How to Market on Facebook for Free

The role of social media marketing for small businesses used to be a complement to a broader marketing strategy. Nowadays, having a strong presence on social media is a must: Customers expect to find your business on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. That’s why so many small business owners want to know how to market on Facebook for free, as doing so successfully can create major growth opportunities.

Social platforms have plenty to offer small businesses in exchange for their efforts—be they marketing or otherwise. Passionate and curious customers alike can interact with your business, look at your products, and learn about sales right from their news feed. The marketing possibilities are endless—even if you’re wondering how to market on Facebook for free rather than paying for promoted posts and ads.

Although it’s not as easy as it once was to market on Facebook for free, there are still a few tips and tricks that can help you make the most of your organic social media presence. We’ll give you a rundown of the current state of Facebook marketing for small businesses, how to do Facebook marketing for free, when you might want to invest in paid Facebook marketing, and how to make your marketing dollars stretch as far as possible.

How Does Facebook Marketing Work?

Facebook was once a surefire, inexpensive (if not outright free) way to build a business’s exposure to new and existing customers. Business pages could publish photos, videos, or text posts and have them show up right in their followers’ feeds in almost real-time. Plus, any time a follower shared a business’s post (or sometimes just when they commented or liked a post), their friends would also see the post—thus expanding your reach even further.

Free Facebook marketing eventually gave way to paid social advertising and promoted posts. In fact, most social networking sites have made it more challenging for brands to get free exposure, Facebook included.

Now, most Facebook feeds are designed to prioritize posts made by a user’s friends. This de-emphasizes posts from brands and companies, which also means that free social marketing becomes much more challenging for businesses to use effectively. Although it’s still possible (and fairly easy) to market on Facebook for free, your efforts may not yield as many likes and views as paid advertising does.

How to Market on Facebook for Free (and Get Results)

Even if it’s harder to market on Facebook for free than it used to be, it’s far from impossible. In fact, there are still several tried-and-true tactics for free Facebook marketing that yield real results. To make the most of them, you’ll want to consider your goals, the content you have on hand (or can create), and the kinds of messaging that already resonates with your audience. 

Here are a few tips to consider when figuring out how to market your business on Facebook for free. 

Curate Your Facebook Page

Having a Facebook presence isn’t enough on its own to help you market on the platform. Rather, you’ll want to invest time and effort into making your page look distinct and offer helpful information about your business. Use attractive, high-resolution images of your logo for your profile photo. Pick out interesting images for your banner—bonus points if you can use professional shots that give your page a more polished look.

As Facebook’s treatment of business pages evolves, reviews have taken on an outsized level of importance. You may have already noticed how important business reviews have become in recent years. Google’s business pages are designed to put user reviews at the fore, and Facebook has taken a similar approach. Encourage happy customers to review your business on Facebook if you want to take your business page to the next level. 

Create Giveaways and Contests

The key to effective marketing on Facebook is similar to any other medium: You want as much exposure as possible, particularly toward people who may not already be familiar with your company. One of the best ways to do this for free on Facebook is to create content that begs to be shared. 

Giveaways and competitions can be very effective at getting new people to see and interact with your content—especially if you make sharing, commenting, or liking a post (and following your page) a prerequisite for participating. Many businesses can effectively market for free by way of giveaways that encourage people to interact with their account’s posts. Offering up a product for free in exchange for social sharing helps you get existing followers to pay attention to your page, while also exposing their friends to your page at the same time.

You don’t have to start off with a major giveaway or contest right away, either. Starting small, with a free product or service, is often enough to give you a sense of peoples’ interest in participating. Plus, if you include a contest component to your giveaway, you can encourage people to submit photos or other creative assets that you can use for future social media posts as well.

Engage With Existing Followers

Not all Facebook marketing has to be designed to get new eyeballs on your page or posts. In fact, Facebook’s free marketing options tend to favor direct engagement with people who are already fans of your page. Answering people’s questions, posting polls, and sharing updates are all effective ways to give followers a reason to look at what you’re publishing. The more they engage, the more likely they are to think of your company when contemplating a purchase.

Granted, this may not necessarily be a surefire way to get people to interact with your business’s Facebook page, but organic posts along these lines are still the lifeblood of any strong social media strategy. Plus, if you engage in organic posting well enough, you’ll be primed to potentially pay less for advertising if you go down the paid marketing route.

Promote Your Page In-Store and Online

Getting people to notice your business’s Facebook page isn’t limited to advertising on the platform alone. Many customers may be more inclined to seek out your business through a search engine than on Facebook itself. Placing a call-to-action on your business website can help direct traffic to your Facebook page, which encourages more people to like and follow your account.

Don’t underestimate the role that in-person promotion can play, either. Remind your customers that you’re also available online, and that Facebook is the go-to destination to learn about deals and new products. In-store signs, flyers, and word-of-mouth marketing can go a long way here. 

When to Upgrade to Paid Facebook Marketing

Business pages that already have a large following have an easier time getting noticed. Facebook’s algorithm is purported to favor popular content generators, which can help businesses that have a large social following. This is great news for business owners who were savvy and fortunate enough to have early success on Facebook, but less so for new businesses and those that may not have had as much time (or luck) on the platform.

If this resonates with you, then paid Facebook marketing might be a good complement to your free Facebook marketing efforts. By putting some advertising dollars into a Facebook campaign, you can broaden your exposure and obtain tangible analytics on what performed best and which demographics took the most interest in your brand.

Paid Facebook advertising doesn’t need to be expensive, either. Odds are good that you’ve encountered a call-to-action encouraging you to boost a post or create a small campaign for less than the price of lunch. Boosted and promoted posts can be a great way to experiment with paid advertising—they’re easy to set up, don’t typically cost a fortune to run, and give you immediate feedback on how people engage with what you’re advertising.

Should your experience with promoted posts go well, you can also consider other kinds of low-cost Facebook advertising. Running follower campaigns—Facebook parlance for ads that encourage people to follow and like your page—can help you expand the number of people who are exposed to your business. 

Alternatively, you can dive into the deep end of Facebook advertising with more complex campaigns. By signing up for Facebook for Business, you’ll open yourself up to an array of advertising opportunities with wide-ranging goal settings. These include website conversion (when Facebook directs traffic to your page), sales, engagements, and clicks. Bear in mind that these campaigns are more labor-intensive and are not set up for newbies to master immediately; you may want to experiment with easier alternatives in the beginning. But if you’ve got the savvy, time, and interest, you can make your dollar stretch even further with Facebook for Business.

The Final Word

Free Facebook marketing isn’t the easiest way to get brand exposure, especially as news feed algorithms continue to grow more complex. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t best practices and tactics at your disposal that can help you get people to engage with your business’s Facebook page organically, however. 

Creating a robust and compelling page, encouraging followers to share your content and engage with your posts, and even supplementing your free efforts with some deliberate and cautious paid marketing campaigns can prime you for success without breaking the bank.

Brian O'Connor

Brian writes about finance, business strategy, and digital marketing. He has worked at Morgan Stanley, Foreign Affairs magazine, Student Loan Hero, and as a partner of a small consulting firm, too. Combined, these experiences allow him to offer a unique perspective on the challenges small business owners face.
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