social media how toDo you want more Facebook fans without running contests or advertisements?

Are you interested in increasing the engagement on your Facebook Page?

If you’re looking for some creative ways to boost your brand’s profile on Facebook, here are three ways to do it that don’t involve giveaways or advertising.

#1: Crowdsource

Crowdsourcing is a term credited to Jeff Howe, who wrote about the phenomenon for Wired magazine back in 2006. He defined the concept as a “new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”

In friendlier language, crowdsourcing is when you ask your community of users to offer their suggestions for how you might solve a problem or address an issue.

Crowdsourcing can be a great engagement tactic. Image source: iStockPhoto.

In the years since Howe’s story, crowdsourcing has been adopted by many multinational companies and organizations, such as the mining company Goldcorp and NASA. And with the growing popularity of social media, crowdsourcing has spread to Facebook, too.

Social networks including Facebook and Instagram have made it easy for businesses to reach out to their community of friends and fans, and recruit new ones. It’s a way for companies to get relevant information from users and target audiences.

One reason crowdsourcing is effective is that it gives a business’s audience a voice and an opportunity for recognition.

Of course you don’t have to be a huge organization to use the concept. A few years ago, vitaminwater invited its Facebook fans to choose a new flavor via an app called “FlavorCreator.” It was wildly successful and the company ultimately called the winning flavor vitaminwater connect.

vitamin water app

vitaminwater's FlavorCreator app allowed fans to contribute to the first vitaminwater made by the fans for the fans.

Another example is the t-shirt company Threadless, which depends entirely on crowdsourcing. They asked graphic designers to submit designs for the community to vote on. Threadless uses a basic poll to crowdsource.

threadless invitation to vote

Threadless invites its users to vote on their favorite designs. The shirts with the most votes go into production and are sold on the website.

The designs with the most votes win, and limited runs of the t-shirts are sold online.

The bottom line is that your customers have great ideas and chances are good that they’d love the opportunity to share them with you. So why not take advantage of the wisdom of your crowd? Invite them into the conversation and you should increase engagement.

If you want to learn more about crowdsourcing and how you could incorporate it into your business, check out this crowdsourcing industry resource.

#2: Introduce/Highlight Your Employees on Facebook

Brand likeability is more than product favorability. Publicly acknowledging the people behind your brand—your employees—on Facebook and beyond is a great way to bring them, and your business, recognition.

People like to do business with companies that they feel they “know,” and there’s no better way for them to get to know you than by introducing them to your employees.

Plus, when your employees get a nod, your brand may have greater exposure to their friends and friends of friends.

Adding this human element can also boost EdgeRank if your posts get more posts and comments than usual.

Last week, one of my employees put a funny photo on Facebook of me eating a donut that was nearly as big as my face. It got 66 likes and 18 comments… pretty good for a random status update.

jim eating donut

Our fans like to see that we have real employees and that they do human things, like eat huge donuts.

There are other easy ways to give your employees shout outs* on Facebook. Since Facebook is one of the most personal social networks, and the place where your employees’ friends and family are most likely to be, it’s a great public place to highlight employees’ accomplishments.

This inspires a sort of positive cycle because they, of course, want to share their kudos with their friends, and in turn it shines a light on your business. You can highlight an employee every week or every month, making it a regular feature of your Page.

In the image below, ToolSelect shows it’s not a one-man operation but a tight-knit group of professionals. Now you can know exactly who is bringing the website to you.


ToolSelect highlights all of their employees on a Meet Your ToolSelect Team app.

Use a Q&A as a low-maintenance way to get the information you can use to share on Facebook and bring focus to individual employees. Create a simple questionnaire—What’s your proudest accomplishment? What’s your favorite non-work pastime? The best book you’ve read lately?—and ask every employee to fill it out.

Get a spontaneous photo of the featured employee or a photo of him/her receiving an award, and give a shout-out to different employees on a regular basis.

In the image below, Moment Skis posted a photo of their Production Prep Pro in their factory.

moment skis

This simple concept brought them a large amount of engagement.

One word of caution: Not everyone likes to have a light shined on them, so just be sure that your employee is comfortable with public kudos.

