Did FB Pages
Die A Sad Death?
It took a meteor to kill the dinosaurs… but could the meteoric decline in fan reach signal the end of times for Facebook fan (business) pages?
Fan reach is expressed as a percentage of the fans of your page that will see your post when you publish it on your page.
Rapidly Falling Reach
In 2009/2010, fan reach was 20+% and many fan pages set record impression results that, due to later drops in reach, even with stellar growth, it would take them 2 years to ever hit again…
Two years ago fan reach was about 16% a reduction but something we could live with.
A year ago, fan reach was about 14%
8 months ago, fan reach was about 12%
In the last 4 months, fan reach has dropped again to somewhere around 9% … with many pages reporting even less than that.
Today, while some items do 9%, many of my items do a sickening 3% reach.
(Disclaimer: the numbers/timeline above is simplified for ease of understanding, numbers are approximations, and yes we all know that from time to time the Insights server totally mangles numbers.)
This has lead to many marketers reevaluating just how much time and attention they will give their FB fan page in 2014.
It’s lead to some of the largest wailing and gnashing of teeth, from generally sensible marketers, that we’ve heard. (Yeah, I’m ignoring all of the the “sky is falling” chickens who have something fatalistic to say at every little change.)
Who Is Having Trouble With Page Reach?
But before we go any further, we really need to clarify WHO is having trouble with fan pages at the moment… because it’s not everyone.
Marketers with a solid, sustainable, advertising budget, who are willing to learn to do ads the right way, really are not having much trouble. Yes, their reach is down a bit but it’s an inconsequential issue since they have a funnel that monetizes on the ad strategy.
The people most impacted are those relying on “free” reach of social media and avoiding using paid media.
Facebook is now “Pay-To-Play”
Yup, I said it… when it comes to Fan pages and any overt marketing on Facebook… you’ll need to get out your wallet. And, if you want to do it for very long, you’ll need to FIRST create a marketing funnel that produces more cash from 100 leads than it costs to get those leads in the first place. (That’s just good marketing and something you should be concerned with regardless.)
Facebook pages have rapidly moved from a glorious free media strategy to being part of the spectrum of paid media or media buys.
There’s a lot of reasons for this and it’s certainly within Facebook’s right… but any marketer that does not respond to changing market conditions is going to end up lost at sea.
Facebook has the right to do their thing… and we have the right to do ours… and it will be interesting to see if us doing our thing causes Facebook to re-evaluate their changes or if it really is just part of their new strategy.
If you have an ad budget and a high ROI funnel… the rest of this article is not for you. (And I congratulate you on your business work.)
Facebook’s Message to Page Owners
Facebook makes it exceptionally clear to page owners in recent blog post that this downward trend – and push towards ads – is here to stay.
“…competition for each News Feed story is increasing. Because the content in News Feed is always changing, and we’re seeing more people sharing more content, Pages will likely see changes in distribution. For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach. We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.
…Page owners should continue using the most effective strategy to reach the right people: a combination of engaging Page posts and advertising to promote your message more broadly.”
Getting More Reach With No Budget
Before we jump into bigger, long-reaching, strategy discussions, lets discuss what you can do RIGHT NOW to increase your reach without increasing your budget.
1. Study the theory/formula of EdgeRank and have a good grasp on what Facebook rewards with more reach and what types of items they discourage. If you don’t yet have your head around EdgeRank, and you’re going to market on Facebook, you NEED to learn this. I’ve got a little $17 short report on it if your unfamiliar and want to learn what I know.
2. Leverage your list! – Your list is one of your only content channels that does not have a “community discussion” option. Some marketers are (wisely) doing a good job of teaching their readers to hit reply and talk with them… but many times open ended questions create thinking with no place for discussion. From time to time, bring your readers to your fan page for a discussion. (You should already be doing similar to get them to come to your blog.) These people from the list then engage, which drives EdgeRank up, which then means that more fans will see the item. (I did mention you need to learn EdgeRank theory, right?)
