With all these new Facebook rumors circulating, one thing that I find consistently posted among the gossip girls is that they're complaining they're not reaching all of their fans. As we discussed in our last blog post, this is nothing new. Facebook has always used an algorithm called Edgerank to determine who gets shown what on Facebook. While exact numbers vary, you can pretty much count on less than 25% of your fans ever seeing what you put out there. Ouch. We work hard to get our fans, so to only have a quarter of them, at best, seeing what we have to say is quite frustrating. And now being asked to pay for the potential to reach them has more and more of you seeing red. Before you go bashing Facebook, let me share my opinion on the matter.
First off, Facebook is providing us with a FREE medium to interact with people to grow our businesses. Who are we to complain? I mean really, if we were paying for their features, we'd have every right to have certain expectations. But the bottom line is we're not. We need to step back and take Facebook for what it is. We need to accept their rules save the complaining things like our husbands leaving the toilet seat up or the kids writing all over the walls with magic marker! What we need to do is put our frustrations aside and work with what we've got. It is possible to have a thriving Facebook page and get new business from it. I am proof. The Business Among Moms page continues to grow at a healthy rate and traffic is drawn to the website daily because of it. Based on the handy new insights Facebook is providing on each post, it looks like this week our posts reach about 25-30 percent of our fan base. I have other pages that I admin that aren't quite as engaging and I can tell you they're numbers are less than ten percent, so the high percentages on BAM tell me that we're doing something right!
So what is that something, you ask? While there's no "one size fits all" solution to creating a fan page that's engaging and popular, there are several steps you can take to make sure you're doing everything you can to get the most exposure possible.
What is Edgerank?
Edgerank is Facebook's mathematical way of deciding what gets shown into a newsfeed. Everything that's done on Facebook, from commenting to status updates, photo posting to app usage, is an "edge." Facebook then connects that information to both a page and a user. As for how it's connected to the user, Facebook wants to make sure that users are given an experience that they will enjoy and each experience is unique to that user. What they may show to one person they may not show to the next. They look at the user's history of interaction on Facebook to determine what they like to do and give them more of that. For instance, if they like to watch videos, more videos will appear in their feed. If they like to share photos, more photos will appear.
As for how Facebook connects the "edges" to the pages, this is through something called weighting. A general string goes like this. For posts that pages make, videos have the highest weight, followed by photos, then status updates, then links. Among things that a user can do on Facebook, shares have the highest weight, followed by comments, then likes, then clicks. So essentially for a page, having your users accomplish tasks with the highest weight and posting items that are weighted most heavily will give you a higher Edgerank, thus getting your page more exposure to your fans.
I know this is a tough pill to swallow, particularly for those technically challenged folks like myself. But when you really wrap your head around it, it makes some sense. So the next step here would be making sure we're using what we know to maximize getting our pages seen. Here are some ways to do that.
Frequency of Posting
One of the biggest errors I see lots of pages make is in the frequency of their posts. Many people make posts back to back, while others only post to their pages once every few days. Here we have the typical Goldilocks scenario. Some post too much, some don't post enough....but what we need to do is time our posts just right! If you post too frequently, your posts will carry less weight and not be given a high enough score by Facebook. Furthermore, your fans that are seeing back to back updates may get annoyed and some may even hide your feed altogether. On the flipside, posting too infrequently will also lower your score. You're not connecting with your audience regularly, so Facebook won't give you as much weight. So what's the magic number? Well, I don't know that there is one, but what I recommend is posting 2-4 times per day with roughly 3-4 hours inbetween. What's been noted on Facebook is that after about 3 hours, a post tends to lose it's popularity and rank and begins to fade away, so by that time, you'll need to be ready to throw a new message out there.
Timing of Posting
The times that you post could very well be the most important factor in receiving engagement. If you post during a time when your fans aren't around, they're not going to be there to see it. The less people that see your posts, the fewer people will comment, share or like it. The less people that do that, the lower the score and then the fewer people Facebook will ultimately show it to. The times that work best are something you're going to have to determine on your own as every audience is different. Play around with posting at different times, then review your insights to see which are more popular. Facebook has recently launched a handy new post insight tool, located at the bottom of every post and also in your main Insights page. When you know what works, try to make all of your posts around that same time every day. I've found that for BAM, first thing in the morning, between about 8-11, and evening, about 7-10, are our best times to post. The worst times to post for us are mid-day.
Reacting to Posts
It's very important that you monitor your page and comment on or like every interaction your fans have with you. Not only is it important to do that, it's important to do so within the 3 hour period following the post while your Edgerank is still building. So, immediately following a post, monitor who is saying what. If you can comment back, do so. Otherwise, like what they have to say. Interacting with them is a double whammy-not only will it boost your Edgerank and get you seen by more people, it will also show your fans that you're attentive and provide great customer service!
Post Informative Content
Having a page that is nothing more than an advertisement for your brand will not go very far. While people do love to hear about your products and services, they don't want to be bombarded by them. So, it's important to use your page to provide your fans with other types of content they'll respond to. Think about your niche and who your audience is. What do they want to know about? If you make jewelry, your fans are likely into fashion. You can keep them informed of the latest trends, celebrity sightings, etc. If you sell weight loss products, you can share information about healthy living and fitness plans. Your page does not have to be, nor should it be, all about your brand. Here's a general rule of thumb for you...for every post you make about something you have to sell to your fans, make 2 more about something else.
Post Types Matter
As we discussed earlier, Facebook gives higher ranks to certain types of "edges," so, it's important to use the ones with higher rankings when possible. Here are some ways you can do that.
