There was a point in my life (not too long ago) that I operated on a $3/day food budget.  In Southern California, that’s not a lot of money.  Being cheap—or “cost effective”—conditioned me to continuously seek ways to squeeze the most out of my efforts without incurring additional costs.

As a business owner, I understand the need to establish social proof and credibility while operating on a tight budget.  Facebook is a very valuable marketing platform when utilized correctly and a great place to focus your efforts.  It’s also a great place to watch cat videos.

If you’re starting a new business or brand page, it’s going to require a little hustle, and some money. Bear in mind, Facebook is a for-profit corporation. In fact, they are a competitor to Google for advertising.

This means they want your money.

So set a little ad budget in your mind.  It doesn’t need to be much, and it’ll help feed the beast. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your expenses at a minimum and have a nice balance of organic and paid growth, reach, and engagement. Below are some suggestions to help you get the most bang for your buck.

Invite All Your Friends

This should be the first step. I just did this the other day for my personal brand page that I finally decided to build. Maybe 200+ invites, 50 accepted.

I actually got trolled for suggesting this.  Guess what? Comments = engagement.

Also, ask your loyal friends to invite all their friends.  I haven’t done this because my friends don’t actually like me.

Targeted Advertising

This is a great way to build a specific audience on Facebook. Even though you may not build a huge fan base from it, you’d get the right people.

Use AdEspresso if you don’t want to figure out the technicalities of Power Editor – though, Power Editor now has a guided feature, making the process much easier.

Don’t worry about requiring a large budget.  I often run campaigns for less than $3 per day (or 2 street tacos—how I value my time). And you can stop campaigns at any time if you don’t like the results.

Share for Shares

Connect with similar pages and ask to do a “share for share”. You share their most engaging content, and they share yours. Now you’re doubling—or more—your exposure, increasing your reach and have an opportunity for organic growth. Seriously, this works!

Share for shares actually works better on larger pages, but oatmeal is better than no meal.

Content

Post consistently and start curating viral content. Especially videos. Many people frown on “stealing” other people’s videos, but just credit the maker and be careful of copyrights. You should contact creators directly and ask for permission.

For content, videos generally have the greatest overall reach, and Live Stream is even greater. Try it out. Just do something interesting that will appease your fans. Blowing up a watermelon is fun for all ages.

And post content natively.  Try to limit posting links if you can.  Facebook doesn’t like you directing people away from their platform, and will punish your reach when you try.  This includes YouTube videos.

Viral content can go beyond cat videos and doesn’t need 1,000,000 reach to qualify. My definition: content that attracts a particular audience that has a disproportionately higher ratio of engagement than other posts.

Boosts

You can do a boost as low as $1. Boosted posts stay on your newsfeed and allow for engagement.  And you can target boosts on a basic level.

Dennis Yu strategically outlines this in this podcast.  Definitely worth a listen.

Boost for engagement, then invite everybody who likes your post—but who doesn’t like your page—to like your page. Just click on the “Likes” on each post and there will be a dropdown—to be done from desktop, not mobile. – Credit to Mr. Leonard Kim for telling me about this.

If you don’t want to invite all those people, just invite the ones with the reactions like Hearts, Laughing, Wows—because they actually put in a little more effort to engage.

Test different things. Memes are the cure to most pages with low engagement. But not all. I manage a couple pages with humorless audiences. Informative videos and posts work best there.

And before you hate on memes and silly videos, remember, this is Facebook—not Wikipedia.

Groups

Join a lot of FB relative groups, share quality, engaging content from your page to the groups, sparingly. Make sure it’s appropriate for the group and not spammy.

Amanda brilliantly explains harnessing the power of groups in this Influencive article.

Leveraging Influencers

This is a really fun way to get viral reach and an uptick in growth. Here, you connect with larger and more engaging pages with audiences similar to your target demo and establish a relationship for them to cross share engaging content from your page to theirs.

Influencer Growth Hack:

look at older posts that performed very well on their page, post it natively to yours, then have them share it. BOOM!

Influencer “relationships” usually involve money or a trade, but not always. Some people are really cool and always willing to help. Find them and establish value.

The pic below is a page I grew organically, leveraging larger pages.  At the time, I had available resources to do such a thing. You can duplicate the efforts by reaching out to pages with your target audience and have them share your most engaging content.

Contests

I’ll admit.  I haven’t run a contest yet.  But countless experts who have been in the business longer than I swear by it.  And It’s definitely on my list. Heyo makes a really cool looking platform.

This post by Wishpond highlights the immense value of leveraging contests for growth and ROI.

Buying Likes

I wasn’t going to include this one, but it seems the easiest way to establish social proof while being both cheap and lame.

Your engagement will suck.  Actually, it’ll be nonexistent.  But it’ll give you the illusion of having a following.  If you buy likes, I’d still recommend boosting posts for the sake of creating actual engagement.  And inviting the likers to like your page.

I actually had a client fire me after realizing he could buy likes on Fiverr.  Good luck getting ROI this way, though.

I don’t recommend buying likes.  And every person I’ve seen promising “real likes with real engagement” is full of shit.  I’d be happy for someone to prove me wrong.

Conclusion

To sum it up, you have to put in a little work and a little money to grow your Facebook page.  Don’t expect anything you enjoy or find amazing to go viral.  Source viral stuff (based on engagement) and target it to the right audiences who have already enjoyed similar content.

For businesses, Facebook is a great place to connect with friends, clients, and prospective customers and channel them to your fan page.  Provide value or at the very least, engaging content.  Stay away from political stuff—unless you’re running for president.

Post any other suggestions in the comments below.  I’m always looking for new growth hacks.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Daniel Raaf
Dan Raaf is a digital marketer who focuses on unconventional niches: Models, Marijuana, and Hip-Hop. He collaborates with top influencers, growth hackers, and scrappy entrepreneurs while specializing in social media growth, monetization, and ROI-based strategies.