It is a usual Monday morning. I sit down at my desk after grabbing my usual mug of hot water and open up the usual suspects: Gmail, Twitter, Hootsuite, Buffer, and Facebook analytics. I mooch through, checking out what has gone on over the weekend and start laying the foundations for what should be shared out this week. Everything seems normal…until I checked Facebook and found that pages I help manage had dropped in organic reach from anywhere between 15 and 40 per cent.
Ouch. And as I ask friends about their pages, I am nowhere near the worse affected.
We’ve known since early 2014 that Facebook is slowly downgrading organic reach and this week we have seen pages hit almost 0 percent reach as new algorithms are integrated into the system. It seems as though Facebook have finally had enough of businesses using the platform as “cheaper” marketing. I say “cheaper” as larger companies have poured thousands into social media advertisement to run alongside more traditional forms. A lot of this content is rightly considered spam and Prantik Mazumdar from Happy Marketer rightly questions why should Facebook still have a lower price point than print, TV ads and billboard campaigns? Shouldn’t digital space, which is generally making far more impressions and has a greater chance of a potential consumer stumbling upon the content, demand the same treatment as traditional media?
Well…yes and no. The problem here is that Facebook is an open platform which has seen the rise of fan pages and smaller businesses utilising the space to create their own little stages on the web. In the past, these were the fanzines and modest websites or blogs which were limited to those who were illiterate in website coding. With the almost disappearance of organic reach, people who run these pages for fun or as a small business are akin to fuelling a time sink. A lot of these pages are run for the pure love of a subject, with any economic gains as a bonus. They cannot afford to put money into promoting posts (which Facebook is encouraging you to do on every, single post now) as that money is more than likely for the essentials!
So is it time to throw Facebook into the bin next to MySpace? Not yet. Facebook still has the biggest reach of all the social media platforms with around 864 million active users per day (as of September, 2014). However, consider how much time you spend on Facebook and how your Facebook content feeds into complimentary platforms. Although the tips below cannot guarantee growth in organic reach, they should hopefully help the ‘for fun’, not-for-profit personal (i.e. cosplayer/photographer/small-medium YouTuber) and small businesses think about what they post and how it can be pushed out into the consciousness of the internet:
1. Facebook is only one part of the jigsaw:- Facebook should not be used in isolation. In the past this may have worked well with fans seeing all or majority of the posts. However from the time where ‘liking’ pages became an after school hobby, the amount of rubbish in newsfeeds became overbearing and the Facebook algorithm was changed to filter out spam and aimed to show greater ‘relevant’ content (or at least it tried to).
However, Facebook should just be one landing page on your social media plan with Twitter being ideal for quick updates and to direct people to your Facebook page. Create a website or blog to act as a landing page for your brand, and as a place where high resolution images can live. If your content is more visual, consider Tumblr or Instagram and remember to share and promote material between the platforms. Don’t discard niche social media platforms such as Raptr for gaming, these are growing in popularity as Facebook becomes less appealing and can all be linked to other social media accounts.
2. Keep constancy:- While this may be obvious, it is crucial to be constant when branching out beyond Facebook to boost SEO. It also helps fans or consumers to recognise you across the web, even if they don’t see all your posts. This includes, among other things, your brand name/user name, colour scheme, images and topics of conversation. If someone is interested in you or your products, they will Google to find out more. Give them something to look at rather than a Facebook page buried in page 3.
3. #Facebook:- I probably resent it as much as the next person and when I saw hashtags appearing on Facebook I wanted to tell that person to get out. Twitter is next door. However by including one or two hashtags into posts (anymore and they are sometimes flagged as spam) there is a greater chance that your post will be shown to followers who have similar interests within their profiles. If you use a trending hashtag, then this again has a greater chance of being shown as Facebook considers the post to be more ‘relevant’.
4. Yoohoo, new post!:- While it may be lovely that you have so much to share, Facebook says no. Keep updates to one to three a day; anymore and the spam flag starts flying. Stick to Twitter or Instagram for smaller events. A good rule of thumb is, if it isn’t going to be relevant in two hours time, don’t put it on Facebook.
5. Promote if you can, but don’t re-promote:- If your small business is doing well and you have enough money in the marketing budget to put into Facebook advertising, fantastic! See how well it does for conversions; but don’t reuse that asset. Facebook is really sneaky and knows when a page has reused a promoted image or an almost verbatim post that was previously paid for. You will gain 0 or close to 0 percent organic reach for that post and this will then have a knock on effect for future posts. Instead, use the essence of the advert with a new image. This needs a bit more forethought into asset collection and creation as you will need more content, but it should help your business in the long run.
6. Review your content and review your brand:- Facebook is curbing posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app and posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context. Fan pages often run competitions, I have run some myself and they are fantastic to get traffic to your site and for a community to come together. However make sure that the text is well written and has clearly explained conditions. So out with the “COMPETITION TIME! WIN THESE AVENGERS GOODIES WORTH £100!!!!! LIKE & SHARE!!!” and in with “Today I have some great news. To celebrate the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron this week, I have been kindly sent a package of #Avengers goodies from @ForbiddenPlanet. From mugs to passport holders, this £100 bundle could be working its way to you if you can answer the following question and share this post”. As for selling, make sure your post has something other than buy this…for reasons. Don’t mention “buy” too often and think of it more as an advertorial where possible.
I’m still experimenting with Facebook and other social media, with failures happening every week. However this has lead me to learn how the platform works, so don’t be afraid to experiment! More than likely, there will be an update of this in a few months time as I find out new things and/or the algorithm changes…AGAIN!
If you have any questions, hit me up on Twitter @Lady_Scion 🙂