With constant changes in the Facebook algorithm and news feed functionality, even the most committed social media fan could get a headache trying to keep up and make sure your audience sees your content. It is disheartening to spend time thinking about what to post on Facebook only to see your numbers and engagement plummet. To say the least, it can leave you unsure whether there is any point to the time you put into it.
Facebook changes in December and January that are decreasing many Facebook pages’ reach raised the latest round of worries and debate about its impact and what to do next. To learn more, check out this excellent Social Media Examiner podcast with experts Michael Stelzner, Mari Smith, and Jay Baer. Three great recent articles are Your Five-Step Strategy to Improved Facebook Engagement & Growth by Carrie Morgan, 18 Ways to Improve Your Facebook News Feed Performance by John Haydon, and Facebook to Marketers: Stop Using Text Updates to Game the News Feed by Jon Loomer.
Focus on Your Audience, Goals & What Works
So what should you do? What matters most is whether the people you are trying to reach are on Facebook, and that you use your time well to reach your organization’s goals.
Think carefully about the messages you want to convey. More importantly, what content and information does your audience need and want — when they are on Facebook? Is your content helping to solve their problems, entertain, and/or provide useful information they need?
One consistent component of the algorithm is that people see the most content in their news feed that they have already liked and engaged with. So after liking your Facebook page, they will see your content if they regularly look at your posts and more so if they like and/or comment on them.
What people like varies by them as individuals (obviously) but also by organization. What works great will be different for a nonprofit that helps people with diabetes or cancer, a professional membership association, accounting firm, tech start up, restaurant, or a contractor/supplier to other businesses. Each situation is unique which is important to remember when reading the latest news about plummeting Facebook numbers.
In reality, over 1.2 billion and counting people are on Facebook, some much more actively than others. So for most organizations, Facebook still has tremendous value as part of your communication plan. The question is how to best use your time on it to reach your goals and engage people.
A critical part of using your time well is to regularly monitor your stats through Facebook Insights, which provides data about how your Facebook page and posts are doing. Pay careful attention to:
- How many people are viewing, liking, clicking and commenting on your content.
- Which days of the week and times of day are most and least popular?
- When are they on Facebook?
- Which types of posts are working best – links (in which you enter a link in the What’s Happening? post prompt and Facebook populates a preview), photos with what kinds of copy, text only posts, etc.
When you see news that Facebook has tweaked the algorithm or other features recently, watch your organization’s data closely to see over time whether the above patterns are changing. Because it doesn’t really matter what’s happening in the broad world of Facebook or Organization XYZ – what matters is what is happening with YOUR organization’s facebook metrics.
Always keep in mind what you are trying to achieve through your Facebook presence. Building community, driving traffic to your web site/blog, selling product. How do you measure it? What does success look like? But be realistic – Facebook pages don’t go from 10 to 10,000 fans in a week or a month. It takes time to attract fans and build a vibrant community.
Just remember that Facebook is not the place for blatant selling. Sharing useful content related to your brand and mission, entertaining and helping are key. Understanding and respecting the environment and culture of Facebook is important. Check out my articles 8 Tips to Build A Large Facebook Following and 8 Ways to Develop Facebook Content That Drives Engagement and Sharing for more ideas. You may also want to test advertising on Facebook which can be done very inexpensively. One of my favorite resources for Facebook advertising is expert Jon Loomer’s blog.
Keeping Up with Facebook Changes
The reality is Facebook will continue to change and evolve which they have to do to stay relevant and keep their audience. The most efficient way to stay up-to-date is to follow a few proven experts who are quick to blog about evolving changes and tips to maximize your efforts. Here are some of my favorite sources for Facebook news and tips:
Jon Loomer – in addition to Facebook overall, he is the go to expert on advertising on Facebook, and shares regular videos and podcasts, often with guest experts, in addition to his traditional blog posts.
John Haydon specializes in nonprofit marketing and social media, but his tips are handy for anyone.
Mari Smith shares the latest Facebook news and tips on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/marismith.
Social Media Examiner covers the range of social media, shares concrete tips and advice usually with great examples and clear screen shots, and features a Who’s Who of expert guest authors.
Andrea Vahl offers advice and tips on Facebook and other social media sites.