A little-known hack for growing your brand’s Facebook followers

If you could hand-pick people to follow your brand’s Facebook page, you would probably focus on the people who love you already — loyal customers, current employees, and others who are into what you do (they attend your events, open your emails and visit your website). Thankfully, Facebook offers plenty of options for brands to target, invite and engage these people — just upload an email list, or set up a pixel on your site.

But did you know there are people who react to, comment on, and share your content yet do not follow your Facebook page?

These are people who like your stuff, but may never see it again either because they don’t follow you or you’re not specifically targeting them.

Don’t ignore these people — they could be your next customer, or at least bring you new business through their online word of mouth.

There are two ways to get in front of them. Skip to #2 if you want in on the free hack.

#1 Reach them with $

Within Facebook’s Business Manager, you can set up and target an audience of people who have engaged with your page. Pretty awesome, huh?

So instead of indiscriminately boosting a post to reach more of your fans (without really knowing who they are or why they follow), why not show it to people who are most likely to engage with it? Yes, please.

Here’s how…

In Business Manager, go to Assets > Audiences and create a custom audience using Engagement on Facebook.

You can target people who have watched your videos, engaged with your lead forms, opened your Canvas, or interacted with your page. For this example, we’ll click the last option.

Choose your page, and include exactly who you want to target. In this example, we’ve chosen everyone who has engaged with the page.

Finally, choose the duration (default is 365 days, but we chose a more recent time period) and name the audience so you know which audience to target when you’re setting up your ads. That’s it!

Another cool thing you could do with this audience is to run a “like” ad to invite these people to follow your page — just make sure to exclude current fans when you set up your targeting.

This technique is nice if you have some money to play with, but wouldn’t it be nice to easily identify engaged non-fans and invite them to like your page? Read below for how to do this, too!

#2 Reach them without $

Facebook now allows page admins to click on any post and invite engaged non-fans to follow the page.

While this feature has been available for some time, the invitation had always come from the page admin’s personal Facebook account. Thus, people would get — and likely ignore — an invitation from someone they don’t know.

Now, as long as you’re logged in to Business Manager via desktop or mobile, you can invite these non-fans from your business page. Woo hoo!

Choose any post, and click on the reactions (just below the like/comment/share buttons) to pull up all of the people who have engaged with your post. From there, you’ll see an Invite button next to anyone who engaged but doesn’t follow your page yet. Scroll through and click invite until you’ve made it through the entire list.

This is what users will see — an invitation from your business page. Yay.

All the invites. No ad spend. Score!

Give it a try and comment below with how it went…

Matthew Dooley is a Cincinnati native whose life is all about connecting, innovating and giving back. He founded dooley media, a social media agency that transforms local companies into talkable brands. He also leads an exciting wearable tech company, Kapture, which debuted their always-on audio recording wristband in early-2015. Matthew developed the social media curriculum at Xavier University and is currently teaching both MBA and undergraduate students. Follow him on Twitter.