3. Host A #FanPageFriday or #FanPageParty – Everyone loves a chance to talk about themselves! If your niche allows you to do so you might consider hosting a clone of one of these established events. Or, if your niche is different, create your own event that encourages people to post a reply and talk about themselves, their business, or their favorite things. This is a cheap and easy way to boost EdgeRank for the page. There are different ways to do this but you can see my #FanPageFriday here and my more recent #FanPageParty here – the key though is to use all the right hashtags so that people looking for these parties can find you!
4. Learn To Soft Market With Your Facebook Profile – It is very possible to market from your Facebook Profile without getting your account terminated… but it must be done in the manner of “soft marketing” and that means that overt marketing tactics have to be set aside. I recently wrote a whole email newsletter about this! At the very least though, when appropriate, from time to time, you can share content from your page, to your profile, resulting in more eyes on the content.
5. Get super fans to enable notifications – A fan is able to mark a checkbox to get a notification every time you make a post. This short-circuits the EdgeRank system and lets that fan be aware of every piece of content. There are two problems with notifications. (A) People simply don’t want them and (B) You won’t get even super fans to use them if you publish more than 3 or 4 times a day (and you need to be publishing multiple times per day to maximize existing reach). Learn more: http://just-ask-kim.com/facebook-page-get-notifications/ Super fans, who get the notifications, come over and engage with the content, which drives EdgeRank up, which then means that more fans will see the item. (You’re going to learn EdgeRank theory, right??)
Let me add one more tip here…. If you are not making EXCEPTIONAL use of images on Facebook, you are missing the boat. Most people will see your image, read the (large) text in your image, learn about your brand that way, and never read your text. If you’re sharing link after link after link (to outside items), you’ve missed the whole concept of marketing on Facebook. Get image rich and you’ll have better results!
Planning Your 2014 Strategy
Well, the points above take care of the Facebook Page itself but what about big picture objectives and focus?
Beyond your Facebook Page there are dozens of other good uses of your time to consider when creating your 2014 social media plan.
And if paid advertising isn’t in your plan for 2014 then it’s likely time that you make sure you are giving these other channels enough emphasis:
- Facebook Groups
- Email Marketing
- and more!
The “right” answers are going to be different for every business but it’s important that you remember that your blog and your email marketing list are assets YOU OWN and that constitute your central hub and the rest have to support that.
What Is The Media Saying?
As you’re developing your strategy for 2014, I want to call your attention to a couple interesting posts that you may find useful:
2. While Everyone Else Whines, This Guy Makes His Whole Living Off Facebook Traffic (Business Insider)
3. If Marketers Can’t Figure Google Plus Out, Let Your IT Department Manage It (Maximize Social Business)
4. Google Plus vs Facebook: Why G+ Should Dominate Your 2014 Marketing Strategy (Rebekah Radice)
5. The End Of Organic Reach = The End Of Facebook? (Business 2 Community)
6. Warning: If You Have A Facebook Fan Page, Read This… (Social Triggers)
8. Facebook Says Publishers Shouldn’t Fret About News Feed Changes. (All Things D)
Asking My Audience
So what did I do?
My motto has always been to meet my audience where THEY want to be and to serve them how THEY want to be served as long as it was conductive to a healthy business… and so I did one of my favorite things… I ASKED THEM!
… And got some awesome responses!
Now I’m not saying that YOU need to go this route… but I work primarily in B2B with many colleagues, peers, and other page owners on my list and this was a GREAT way for me to get a better understanding of the “general sentiment” of those I serve.
I invite you to click here and check out the nearly 50 responses that are full of all sorts of good ideas!
A couple trends emerged…
1) Other page owners were seeing all the problems I was seeing and were somewhat relieved that it wasn’t just them having trouble.
