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You've taken the time to create a Facebook page. You've carefully and lovingly grown a community of fans. You've meticulously crafted engaging content to feed the page, making sure to present a good mix of media — probably favoring photos.
So with all that thorough, detailed work you've done, you deserve for all those fans to see each of your updates in their news feed, right?
However you answered, if you've been paying attention these last few months, you know that, in fact, all of your fans do not get all of your updates.
Moreover, since September, even fewer of your fans have been getting your updates than before.
But before you get indignant, consider a few things.
As nonprofit social media pioneer Heather Mansfield recently pointed out, your posts have never really gone to all of your fans, save for a brief moment in 2009. (Guess what? Users didn't like it.)
Facebook uses an algorithm, which it calls EdgeRank, to determine the makeup of each user's news feed. It's also constantly tweaking this algorithm in small ways and, a few times a year, performs a larger overhaul.
In September, it performed such an overhaul, in order to connect users with the content they enjoy most, filtering out updates they consider spammy.
And this is the other important thing to consider. Despite hotheaded claims that Facebook is blocking updates to force pages to shell out cash for promoted posts — and high-profile threats to abandon Facebook as a marketing vehicle — it's really about the user.
If the average Facebook user has 229 friends on the social network, and "likes" 4 – 6 new pages per month, the average news feed is getting pretty busy.
Even if every post by every page went into every subscribed news feed, chances are it wouldn't be seen by everyone. Average users spend about 12 minutes a day accessing Facebook on their computers, with about an additional 14 on mobile devices. EdgeRank or not, it just isn't possible for everyone to see every update.
So what steps can you take to make sure you are maximizing the reach of your nonprofit's or library's posts to Facebook?
Nonprofit marketing expert John Haydon has some great advice on how to do this without spending any extra money.
Perhaps most important is to post high-quality content. We hear it all the time, but it bears repeating. The better your content, the more those who do see it will engage with it. And the more those people engage with your content, the greater the chance of more people seeing that content as it shows up in news feeds as stories.
Because the content is good, those folks will engage with it, as well. And the cycle continues.
Another neat tip is to try posting on weekends, which enjoy not only increased user activity but less competition from other brands.
Haydon and others have also suggested you ask your community to subscribe to your updates as notifications.
This is a good way to get your most dedicated fans to opt-in on never missing another update by your organization's page. Yet, it runs the risk of burning out those same fans with lots of red dots and, for those who haven't shut them off, emails to their personal inboxes.
For those organizations less shy about spending some extra cash on social media, experimenting with promoted posts is a way to boost reach of Facebook content.
While backlash against paying for reach on Facebook is popular, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Considered alongside other forms of marketing, the fact that social media are free (aside from staff hours invested) is the anomaly.
Websites, brochures, postcards, ads — these all cost money, and are accounted for in marketing budgets.
If reaching more of your Facebook community is a priority, it might be worth adding to your marketing budget. Posts can be promoted for as little as five dollars and can more than double reach.
Another point to keep in mind when promoting posts is that you are not buying "likes," but merely the chance to be in front of more of your fans (and their friends, if you choose) for a longer period of time. This ties back, then, to the importance of creating excellent content.
You won't make anyone like boring content by keeping it in front of their eyeballs for longer.
Maximize your promotion budget by saving it for your most engaging content, thereby increasing the likelihood of likes, shares, and comments.
This can bolster the reach of future non-promoted posts, as those likes, comments, and shares increase the affinity your community has with your content, raising the chance it will show up in their news feeds.
A last piece of advice is to relax and look at the bright side. While reach is undoubtedly down, engagement appears to be up.
This may be accounted for by the fact that those among your fans who do see your content are those who truly care about your organization and its cause. As digital strategist Jon Loomer notes, forget about reach and focus on the value you create with your community.
Image: Katina Rogers
Michael DeLong | Online Community Manager
A followup to this excellent post: Facebook's newer algorithms are hiding even more status updates for people one has friended, or organizations one has liked, according to this article I found on the Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com/.../the-problem-with-facebook_n_4597710.html
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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