How to Build a Facebook Audience From Scratch

How to Build a Facebook Audience from Scratch

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The million dollar question asked by many marketers relates to how to increase Facebook Likes.

But the key problem should be attacking how you get relevant Facebook Fans. It’s about quality, not quantity!

The Featured Question

The featured question this week comes from Daniel Himel:

If you had to build an audience from scratch, starting tomorrow. Knowing what you know now….What would be the top 5 steps you would do with facebook?

I am taking Daniel’s question literally and assuming no viable email list, no established website audience and no other customer list or social media audience to leverage that could be used to quickly and easily boost Facebook Likes.

This is not done easily overnight. Normally you can leverage trust established elsewhere. But we need to build that trust along with the audience from scratch.

Here is how I would do it…

1. Establish a Content Publishing Routine

Make sure that the routine appeals to your target audience. This assumes, of course, that you first understand who your target audience is. You should be able to answer these questions:

  • How old are they?
  • Are they male or female?
  • Where do they live?
  • What type of content do they value?
  • What questions do they ask?

Put together some structure — a regular content publishing routine — to regularly get into the News Feeds of relevant people with content they value.

Structure is important here. Establish expectations on what you’re going to post and when. Consider daily themes. Schedule out content to make sure you stay on top of it (I use PostPlanner). Make sure you post the types of content that will elicit a response.

The ultimate goal here is that you not only reach your current fans who like your content, but you get them highly engaged so that those Fans can naturally share your content with friends who also fit your target audience.

2. Use Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search

Graph Search isn’t getting nearly enough attention from marketers. It’s an awesome tool for learning more about your brand’s audience.

In this case, of course, you don’t have an established audience. So you can use it to learn more about the users who like Pages based around products or services that are similar to your own.

First, come up with two Facebook Pages that are either for competitors or products and services similar to your own.

Then, run a search to find out the Pages that their Fans also like. Here’s an example:

“Pages liked by people who like Jon Loomer Digital and Mari Smith”

Here are the top Pages that come up for me when I run that search:

  • Social Media Examiner
  • Social Fresh
  • Hubspot
  • Mashable
  • hubze
  • Facebook Marketing
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Klout
  • TechCrunch
  • Marie Forleo
  • Lewis Howes

Keep that info in your back pocket!

Now run a search to determine the favorite interests of this same group of people. Here’s an example:

“Favorite interests of people who like Jon Loomer Digital and Mari Smith”

Here are the results of that search:

  • Social media
  • Marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Blogging
  • Photography
  • Traveling
  • Running
  • Search engine optimization
  • Reading
  • Internet marketing
  • LinkedIn
  • Web 2.0

Some of these interests are clearly more relevant than others. Stick the relevant ones in your back pocket.

Now, depending on the nature of your basis, there are endless other searches that you could run to pad your knowledge of your ideal audience.

Here are some other examples:

  • Groups of people who like…
  • Pages liked by [career like “marketers”] who like…
  • Places in [city] visited by people who like…
  • [Business type like “restaurants”] in [city] visited by people who like…
  • Movies liked by people who like…
  • Games played by people who like…
  • Favorite music of people who like…

Get creative and experiment!

3. Run Highly Targeted Facebook Ads

Facebook Power Editor Precise Interests

So, you’re probably wondering what the heck you’re going to do with all of that information you learned in Step #2. Here you go!

When you’re running Facebook ads, you want them to be highly targeted. So make sure they are surfaced only to the people who fit your target demographic. You can control this with basic things like age, gender, location, career and a whole lot more.

But you can also do this by listing Precise Interests. Use the learnings from above here.

Something else you can do is run Sponsored Results ads (Facebook is phasing these out, but use them while you can!). Target people running searches for the Pages that overlap with your target audience.

Finally, you now know a whole lot about your target audience. Use this information to target by specific lifestyle and buying history traits through the use of Partner Categories.

4. Offer a Premium Piece of Content

Facebook Like Gate

Create something of value that appeals to your target audience. This could be a professionally done eBook or white paper. Offer that piece of content for free in exchange for liking your Page.

This is done with like-gating. Visitors to your tab are given different views depending on whether they are Fans or not. If they aren’t, they can be shown a preview of what they get for free if they like your Page. When they like, they are given the download link.

I use ShortStack (aff.) to do this. Use this piece of premium content as a carrot for your ads. Drive those ads to this landing page.

5. Use Hashtags

Facebook Hashtags Increase Audience

Facebook hashtags are still gaining traction. But they can be a great tool for reaching a broader audience.

Research what hashtags are currently being used in your niche. Start using those hashtags appropriately to categorize your content.

If done correctly, you will begin reaching more people who aren’t currently Fans but who are interested in your niche. This is great for discovery!

EXTRA. Network

Okay, I was only supposed to do five. But the thing is that there are far more than five ways to increase your relevant Facebook audience. And really, you should be looking beyond Facebook to increase that audience.

A huge one is networking. Look to guest post on the blogs of others with larger audiences who service your target audience. Comment on those popular blogs. Comment on their Facebook Pages. And offer to interview some of these top names in your industry.

While doing these things, make sure that you are always looking to provide value. Networking is possibly the most important key to gaining traction quickly and going from obscurity to authority.

Other Related Links

Here are some other links that I referenced in the video above:

Don’t Forget to Subscribe!