2) Many of my audience still have a poor grasp of the difference between “page” and “profile” … and I make that problem worst by having them under a very similar name. (Some didn’t even realize they were following me in 2 places rather than 1!)
3) Many people from my list (who I asked to come out and take part in the survey) are obviously on my list for a reason… they favor email!
4) There was a lot of requests to follow me on Google+ (one of my suggestions) and in a Facebook Group (which was NOT one of my suggestions but the number of replies tell me it SHOULD have been). I was de-emphasizing FB Groups due to my own personal fatigue with them (I’m in too many) at the moment but the respondents made it pretty darn clear they’d be more than happy to join me in one.
Tip: Remember that, generally speaking, each social channel you engage in needs to have a unique USP (a unique reason for existing) that matches the tone and norms of that platform. Generally speaking you can not take micro-content created for one platform an expect it to do well on another. There is room for some overlap indeed but be very careful with those overlapped bits as that is usually where people get in trouble! For a great education on this, pick up JJJRH by Gary V!
If you decide to go the paid media route, I highly suggest picking up a good course on the matter. Be sure that you pick up one that is geared around authority branding and not one that is purely focused on the churn-and-burn of little niche pages.
What Does The 2014 Social Strategy Look Like For Just Ask Kim?
So what’s in store for me? For Just Ask Kim? And for the brand new YCDI project?
1. Facebook Profile – same with a little more soft marketing, very goofy, #NSFW platform, follow me at your own risk ;)
I also am navigating a last name change, courtesy of a divorce, which will have branding impacts.
2. Facebook Page – similar but less reliance on it. Will still be useful when I need to “boost” an alert about security/virus/etc. Click here.
3. Facebook Group – Most likely a YES – for the YCDI project that I think you’ll enjoy. “Coming soon!”
4. Facebook Group – For the Biz Blogging Buzz community, click here and be sure to check out the blog for how we use that group. This group will continue even as B3 becomes a partner project with the YCDI project.
If you’re not familiar with techniques to monetize FB groups, I suggest checking out this course.
4. G+ Profile – same but a little more focus on it (It’s a little more geeky and techy and science oriented than my FB profile, they have only a little overlap). Click here.
5. G+ Page – Yes, more focus on this. This will share a lot of the social content with the FB page and with the FB group but will not get all of it and will have plenty of it’s own stuff. Click here.
I’ll be talking a lot more about Google+ in the coming weeks on the blog and in my newsletter, so stay tuned!
6. Twitter – I use twitter a lot but I need to get in and do some clean up this year. I need to adjust my triberr tribes too. Click here.
7. Scoop.It – I’m liking scoopit a lot and it’s producing traffic and Google-approved backlinks when used correctly for curation (and not just bookmarking your own links). Click here.
8. YouTube – A partner and I have just released a YouTube course that contains a lot of great stuff. As part of shooting the trainings, I finally split my “brand” channels from my personal channel. So this year I’ll have a lot of work ahead of me to build up the brand channel.
9. Empire Avenue (?) – This has been fun, but can I use it to create QUALITY things my brand needs? Time will tell. Stay tuned for more about that. (Intro blog post here).
Maybe I’ll do something more constructive with LinkedIn this year too. I definitely “should”… but you’ll learn that in business there is never a shortage of things you “should” do!
This list is my most of my major social outlets for personal and business with the exception of my new hobby blog and the social channels it has with it (mostly Instagram!).
Having the hobby blog is allowing me to explore a lot of different plugins, different approaches, and different social channels than usually work well for the “Just Ask Kim” brand.
I will be using these platforms to build product awareness this year as I expand out my product offerings and services in 2014!
What About You?
What’s your plans for each of the major social channels this year?
Which ones will you expand?
Which ones will you give less time?
Will Facebook pages be a part of that strategy? Will you be using ads?
What specific tasks or strategies do you want to learn this year?
2014 is going to be an amazing year and I want to hear your plans!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
~ Kim ~
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