Today we're going to discuss Facebook.
One of the biggest complaints I'm hearing is from people whose Facebook business page traffic and interaction have dropped to almost nothing over the last several months. So, although it may not make you feel better, you're not alone. Honestly, I'm in the same boat, but with possibly one very important difference... I don't rely on Facebook to drive my business.
One of the most important things I've wanted to cover right from the start of aWAEHQn dreams is this all-important concept --> OWN YOUR TRAFFIC! I cannot possibly say it loud enough. If you want to succeed in business online, you MUST own your traffic. Relying on sites like Facebook, eBay, Etsy, ArtFire and such is NOT a good business practice. It's NOT safe for your business. And, unfortunately, many people are learning the hard way right now... especially those whose only selling venue is their Facebook business page. But that's ok. You're going to change that.
Now, I'm NOT telling you to give up on Facebook or your business page(s) there. Facebook is an EXTREMELY useful tool for a variety of reasons. However, that said, Facebook should be just that for you... a TOOL.
With my sights set on covering the concept of owning your traffic, I decided to cover branding your business first. I did that for 2 reasons... First, because I was asked for help by people who were currently having problems with branding. Second, it was a great lead-in for that topic because, if you're going to set yourself up to own your traffic, you first need to come up with an identity for your business.
Today Facebook, Tomorrow... Freedom and Planning for SuccessToday I'll discuss Facebook and the problems you're having with it. Then I'm going to finish up my materials on owning your traffic.
So, if you're really serious about having a successful online business, you should take a look at the information I've covered on branding to get prepared. Hop over to the Content Index page and read all the posts linked to in the Branding section. You may also want to purchase my eBook "Creating Your Brand ~ Packaging your Gift to the World" from Lulu.com (20% off until May 18th with code TENYEAR). I believe you'll find it very useful to help you succeed with this first and very important step of setting yourself up for success.
Ok, here we go...
The Facebook MonsterOMG where have all my fans gone? Why do I feel invisible? Why isn't anyone commenting on my posts? Do you see me?
Sound familiar? I'll bet it does. It's the same question millions of Facebook business page owners have been asking themselves...and their fans... since last fall and, especially, since all pages were switched to timeline on March 30th. One of the things I hate about Facebook is that they roll out changes without telling you everything you need to know to successfully operate within those changes... and sometimes without telling you anything!
Want to know WHY you feel invisible? You almost are... as you can read in this eye-opening article by Brian Carter, Facebook Pages Only Reach About 17% of Fans!! Seventeen percent!! Let's put that into perspective. My Designs by Debi page has 1,014 fans. That means that, AT MOST, when I post, only 172 people are seeing what I'm posting! Wow. Not good. And, what's worse is that if I do my own calculations to get an accurate assessment, it's only 10%... 101 people!
If you want to check yours, go to your insights, add up the Reach numbers for your last 10 posts (or however many you want) then divide that number by 10 (or however many you chose to include) and last, divide that number by your number of fans. How'd you do? Dismal I'll bet. Read Brian's whole article because he offers excellent information and some ideas to help.
The CulpritThe mechanical yet intangible WHY, is Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm. This is what changed last fall and started the whole mess. EdgeRank uses affinity, weight and time decay in an algorithm to determine what shows up in each person's news feed. And it doesn't only affect posts by pages. It affects personal posts, too. Have you noticed there's a large number of your friends who seem to have stopped posting? They haven't. You're just not seeing their posts thanks to EdgeRank.
There's a great infographic to explain this in Ari Herzog's blog post Why 84% of Your Facebook fans are Lurkers and I highly recommend giving the post a read. The infographic also includes some helpful hints.
In a nutshell, Facebook interprets a lack of interaction with your page as a lack of interest and therefore determines it's not important enough to show up in your fans' newsfeeds. How nice of Facebook to detemine what we want to see, huh? NOT.
How to Gain the Edge on EdgeRankFirst of all an "edge" is anything you can share on Facebook... status updates, photos, videos, links, etc. And each of those things are ranked. Facebook ranks photos and videos as most important, then links, then status updates. Actions are also weighed differently. Shares, comments and likes are ranked in that order.
