Have Facebook Fan Page Benefits Gone As Extinct As The Woolly Mammoth?

January 6, 2014 · 28 comments

in Facebook

Have Facebook Fan Page Benefits Gone As Extinct As The Woolly Mammoth?

9212746_sDid 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. 

fb-page-reach-jan-2014

Reach reach stats from my page, with 6,690 fans. Showing about an 8% reach with some as low as 3%.

(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??)

fb-page-notification-reminder-1

This is a graphic I use to educate my fans about the need to use notifications if they want to see my stuff.

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?

Sherryl Perry (@KeepUpWeb) http://keepupwiththeweb.com recently pointed me to a great slide deck by  Genevieve Lachance (@VASimpleService) on VASimpleServices.com

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: 

    1. Facebook Groups
    2. Google+
    3. YouTube
    4. LinkedIn
    5. Pinterest
    6. Instagram
    7. SlideShare
    8. Blogging
    9. Email Marketing
    10. 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: 

1. This Irate Cookbook Author Represents A Swelling Threat To Facebook’s $6 Billion Ad Business (Business Insider)

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)

7. Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads (Ad Age)

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!

fb-page-survey-1Now 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. 

20830677_sWhat 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? 

questions-answers-magnifying-glassWhat’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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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Chery Schmidt January 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Hi Kim, I have been waiting on you to fill us in on what is going on with FB ! I have been putting my Social media plan together this week for 2014 and love all you suggestions here. I have not heard of Scoop.It or Empire Avenue and will go and check them out. I also need to look into this G+ Page you mention. Thanks Kim I do have a few more pages I have up to go and check out from this post. You’re Awesome!! Chery :))
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Monna Ellithorpe January 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Hi Kim,

Just my timing, I finally get my FB fan page going and I’m getting dumped. LOL

Oh well, we have to learn to adjust. Great post here. Myself I am favoring Google+ (even though I’m not that fond of Google) but I do see my stuff coming up on page 1 a lot more because of G+.

Thanks and Have a great day. Monna
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Dima Al Mahsiri January 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Hi Kim,
This year I will be concentrating more on triberr . I gain a lot of share of my posts from there, and it looks a good tool for more exposure of my blog posts.
I don’t think that I will spend any on Facebook ads since I am not sure that I will get much in return!
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Kimberly Helm January 6, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I saw this post in my newsfeed and instead of heading to the pharmacy, I sat down to read. lol… Great as usual Kim.

It annoys the heck out of me that my views have dropped so drastically.

Yes in 2014 there is so much more that I must and shall be doing to grow even more. I used to post more on my google+ page I stepped back and things have changed with it, ugh.
I don’t care about groups either. Maybe my own group is what I need. although i have one for one of my businesses, it’s great for community building and support etc…

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Kim Castleberry January 6, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Awwww, I didn’t mean to distract you from errands! LOL Facebook certainly isn’t going to change minute by minute… but sometimes it seems to change day by day! Yeah, you have to keep up with posting to a platform for any traction, if you back off it really fizzles. Give me a shout if you have any questions :)

Kim

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Rachel Lavern January 6, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Hi Kim,

Although I am not on Facebook (or any other social media site) much, I had promised my branding coach that I would start engaging on my Facebook Page at least twice a day, beginning today. I had noticed a decline in the number of people seeing my posts and I decided to shift my focus to Google+ just as soon as I implement the training that I received.

Thanks for sharing your findings with us.
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Brian Hawkins January 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

It’s nice of you to share your 2014 strategy with us Kim. I stepped away from Facebook a few weeks ago, as far as my page, when I announced I’d focus the first quarter of 2014 on Twitter, G+ and YouTube. Everything else is on the back burner.

I’ll introduce the other networks once I feel I’m getting the most from those three. I do believe Facebook is a good option for many businesses but I have to invest my limited time where it’s not a constant headache.

I think the bigger question is how long do we have before the other large networks follow suit with their own algorithms? Facebook’s change is a natural progression and not necessarily only profit driven, not directly. They have to filter content because every user would be completely overwhelmed if everything was shown; it would be like trying to read every tweet on Twitter. I imagine other networks will eventually have to go the same route, especially since it’s a very profitable position to be in.
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Donna Merrill January 6, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Hi Kim,

I use FB mostly to connect to my groups. Then scroll down a few times and may have some late night fun..lol.

As for my FB Page, I’ve been experimenting with “boosting my post” for $5. They give me my “reach” but I do get a few likes and little comments. So, I don’t think my FB Page is doing much for me as far as engagement.

I am on Google+ and have a few Communities I belong to. There I’m seeing more action, so 2014 will be spent more on that platform.

I love LinkedIn and do have many conversations going on there. It is a more serious platform for me.

Most of the people I know are still on Facebook so I can engage with them there so far. But I think the trends are going over to G+

The best way to keep in touch for business is our email list. I look forward to your emails because that is where I can get the most up to date information from you.

-Donna
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Dr. Erica Goodstone January 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Kimberly,
Another amazing blog post packed with such a well thought out overview and lots of resources. Not sure how you do it all but I am certainly impressed.

Question: When you put the hashtag #FanPageFriday – does that hashtag link to twitter also?

My goal is to get some webinars going and add lots of brief videos, and use social media to link to them. Even promoting my posts has not brought as much traffic as expected, so I’m not sure how I will approach all of this.

Warmly,

Dr. Erica

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nick catricala January 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

Kim,
always to learn every where for me… and the more I learn and the more I feel I need to learn more (especially around you, in a good way ok?)

I do my best to keep up with FB and other places as I can every day, and it is only a few times here and there I miss to participate in some ways..

It keep me focused!

It is interesting that sometime I may not notice some changes on FB or any other place, but by staying connected, there is always someone who point things out and that helps me a lot since I may have missed if no one would pointing it out (lots things that you share with us all, help a lot, actually MORE THEN A LOT :-)

Thank You so much again for your contribution from the heart.
_nickc
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Churchill Madyavanhu January 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm

I have to say I haven’t read such an informative post about Facebook in a while and it’s exactly what I was looking for as I am trying to find ways to bring some action to our fan page. May be if I learn a little more about EdgeRank, as you suggested, things will improve a bit. I was beginning to lose hope. :-) Thanks for sharing.

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marquita herald January 8, 2014 at 7:24 am

Lots of good information and suggestions Kim. I’ll be launching a new blog next month and have been seriously procrastinating on going through the exercise of setting up a FB page for the site, but I can’t put it off much longer. FB feels very much like a necessary evil to me at this point but can’t really see a way around the need to have some business related presence there. Bah humbug :-)
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Rebekah Radice January 11, 2014 at 1:17 pm

This is an enormous amount of of valuable thoughts, feedback and tips all rolled into one post Kim.

I, like you, still see value in Facebook, but know that it’s not enough to get your message out these days. It has to be an integrated strategy across multiple networks.

Google+ and Pinterest have become my top two traffic referring sources. This is after a year of focusing a significant amount of time and energy on both of them.

There are so many ways to leverage social media and Facebook is just one of them. For those not willing to “Pay to Play,” your tips on where to get started for free are invaluable!
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Lisa Irby January 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Really great article, Kim. The FB changes have really frustrated people, especially those who spent a good deal of money paying for ads. Great advice here. Will be sharing this on my page.

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Willena Flewelling January 12, 2014 at 2:34 am

Wow, I hardly know where to begin digesting all the info in this one post! I have a FB fan page, but haven’t really done anything with it. I guess now I won’t, because I’m not prepared to go the paid route, and it sounds like too much of a learning curve right now. But I would like to explore some of the other social media you’ve mentioned.

Thank you for bringing all this together in one post, and giving us a starting point for a new path.

Willena
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Julian January 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Too bad you cant get any traffic from Instagram due to the lack of links…and only mega geeks use Google+ as a social network, I use it as a log in and commenting tool

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Sue Bride January 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

The sheer numbers on Facebook will keep me going with my pages although it is disappointing to see the low reach. More people will turn to G+ pages. I started using them more, last year and will continue to develop a following on there.
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Kyle Nelson January 12, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Amazing how much Facebook has changed over the years. I remember when it was a powerhouse for free marketing and traffic (still is imo) but the reach has for sure dropped big time. I find that pinterest is a great new place that marketers can take a look at and really build trust and legitimacy with their following. Also thanks for the ideas of other avenues of interest to take a look at.
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Aahna January 13, 2014 at 1:36 am

Hi Kim,

Facebook has billions of users and it’s now focusing on monetizing techniques. That’s why they reduced the reach of normal posts. Although if you’re promoting your posts and using FB ads, then you can reach a huge audience. So my personal opinion is to ask your audience to join your FB group or you can start engaging your audience through other networks and best alternative is Google+.

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Jerry January 13, 2014 at 8:42 am

Everyone needs to just stop struggling and falling for fb post boost scam. You can still create engagement on your post organically, and that’ll increase your reach as well.

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Holly January 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm

That’s a whole lot of info!! I have no idea what I should do!! LOL I need to spend more time figuring out things (reading and going through what you teach me), and putting it into use. I’m so grateful that you keep updating ‘me’ with all your know, cause other wise I would be totally lost.. I’ll have to go over this with a fine tooth comb and see what works best for me to forge ahead with!!
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Mitch Mitchell January 17, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I’ve been saving this post so I could respond at some point.

I agree that having a Facebook business page, unless you’re advertising it all the time like they do on TV, has lost a lots of its effectiveness. I still post something there every once in a while, and I’ve found that free form text gets more views than pictures or videos now, but is there any real engagement? Can’t say there is.

And yet, I can’t say I get tons more engagement on G+ either, though I don’t have a business page there. I do have a community and I post things there, though not as frequently as I did when I first started it because I wasn’t getting any engagement then and I wasn’t encouraged that I’d get more later either. Then again, it’s a tough niche to crack because I’m not really sure if the people who joined did so for confirmation of what they believe or for education, and they won’t let me know. lol

Truthfully, it seems as though blogging is still generating more views and engagement than anything else. That part makes me pretty happy. :-)

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Meo January 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Hi Kim! Great post by the way. I might as well say that Facebook fan pages are drastically not as effective as it were before. But social media marketing is same as the real world marketing. We have to be open and ready for changes. Facebook has been very consistent in Social media marketing though, but as time pass by a lot of competitions arise as well as the unique features each site offers. Online marketing compared to the real world marketing is a fast paced environment, so you must be flexible for updates and improvements for a better online experience. :)

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silviu January 23, 2014 at 3:31 am

Hi Kim,

“As Extinct As The Woolly Mammoth”, “facebook fan page dinosaurs”, “the largest wailing and gnashing of teeth” :)
You really know how to attract attention and you show a poetic talent I didn’t know you are capable of.

The first thing I understand from your post is that it is a lot of hype around the subject and we should not close our FB pages, curse FB and try something else.

Next, FB is a business and our fan page there is a business, too. Like in any business we invest money and we must be careful to earn more than we invest.

Third: there are things that can short-circuit Edgerank, like those notifications. It is very important to know those shortcuts.

Finally, it is possible to do business within FB and use our Fan pages even when we don’t have a serious budget. We just need to learn things at a deeper level. More study, more effort, more attention to the quality of content etc.

These are some interesting things to meditate on.

The question is: if we must do such a huge effort to adapt to the new environment, wouldn’t it be easier to just switch to a more simple and less restrictive environment?

For those who are new in this business, this will definitely save time, effort, money etc.

I think FB is good to use when you already have money and fame. Then you can invest there and build more spectacular things.

For a beginner, the new facebook rules are to complicate and the results absolutely uncertain.
I think it is better to try our hands in other social networks for a while and wait to see what happens.

Have a wonderful day
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Pawan sai January 25, 2014 at 8:28 am

if this is the case what will be the future of Social marketing?

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Kim Castleberry February 1, 2014 at 12:36 am

There’s a LOT to social marketing above and beyond Facebook pages. FB pages represent only a portion of social marketing.

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Alex Klein February 8, 2014 at 12:46 am

I’m “old school”. If I ask you what time it is, I don’t want you to explain the inner workings of an atomic clock, okay? All I want to know is” What time is it?” When I need to reach beyond my social boundaries, I make is point to look for the “geekiest, coolest, most dialed in nerd grrls” I can find. Otherwise, all you get is pages and pages of geekspeak that gives you a headache and leaves you even more confused.

Kim just tells it like it is, in plain ENGLISH. If you need help, she walks you through it. Invaluable. :)

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Leanne Chesser September 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Awesome tips for increasing engagement without paying for ads. I’ll do both. One thing I want to implement is some version of Fan Page Friday. It won’t be about sharing fan pages . . . it’ll have to fit what I do . . . but it’ll use that concept.
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