Skip the gimmicks, share engaging content, and don't annoy your fans

It hasn’t been that long since Lara and I posted about our social media pet peeves, but one of them needs a bit more attention. In the post we wrote a couple of weeks ago, I said this about the practice of posting links in the comments:

Oh, EdgeRank dodgers, there are easier and far less annoying ways to reach your audience!!!

Consider this, you’re a user and you’re on a phone and clicking to the comments slows you down (A LOT), so you actively avoid clicking through to the comments to click the link. 

What, my dear EdgeRank dodgers, will that do to your EdgeRank? 

The bottom line is that if annoying your audience is the cost of reaching them, then the price is too high. We recommend avoiding that particular problem. A far simpler way to have a text update is simply to click X and close the thumbnail preview. There’s no need to post the link in the comments. 

Page admins are trying everything under the sun to keep EdgeRank from thwarting their efforts to capture eyeballs and clickthroughs. A friend tipped me off to one page admin that put a period in the status and posted their entire update, with link, in the comments.

Can we agree that things have gone a bit too far?

A while back, Mari Smith shared an image on her Facebook page that referenced the stats from the PostRocket blog (link above). In the image description, she said:

One way I use regularly myself is exactly like this post - upload an image with the link! Another way is to ‘x’ out the link preview (and it then posts as if a regular text status update).

I’ve conveniently left out her advice to post the link in the first comment because I think it’s advice that will hurt page engagement and EdgeRank in the long run and here’s why:

  1. Mobile users. In Q4 of 2012 mobile use of Facebook finally surpassed desktop web browsers. That means that people who want to see your link in the comments have to tap to a new screen to expand comments, then they have to tap on the link.
  2. Close the thumbnail. As Mari pointed out, all you have to do is paste the link in the status and close the thumbnail once it loads. Voila! Text update. Why annoy users when you don’t have to?
  3. Comment barrage. As soon as you start racking up enough comments that they get nested and you have to click to load more, you’ve lost people. It doesn’t matter where they’re accessing Facebook, they shouldn’t have to work that hard to get to your content. (Ever heard of the three click rule?)

What works for your audience?

I recently posted a whole series of about 10 articles to our Facebook page with thumbnails intact and no link in the status. The reach was comparable to any other post we’ve shared. And this is my bonus reason #4: Just because the stats say it works, doesn’t mean mean it will for you. Every audience is different. Test out different post types and times and don’t get caught up in the stats. I can find you a different study that will give you totally different results.

It’s frustrating to know that EdgeRank can have such a dramatic impact on what your followers see, but gimmicky trends are not the answer. A frustrated fan is not an engaged fan and that will hurt your reach/EdgeRank more than it will help.

I think it’s more sensible to use solid tactics that work to increase engagement rather than potentially damaging ones.

What are your thoughts on this practice? Do you like it or hate it?

The challenge of increasing Facebook fan page visibility

Back in the fall of 2012, Facebook announced that they were going to add page notifications and a pages feed to everyone’s personal profile. I was pretty excited about this development when it happened, but ultimately, there are very few pages I want to receive notifications from. I was more excited about the pages feed, but I realized recently that I haven’t even looked at it since the first few days after the announcement. Have you?

When I realized that, I jumped on Facebook to take a look. Yep, it was still there. Just waiting for my attention. And I’ll make a conscious effort to have a look at it now. Then I found a really wonderful little feed right below it. It’s called the Like Pages feed. There’s always been a place like this, but it wasn’t so readily available. I somehow missed when this one went live. I was impressed with the pages presented to me. They were definitely related to content I’m interested in and I immediately liked about 20 pages from the list.

That leads to another interesting change: Facebook has started displaying a list of page recommendations when you’re on a page and click like. The algorithm may not be perfect, but the idea is interesting.

My first thought when I saw this was that Facebook could monetize this and allow businesses to buy recommendation spots, much like AdWords. Like every other step toward monetizing their service, it would certainly be controversial.

Either way, it’s good to see that Facebook is continuing to give pages various options for improving their visibility in a space where the competition for eyeballs keeps growing exponentially.

What is your biggest challenge with reaching your audience on Facebook?

Facebook: interest lists are great but they don't ensure people see everything you say

The latest Facebook update that is being shared tells you that only 10% of the people who like your page see what you’re saying and that you can solve the problem by adding pages to your interest lists.

1) It’s true - most of your fans don’t see what you’re saying. The only way to see everything that a page posts is to go to their page and read it there.

2) The more people engage with a page the more likely they are to see what you’re saying in the future. The more compelling the content, and the more often you ask for response, the more likely you are to get engagement.

3) Although Facebook interest lists do show up in your main newsfeed, nothing about adding a page to one will guarantee that you see everything they say.  They are meant to be a way to focus on a specific topic or grouping, but still  scroll through quickly and you would have to purposely visit the list regularly if you didn’t want to miss anything.

We know it’s frustrating to think that people don’t see everything that you say on Facebook just because they liked your page. Think of it like an ad on tv or the radio, if you don’t happen to be on when that information comes through, you could very well miss it.

The best solution is to post frequently (at least daily, preferably more like 3-4 times spread out throughout the day), to make sure you are posting information that is of interest to your audience, and to create opportunities for engagement.

Let’s give each other ideas on what works best. Leave a comment below telling us what kind of posts get the most engagement on your page?

What's in a number? Why your follower count doesn't matter.

You’re bombarded with numbers everywhere you go in social media:

  • How many friends do you have?
  • How many people like your page?
  • How many circles are you in?
  • How many lists are you on?

Do these numbers matter?

Yes and no.

As a business, you want to build up a quality following. That means developing strategies that attract people who are interested in what you have to offer. Having a lot of people interested in what you do and say is a good thing.

But if you look at number alone, it really isn’t an indicator of your success in social media because follower numbers are inherently gamable (you can buy them and you can get high numbers of people that will never look at your content or engage with you).

It’s quality over quantity.

Do you have 50 followers? 500? 5000?

How many of those followers are actively engaged in conversation with your business, about your business or developing a relationship with you that could lead to a business relationship?

If you have 50 engaged and interested followers, that is far more valuable than 50,000 that barely know your account exists because they followed to increase their own numbers.

Don’t stop working on the numbers.

Although high numbers don’t necessarily mean a lot, low numbers can make people think you aren’t very established.

Working to steadily increase your number of engaged and quality followers, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or the number of people signed up to your newsletter, should continue to be a focus of your social media strategy. One of our best suggestions for doing this is to ask and remind on a regular basis.

Do you worry about the numbers?

And before you go, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter.  We’re always working on the numbers too.