During conversations I have with small business owners about social media marketing, I'm frequently asked about how they can acquire more Facebook fans.
As a matter of fact, I continue to find that Facebook fan acquisition is a huge focus of not only small business owners, but also brand managers, marketers and advertisers as well.
For some, it's as though fan acquisition is the sole measure by which they measure success.
Lots of Facebook fans... success.
Not so many Facebook fans... failure.
I'm not going to spend time in this post to discuss all of the measures by which success on social media can be measured; instead I'll cut to the chase.
The real reason you're probably reading this article is because of what's promised in the title, so here we go.
The silver bullet for acquiring Facebook fans is... pay for Facebook's 'like' ad products.
Well, is it really any surprise? Facebook is a publicly traded company, and as such, their number one priority is to their shareholders.
How do they reward their shareholders? Make money.
How do they make money? Sell advertising space.
In Q1 2013, Facebook's revenue was $1.46 billion, 85 percent of which was accounted for from advertising sales.
Facebook wants - check that - needs you to pay for their advertising products.
What about creating killer content, organic impressions, virality, and fairy dust?
Okay, I might have got a bit silly with the fairy dust, but no matter how amazing your content is, I'm telling you that the fastest way to acquire new Facebook fans is to cough up some of your marketing budget and put it toward a well-run Facebook ad buy.
This isn't to undermine the value of amazing content - if you have ever read another article on this blog you'll know that I can't shut up about killer content - but as a fan acquisition tool on Facebook, it's really not the most efficient method.
A peek behind the curtain of big brands
Through my career, I've worked on some big brands with healthy marketing and advertising budgets. These brands have also had very healthy followings on social media.
Their secret? You guessed it, big money into Facebook ads.
Absolutely they create great content, but they're also spending healthily to drive traffic to their Pages to get eyeballs on that content. If you get enough eyeballs on your Page, some of them will convert to 'likes', though having great content certainly helps this conversion rate.
For a bit of context as to what some brands spend on Facebook ads, you may remember from about a year ago (not one of my clients), that GM pulled $10 million from their Facebook ad budget... $10 million!
All of this isn't meant to be discouraging. In fact, it should be the opposite.
It can be very difficult to acquire Facebook fans, particularly for small businesses. Once you've asked all of your personal friends to 'like' your Page, encouraged them to get their friends to 'like' your Page, asked your regular customers to 'like' your Page, and tried running a Facebook promotion that is against their guidelines in hopes of stirring up some 'likes', your fan acquisition can plateau quickly.
Don't immediately think that your content isn't great, or that your social media presence is all for not, just remember that it is in Facebook's best interest to get you to spend a few bucks on ads.
So, if a strong Facebook presence is important to your business, and more importantly to your current and prospective customers, why not try spending a few dollars?
It doesn't need to be $10 million, but experiment with small increments, whatever you feel comfortable with. Keep a close eye on the ads you're running, learn and optimize as you go. Finally, when you get a sense for what your cost per fan acquisition is, consider setting up longer-term buys so that you can see a steady stream of new fans joining your community.
What methods do you find most effective for acquiring fans on Facebook?
Have you had success running Facebook ads?
How do you convert a click on a Facebook ad to a 'like'?
It would be awesome for you to share your tips in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial