Building a social strategy for Facebook is getting more and more difficult thanks to their “quality control” features. Ignite Social Media estimates that with the latest rollout of changes on average 3% of your fan base will see unprompted posts. That’s it. To make it worse, there’s little information as to how that 3% is decided. Of course you can pay to promote posts which is some companies are now saying is essential to do. I was at the Brand Innovators Social Summit this past February at which Addie Connor, Chief Innovation Officer at SocialCode gave a keynote. Her basic point was that there is no reason to have a Facebook Page if you aren’t promoting your posts.
Really? I’m not so sure. A key with all social media platforms is to start with understanding how your target customer interacts with them. Where do they go? How do they get their information? What makes them “like” or “share” a post? We’ve become so obsessed with getting “likes” on Facebook Pages that we’ve forgotten the central mechanism behind Facebook use. An underlying assumption behind this doom and gloom view of Facebook Page posts is that people consume Facebook primarily through their home feed. It’s true that Facebook is pushing this model as much as possible. But the fact of the matter is that Facebook is not Twitter. It’s about community. For this reason no matter how much Zuckerberg & co. attempt to modify it, the reason we use Facebook will never be the same as the reason we use Twitter.
For Twitter it would be absolutely disastrous if only 3% of your followers saw your posts. This is because on Twitter our chief way of consuming posts is through our timelines as opposed to visiting an individual’s Twitter page. We might do targeted listening via hashtags but as long as you know which hashtag to include to reach your targeted community that’s easily included in a social strategy.
Contrast this with how you approach Facebook. In particular think of how you see Page posts. Page posts hardly ever pop up on my home feed. And to be honest when they do I tend to ignore them. My reason for consuming Facebook is to keep in touch with my friends and family. I want to see what they post and share. So when they share something from a Facebook Page THAT’S when I pay attention.
See the difference? This is a different metric at play. Now of course there is also a percentage used to calculate whether I’ll see my friend’s post share on my home feed assuming I’m not tagged or they don’t share it to my wall. But that’s something that we can work with as social strategists. We know how to harness influencers and advocates. We know how to organize communities and create content that gets shared.
1. Harness Power Users
Facebook revolves around the social network. Pew and others have identified the prevalence of “power users” on Facebook who make up the vast majority of content that gets shared. These are the people who you want to engage on your Facebook Page. You want them to share your content with their friends. You want your page to be the one that they check out for the latest on “x”. A great way to get them to return to your page is to engage them in conversation. Did they make a humorous comment on a post? Respond in kind.
2. Mobilize internal Influencers
We do this on Twitter and LinkedIn but not Facebook. Who are the thought-leaders in your organization? Get them to interact with your Facebook Posts. You might even think of sending you an email to alert your thought-leaders to an interesting thread on the Page that they should enter into. Encourage them to share your content.
3. Engage with like-minded Pages
Every Page is looking for engagement. So set up a mutually beneficial relationship. If a Page has an audience that you would like to reach or that is similar to yours getting them to share a link to your Page is a great way to increase your content views. Facebook is a concrete social network. The power of sharing means that your post can very easily go viral and THAT is the way that Facebook Pages become useful.
Here’s a practical example: Craft-beers have very loyal followings and some have done a great job building a social media presence but they are always looking to get converts. Pubs and bars have a community presence but are always looking to get more customers in, particularly on weekdays. They also tend to have a weaker social media presence. But by supporting each other through their Facebook Pages each can exponentially increase their fan base. Also, going a step further, there is a high probability that at the intersection between the Craft Beer Community and Pub Community you’ll find some strong advocates.
Changes to the Facebook algorithm do not herald the end of brand presence on Facebook. Rather they signal the need (which has been long in the making) of moving away from a broadcast model to a social network model of social marketing. Pulling out of Facebook is the absolute LAST thing brands should do. Rather, they should renew their focus on their Facebook campaign via the creation of a targeted social strategy.