Make sure you watch the video above for all of the details.

That’s it! Hope you found this week’s video blog and separate answers helpful. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

  • Emily Thousand

    I love all your articles! You know that. I’m surprised you don’t mention Contests?

    • Jon Loomer

      I actually mentioned contests, but I believe it was in the video. Main concern with contests is relevance. Wanted this to be more about quality over quantity. That’s why I focused on more precise targeting!

      • David Neale

        As an example; a mortgage broker creates a FB contest giving away a new laptop and gets 1000’s of likes even though serving a local market. Isn’t this almost a complete waste of time? Hasn’t this person compiled an “audience” of people wanting a free laptop? Possibly somebody in that group may need a mortgage one day but surely that percentage is minuscule and not worth the effort.

  • Umair Qureshi

    I have created few posts and tagged one of the relevant page with my content and believe me that post gets immense attention just because of the tag I created.. and also discovered that facebook actually tells non-fans with related interest that XyZ page (which is mine) is talking about Abc page… and fans of the abc starts interacting with my content which ultimately gave me Likes, shares & new fans.

    Share your experience Jon? :)

  •, muaz

    Thanks you Jon Loomer.. you make me know some value on this post.

  • Richard Mayo

    Great Information! Really appreciate it. Thanks, Jon

  • SocialChirps

    Thanks for sharing the tools that you are using.

  • John

    Hi, really like your work. I tried out that same graph search you did after much frustration trying to follow the same process for my brand. The search for “Pages liked by people who like Jon Loomer Digital and Mari Smith” returned only super generic brands. Not any of the results your screenshot shows. The same thing happened with the interests search. Any ideas? I think this is one of the most powerful tools on Facebook if it can be used in the way you described.

  • John

    Why did my message get deleted? I just posted an honest question…

    • Jon Loomer

      I didn’t delete it. Likely picked up by a spam filter. If you spam other places or if people flagged it, could have gone away that way. Especially if you included a link.

      • John

        Interesting, don’t know why that happened for my comment, seemed very innocent! Anyhow, I was just wondering if this same was happening for you: When I try the same graph search that you input I get super generic brands, the results you got don’t show up for a long ways down the list. Same goes for most any other combination of pages that I search. If this tool can be used in the way you described I think it would be an incredibly powerful tool! Right now just seems very generic and uninsightful.

        • Jon Loomer

          Interesting, John. One thing that needs to be mentioned is that my results will differ from yours since Facebook always tries to make what you see relevant to you. But you’re right. Important point!

  • Chad Wittman

    Awesome work Jon — This really should be read by anyone looking to start their branding.

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Chad!

  • deannagibbons

    Just discovered you through Mari Smith. This is by far the most useful article I’ve seen on gaining likes. You’ve got a new fan here! Thanks Jon for this valuable information.

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Deanna!

  • Ann-Marie Nielsen

    Very, very useful article and tools. Thanks for this!

  • Ali Mirza

    loved it, now I know how to use FB graph search !!!!

  • Angela Moore

    Excellent tips! I need to do better around graph search and hash-tags, really appreciate the info there. I did find success with precise interests and Like ads, and rapidly grew my fan page. I think though that one thing that also helped me that I wanted to share is to have a really clear, strong (and short) value proposition. Knowing the problem your audience has and having a concise message on how you help them with it is key.

  • Gustavo

    Hi Jon
    When using power editor, I go to select precise interests and type the name of the pages my potential fans like, but most of them don’t show up un that list, what can I do to target these pages fans? how can I identify those pages on precise interests?

  • dtstanley

    Dude, you crush it like Gorman Thomas going deep in ’82 for Harvey’s Wallbangers in this post. I’m going to be sharing this with all of my clients and my students in my SMM course at UW-Madison. This is FANTASTIC! Thank you a hundred times over.

  • Robert A Lyon

    I think I’m doing okay for just starting out, but I’m not sure. I’ve been running a $1/day highly targeted ad campaign to garner page likes from a very specific audience. Since December 24th, the ad has generated 66 page likes. My click through rate is 4.527%. I feel like I should be doing better, although I’m not going for quantity, but rather quality. Are these results any good?

    • Jon Loomer

      I can’t tell you for sure without knowing whether it’s also resulting in an increase in engagement, Robert. But it sounds good!

      • Robert A Lyon

        Ok good. Engagement is something I’m constantly trying to improve. I don’t have a magic formula, and I’m just starting to like and study successful pages to learn from them. I’m not happy with the engagement so far, BUT I also feel like I’m asking strangers to sort of come into my world and therefore I don’t want to expect to much too soon. I view this as a work in progress, hopefully my results only improve. Thanks for the response Jon!

        • Jon Loomer

          You bet, Robert! I actually consider myself more of a tools and tactics guy, and less of a marketing and PR guy. As a result, building a relationship with people I don’t know doesn’t come particularly naturally for me. It’s a useful skill if we can learn it, though!

  • Scott McMahon

    Question? Is there no way to build an audience without paying for it on Facebook. Any time I read or listen to podcast about marketing on Facebook to increase “likes” and engagement … you have to pay. Is this correct? There is no organic growth strategies, correct?

  • Helton Bezerra

    One of the best posts on branding I’ve seen.

    Do you have any specific course about it Jon?