Facebook has recently acknowledged that brand messages only reach approximately 15% of fans. That means even if you have a million fans, you’re only reaching a tiny amount.
The convenient answer? Facebook wants you to pay them for access. (That’s why I like to recommend email marketing first, because the ROI is better.)
But the long answer? Facebook has always prevented brands from reaching all of their friends.
So while the first step to Facebook marketing is to focus on growth and getting more Facebook fans, the second — equally important — step is to focus on generating more engagement and interaction.
Here’s why, and how you can do it.
Why Facebook’s EdgeRank Prevents You From Reaching Your Fans
Facebook’s EdgeRank is an algorithm designed to manage what shows up in your news feed, and how it should be placed.
It’s a fairly straight-forward equation, that is the sum of your affinity, weight and time decay:
- Affinity: Describes a Facebook Fan’s relationship with your page, and is usually measured in Likes, comments and views. So the more engagement with your updates, the higher the affinity score.
- Weight: Determines what type of update you send, with video and images being worth more “weight” than text or links. Statuses with more weight will receive priority placement.
- Time: Explains how “fresh” your update is, and how long it will last. The older a status update, then the less important it is and the less chance you have of people seeing it.
As you can see, each of these elements work together to determine how your status updates will eventually perform.
So… how do you beat EdgeRank and reach more fans? By improving on each of the three EdgeRank components.
That means each status update you send (and all of them combined) need to address these issues head-on. You’ll begin to increase your page’s interaction and engagement, and in return you’ll also be allowed to reach more fans.
Here are a few ways to do that…
How to Defeat EdgeRank: The 4 Habits of Highly Effective Facebook Brand Pages
Habit #1. Get as Personal as Possible
The first step to effective Facebook marketing is to focus on being as personal as possible. That’s because people are naturally drawn to other people. (Which is why you should also always include photos or videos with real faces from other people.)
That’s why overly-professional, “stuffy” corporate brands always lose in social media. Because when we’re on Facebook interacting with friends and family, the last thing we want is to be “marketed” at. Instead, we want to deal with other people (not nameless, faceless entities).
Part of being personal is the language and tone you use. The goal is to match your style and language with your brand’s vision. A perfect example of appropriate tone is MailChimp, who’s able to really personify their brand with witty writing.
And keep it brief! A report from Buddy Media said that posts with 80 characters or less 27% more engagement.
Finally, you need to get them emotionally involved. You can easily do that by bringing up issues that have strong emotional ties, or topics that polarize people.
While I would steer clear of politics and religion (unless of course, your business is related to one of those), looking for ideas around current news and pop culture would be smart.
Then you should stoke the fire by responding and provoking additional responses from everyone involved. This point also ties in nicely with the next habit…
Habit #2. Stick to a Comprehensive Content Strategy
Each status update is an individual piece of content. And when you view them all as a whole, it should represent your comprehensive content marketing plan.
Starting at the beginning, why does your product or service even exist?
What are the main customer obstacles — the big things like “losing weight” or “getting more customers — that you solve? And then what are the related pain points — or symptoms — of those obstacles?
Then describe the end results or outcomes these people want and need, the specific reasons why you can provide them better and faster than anyone else, and then how you do it.
Your marketing content doesn’t have to explicitly state these things every time. And you don’t have to always talk about your product, service or brand. But each individual piece of content should address or touch on one piece of this puzzle.
Now that you know what to talk about, it’s time to address how to say it. There are three main categories of status updates you should be posting:
- Proactive Content: This includes content like your own blog posts to drive traffic, funny images or memes to increase interaction, personal questions to elicit responses, and product/service updates to drive conversions.
- Reactive Engagement: Community management is an essential part of social media. This includes regularly monitoring and responding to fan posts, comments or questions.
- Strategic Promotions: You should also pair the first two with larger campaigns that will tie everything together, and create more awareness and excitement around your brand through incentives and special offers.
Habit #3. Experiment with Timing to Increase Reach & Engagement
Social media usage goes up and down through-out the day. There are certain periods when everyone is busy, and other times when activity trails off.
Usually this depends on your own audience’s preferences, but typically these “peak” times are:
- Early morning (7AM EST)
- After work (5PM EST)
- Late night (11PM EST)
Your own page’s Facebook Insights will give you a lot of information about when your audience is the most active. Sort your most popular content by the biggest reach, and then take a look at the corresponding time-stamps to get a feel for when your fans like to consume content.
Most of your messages should be published (or scheduled) to go out during these teams, because you’ll have the best chance to get the most reach.
Posting during peak hours also means you have more competition — for attention and engagement.
So you should also try “contra-competitive” timing to increase engagement. This means deliberately posting during slow or “off” periods to hopefully capitalize on the low competition. And usually that means posting outside of work hours.
The Buddy Media report also said that: “Brands that posted outside of business hours had 20% higher engagement rates”.
Habit #4. Use (More) Effective Calls-To-Action
Most people don’t respond to a status update because… no one asked them to.
User behavior online is a little different than real life, because there’s no non-verbal cues to tell us what to do.
(And on top of that, most online users are trying to do 3 different things at once, so we’re scanning and not paying full attention to what we’re looking at.)
You have to be very straight-forward, explicit, and ask people exactly what you want them to do. For example, ask them to Like, comment, tell you, or click on this link.
Every single status update has a call-to-action, even if it’s not to visit your website or buy anything. Because we’re all competing for attention in social media. You’re not just competing with your industry — but every other possible alternative out there as well. You’re competing with other brands, news publications, and even people’s kids or colleagues.
So your call-to-action should also be paired with good copywriting principles. You don’t only want to appeal to logic, but also people’s emotional buttons that will compel them interact with you. That means you want to grab attention and build anticipation or tension — that can only be released by taking your desired action.
There are two ways to do that:
- Highlight what people stand to gain from reading your content or completing your action, or
- Emphasis the pain of loss that will occur by not taking your action
Then drill down into the details. Each headline should play to these emotions by describing the obstacle they will attain or avoid. And a catchy, concise description should build anticipation or credibility as to why your call-to-action is the only logical choice. (We go over this in more detail on my Facebook Marketing Bootcamp so it will be crystal clear!)
Why You Need to Get “People Talking About This”
Facebook has always lead the way in social media for providing useful metrics to brand owners.
But they took that to the next level in October of 2011 when they introduced the “People Talking About This” metric.
This little metric gives you a rough estimation of how many people are directly engaging with your brand page. And it’s important because it provides key insight into how many of your fans you’ll be able to reach.
A “Like” is one thing — a moment in time. But “Talking About This” evolves constantly — measuring engagement over time.
This metric changes daily, but measures the past 7 days of fan “stories”, which is the number of fans doing one of the following:
- Likes a page
- Likes a post on your page
- Comments on your post
- Creates a new post on your page
- Shares your post
- Checks-in at your location or brand
- Mentions your brand page name in a status update
- Tags your page in a photo
- Shares a deal or offer
- Likes a deal or offer
- Claims a deal or offer
- Writes a recommendation
- Viral shares (friends of fans sharing)
Tracking this raw number over time will give you a quick indication of how many people are interacting and engaging with your brand.
But tracking the percentage of “People Talking About This” to total “Likes” gives you a better understanding of how your Facebook marketing is performing.
This engagement ratio is a quick snapshot to your return on time and energy invested.
And it’s one of the best clues to determining how, if and when you’ll be able to start generating revenue from your Facebook fan page…
… which will be covered in detail in the next article!
Check out the Facebook Marketing Bootcamp to find out how to grow, engage, and drive revenue.