Run for the hills! Facebook have changed something! Arrghhh!
If this sounds like your reaction to the roll-out of Promoted Posts, then get yourself a cuppa, sit down, and read this post.
First: Stop freaking out.
Second: Have a biscuit.
Third: Your Facebook page has not suddenly lost ranking or visibility, so let’s calm down and see what’s going on here.
When Facebook made its new Promoted Posts feature public, it also added information to the bottom of every post you create, telling you how many people you reached (both organically and virally) and what percentage of your fans this makes up. What Promoted Posts aims to do is make sure that a greater number of your ‘likers’ sees your posts in their timeline when it might not ordinarily do so. The introduction of Promoted Posts has not decreased your visibility, it’s just offering you more. At a price, of course.
Facebook are now in effect monetising posts by offering page owners the option of paying to increase the visibility of their status updates. This means when you write a status update, you’ll see a little drop-down option asking if you want to “promote this post”. You’ll then get the option to decide how much you want to spend according to the potential audience reached. I italicise that because there’s no guarantee that your spend will equate to the actual numbers quoted. For many bog-standard posts, expect about half that total. However, write an engaging and interesting status that provokes lots of interaction and you might be looking at a higher number.
But isn’t that the same without promoted posts?
Well, yeah. And it’s what you should be doing anyway if you want to reach more than the average 9%-16% of fans that most pages actually are visible to. Yep, we know, it’s a measly little percentage, but that’s the way it is, and it’s nothing new. But rather than bitch and moan about it, let’s look at the numbers on each post and try to make them BIGGER.
So, let’s say you write a neat little status on your page. Out of 1000 fans, you may have only reached 16% (ie 160 people), but the total number of Facebook users who saw your post is generally higher than that (something like 210 people, perhaps). As your fans click, like, share and comment on your status, it spreads into their timelines and becomes visible to their friends, too. Nothing new here, but to boost those numbers, you have to entice your fans into taking action and interacting with your posts.
A lot of page owners have been freaking out thinking that the introduction of Promoted Posts had somehow minimised their visibility – in effect, blackmailing them into paying to having their statuses appear in their fans’ timelines. The thing is, the Facebook algorithm hasn’t changed – you were only reaching that number before Promoted Posts arrived – the only change is that now you know about it.
So what ya gonna do?
The short answer is: be more interesting.
The long answer goes something like this:
The average Facebook business page reaches less than 20% of their fans with each post they write. Not great, but then, we only see a very small percentage of our friends’ statuses in our newsfeed. If we saw everything that everyone posted, all the time, we’d be wading through thousands of baby pictures and meal descriptions and spam and check-ins every time we logged on.
Facebook’s algorithm takes it upon itself to decide which of your friends’ statuses and which posts from pages you’ve ‘liked’ are important enough to appear in your timeline. That depends on several things. Firstly, their posts must be relevant to the kinds of things you’re interested in and post about yourself. It also depends heavily on the amount of interaction you have with that particular person or page – the more likes, shares and comments a post has, the more visible it becomes. Finally, there’s a time issue – the older the post, the less weight it carries – hence Promoted Posts only being available to recent posts and only over a period of three days.
Fairly standard stuff, right? So why are people surprised when their uninspiring sales pitch posts are only hitting the 7% mark? And at this point, should you be diving right in to promoting posts or writing ads that STILL aren’t going to reach as many fans as you’d like, because they’re just not engaging enough?
By all means, play about with Promoted Posts, see what you find (here’s an example of a basic test that compares Promoted Posts to Facebook Advertising, to give you an idea of what to expect), but really it comes down to this: if the new insights have made you aware that your page isn’t doing as well as you though it was, CHANGE SOMETHING.
And by something, I mean everything: what you’re posting, why you’re posting it, how you’re phrasing your statuses, who you’re connecting with and even what time of day you’re posting. Research shows that most users respond more readily to images and videos than links and plain text. Open questions are going to provoke more of a conversation than closed (yes/no) questions. Self-promotion turns into spam when there’s no dialogue with your audience…
We’re going to go into this in more depth in another post, but for now, consider this (ridiculous) example (sorry, it’s Friday):
Type of status that receives 7% (or less) visibility: “Click here for something about rhinos.”
Type of status that organically receives more like 25-30% visibility: “I did a double backflip over a rhino today. It was pretty awesome – take a look: <link> What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever backflipped over?”
I know which one I’m more likely to ‘like’, comment on or share. And then try to replicate at the zoo and get arrested.
In short – before you start stressing about whether or not you should be using Promoted Posts, see how much extra visibility you can get by improving the interaction of your statuses and posts.
And if you’re still flummoxed, please feel free to get in touch with our social media department at Ikroh, and we’ll do our best to help.
[Oh, and one final note: Promoted Posts are not the same thing as Sponsored Stories (damn all this alliteration!) – we’ll be explaining that one shortly, too.]
About Ikroh SEO tm
Ikroh has over 35 years of experience in the industry.