This post has taken a huge 180 from what I first intended it to be.
As a young crusader for all that is right and just, I was ready to throw my hat in against the tyranny of Facebook and all of the evil practices they’ve seemed to be involved in over the past year or so. A few months back, word got out that if you have a Facebook page for your company, only 16-18% of your fans were seeing the updates you put up. Predictably, outrage ensued. Community managers and online marketers shouted “If someone chooses to be a fan of my page, who is Facebook to decide when they do and do not see our updates?” from the rooftops. And for a while, I was one of them.
Things got even stickier with Facebook’s rollout of Promoted Posts. For as little as $5 per post, you can show your page’s updates to most/all of your fans, not just the usual 18%. This really set my Spider Sense off, especially because at the time all this was happening, Facebook’s new IPO was struggling, mostly because investors were concerned about the relatively low amount of revenue Facebook was generating through advertising when compared to their stock price.
It seemed like the plan of a second-rate James Bond villain:
Step 1: Facebook restricts the number of fans that see each update
Step 2: Facebook offers a solution that allows advertisers to reach those restricted fans…for a price
Step 3: PROFIT
I COULD NOT LET THIS STAND. For weeks, I read articles and bookmarked links, forming a scathing argument in my head. Facebook was going to be exposed, and I was going to be the one to do it.
That vigor and determination lasted all the way until I sat down this morning and thought about it from a distance. I realized that I, like many others, was just looking to rail against a straw man that I had mostly formed in my head for the sole purpose of tearing down. I had created my own machine to rage against.
Is Facebook restricting the number of fans your messaging reaches? Absolutely.
My advice? Deal with it. Let it motivate you. See that what they’re doing really isn’t that bad. Work around it. Let Facebook’s restrictions be your Apollo Creed from Rocky III, a former adversary that will push you to be the best you can.
1. Facebook Is Only Doing What Your Fans Are Already Doing
Last month, FastCompany published an article about how Facebook fans are already hiding your posts at an alarming rate. This is mostly because either the content fans are seeing isn’t relevant or it’s being presented in the wrong way. That’s why Facebook fanbases shouldn’t be judged on quantity alone. Rather than trying to get to 10,000 fans of any kind, connecting with 3,000 fans that are actual fans and not liking you just for promotional reasons will show much more return in the long run.
2. Make Your Updates More Interesting
Unless you want to wander down the expensive road of Promoted Posts (which do have their own time and place), you just have to accept that your Facebook posts are only going to reach about 20% of your audience on a good day. So how do you work around this? Make sure that you’re giving your fans something good enough to seek you out. Just because a fan doesn’t see your post in their news feed doesn’t mean that you’ve dropped off the face of the Earth. If you’ve got engaging and interesting content on a regular basis, the 80% of your fans that don’t see your posts in their news feed will still seek out your Facebook page to check for updates. You know how there are those friends you have on Facebook that always have something entertaining to say and you check their page daily to make sure you didn’t miss anything? Try to be like that friend, but offer deals and promotions instead of funny cat pictures.
3. Reaching 18% Of Your Audience Isn’t Bad
Let’s say that there’s a marketing avenue where fans of your product say “Yes, I would like you to contact me and let me know what you’re up to from time to time. You have my permission.” Let’s say that you would only reach about 18% of that audience with each update. Sounds pretty bad, right? Sounds just like the Facebook situation I’ve been describing that everyone is up in arms about, right?
Well it is. But I was actually talking about email marketing, where an 18% open rate is actually pretty good. So why is everyone so mad at Facebook for duplicating the same results?
The bottom line is that you have to make your messaging better and the quality of your fans better. In an ideal world, each of your Facebook updates would be inscribed on a gold plaque and hand delivered to each of your fans. But we’re not in that world. And guess what? If you’re spending time lamenting not being able to reach over 80% of your fanbase’s news feed, your competitors are thinking of new and innovative ways to work around that, because everyone is in the same boat.
Be like Rocky. Let Facebook be your master motivator. Just keep the pictures of you and Facebook Apollo Creed running shirtless down the beach to yourself.