Highlighting your employees’ accomplishments is a great way to boost likeability and engagement in your Facebook community.

#3: Reveal New Products and Features

Fans of your brand always want to know what they can expect next from you. Whether you own a bakery or a car parts manufacturing company, people who use your products want to know what you’re working on and Facebook is a great way to inform them.

You can design a Facebook app that reveals a new product, service or special offer every day for a month. This gives your business the chance to show off the products or services that are not as well-known to your fans and customers.

Here are some examples of companies that have made announcements in innovative ways.


Earlier this year, Nescafé in Greece did a campaign that involved the unveiling of some new packaging. They filled an aquarium with coffee beans, buried the new package in it and then told fans with each like, they’d reveal a little bit of the package.

Within 22 hours, the company had received more than 3000 new likes and fans got to see the whole package.

Many people would say “Who cares?”, but obviously people who were curious played along. The aquarium became the brand’s cover photo, at least for a day.

Check out the time-lapse video.


People love new products. Using interactive photos and apps to launch a product draws more attention and engagement for fans.

Medal of Honor

In July, the folks behind the super-popular Medal of Honor franchise invited fans to like poll questions on Facebook in exchange for the early unveiling of a new multi-player gameplay trailer featuring an all-new map.

medal of honor facebook challenge

The excitement of the reveal of a new game is an easy way to get fans to engage with a brand on Facebook.

To encourage sharing with a campaign like this, you could say something such as “The more likes we get, the more we’ll show you.” This won’t violate Facebook’s terms of service. Anyone who knows a gamer knows all about the anticipation for a new game.

medal of honor app

The Medal of Honor app is another example of putting the release of a product in the hands of the fans.

Iron Man 3

Films have also been promoted this way. Iron Man 3 gave fans a glimpse of what to expect once they had liked a relevant Page.

iron man trailer

Iron Man 3 used the simple act of liking to reveal a trailer, making it easy and fun for fans to get involved.

You don’t have to be a huge brand to use some of these innovative ideas. What they’re doing can inspire your own “reveals” on a much smaller scale and increase engagement with your community on Facebook.

What do you think? Have any of you found success using crowdsourcing, employee highlights or reveals? Please share your comments below.

Image from iStockPhoto.
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  • Great post Jim! I’m especially interested on “crowdsourcing” and I know that it is one of the best ways to increase engagement, though coming up with great questions to drive fan engagement is really the tricky part.  I think the best way is to try things out and see what works best for your page. 
    Keep rockin! Have a great week SME peeps!

  • $44796859

    Brilliant tips, Jim! I particularly like the one about showing customers “behind the scenes”; it’s a really cheap, easy, and effective way to boost engagement and foster more loyalty with patrons.

  • Great ideas, good way of using the cover photo status update in a creative, NOT annoying way 🙂

  •  I have not tried “crowdsourcing” yet but interested in doing so as well. I think introducing/highlighting employes is a great way to get engagement. We always get a great response with that! These are all great tips, thank you for sharing them!

  • JaJeJems

    What a great article! We are just a small business getting into social media but I am sure that we can use some of these ideas to help market our product. Thank you for sharing

  • Amanda

    So much better than the contrived questions posted purely for edgerank. Ie what is your favourite holiday destination? What are you reading this summer. Really?? This has become a switch off for me and wreaks of a site under external management.

  • AKZMeDesigns

    Great article, I’ve done some crowd sourcing before I ask my FB fans to help my client pick her new logo design with only a $5 promotion that post received over 1000 likes and comments and was seen by 80,000 people.

    The reveal tip, just gave me another great idea for a new site i’m launching. Thanx

  • Allana Pinkerton

    People love to give their opinions and answer questions! Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Corina Ramos

    I’m so glad Lisa @Lisapatb shared this with me! You’ve got great ideas I’m definitely looking to implement! Thank you for sharing these great ideas!

  • Thanks!  Great tips 🙂

  • Sarah

    We used crowdsourcing to suggest and ultimately choose the name of the female lead character in my husband’s latest action thriller novel! We also used crowdsourcing on Facebook to choose the final cover design (making changes his readers suggested that we wouldn’t have thought of) for his first book. Ultimately activities like crowdsourcing demonstrated such high levels of engagement

  • CX

    Great article, Jim! Showing off the personal side to your company can definitely be a great way to improve engagement–it makes your users feel like they have a personal relationship with your brand. Thanks again for the article! 

