It seems like Facebook page managers have been complaining about declining organic reach forever (well, it’s probably only been a year or so, but that’s forever in social media terms). Every once in a while I get in a debate on Twitter and take the position that it’s brands’ fault for creating crappy content to push out to users. Usually, someone responds and says, “But it’s not fair, I paid to get people to like my page!” And then a never-ending cycle ensues and we agree to disagree.
Today, Josh Constine published an excellent article on TechCrunch that outlines a rationale explanation for declining page reach. Simply put: the total number of page people like and friends they connect with is increasing, but they’re not spending any more time looking at their newsfeed. The competition is fierce to get in the couple hundred updates a person sees every day, and users will be understandably annoyed if the majority of their feed is posts from pages, not people. I honestly believe that Facebook is optimizing its newsfeed for humans, not businesses.
You Should Never Expect Every Facebook Post To Be Seen By Every Fan
Facebook uses a sophisticated algorithm (which Constine actually refers to as artificial intelligence), to determine what shows up in an individual’s newsfeed. Although there are reportedly 100,000 different variables that are considered when determining newsfeed content, some basic principles have applied for quite some time, and continue to apply today. Posts show up in a fan’s newsfeed if:
- It’s from a source the user has had positive interactions with in the past
- It’s the type of post the user has interacted with in the past
- People who have already seen this particular post are interacting with it
- The post is recent (it is the NEWsfeed, after all)
What Facebook page managers seem to forget is that this is a highly individualized algorithm. My newsfeed looks different than your newsfeed. I might prefer to read, while you like to look at photos. You may comment on a lot of page posts because you want to win free stuff, while that behavior annoys the heck out of me. Different content from different types of publishers will appear in our newsfeeds, even if we like the same pages. As a Facebook page manager, you shouldn’t be worrying about creating content that performs well on Facebook, you should be creating content that performs well for Susie, Mark, Jenny, and Tom. Your customers. Who are human. And are different. And like different things.
A good marketer understands their customer profile, and for most businesses that profile is diverse. It’s made up of multiple customer personas. If you can identify 10 different customer personas for your business, you should have 10 different perspectives for your Facebook content. Not every post will reach ever person. But if each post reaches 10% of your page audience, using this model you are 100% successful.
So, Does It Work?
I currently manage a page with less than 25,000 followers. According to EdgeRank Checker, my “organic reach per fan” (organic reach / # of fans) should have been 6.51% in March. It’s not clear if they’re measuring daily, weekly, or monthly reach.
I post multiple times per day, using different formats, and tailor content to different types of customers. Every few months I publish a post or two asking our fans what other types of content they’d like to see, so I’m constantly refining our subject matter. I do not post memes, quotes, or cute puppies (actually, I’ve posted one cute puppy and it was legitimately connected to our business). Less than 5% of the content I post is miscellaneous, while approximately 80% of it is meant to educate and engage our customers regarding our product/service or topics related to it. We’re on message all the time. We are currently not paying for any post promotion.
I just pulled our data for the last 6 months. On average, each post appears in the newsfeed of 9.73% of our fans. But remember, we post multiple times per day. Each day, 12.6% of our fans see our content in their newsfeed. Looking at an entire week, 40.63% get some of our content in their newsfeed. And in the course of a month, 66.4% see our content. This might be a good time to mention that our content is not particularly sexy—we service student loans. Yet more than half of the people that bothered to click “like” at some point in time now see our Facebook content on a monthly basis. I’m confident that number would be closer to 90% if I promoted some posts.
Because we have a small fan base, I know some of our fans by name. There are fans that like or comment on almost every single post. And they continue to exhibit this behavior. Because they’ve shown affinity for our brand, we show up in their newsfeed almost every time we post. Other people will see us once a week, or once a month, and it will probably be pieces of content that have been performing particularly well with our high-affinity users. If the once-a-week/month viewers engage, they’re more likely to become every day viewers.
This all makes perfect sense to me, and it’s a game I’m willing to keep playing. The rules are simple: create lots of different types of valuable content, in order to please as many types of your fans as possible. Engage when they engage, and continue to improve your content over time.
Are you willing to play this game? Or are you just fed up with the rules?
Image courtesy of Theeradech Sanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Liz has 10 years of experience communicating on behalf of organizations, including a financial services company with over 9 million customers, a university department, three national student organizations, and a small two-year college campus. Read more of her work at lizgross.net/blog.