By Colleen Patterson

It’s a great question:

“Who should I invite to like? Should I not invite friends and family to like my page if they’re not my target audience?”  Facebook’s algorithm is a notoriously slippery beast.

In the old days (read: 2012), Facebook adamantly maintained that its Newsfeed intended to minimize spammy content as opposed to what protesters claimed: an concealed effort to encourage paid promotions by limiting any given posts’ organic reach.

As Mari Smith, co-author of  Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day  recently told the Social Media Examiner, “the Facebook algorithm narrows down what users actually see to about 1,500 posts, and from that pool of content, narrows what users might see even further to about 300 posts.”

How does it choose which posts to display?

We know that Facebook prioritizes your connections. For instance, you’ll see sponsored post from a magazine that your friend likes, but more likely than not, you’ll just see a sponsored post.

Its methods are esoteric and of the 100,000 weighted variables which determine the content that ends up in your Newsfeed, less than a dozen are widely known.

We can assume that when you see sponsored posts in your feed that you made a Google search or visited a site that contained a retargeting pixel or that someone in your Facebook network who shares similar attributes as you do, prompted the ad to show up in your feed.

That latter-most guess harkens back to the Facebook Lookalike audience, a feature Facebook folds into its business services. When crafting an advertisement through Facebook for Business, one is prompted to either upload a specific “Custom Audience” of email contacts, or install a pixel which will identity all of the visitors who have visited a website, or lastly, select the people who like the business page behind the ad.

Then, Facebook constructs a Lookalike audience based on whichever of these three sources you chose, extrapolating from your close personal network, outwards.

So when it comes to building an audience on Facebook for your business page, you’ll want to be very particular about who you include. This means:

Don’t Invite Your Mom to Like

If your mom isn’t your target audience and neither are her friends who work at the YMCA, don’t invite to like. Otherwise, you’ll have Facebook thinking that your audience comprises of middle-aged ladies who love Zumba, as opposed to the first-time homebuyer’s you want to get your real estate business in front of.

Don’t Invite High School Friends to Like

Unless your best friend from high would make the perfect customer, you’re best leaving these now-distant connections off your invite list. If you haven’t spoken to them since high school, it may be a good idea to declutter and unfriend them altogether. If they’ve stopped showing up in your feed, it’s because even Facebook is starting to sense their irrelevance to you. Don’t invite to like.

Don’t Invite Any Political Pundits to Like

This type of person may likely overlap with your high school friends, but the guy or girl who constantly uses Facebook to post political rants is probably too focused on cultivating their ideological views to genuinely engage with your page. Don’t invite to like.

Don’t Invite Complainers to Like

You want to invite positivity into your business page: warm customer reviews and helpful feedback. If you invite the friends of yours who only ever take to Facebook to complain, you’ll probably only succeed in inspiring them to post about the page invites they’re tired of receiving everyday. Don’t invite to like.

Ultimately, you need to only invite people who are relevant and likely to be interested in your business. Invite anyone who fits your target demographic. A great, easy place to start with location. If you’re a local coffee shop (and who doesn’t love coffee?) filter your friends by your current location and only invite those results to your page. It doesn’t matter if you only get 20 hits. Quality always wins over quantity.

In terms of the Facebook algorithm beast, it’s nearly impossible these days to expand your reach without putting a small marketing budget behind your posts. Start simply: a dollar a post; a post a day.

Overtime, you’ll find yourself cultivating an engaged and receptive audience who want to see your posts. Keep learning how to grow your audience the right way with these blog posts:

Colleen Patterson is the content marketing manager for Muses, the only digital growth app focused on building long­-term relationships. She’d love you to get involved.