Affinity is a measure of interaction with your page. So, to help with EdgeRank, you need to increase the amount of interaction you get from your fans. Post things that are interesting. Posting photos and videos increases engagement more than text only posts. People are visual. We learn and remember best through pictures and images.
Sharing links to things increases engagement because your fans have to click through to see the content. You can post links to posts on your blog, new stuff on your website, helpful articles and tips. Just be sure the information you're linking to is relevant and useful to your readers.
And, last but not least, ASK your fans to comment on or share your posts. A nice call to action is often all it takes to get that desired response, especially once the fans who care about you understand how important it is. And we're going to start a movement to make sure they do.
Counterintuitive But ImportantThere's a practice that has been routine since I joined Facebook... exchanging/reciprocating likes. It seems like a great idea, but it's not. Especially now. Doing this decimates your EdgeRank and actually makes your traffic problem worse!
Here's how... When you head out on a journey to get as many likes as you possibly can, you end up liking a whole lot of pages that you don't really care about, and having a whole lot of people who don't really care about you or even like your products liking you back. Many of them probably even hide you from their newsfeed because they really have no interest in what you offer.
What ends up happening is you have a huge number of fans who don't interact with your page and this hurts your EdgeRank immensely. Remember the first metric in EdgeRank... affinity? This is where mindless liking hurts you... it decreases the percentage of fans interacting with your page, which decreases the affinity of your posts, which lowers your EdgeRank, which ultimately removes you from your fans' newsfeeds.
So it's better to have less fans who are true fans, like and want your products and interact with your page, than it is to have a huge number of fans with a very low number of them interacting.
So stop randomly exchanging likes and joining in on all the "liking ladders" going on every day. Grow your likes in an organic and, more importantly, genuine fashion. Don't be concerned with the number of fans you have, but the VALUE of the fans you have. This is definitely a case where quality trumps quantity.
Optimize TimelineHere are a couple of great articles to help you understand and optimize the timeline format itself... Facebook Brand Timelines: 6 Big Changes Every Marketer Needs to Understand and How To Use Facebook Timeline Without Reworking Your Brand Strategy.
Here's the Pages Product Guide straight from Facebook... Facebook Pages - Mission Control for Your Business on Facebook.
And you should like and spend some time on the Facebook Marketing Solutions page. It's run and monitored by Facebook employees and holds access to a ton of business-related Facebook information, guides and classes you can attend.
Don't Forget To Play By The RulesI still see many page owners holding promotions, competitions, contests and sweepstakes on their pages without using Facebook approved methods. You do this at your own peril. Facebook has started cracking down on this behavior. Every time you do it, you risk losing everything you've worked so hard to build. They will shut down your page and you will lose all your fans, all your content, everything.
So, read the guidelines and follow the rules or you could find yourself with no page at all!
And, Of Course, SafetyA discussion about Facebook would not be complete without giving you some food for thought on safety and privacy. This article by Ruth Manuel-Logan does it rather well so I'll refer you there... 7 Stupidest Mistakes We Keep Seeing On Facebook.
Nitty Gritty MetricsIf you want to learn more about Facebook marketing metrics and things like EdgeRank, Volume, Reach, Engagement and Influence, here are some articles and blog posts you can read...
5 Most Essential Facebook Marketing Metrics
3 Metrics That Will Change The Way you Market on Facebook
Which Facebook Marketing Metrics Matter Most
And, at some point, if you want to get really serious, you can look into using EdgeRank Checker.
Interest ListsNow I'm going to give you your biggest action item to work on once you're done reading this. It will make Facebook a much more pleasurable experience and is something you should do yourself AND educate your audience about... using Interest Lists.
Also, if we can educate our audiences about these things, show them you CAN see what you want when you want, and get THEM using Interest Lists, everyone can see what they want to see and that should theoretically result in more engagement on fan pages.
You set up Interest Lists via your home/newsfeed page. They allow you to group both your Friends and Pages you've liked into lists, name the lists, and select them on the newsfeed page when you want to see them. You have the option of making each list public, viewable to friends or only by you.
I'm finishing up a step-by-step tutorial for you to use to set them up. The most important thing to get this going and help solve this problem is to SHARE THIS POST and the upcoming tutorial with as many friends, family members and fans as you can. I'll have the tutorial for you very soon.