There is no one-size-fits-all, get-rich-and-famous-quick, guaranteed-or-your-money-back formula for getting lots of followers on Facebook. Everybody’s work, audience, and road to victory is different, and well it should be. Writing is not monolithic, and neither are readers.
What follows is one specific method for identifying potential raving fans and bringing them into your circle. It’s not for everybody, but for those who can do it, it can deliver strong results. This method requires low financial investment, but does take some elbow grease, so it’s best for beginning and middle-stage writers who don’t yet have the investment money available to pay for this kind of work.
Want to know more? Okay. Let’s go.
The Three Strikes and You’re In Method
Our buddy and freelance writing guru Jason Brick uses this for his three major topics of specialization. It consists of the following steps, which we’ll go into in detail for this article.
- STEP ONE: Make a “bait post” asking a question people who are passionate about your topic are likely to answer.
- STEP TWO: Post it in a Facebook Group related to your topic.
- STEP THREE: Respond actively to whatever action happens on the post for two days.
- STEP FOUR: Make a spreadsheet file and note the names of everybody who participated in the discussion.
- STEP FIVE: Repeat steps one through four once or twice each week.
- STEP SIX: Whenever a name shows up three times in your spreadsheet, send a friend invite to that person.
- STEP SEVEN: For each person who accepts your friend request, also invite them to your author page.
See how this works? You make a little relevant noise, and you keep track of who hears it. Some people respond to your noise often enough that it seems likely they’d be interested in knowing what else you have to say. Those people are solid leads for becoming readers, customers, and fans of your work.
Okay. Let’s look at each of the steps in more detail.
Three Strikes in Seven Steps
Step One: Make Some Bait
Your bait needs to accomplish three things:
- It has to interest people who are likely to be interested in your writing, for example news or humor about your topic.
- It needs to be something the groups you frequent allows. Check the group guidelines to make certain your post won’t be banned or deleted.
- It must solicit responses and comments. Questions work best for this, especially questions you post along with the link or photo you share.
If your idea does all three of these things, you’ve made some good bait and should set it on the hook. If not, come up with a better idea. While you’re coming up with ideas, remember that very few of your potential targets will care much at all about anything related to you and your work. Bait them with stuff you know they will care about, and talk about yourself once they’re hooked.
Step Two: Post it Strategically
Post your bait in at least four places on Facebook. Jason uses the following formula. Use it as it is, or modify it to fit your needs.
- Post to a high-population (4 or 5 digits of members) group related to your topic, to maximize reach
- Post to a smaller (3 digit population) group related to your topic, to pursue more personal connections
- Post on your personal feed, to catch the interest of casual friends who might not know about your writing but should
- Post on a friend or colleague’s timeline (with permission), preferably one with lots of friends in related fields
These four posts will each leverage the power of different audiences, in ways that will help grow your following in multiple directions. When possible, try different groups and friends with each time you do this, until you find the ones that really shine in terms of responsiveness.
Step Three: Respond and Reply
You can’t just post your bait and leave it there. People hate that, and will be unlikely to remember your name or want to hear from you. Instead, monitor those posts and respond. If you’re in a hurry, a simple Like will do. If you have time, engage directly with the comments and ask for more information.
If anybody asks a question, answer it. Better yet, answer the question, then ask a follow up question. You’re looking for real connections here, with people who share the passion that leads you to write your book. It’s a win for them, and a win for you.
For folks with already packed schedules, or for whom social media is a productivity-killing rabbit hole, schedule a 10-minute slot for this two or three times per day. Do it, then walk away. It’s a good tool to make sure you get the most benefit from all the time you spend on Facebook.
Step Four: Remember the Names
Make a spreadsheet file. Put in the names of the people who responded. Not just the people who liked it, or did any of the other one-click emoji responses. That’s not enough engagement to warrant the time and effort. Write in the names of the people who actually replied with words and ideas. Write each person’s name down just once, even if they replied multiple times. Put them all in a single column.
Do this one time for each post, preferably between 24 and 36 hours after you made the post. Less than that, and you’ll miss out on the people who came in later. Waiting longer just lets the conversation fade into peoples’ minds.
Step Five: Rinse, Repeat
Do steps one through four twice a week, preferably skipping a few days in between. It’s also a good idea to vary the days and times you post, keeping track of what kinds of responses you get. Eventually, you’ll find out which groups, times, and days are the best for engaging with your potential fan base.
When you add new names to your spreadsheet, use the following steps:
- Add them to the bottom of the same column, every time.
- Use the Data Sort feature to put them all in alphabetical order
- Scan through the column and put any name that appears multiple times in bold type
Jason experimented with a lot of different ways of organizing the names, and says this is the fastest way to do this with a spreadsheet. If you have money to spend, you can also invest in professional-grade contact management software to do most of this automatically, but this is a business-level expense and not usually worth it on the scale of publishing we’re talking about here.
Step Six: Invite Friends to the Party
After you’ve done this three times, review your spreadsheet each time you add names to it. For every name that appears for the third time, send that person a friend request.
The easiest way to do this is to look at the post you just put up and find that person’s name using your browser’s CTRL+F search function. Mouse over the person’s name, and you’ll get a popup that indicates an option to send a friend request. If the popup doesn’t include that option, that person is not accepting friend requests at this time. Make a note and move on.
Don’t push this after you’ve sent the friend request. Some people will respond immediately. Others will never respond. Some will send you a message saying why they don’t want to be friends, or even being rude to you about it. Just don’t respond to any of these. There’s nothing to be gained from that argument.
Step Seven: Follow Up
When people do accept your friend request, shoot them a short note thanking them for accepting and inviting them to take a next small step. The best option is to ask them to like your Author Page, or to join a Facebook Group you run personally.
After that, just keep the friendship going the way you do with all your other friends and potential fans. You can subject your friends to a dedicated, structured sales funnel at this point…but that’s material for a different article.