I want to quit.
That’s how I feel about Facebook, every day of my life. I don’t know if I can take another algorithm change. And it seems like the wounds from the last one haven’t even healed yet when another comes along and rips in even more. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever recover, and walking away seems to be the best option.
But then I look at the data.
Facebook is one of the top drivers of traffic to my websites, second only to Google. And the quality of the traffic coming from Facebook has been much more engaged than other sources, making it probably the single most valuable referer of people checking out my work.
So are all the headaches worth it? Well, it depends.
I read somewhere recently that all the algorithm changes aren’t a reason to jump ship right away, that is unless your strategy is a shallow one. The article pointed out that the opportunity is still great for smart marketers.
Here’s the deal… Your success or failure depends on your ability to understand the platform and leverage its strengths. (Tweet that!) It’s not about tricking the system, or developing elaborate systems to make it do what you want.
The first thing you need to understand
Facebook is about people. It sounds simple, but we quickly forget as we try to focus on numbers for reach, likes, shares, and comments. When we post something, we want it to be seen by as many people as possible. But the second we start thinking about numbers, we start to lose sight of people.
Many feel like Facebook’s attempts to limit the visibility of brand page content is merely an attempt to force people to pay for views. While there may be an element of truth to that, think about what your news feed would look like if brands weren’t limited in any way. It would be overflowing with “commercials” from brands trying to get you to buy something. And I don’t know anyone who gets on Facebook to sort through a steady stream of advertising hell. And Facebook is more likely to keep people on the platform when it can keep the focus on people.
That’s what we want to see when we sign onto Facebook. So next time you sign in and can see your in-laws awesome vacation photos, thank Facebook for changing their algorithms. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best example, but I’m sure you get what I mean. #fistbump
Personal Profiles vs. Brand Page (Which is right for me?)
No lie. This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get when I talk to people about social media. With all of the talk about Facebook pushing down the reach of pages (unless you pay-to-play), it’s difficult to see a brand page adding value. At the same time, many book publishers look for fan page numbers as evidence of an author’s platform. Ultimately, a brand page can add value… as long as you understand it’s strengths and limitations. But the greatest traction you get on Facebook will come when you post to your personal profile.
I recently did an informal study of engagement on some brand pages. One of the pages I looked at is an author page belonging to a popular New York Times Best Seller. Averaging 1,383 likes per post, there’s enough engagement to make the best of us covet our neighbor’s social media platform. But then consider that this person’s page has over 146,000 followers. The average engagement rate turns out to be only 0.9% of the total fan base. And that’s actually a good rate of engagement!
Remember, the platform is about people. So any successful strategy should be centered on how you use your personal profile to get the better reach.
In another informal study, I’ve posted new content to my brand pages and watched the rate of engagement for the first few hours. Often my efforts make me feel like I’m watching the proverbial pot of water waiting to boil. But after a period of low organic engagement on the page post, I’ll share the post from the page onto my personal profile. Usually within minutes I see 5-10 times the engagement. The point is that IF you decide to use a brand page, it’s re-sharing your content to your personal profile that will drive the greatest organic reach. And if you can get a few other people to share it as well, then your organic reach expands exponentially.
I think it speaks volumes that Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t post to a brand page. Instead he allows people to subscribe to his personal profile (where he has over 27 million followers), and posts everything there (some posts only to friends, and others to the public for all followers). #justsayin
Tools to help you maximize your impact
I always, always, always advise people to follow the data. Don’t base decisions for how to manage your Facebook presence on emotion, feelings, what someone said works for them, and what some “guru” said you should do. Even if it worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean that it’ll work for you.
One of the strengths of brand pages is the Insights tool. It’ll give you a wealth of information about your audience, and how they’re engaging (or not engaging) with your content. You can even find out when your fans are online (which should give you a good idea of when to post). So it’s a good idea to review your page Insights on a regular basis (maybe once every week or two), and ask yourself how you think you need to revise your strategy based on what you’re seeing there.
Unfortunately, personal profiles don’t have the same Insights tools. That’s why I like to use a tool like Buffer to post content that I want to measure. Buffer uses special tracking measures that give us better insight into what’s working and what’s not. In addition to that, it makes it easy to schedule content for specific and/or preset times which help you take advantage of waves and cycles of visibility.
Facebook presents us with a tremendous opportunity to engage and connect with people, and to share ideas. And when it comes to building your brand on Facebook, you should stop thinking like a brand, and focus on thinking like a person.