So you have a Facebook page for your business, you’re making regular posts, but you’re not seeing new business. What gives? Is it broken? Should you keep trying?
To start, let’s go back over the basics, which you can find in much greater detail in my last business post, “How to Use a Facebook Page to Build Your Massage Business.”
- Your first job is to make the page look “like you.” Can the client tell that your page is a massage business at a glance? Does it look somewhat professional? And yes, cell phone pics of you and your room are fine for now.
- Have you gotten an initial crop of likes from friends and clients? Use the “invite friends” function to recruit your friends and family members who already support your business and who think you’re great. Use your email list to invite your clients to like your page (it may take a couple of reminders, so consider putting your Facebook address at the bottom of all of your emails as well).
- Have you written a few introductory posts, spaced over the course of a couple of weeks?
Good! You’re up and running, and you should start reaping rewards within a few months. Did I mention that this is a slow process that relies on consistent upkeep?
But Ian, I’m not getting ANY reaction!
That’s normal at first, and it’s kind of baked into the system. The only people who will see your posts are those who hit the “like” button, and only a small percentage of those. If you have 50 likes, you’ll only be reaching 10-15 people at first.
You grow by people interacting with your posts. Whenever a fan hits “like” on one of your posts, or comments, or chooses to share it, THEIR friends will also have a small chance to see that action. If you’ve seen “So-and-so liked this post:” after which you saw a post from some weird page you’ve never heard of… that’s it! That’s what we want to be happening all the time.
So, a small percentage of your fans will see your post, a smaller number of them will interact with it, and a teensy number of their friends will see that action. Welcome to business networking in the 21st century.
The upshot is this: The more likes you have, the bigger that initial number of views will be. Not only that, but if two friends in the same group interacts with your post, their mutual friends will almost certainly see it. In other words, having lots of likes is a GREAT way of getting new likes. Because of this, growth on Facebook isn’t linear (10 likes per week, every week, forever), it’s exponential: one like, then 5, then 100, then a million… okay, not that fast.
The lesson is that the sooner you start building your fan base, and the more you can front-load your page with likes from friends, colleagues, and clients, the better off you’ll be in 6 months. Your number of likes also affects how effective your advertising is. More on that in a second.
A quick word on Facebook’s display algorithm
If you do any research on using Facebook for business ventures, you’ll see mention of “the algorithm.” If webpages still played annoying music like in the 90s, that would have been accompanied by a sinister horn riff.
An algorithm is just a set of rules applied to data. In this case, it’s the way that Facebook’s robo-brain determines whether your posts should be displayed to other people, or if it should just stay buried forever. When you post something on your business page, Facebook will display it to a test audience made up of a portion of your fans. If only a small percentage of that sample interacts with that post, the algorithm dictates that your post shouldn’t get served to much of the rest of your fan base. It makes sense when you think about it: If a page is writing a bunch of cruddy posts, why should it be clogging up your news feed?
What does this mean for your budding business? It means going for quality over quantity, and that you may need to keep Facebook’s heartless robots in mind when you write your posts.
Facebook seems to show picture and text posts to many people, and it shows video posts to lots and lots of people. Links to external websites don’t tend to reach many of your fans at all, so only post them when you think that it will really engage anyone who sees it.
That’s all I’m going to say on this for now, other than to not worry about it too much. Just write quality posts that show your personality and your knowledge, and pay some attention to the number of people that each post reaches. If one type of post seems to be working well for you, do those more often.
Oh yeah! Sorry, I get distracted sometimes. Facebook advertising is a great way to increase your page’s like count without waiting for organic growth to do its work. If you focus on the right demographic, and if you experiment with what works for your page and your local community, your advertising strategy can actually be quite cheap. I’m talking $30-60 per month as you start out, and as little as $20 per month once you’re established.
That’s going to translate into new likes, and, eventually, a few new clients every month. Just realize that this isn’t a “put money in, get clients out” situation. At first, it will feel like throwing cash into a fire. “Lots of people saw that, why didn’t I get any clients?”
Well, one or two of those people will give you a try. In a couple of months. Or a year. I just had a client who has been seeing my page in their newsfeed for over a year now, and they finally bit the bullet and gave me a try (and yes, they rebooked).
Think of it like billboards alongside the road. The first time you see a new billboard, you might be a little interested, but probably not enough to give that business a call. 10 viewings later, and it’s just another part of the scenery. But one day, you might think, “you know, I do like Thai food, and I’ve never tried that place,” or, “you know, I’ve just been in a car accident, and that lawyer did look trustworthy.”
You want to seep into your community’s consciousness, and it may take a while before that turns into anything concrete. Be patient with Facebook, and I’m fairly confident that you’ll have success.
