they were seen and heard.  Every week or so, I’ll check the Insights report (though just the likes and shares on the page are a good indication).  Once in a while, a post will get multiple comments (like 30-60 comments), and I’ll know I’ve accidentally stumbled across something to consider later strategically. 

And that’s it.  Five to ten minutes.  Done.

4) Resist selling, except for limited free offers. 

And even then, you’re pushing it.  So here’s what works for me – curiosity.  “Hey!  Sign up for my free offer!”  No.   But after seeing several cool posts with http://kwanyinhealing.com above them, after a while, some people click on it…and sign up for my free offer.  It’s not big numbers…but it is steady.  My list (which last year was at 35) is at 620 – and just over a third of those came from Facebook.   But that doesn’t make them clients.  It’s a poorly qualified group. 

But Facebook DOES serve me in one major way—a source of free teleseminar attendees.  A nice graphic with the copy embedded and a sign-up link will bring 60-80 new people to my list.  20-30 will show up for the call, and 4-10 of them will become new clients. When those new clients are signing on to the Kwan Yin Journey, my signature program, a single teleseminar can make a month’s income.  So Facebook does bring clients after all, through the free teleseminar and enrollment route. 

Which brings me to advertising.

At first, “promoted posts” were great—I could reach friends of friends for $10.   Then Facebook realized their generosity, and jacked the price up more than one hundred times, dolling out only a limited number of people reached for each new level of investment—$1,000 still won’t buy what $10 did only a few months ago.  

It’s ridiculously steep for three reasons.   First, the response isn’t great. Second, people HATE promoted posts.  The posts say, right on them, “promoted post,” and virality drops to near nothing.  Some people even send nasty grams, letting page owners know how much they resent someone else footing the bill for their free Facebook.  It’s too “in their face.”   Literally, the SAME post NOT promoted will get a better response.  And third, Facebook won’t allow more than 20% of a graphic to be text, severely limiting advertising options.  

So if I have something to promote, I use a few tricks.

I’ll let a post run organically at first.  Once that slows down, THEN I’ll promote it, but only within a limited budget, which depends on what I’m promoting.   And if I don’t need to reach a lot of people, I’ll sometimes design what I want and run it anyway—it will run for a few hours until a Facebook person has a chance to get to it and stop the promotion for violating the rules.  The posts that have run already remain visible.  But that’s not a great strategy for anything I’m seriously promoting.  A web link to a press release with a graphic works reasonably well.  Message sent.

Then there are the ads with links on the side. 

Advantage—people don’t mind these the way they resent promoted posts.   They see these as not so “in your face” and not an interruption, but rather something they can check out if they please, unlike content “forced” into their feed.  And Advantage Two, these ads can be amazingly well targeted to specific audiences defined by a wide array of parameters. 

Disadvantage—they are expensive and not particularly effective.   You can’t say much, and you can’t really send them where you’d like.  Dead end.

With one exception I’ve used to good effect. 

Create a quirky ad, with an eye-catching image, that still is truly in keeping with your point of view and strategic purpose.   I ran, for example, one saying “Healing isn’t Magic,” with an image from a video of me in my car with an appearance by my curious husky.   The video includes a core piece of my point of view, and the ad links to a post featuring the video, where I can say much more.   This lands on my Facebook page.   I pin the original post to the top of the page, so that the landing is relevant (which must be redone every couple of weeks, as pins expire), and presto—the curious eyes are now on my page.  

I severely limit the daily size of this budget, just a few bucks, with a carefully targeted audience.   But it will bring in better than 20 new people (i.e., other than friends of friends) who become engaged in the page.   The ad doesn’t get stale, because it’s being seen by people who haven’t yet seen it. 

Slow and steady.  But altogether, worth 8000 new fans in five months, like opening a valve at the end of January, and it’s been flowing ever since. 

My plans from here are to maintain the status quo, at least until Facebook changes the rules again, and to concentrate on the teleseminar strategy.  I would also like to build a network of affiliate partners to help promote the Kwan Yin Journey.   If that might be you, check out http://kwanyinhealing.com/journey.php and then drop me an email if this looks like a good fit for your clients – tim at kwanyinhealing dot com.

I’m also completely redesigning my web page to focus on synching my strategy and free offer in a clear, authentic, step by step path more friendly to curious visitors, and to then build relationship more strategically with my email newsletter and blog than I have been. 

And I’ll next turn my attention to my YouTube page, http://www.youtube.com/KwanYinHealing, which has, like my Facebook page, worked surprisingly well, largely by accident—but in this case, I actually get clients calling who found me on YouTube.  Time to focus on a strategy there—but that will have to be another blog post another time. 

Wish me luck!

Tim Emerson

Kwan Yin Healing

About Tad

  • Tanja Gardner

    Great post, Tim! I look forward to trying out some of the techniques that have been successful for you on my own Facebook fanpage.

    Blessings

    TANJA

  • http://creativeagencysecrets.com/ Rebecca Caroe

    Tad and Tim, thanks for facilitating this blog post. We use the EXACT same techniques that you do with two exceptions

    1 – we post much more frequently (this is making a sea-change in the volume of likes and shares)

    2 – the comments are now cross-enabled on our website blog and on Facebook so if someone comments on Facebook you can read it on the blog and vice versa.

    Our philosophy is that readers will read our things on the platform they prefer – so let them get it where they choose. BUT never forget that Facebook owns Facebook not you and so we actively drive readers back to our website and blog because once there, they will browse and may buy or join our mailing list.

    We are writing a case study of our work with two clients (Coxmate) and (Rowperfect) which is starting today for 2 weeks.

    Here’s part one of the case http://creativeagencysecrets.com/driving-facebook-likes-and-follows-bni-new-business-tip-of-the-week/

    The rest will follow when we have results….. happy to share with your community if you would like another guest post, Tad.

    Rebecca Caroe, Creative Agency Secrets

  • katelovingshenk

    Great job, Tim! Thanks for the easy to follow strategies!

  • Kwan Yin Healing

    You know it’s interesting — if I post more than a few a day, I’ll get a few unlikes (though still a net gain). I suppose it depends greatly on your audience. In my case — I simply don’t want to be spending much time on Facebook posts.