The other newspaper in town was beating us in terms of overall Facebook audience size, but not by much. I made it a goal to overtake them as a symbolic victory but also as a way to demonstrate our effectiveness at using social platforms. I knew that if more Facebook users were simply aware of what we provided on the social network, they would be interested in following us. The problem with Facebook’s evolving algorithm meant that it was becoming more and more difficult to reach new readers unless we leveraged the paid promoted post tools provided to Facebook pages.
I created a series of Facebook promotions designed to appeal to different audiences, then used Facebook’s ad targeting platform to optimize our campaigns to perform better.
At an average cost of about 40 cents per “like,” we grew our Facebook audience by more than 1,200. Additional growth occurred organically as a result. Our ads reached a total of 34,148 Facebook users, creating awareness and showing the potential audience that exists on Facebook, as ads were only shown to users with likely interest in local news.
Our most successful promotion was targeting ads to anyone on Facebook with a declared interest in the University of Missouri, which included anyone who listed it as a place they currently or once attended for school, and anyone who listed it as a current or former place of employment. With different advertising messages, this same audience could be reached again for additional gains in the future.
Bottom line: Over the course of a year, these strategies, coupled with ongoing organic growth, allowed us to increase our Facebook audience by 60 percent.