How to boost successfully
You can advertise your page as a whole, making it show up in the sidebar or in the newsfeed of the demographic that you choose. I did that when I was first starting up, and I feel like it helped me get a good initial crop of likes. If you’d like to give that a try, do campaigns that last at least a week and that don’t spend much per day (~2 bucks), and try fiddling with who you target, and what language you use. Today’s post isn’t about that, because I don’t do much page advertisement these days, and, uh, I’ve kind of forgotten the finer points.
For me, boosting is what it’s all about.
“Boosting” is something that you can do with any of your posts, using a button in the bottom-right corner.
You can do this on your desktop, or when using Facebook’s “Pages Manager” app on iPhone and Android. When you boost, that post will show up frequently in your target audience’s newsfeed, under the “sponsored post” header.
The benefits of boosting:
- That post will show up much more frequently than it would have otherwise, leading to more post engagement (likes, comments, etc). The more post engagement you get, the more often you’re seen by your fans, and by friends of the people who interacted with your post.
- Because people see a post rather than just a link to your page, they’ll see some information about you. If you boost a post where you sound knowledgeable, or show off your neat massage space, people might get a picture of who you are as a massage therapist. I find that boosting brings me more informed clients.
- If you expect for a post to be a dud, boosting can get it seen. This is great for dry posts about your upcoming availability, or a change of address. If you expect for a post to do well, it can make the post do really well.
Choosing your audience
With all Facebook advertising, you can select a subset of users who will see your ad (click on “People you choose through targeting”). The better your targeting is, the cheaper all of your ad campaigns will be.
For instance, I like to target athletes. Under “interests,” I’ll put things like tennis, golf, triathalons, marathons, etc. This can be useful for posts about working with sport-related pain. I know that every person who sees my boosted post will be more likely than your average Joe to be interested in massage, and to be more in touch with their body.
For general posts, I’ll target people who like yoga, meditation, and massage. These are people who are likely already familiar with massage, and who will be more likely to be informed consumers. As fun as it is to work on complete newbies, I want clients who know a good massage when they feel one! They’ll also find your ad more eye-catching.
Basically, try not to advertise to every single person in your location. You want to home in on the clients that will be interested in your business.
Finally, you can choose to target “people who like your page and their friends.” If you’ve got a good fan-base going, the occasional post targeted at people who already like your page can be very effective. Their friends will see it too, along with “[your friend] likes this page.” Peer pressure!
What about these other things I can change?
Definitely select your local area. The tighter your radius of advertisement, the cheaper your ad will be, and the more likely you are to engage people who can use your services. I like a 10 mile radius.
For age, you might be more successful once you’ve looked at the results of past ad campaigns. If you notice that only people from the ages of 22-48 are responding to your ad, restrict your age range accordingly. It’s just a good idea to only spend money where you’re likely to get a response.
How about gender? Casting a wide net is definitely good. That said (and here I might be saying something controversial), if you have concerns about male clients contacting you for inappropriate reasons, you’re well within your rights to exclude them from your advertising demographic. You’ll still get male clients who see your page via their friends’ likes, but that’s kind of like a referral. They’re connected to the people who are already responding to your page, so they’re more likely to be there for the right reasons.
That said, if you’re trying to really reach your local military members for a military discount, or if you want to make headway into the marathoning circles in your area, you may have more success targeting everyone in those demographics.
Experiment! You’ll find that certain things work in your area that don’t work in mine, and that some groups will respond more vigorously than others. That’s why brief, cheap boosts are a good idea, especially as you’re figuring out what works.
How brief? And how cheap?
If you’re boosting a post that you expect to be successful anyway, you can probably get away with teensy boosts. I like to use $2 boosts over 2 days (you may only be able to go under $5 on the desktop version of Facebook, by the way).
If, on the other hand, I’m trying to get some rather dry information out, like my upcoming schedule, I’ll boost a bit harder. $6 over 3 days, for instance. Facebook will always show you how many people you can expect to reach; if that number is too low, you either need to feed it more money, or make your demographic less restrictive. Try adding more interests, or making the area larger.
There may be posts that are such knockouts that you want everyone to see them. Again and again, over the course of several weeks. If you make a post that people seem to love, and that seems to get people interested in your business, go big! Give it a few bucks a day for 10 days out of the month, and maybe do it again the next month. That’s been hugely successful for my video demonstrations.
Yep. Apparently, being able to see you in action can really help people make that decision to make an appointment. If you want to learn how to make an easy, nice-looking demo video (for cheap), stay tuned for next week’s post!
One last bit on strategy
As I alluded to earlier, this is going to be a long-haul thing. You want those clients seeing your “billboard” again and again over the course of months. That means being consistent about boosting your posts.
I recommend boosting one post per week, for a couple bucks, for a couple days. Once you find a demographic that responds well, make sure that you keep showing up in their news feed. Over the next few months, you can expect to see results. If not, leave a comment and let’s brainstorm!