Video is the edge with the highest ranking. Posting videos to your site will give you a higher Edgerank and more exposure than anything else you post. As a mompreneur, there are lots of opportunities for you to share videos. If you work for a direct sales company, you may be fortunate enough to have an arsenal of videos at your disposal from your parent company. If you do, take advantage of them and share them whenever possible. If you have your own products or services, make your own videos. You can make a video with closeups of your products to show detail, you can make a video review of someone using your products, you can share videos related to your niche that you find online, or, you can make a video of yourself, giving a quick introduction to your company and products and thanking your fans for being fans. Have a few videos in your arsenal that you can rotate weekly and keep making fresh ones when possible.
Photos are the second highest ranking edge. This one is pretty obvious as there are so many ways you can share photos for your business. You can share photos of your products, encourage your customers to share photos of themselves using your products, share photos you find online related to your niche, or, even create infographics of your own to share.
Status Updates & Links
These are the most common things a page will post, but, they're the things that give them the least value. Just posting status updates and links on your page won't help you boost your score and gain more exposure. When you do have the need to post a regular update, consider pairing it with a photo to boost your score.
Once you know what types of things you need to post on your page, you also need to strategize to figure out how you want your fans to interact with it. Again, as described above, the interaction with the highest weight is sharing, so that's what you want your fans to do. First things first, putting out great content is the first step to getting them to share. If they like what they read or see and find it valuable in any way, they're more apt to share it. Secondly, offering incentives can be a great way to encourage sharing. Offer people a special coupon code or entry into a giveaway if they share a photo. Hold an exclusive special weekly sale night where you post a handful of items for sale, then allowing those that have shared the sale the ability to purchase. If you have a lot of fans that have business pages, consider holding a weekly tagging event where they can share their pages and in exchange, they share your update on their page for added exposure. Finally, don't be afraid to just ask. Sometimes people need to be given direction and told exactly what to do. If you have an important post out there and really want it seen, just ask your fans to share the post on their pages. You'd be amazed how something so simple can yield big results.
Getting fans to comment on things is still a valuable piece to the puzzle and is rather simple as well. Ask lots of questions, that usually gets people talking, particularly when it comes to hot topics or current events. You can also play comment games and hold tagging events to encourage commenting.
Put Fans to Work
Another great tool I've used to help boost our Edgerank is our Brand Ambassador program. I have a fabulous team of mompreneurs who are loyal followers and will comment, like and share everything I post. In exchange for their interaction, they receive a free ad on our blog. It's an easy way to boost our Edgerank and our ambassadors also find value in it because not only do they get ad space, they're also networking and gaining exposure for their own businesses each time they post. You can also create a Brand Ambassador program. If you don't have a blog or website to be able to offer ad space, think about what else of value you have to offer. Perhaps it's a standing discount of free shipping, or, it's first look at all of your new products. This will be constant interaction for your page and will gain you more exposure without you having to even lift a finger!
(side note, we're currently accepting new Brand Ambassadors to add to our team. If you're interested in gaining a free ad on our blog in exchange for about an hour a week to help promote BAM, use the contact tab to your left to express your interest)
If you have a post that becomes extremely popular, you have a wide open audience of people that have interacted with you and Facebook is going to be more apt to show your information to them immediately following that because in their model, they think that user wants to read more about what you have to say. For example, we host Taggin' Tuesday on our Facebook page and it brings in lots of fans who wish to share their page. I'll typically post things I want seen on Tuesdays because I know Facebook will show it to those people who have participated in the tagging. Whenever you see you have a popular post, be sure to use that opportunity to post something important about your business as your next post for that day.
Optimizing Timeline Features
Another way to make your page more engaging is to make the most of the new Timeline features that were recently introduced. So many people have been complaining that they don't like Timeline and feel they have less engagement since it's introduction, but, the problem probably just lies in them not using it properly. I have definitely had an increase in engagement since Timeline came aboard. Take a look at some screenshots from Insights on the BAM Facebook page...
January (before Timeline)
You can see that we averaged about 350 people a day interacting with us and our total reach averaged about 4,000 people a day.
And now here are our Insights from last month...
You can see that in May, we averaged about 600 people interacting with us a day, but, more importantly, check out that viral reach. It averaged over 15,000, more than triple what it was before Timeline!
I did nothing differently in terms of paying for advertising or anything like that. All I did was implement the tips above and used the new Timeline features to my advantage. So what are those features and what can you do with them? Here's a quick rundown...
- Have a great cover photo. This is a huge place for you to share something about your business and will really set the tone for your page. Having a great cover photo is super important. Be sure to check out the rules for cover photos, however, so you don't risk having your page shut down. Here's a post that covers that if you're unsure.
- Highlight feature-This allows you to enlarge a post, making it the entire width of your page. Use this option when you have something very important to say that you want to stand out amongst the other information on your page.
- Pin to top feature-As the name implies, this allows you to pin a particular post to the top of your page. If you have something very important that you'd like to be seen without getting hidden in a sea of other posts, this is a great feature to use.
- Image sizes-To make sure that the images that you post are optimized for viewing on Facebook, make sure they're the correct sizes. Our handy Image Cheat Sheet for Timeline shows you what those sizes are.
The best advice I can give you is to please have patience and use trial and error in determining what makes a successful page for your business. It's not a one size fits all scenario, but, I firmly believe that every business can have a successful page that will bring in new business for them. Keep an open mind, don't be so quick to shout obscenities at Facebook, and most importantly, don't give up!
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