What Does Followers on Facebook Mean for Small Businesses?

As a consultant who assists entrepreneurs and small business owners with marketing strategies, I often get asked: what does having followers on Facebook really mean?

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll break down the basics of Facebook followers, the benefits for brands, tips to get more genuine followers, and real-world examples of how small businesses can leverage followers.

The Fundamentals: Facebook Friends vs. Followers

First, it‘s important to understand the difference between friends and followers on Facebook:

Friends are two-way connections with people you know personally. You mutually agree to be linked on Facebook.

Followers are one-way connections with people who have subscribed to get updates from your public profile or Page.

Facebook friends vs followers diagram

When you follow a Page or public figure, you receive their public posts without needing them to "approve" you. Some individuals also enable public followers.

So in summary:

  • Friends are personal connections
  • Followers receive your public updates

Both can help expand your reach and engagement on Facebook.

The Perks: Why Followers Matter for Brands

Growing an engaged follower base has many advantages for companies and entrepreneurs seeking to increase visibility.

Expanded Reach

Each follower is one more person that can potentially see your content in their feed. Some key stats:

  • Pages with over 10 million followers can reach over 150 million people weekly (source)
  • Posts from followed Pages get 6x more reach than posts in general (source)

In short: more followers equals wider content distribution.

Increased Engagement

Followers also tend to be more actively engaged, compared to casual visitors.

  • Facebook posts from followed Pages enjoy 65% higher engagement on average (source)
  • Pages with over 100k followers have nearly double the engagement rate (source)

Likes, shares, and comments from followers all help amplify branded content.

Brand Awareness & Growth

An established Facebook following signals credibility and authority to consumers. Over time, engaged followers also drive brand growth by:

  • Generating word-of-mouth referrals
  • Converting from cold audience to warm leads
  • Promoting products and services they enjoy
  • Providing user-generated content

For newly launched businesses, followers provide social proof and trust signals. The more followers you accumulate, the faster awareness tends to spread.

How Small Businesses Can Get More Followers

Growing a highly engaged follower base takes time and strategy. Here are my top 7 tips for small business owners specifically:

1. Run Targeted Facebook Ads

Facebook ads allow you to get your content and offers in front of targeted demographics who are more likely to follow and engage your brand. Tailor your targeting to your ideal customer base.

2. Promote Your Page on Other Channels

Cross-promote your Facebook Page on your website, email lists, other social channels, real-world signage, etc. Make it easy to find and follow.

3. Foster User-Generated Content

When happy customers post about your business, their friends and followers check you out. Make it fun and rewarding for fans to share UGC.

4. Spotlight Loyal Brand Advocates

Feature and recognize your most passionate followers. This shows appreciation and inspires other customers to engage.

5. Host Giveaways and Contests

Running occasional contests is a tried-and-true tactic for boosting followers quickly. Require visitors to follow your Page to enter.

6. Utilize Facebook Groups

Join relevant local, niche and industry Facebook Groups where your target customers mingle. Contribute helpful advice and highlight your business organically.

7. Collaborate With Micro-Influencers

Partner with real influencers who have highly engaged, targeted follower bases overlapping with your customers. Arrange creative brand collaborations.

While buying Facebook followers is tempting, fake follower activity will tank your engagement. Vet any growth services thoroughly first.

Real-World Examples: Followers in Action

Growing their Facebook followers has helped many small businesses expand their visibility and conversions:

Taft Clothing – This digital menswear startup grew their Facebook fan base to over 18k followers. User polls and reviews now drive 25% of sales.

LuLaRoe – The women‘s fashion brand built an army of over 1 million fiercely loyal Facebook fans who act as grassroots brand advocates.

Suja Juice – Active Facebook campaigns led this cold-pressed juice startup to over 300k followers. Their high video views and UGC fueled rapid retail expansion.

The common thread – highly engaged followers translated into brand awareness, word-of-mouth promotion, customer insights and sales for these emerging ecommerce brands.

The Bottom Line

While Facebook followers require an investment of time and great content, the payoff can be invaluable for startups and small businesses seeking to cost-effectively expand their reach. Followers boost awareness and engagement at critical early stages.

Hope this overview clarifies what followers mean and why they matter. Let me know if you have any other questions!