If you’re using a Facebook business page as part of you marketing plans, you may have noticed recently that the number of people who have seen your posts has dropped like the proverbial rock. On a good day, our own posts are reaching about 5% of our fans.
If you don’t have a business page but are thinking about it, just know that the days of the Facebook gravy train are over. No longer the “free” marketing avenue that would let us engage with billions of people across the globe, Facebook is now scant more than a glorified advertising opportunity. But I won’t rant about that here – I did that already.
What I want to do is to share some ideas for coping with your loss in reach and how you can still use Facebook as a part of your marketing mix.
Build Your Fan Base
That might sound crazy and counterintuitive considering that you won’t have much interaction with more than 5-ish% of your fans at any given time but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in it.
It just takes a little attitude adjustment.
It may be time to stop thinking of Facebook as a community to engage and think of it instead as a popularity contest.
People like to hang out at the cool kids’ table and people like to “like” stuff that other people like.
The trick is in the social proof. Fans beget fans so consider each one of those clicks of the blue button as a vote for your business.
More importantly, think of it as a targeted vote. You may not be able to engage directly with all of those voters at all times but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach them when you need to – and when you do need to, you’ll have a ready-made pool of people who have expressly shown interest in you and what you do.
You’re not just building a fan base for the numbers. And it’s time to get real about the fact that social marketing is not free.
Make friends with the idea that you’ll need to budget for ads. And appreciate the fact that Facebook offers you the opportunity to advertise to the select and very specific people who care.
Now, I’m not talking about those very ignorable ads that show up on the right side of your news feed. I’m talking about ads that show up right in the news feed.
And to be honest, I’m not really talking about ads – not the way we usually think of them, anyway – those campy promos or slick one-liners that may blink or flash or beg us to click here.
I’m talking about the ability to “boost” your posts. The very same posts you would normally make and the ones you hoped all your fans would see in the first place.
You may not have pockets deep enough to promote every witticism or fun photo or blog post but you can certainly promote your best offers, your freebies, your contests, events or anything that has the potential to lead to conversions.
When you do that – with the same charm you put into all of your posts – you’re going to reach a prequalified list of people who are much more likely to be interested in what you have to say than if you’d been advertising to some statistical demographic that fits your “target audience”.
Refocus Your Efforts
Before Facebook’s recent changes, the average brand page was only reaching 15% of its fans anyway. More, yes, but not exactly earth shattering. Way-back-when we could reach even more, especially with those “engaging” posts, but it was never close to 100%.
Now more than ever we need to shift our priorities to what matters, and that starts with our own websites, blogs and email lists. Unless you own it, you don’t get a say in how it works. Facebook – or Twitter or Google or Pinterest – can change how they do business, and subsequently how we do business, at any time.
If you rely on a third-party service for your marketing then it’s only a matter of time before you’re wringing your hands over another roadblock outside of your control. We had this conversation long before this set of changes, when we tackled the topic of using Facebook as your home base.
So put your time and energies into building your own home base and that starts with the conversations and communities you create around your own web properties.
You may also want to consider reallocating time to another social network. Facebook is big enough and omnipresent enough to be the default social network but that doesn’t mean your fans aren’t also on Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest. Diversify your efforts for the best results.
Reconsider Your Content
Facebook is making a push to be more Twitter-like in its role as a real-time news source. As such, it’s promoting links to current news articles from prominent news organizations. If you’re curating content, consider adding news into your mix and gauge whether or not that improves your reach.
Facebook is also demoting memes, those ever-present ecard quotes and other silly stuff that it has deemed unworthy. Sadly, those were often our go-to tricks for getting engagement. Now, consider eliminating them from your arsenal and go for original photos and content.
Be thoughtful about what you say in your posts. Instead of taking a share-and-go approach, infuse your personality into your posts and ask questions, pose conundrums, share commentary. If you can generate some engagement, whether via comments, shares or likes, that tends to boost your overall reach.
Whatever you do, consider that Facebook can – and does – change its content rules quickly and often. Try not to fall in love with any one particular strategy. Instead, try different things and see what works best for you on any given day.
Make It Your Outpost
So what are you supposed to do with all that great content if nobody is going to see it on Facebook these days?
Easy – put it somewhere else.
All those great photos? Pinterest.
Clever quips? Twitter.
Quickie posts, memes or one-liners? Tumblr.
And of course, your own blog.
Now you’ve got a social presence all over the darn place and content that you can repurpose for Facebook that didn’t take you a single extra second to create but will still make you visible there and will show that you have an active page when fans or potential fans come to visit.
Many Eggs, Many Baskets
It never pays to rely too heavily on a single marketing tactic or tool. We got comfortable at Facebook for a while and bought into the shiny object with its billions of facets.
Now it’s get-real time again, so put Facebook in its place as a sometimes-tool and use it for its strengths, knowing that it’s a big, wide internet and there are plenty of options.
And remember, Facebook will change again – so focus on what matters, and that’s the people you serve. If you do that, you’ll always be able to find a way to reach them.
Need help re-strategizing your social efforts? Let me know! I can help you get set up with a social marketing plan that keeps you focused on goals.