During spring 2016, a number of social media managers were in a bit of a panic regarding an apparent Facebook glitch, and here’s why:
The free, but not widely-known, “page invite” function on Facebook had disappeared. And no one could figure out how to access it.
The wailing on networking groups and even a Twitter hashtag campaign #BringBackInvites resulted because so many admins who used page invites to build their Facebook page audiences loved it.
After that feature returned a couple of weeks later, a number of social media managers who had not applied the tool or had been inconsistent in use started adding page invites to daily / weekly checklists. After all, it was clear from the wailing (read: consensus and experience of others) this was too good of an opportunity to ignore.
After comparing statistics before and after in which I applied it on pages, and getting feedback from friends who have tried it on their pages, this is definitely a strategy I recommend.
While it is a “your mileage may vary situation,” it is incredibly effective at getting more for your efforts. You’ll like and use the page invite feature if your goal is to get the most out of a Facebook advertising budget — or if you are faced with running a Facebook page on no budget at all.
The theory behind the page invitation is that you have already identified someone who likes your content through their like or reaction face. Assuming the content is representative of what you do on a regular basis, the chances are good they’ll like the page, see more of your content, share it with their friends and the usual “like and share” attention sparks even more likes.
It’s a pretty darn effective way to build up that page fan number with the people you want to reach.
So here’s what to do:
- Identify your target audience. Decide who that audience will be with the help of marketing research you may have on your brand or client. Alternatively: Study the Facebook Insights on your page to learn who the fans currently are.
- Research, write or find content that your target audience likes. Collect and make a list of content ideas for that target audience. The choices can be a sponsored post, organic content that complements trending topics, content that is curated and shared from friendly pages, or reposts from “viral content” search tools. Whatever. And while you may also get comments and shares that a valuable in their own right, that’s not the primary purpose here. The goal that your intended audience, and particularly people who do not already like or know about the page, will respond on Facebook with a like / love / haha/ wow/ sad / angry face.
- Schedule that content for high impact times. Start with reviewing studies and infographics that are on the Internet discussing on “best timing on social media,” look over the timing data in your Facebook Insights admin dashboard or use the Likealyzer tool to pull a report on your page or competitors’ pages. You want as many views as possible for this carefully chosen content so that people see it and react to it.
- Look over who has reacted to it. I recommend getting on desktop for this step rather than relying on mobile view for most administrative details, reason is that you can see a lot more of the administration dashboard. Go to your page’s timeline and find a post that is doing well. Take a look underneath the post where you find a row of reaction faces and some names along with “and 10 others.” Click on that list of names. You will see a pop-up page with a list titled “Invite to Like (name of page).”
- Click on the “invite” button. From that pop-up page, click each person you wish to invite to your page. I’ve tested it, as have others, and we found the invite came from the page rather than from you individually. There was some feedback from another social media manager about a situation where the page invitation was presented as invited by a friend; but perhaps she wasn’t following this exact procedure.
- Be aware of daily limits. Facebook has limits as to how many page invites you can send in a day. I’ve sent out up to 75 a day, divided among two pages, with no problem. Others said they hit a warning around 100 invites sent. Don’t panic if Facebook says you hit a limit for the day. Just come back another day. And here’s why:
- You can send invites from older content. The invites you send don’t have to originate with posts that were sent today or recently. They can be from an older video, photo or status post. Get into the Facebook Insights section of your page and find where it lists “your most recent posts.” Now click the link that says “see all posts.” You’ll generally see about three months’ worth of posts. Click on one of your popular posts, find the reaction faces and get that pop up window to appear. Tip: you can find video and photo content from farther back than three months by looking under those tabs instead of under the post tab.
- Watch to see what happens. New page likes will result fairly within a day or two from invites you sent out. Some potential contacts will wait to see what other content you post before deciding, or maybe they aren’t on Facebook very often. It will probably be a week or two before the impact of a batch of invites levels off.
- Impress your boss or client. Track the numbers of new likes from week to week, and show your boss or client the results with your new strategy. You can say “I’m doing some work behind the scenes” if they ask how you got the numbers to go up so noticeably; or you can sit down at a computer and show them this strategy in five minutes. That is entirely up to you.
- When NOT to send invites. Do not waste this feature on bad content or strategy. If the Facebook page has stalled out for reasons that include having an admin on vacation or the posting timing is off for your audience, that is not a time to send page invites. If the cover photo is dated, the business address is wrong, the “call to action” button sends people to a dead link, or you want to pursue getting a verified check, resolve all those details first. You need to give the new contacts a reason to like your page and stick around.
I have a lot of social media tips – including an entire section on Facebook – collected and posted on my Pinterest account.
This post was written October 2016 and updated in June 2017.