Facebook for business

Are you freaking out because your Facebook reach is down?

If you’ve noticed that your Facebook reach is down, you definitely aren’t alone.  It’s frustrating – no doubt about it!  Less people are seeing your content than in the past. 

What this means for you as a page owner is that you may need to shift the way you’re doing things and how you think about Facebook as a tool.  Because of this change we’ve been having this conversation with people a lot so today I’m going to share some reasons I think it kind of makes sense that you’re seeing less, and a few things you can do to try to improve the situation.

Why is this happening?

1. Facebook’s Algorithm

Facebook’s algorithm is designed to show people what they want to see. As much as I enjoy knowing what my favourite brands are up to, I definitely want the ratio of friend to brand content to fall heavily on the friend side. That means our Facebook pages are showing up less in personal feeds.

2. Volume

There are over 1.25 billion Facebook accounts sharing more than 10 billion messages daily. If everything that was shared showed up in your timeline chronologically (as it does on Google+ or Twitter) then you wouldn’t see any more from a brand than you are now. There is simply no way for people to see everything being shared on Facebook.

3. This is no different than with other media

You don’t hear every ad that runs on the radio or every comment/conversation by the DJs. You don’t see every ad that plays on TV. Why would you expect to see everything one brand or person posts on Facebook?

TV and radio are a great analogy for a lot of what’s going on with Facebook, in my opinion.

When TV was a newer technology, brands could buy an ad on one of the big three networks and because the choice of channels was so limited, the chance of their audience seeing that ad was fairly high. This is very much like the early days of Facebook when people were only following a few brand pages and didn’t have hundreds of Facebook friends.

When people choose to watch TV now, they have hundreds of channels to choose from, or they can choose to fast forward through all the commercials or go straight to streaming Netflix and avoid commercials altogether. The chances of a brand’s commercial being seen by the public simply because it’s been put on TV has significantly decreased because of all the content available out there. The same applies to Facebook.

While many people like to talk about Facebook being a bait and switch situation with a free service that worked well now being one that has little reach, the landscape of Facebook is simply no longer what it was a couple of years ago. As the pickup within a medium increases, the reach is bound to decrease.

4. Revenue

People talk about how Facebook just wants your money a lot. I agree. They do.

I also think that makes sense. You can reach your audience for free on Facebook with a certain level of effort (like getting media attention using public relations) or you can pay for advertising (just like people do on TV, radio and newspapers) and get in front of more eyeballs. Facebook is trying to make money and their business model is one that includes advertising. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable thing for them to want the brands who are reaching their audiences on their network to pay for a some of it.

I don’t want to just spend my time justifying why your reach has decreased though, I want to offer some ideas on things you can do to bump it back up again.

What can you do?

Post regularly

Are you posting at least 1-2 times a day on your page? You should be posting at least that many times, if not more.

The more regularly and consistently you post good, valuable content, the more likely your audience is to see and interact with your content. That means they’ll be seeing your content in their feed more often in the future.

Analyze your content

Check your insights regularly. At least once a week, go and see what people are reacting to and take that into account when creating more content.

Is your audience clicking through on your links? Are people liking, commenting on or sharing the pictures you post? There is a ton of information in the insights that will help you make your content exactly what your audience is looking for.

What time is your audience online?

In the Facebook Insights section you can see what time your audience is online. Make sure that you’re sharing content throughout all of those times and not just the same times over and over again.  Then check to see if certain times are working better. (Building your Facebook presence requires patience and a willingness to test and tweak.)

There are certain times of day that are really popular. Your audience may be online but it’s harder to reach them because so much more content is being pushed out at that time (ads are more expensive during drive time radio for a reason). You may be better off posting at a time that is slightly less popular (9pm maybe?) and getting through to more people. Test it out and see what works!

Enlist your brand champions

You have a loyal following. There is nothing wrong with asking certain people to be more engaged on your page because it helps get the reach up. Ask them to turn notifications on and let them know you appreciate the support they are giving your page. It’s also nice to be willing to do that for a few other pages.

I have notifications turned on for about 5 business pages and I try to like, comment and share content on those pages as much as possible, because I know it’s helpful and valuable to a business that I believe in.

Pay for advertising

I mentioned this a bit earlier when I talked about Facebook wanting revenue. I think it’s reasonable to spend a bit of money on Facebook advertising. In fact, I think it’s a really good idea.

I’ve paid for advertising in print. Facebook advertising is dirt cheap in comparison, but you can target so specifically it’s amazing - done right, Facebook ads can deliver far more value than print ads. Don’t think that because you’ve heard boosting posts is a waste of your money (it definitely can be) or because people are complaining about Facebook advertising that it isn’t something worth doing. I’ll admit it takes time to learn how to do it really well, and you may want to enlist someone to help you do that that, but Facebook advertising DOES work and is something every business should consider and not just scoff at.

