Have you noticed a significant drop in the number of people who see your Facebook content recently? Take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. Many business page owners have seen the organic reach of their Facebook pages shrink. Here's what you can do about it.
Back in 2012, when it launched a new set of advertising products, Facebook revealed that the average post reached only 16% of fans. That’s frustrating, especially if you feel that a “Like” is equivalent to an “opt-in” on your email list. These are people who’ve expressed an interest in what you have to say – and have given you expressed permission to show up in their NewsFeed.
So what gives?
What's Changed with Facebook?
Complaints have been on the rise, and recently several bloggers charged that Facebook has been manipulating its algorithm to reduce reach and encourage ad buys. Last week, science blogger Derek Muller expressed his frustration in a new YouTube video. He made a compelling argument by contrasting the YouTube model – where creators are paid for every view of their content – to Facebook's, where creators must pay to have their content viewed by their own fanbase.
In December, AdAge reported that Facebook explicitly encouraged marketers to consider paid distribution of content because the company expected "organic distribution of an individual page's posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site."
Facebook’s answer is to post “more engaging content” coupled with advertising spend. For small businesses, start-ups, and nonprofits with limited budgets, this may be all but impossible. As Dangerous Minds noted in a post more than a year ago, advertising to reach all of your page’s fans could become prohibitively expensive.
There’s a larger discussion to be had about the trend to quality content, a push that Google is making as well. But what's clear is that Facebook is no longer a free marketing channel. In addition to content creation and community management, marketers need to budget for advertising.
What Does this Mean for Your Facebook Page?
Should you abandon the most popular social network?
Facebook still might make good sense for your brand, especially if your target buyer is a heavy user of the social network. If Baby Boomers are your target, for example, it probably makes sense to invest in Facebook marketing. Teens, probably not so much, as this demographic is showing signs of favoring other social networks, such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat.
Here are some tips for improving your Facebook marketing and capturing more users.
Create highly relevant content for your audience. Even if you pay for distribution by buying Facebook advertising, you still need to have content that will catch your audience's attention. A deep understanding of your audience's needs, interests, and pain points will help you create meaningful posts that are likely to be shared.
Advertise strategically. Boost only your very best posts or those that help you achieve campaign objectives. A well-designed, coordinated content and advertising campaign will not only be budget friendly but also more effective.
Create offers. Deals will encourage clicks and sharing. Discounts, coupons, and free giveaways draw attention and engagement.
Promote your page outside of Facebook. Look to get fans and followers by using other marketing vehicles to reach Facebook users outside the network's walls. Use your email newsletter, flyers, newspaper ads, and other sources to encourage users to Like your page. But be sure to give them a good reason to do so, such as coupons or offers that are exclusive to Facebook fans.
Diversify your content strategy. In other words, don't put all your marketing eggs in the proverbial Facebook basket. Buyers consume content from many different sources, giving you numerous options for advertising or sharing.
Evaluate and measure. You need to know what is working in your Facebook marketing, so pay attention to Facebook Insights. Post analytics can tell you whether the content you're posting is sparking interest. If it's not, continue to tweak until you begin to see strong engagement.
Leave Facebook. If you've tried all the best practices and your audience just doesn't seem to respond, don't be afraid to walk away. If other marketing vehicles are creating a better response from your target audience, you should consider whether your budget and time may be better spent outside of Facebook.