  • Belinda

    Great ideas however is there somewhere you can get marketing ideas for selling real estate as although property is a product being sold, it doesn’t run into the same field of marketing that general consumer products do?

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  • Hi Belinda,

    Another site that I contribute to is called AGBeat, I’d recommend checking them out they have a lot of great social media and marketing information and they have a Real Estate section. 
    I’d also recommend seeing what some other real estate companies are doing on Facebook, you might get some great ideas or be inspired by what they’re doing.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • These are really some out of box thinking to increase your engagement in Facebook and no doubt will help to receive a better edge rank.

  • Preeti

    really very nice post…..loved the crowd-sourcing and  employee recognition idea……..going to apply crowdsourcing on my page (y)

  • Excellent

  • Francine Bishop

    Great simple tips, thanks Jim. A nice reminder that getting fancy with competitions and paying for exposure isn’t necessary all the time. Francine. 

  • This is a great article with brilliant tips and even more impressive examples. Thanks for putting this together. However, regarding the first tip – crowdsourcing – I wouldn’t consider it an unconventional way how to boost Facebook engagement. This concept has been already here for a while and I see a lot of people around me trying to pursue this strategy in their social media. What do you think?

  • Crowd sourcing is pretty dope.People love to share their experience and knowledge about things. This gives you the opportunity to create content designed to fix problems. I think it can be done a little more getting people more involved in the business.

  • Hi Peter,

    You are right that crowdsourcing has been around for quite some time and many people are trying to integrate crowdsourcing into their social media strategy  However, we see that a majority of our clients focus on running promotions and offering giveaways and forget about some of these other options. For businesses that are new to Facebook, we see them instantly think of promotions as a way to engage with their fans because most research these days shows that contests bring in the greatest engagement. So I think it depends on your business and your audience, but I agree that it is not necessarily a “new” concept just a forgotten one often times! 

    Thanks for your comment! 

  • Mark Madere

    For “one-man” businesses without employees – try using some cute photos or videos of your pets. Make regular posts of them to get people to keep coming back to see their “latest antics.”

  • Matt Bart

    Great article – thanks. In terms of your second point in promoting your employees – what is the best Facebook App to use to do this? Very interested in doing something similar.  

  • Tom

    I must be dealing with a rough

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  • TracySocialite

    LOVE IT… just reaffirms why I love what I do!

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  • Hi Matt,

    It depends on what service you are using. At ShortStack we have several templates that you could use to highlight employees including a gallery widget and a photo widget, which is what ToolSelect uses. Our templates make it easy to design apps quickly! You could do this using ShortStack on our free account if you have less than 2,000 fans, or if you exceed that limit our pricing plans start at $30/month. 

    Thanks for your comment!

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  • Interacting with your followers on Facebook is a great way to catch their attention.  Highlighting an employee’s accomplishments or introducing new products is a great way to attract your followers to your page.

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  • This could not have been written any better. You guys are very informative. I am definitely taking some notes. Crowdsourcing is a great option for me!

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  • Very Interesting. Thank you for the information! hihi. 🙂

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  • Anabalp

    Any suggestions for service-based companies in the healthcare or legal advise industries?

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  • Thanks Thomas. Hope you learned something new!

  • Anabalp — positioning yourself as an expert — with how-to tips and advice — is an excellent way for service-based companies to engage. One key: if you host contests/promotions make sure your prizes are relevant to your service. I wrote a piece for Marketing Profs about B2B contests that you might find helpful:
    Good luck!

  • Great ideas. Thanks for the introduction to Shortstack.  Going to implement those tabs into my social media for clients.

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  • Marty Qatani

    Enjoyed the article… very clear cut. As an artist / cartoonist, I’m interested on how I may be able to apply Crowdsourcing to my business. I’m guessing putting my versions of my art up for votes, but I’m not sure I like that idea, unless those voting are potential customers and not just friends.

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