Facebook is a love hate relationship. Right when you're starting to get the hang of the platform, results are coming in, and engagement is high, Facebook releases a news feed algorithm change.
It started in 2013 with this update. An update that cost my company Sevenly about $1.5 million in 3 months. But it didn't stop there, in 2014 they rolled out this and this, and now in 2016 they're changing it again (insert online marketers screaming).
Fun Fact: In 2013, I owned the most engaging Facebook page in the world. It was a humor page. We were averaging around 250,000 likes per post but had many images receiving over 1 million likes! Our only competitors were Bieber and Beyonce.
But it went even further for companies like Copy Blogger who made a formal announcement to leave Facebook altogether. Or General Motors who became so frustrated their marketing director said, "Fine. I'll just waste my $10 million elsewhere." in a statement to Forbes.
Bottom line is this, online marketing is ALWAYS going to change. The key to becoming a great marketer is to increase your adaptability and speed.
For example, just yesterday Facebook released a new function called "See First" that allows users to choose who they want to see in their news feed first. The problem is how difficult it is to enable the function. So I made this video, posted it on my page, and boosted it to my fans.
We must remember, there is no school for social media marketing today. Now, you must wake up every morning examine the social landscape, adapt, copy, and be prepared for it to be different the very next day.
But over the past five years, I've noticed a few Facebook strategies that have remained consistent. Strategies I believe to be core to the success of their platform. So below, I have listed what I'm calling "8 Facebook Page Secrets To Skyrocket Engagement."
1. Don't Post Too Often
The more often you post, the less the quality of your posts–or at least, that’s the conclusion Facebook has come to. Because Facebook page rank concentrates on the engagement of prior posts, posts with low engagement will hurt future page reach. So it’s better to have one dynamite post, than many low-engagement posts. So for me, I post 1-3 times per day seven days per week.
2. Ask For Engagement
Facebook algorithms give credit to pages which have received feedback from a particular user (posts, comments, likes, tags, and shares). So, if a user consistently interacts with a page, more page posts are likely to show up on that user’s feed. However, if a user rarely interacts with a page, the opposite is true, and page posts tend to be rarely seen by a particular user. So, a user may be reading, even enjoying, your page posts, but unless they engage with you, your posts will not end up on their wall. So, this makes calls to action more important than ever.
3. Your Industry Might Hurt You
If a page consistently receives little interaction from its fans in general, it will also be penalized. Low interaction is a red flag to Facebook that lowers the overall page rank of the page. So businesses in low engagement industries (like insurance agencies) are ranked lower than a page with a lot of passionate followers (for example, an animal shelter or a thought leader like me :) )
4. Fight Spam
Because users can easily “hide” your posts, or report content as spam by clicking on the arrow next to a page post, posts seen as pure marketing spam (i.e. “Buy our products.”) are easily reported as such. Once reported, Facebook, much like Google, pushes down the ranking of pages deemed “spammy.” Remember, it's okay to sell your products, but make sure it's not more than 25% of your post makeup.
5. Spend A Little Money
While Facebook insists it does not penalize pages that do not place pay-for-play ads, we do know that organic reach of pages on Facebook has deflated 20 percent, and viral reach has decreased 45 percent. Generally, companies have had to supplement this decrease in reach with Facebook advertising to meet the page reach numbers of early 2012. For me, I spend between $50 and $700 per week depending on if I'm promoting a product or not.
6. Timing Is More Important Than You Think
Knowing when your fans are online and ready to be engaged, as well as targeting times when interaction is high, and competition is low will both help with your page’s Facebook reach. Two things: First, if you live in the United States, remember that 65% of the population lives on East Coast Time. Second, remember that your page is a small fish in an even bigger pond now, so if you are able to post when other companies are offline (such as after 5 pm and on weekends) when your customers are still online, it’s a win-win.
For me, I try to post once around 7am PST, 5:30pm PST, and 9:30pm PST. Spend some time monitoring which times are yielding the greatest engagement.
7. Get Back On Facebook
Using scheduling services such as Hootsuite, Edgar, or Sprout Social to schedule your Facebook posts will gain you only one thing: an even lower reach. That’s because Facebook recognizes, and penalizes these third-party apps, giving them less credibility than posts made directly on Facebook.
This is true for businesses that push their Twitter feed through Facebook as well. Think about it... Facebook wants you on Facebook. If you don't play their game their way, you're going to get dinged. For me, If I have to schedule a post, I do it in Facebook.
Note: Historically, Facebook has denied this correlation, however studies on Facebook reach as well as analyzing our own data has suggested there is a direct relationship between Facebook reach and use of third-party services.
8. Find Your Sweet Spot
The users that your page interacts with are important too. If the majority of your engagement comes from a few sole fans, an administrator on the account, or spammy (or even non-existent) users, expect that interaction to work against–not for–your page. The best case scenario is to target a local area, group, type of user (entrepreneur, blogger, rock climber, etc.), or demographic and raise engagement among those users who will then spread viral word of mouth to their Facebook friends about your page.
To be clear, as business owners we often want to talk about a lot of topics. The key is to find your content niche and stay there. Can you have an occasional post about something off topic? Sure. But don't make it a regular habit.
The major lesson is this: Understanding how to build and maintain engagement with an audience is becoming a foundational piece of the entrepreneurial landscape. Every day we must go to school. Every day we must produce useful content that makes people not just want to follow us, but to authentically enjoy us.
What about you? Have you seen anything help boost engagement on your Facebook Fan Page? If so, let me know in the comments below.
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