For the past few years, Facebook has been limiting how much free exposure businesses can get on the social media platform. As the billions of users grow and connect, Facebook has—necessarily—cracked down on business pages’ organic reach, instead placing greater emphasis on updates from friends and family in the newsfeed algorithm, as well as video and photo posts.

This has been a constant issue for digital marketers and especially small businesses as of late. It’s well known that Facebook only shows your updates to a small fraction of your total Facebook fans—nobody knows the exact amount, but it’s less than 10 percent.

So if you have 600 fans, only 60 will see your updates for sure. Facebook uses them as a de facto testing group—if they like, share, click, watch or comment on your content, then the levee opens and more of your fans will see it.

There are few ways to get real exposure on Facebook in 2017. A few tactics include: paying to boost your posts beyond the walls of your limited fan base, focusing heavily on photos and videos (sticky types of content that the Facebook algorithm is said to prefer), focusing on creating shareable content, or just being freaking awesome at Facebook.

Here, we’ll focus on that last one.

If you want to grow your Facebook following on a shoestring budget and are just starting out—maybe you’ve got fewer than 100 likes, maybe a few more—these tips are for you.

Run a Contest.

We’ll start with the most obvious strategy: contests. Everybody loves winning stuff, and liking a Facebook page is about the easiest action a potential lead could perform.

There are no shortage of contest ideas to generate engagement—you could reward people for commenting on posts, tagging friends, etc.—but to generate new followers, your best bet is to hold a giveaway in exchange for a free product or small prize you can easily handle.

Keep in mind Facebook has strict rules regarding sweepstakes and contests—for example, you can’t require people share your post on their wall to win something. Always check the rules to see if your idea is legit.

Once you’ve got the idea in place, don’t just post it—market the hell out of it. Post it to contest giveaway sites and aggregators, share it on your personal feed and write a blog post about it. Note that the types of people you collect here may not be real fans—so your engagement rate may drop because they potentially don’t actually care about your product—but you can mitigate this by making the prize specific enough (like a niche product) to only appeal to the audience you’re truly after.

If you have any money to give to Facebook, give it a little boost. But be careful when it comes to spending money—which brings us to the second recommendation…

Be specific when spending money on Facebook.

It’s a dangerously easy black hole to just throw money at Facebook and hope for results.

If you’re aiming for new likes and boosting posts on Facebook, be sure to specifically exclude people who already like your page when choosing your target audience.


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Facebook’s advertising manager has gotten significantly more sophisticated in recent years, so use that. You can target specific ad placements, user behavior and interests on a far deeper level than simply gender, location and age. Use this to make sure you’re spending your dollars wisely.

Be shameless.

First off, if you haven’t invited literally all your Facebook friends to like your page, do that now. You’d be surprised—even your friend’s weird brother whom you haven’t spoken to in a decade might like it. And if he doesn’t, you’re no worse off than when you started. (And if you’re worried about how awkward it might seem to invite someone you barely know to like your page, then ask yourself: would it really be any less awkward if you saw them on the street tomorrow and tried to strike up a casual conversation? Bottom line: you have awkward relationships. Embrace the awkward.)

While you can’t force people to share your content, you can always share stuff on your own wall. You’ll be a little annoying, but if you’re just starting out, you need to make a splash. Otherwise, your social media presence will disappear quicker than it began.

You can also be shameless when it comes to your own page, too. Again: you can’t force people to share your content, but you can politely request it. Obviously this won’t work for everything (“Just got new team t-shirts! Please share!!!”), but this is where a social media strategy comes into play.

If you’re getting involved in the community—partnering with local charities or sponsoring a kids’ sports team, for example—you should absolutely post that on Facebook and politely ask people to share and donate. You’ll get far more genuine shares, reaching hundreds of new eyeballs and giving yourself more organic chances to gain a following.

Be a Facebook networker.

Tagging other business pages is free publicity, and it’s easy to develop a strategy around that. Simply reach out to other brands and be honest about what you need.

Let’s say you’re a gym and you really did just get new team t-shirts in. One easy method of outreach would be to message equipment companies—let’s call them Fitness Masters—and say something like, “Hey, our gym uses your equipment and would love to cross-promote this on Facebook to boost exposure for both of us. I’ll tag Fitness Masters, and would love if you tagged my page in a post of your own. I’m attaching a photo of your equipment in our gym that you can use if you like. Thanks!”

If Fitness Masters has 10,000 followers, a post from them could grab you a few new followers—totally free, totally organically.

Be good at Facebook.

Honesty, diversity, consistency and personality—these are the central tenets of good social media. At the end of the day, if you’re posting fun, original, authentic content that people genuinely like, they’ll be more inclined to engage with your content, share your posts and support your brand. Think about the kind of content you’d want to share yourself, and try to emulate that.

Pretty soon you’ll have more than 100 Facebook followers to show for it.