Reset your expectations

Things have changed. We may have gotten up to 50%+ reach on some posts in the past and we aren’t getting that any more. But if you think about the fact that people ARE seeing your content, that you’re providing value to the people who really want it, and you’re able to grow that audience at incredibly low cost, instead of just looking at the decrease in numbers you’ll see that spending your time on Facebook is still worthwhile.

Set some very realistic goals and expectations and see if you can meet them. Work to improve your engagement and reach from where you’re at now instead of looking into the past. Be consistent and provide quality content and you’re off to a great start. Just don’t forget to TELL people to come to your Facebook page and like you. And WHY. Why is it worth their time to offer you real estate in their packed Newsfeed?

So there you have it - my thoughts on the Facebook reach situation. To summarize it all quickly - yes, it’s happening. I don’t think it’s surprising or awful, but I do agree it’s frustrating and disappointing. We all just need to do our best by creating great content and putting our audiences first to make the time we spend on Facebook as worthwhile as possible.

Do you think Facebook still has value or has the algorithm destroyed its value for businesses? Leave a comment and let us know!

Facebook Part 1: To Page or To Group?

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru... Image via CrunchBase

Karen Wilson is a wealth of information in all things Social Media and technology. I’ve asked her to do a series of guest posts on my blog to share some of her Facebook wisdom with you. If you’re coming to Social Capital (and I think you should! :) she’ll be conducting a roundtable discussion about Facebook.

There are at least 1,836,972 “experts” out in the world to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do on Facebook. Strategy is important, but it’s not one-size-fits-all, so I’m going to focus on a few tips and tricks in this series that anyone can do to help improve your Facebook experience - for you and for those who follow you.

In this post, I’ll start with the big setup question.

Should you set up a Profile, Page or Group for promoting content on Facebook?

Facebook profiles are for individuals. Anyone who is representing an entity shouldn’t use them. Profiles are limited to 5,000 friends, so if that’s the route you take, you’re automatically setting a limit on your Facebook reach. Sure, it may take a while to get to 5,000 fans if you’re not Starbucks, but dream big! What you have to say is valuable, so don’t sell yourself short by starting out with a profile. Facebook recently added functionality to convert profiles to pages and friends are supposed to transfer, but I’ve heard of cases where they don’t so proceed with caution, i.e., read instructions carefully.

I think that’s reason enough not to have a profile for an entity, but there’s more.

Profiles can see private information about “friends” that Pages and Groups cannot. Facebook already has so many privacy issues that many users will balk at “friending” an entity. So, by creating a profile for your entity, you’re once again limiting your reach for those who are concerned about privacy.

Now that we’ve established that profiles for entities aren’t a great plan, the biggest question now is whether your content is best presented by a page or group.

Pages tend to be good for broadcasting messages. You can use apps like Networked Blogs or RSS Graffiti to syndicate your blog content via RSS feed to a page automatically. Depending on the content you generate and questions you ask, lots of discussion can be facilitated through a page. However, your page followers will not receive notifications of new content on a page. The lifespan of your content can be minutes or hours depending on how many other pages/friends your followers have whose content goes into their feed.

Groups are well-suited to discussion. They can be “open” with all content accessible by anyone - member or not or a group can be “secret” and various levels of restriction in-between. Your RSS feed can also be automatically posted to any group in the same way they’re posted to pages. The difference is that group members will receive notifications of new posts. Within a group, members can set up and edit documents that all members can access. This is particularly useful if group members are adding to a collection of resources for all to use. Facebook just recently added group chat to Group pages, so any online members can all chat with each other in real time. There is rich functionality in groups that, used wisely, can be incredibly helpful for facilitating high levels of engagement in group members.

So which one is right for you? Ask yourself these questions:

1) Are you selling a product or service?
2) Will you be generating your own content to disseminate to followers?
3) Do you want to control - as much as possible - the information that followers see?

If you answered yes to these questions, then I recommend going with a Facebook Page.

4) Do you want followers to be able to post content for other followers to see?
5) Is the content community-based and of interest to a wide audience?
6) Are members actively engaged in supporting the followers as a whole?

If you answered yes to these questions, your content is more suitable for a Facebook Group.
Put simply, Pages are ideal for information dissemination and Groups for discussion and support. While it may be tempting for every entity to want to tap into the engagement power of Groups, it is best to think about how you envision the flow of information. Will it be community-based or primarily one-sided? Now that groups are becoming more prevalent on Facebook, entities from blogs to business need to carefully evaluate how they choose to promote their content before actually jumping in. Why? Pages and Groups can’t be converted, so switching mid-stream could mean “losing” followers.

What are your thoughts about the Page versus Group decision?


Karen is a Web Content & Social Media Marketing Manager by day. She writes about life on her blog, Karen’s Chronicles and is co-founder of the Losing it in Ottawa blog community. At the upcoming Social Capital Conference, you can join her roundtable to learn more about Facebook. Find out how to follow Karen here.

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