Do you have a Facebook strategy for your blog or business? Is it flopping? If so, don’t feel bad. From my reading, countless others seem to be frustrated their Facebook page reach is decreasing.
I don’t understand the technicalities of how Facebook’s algorithms determine whether or not an update shows up in a news feed. At the simplest level though, it seems the more I like someone’s content, the more I get fed their life. Those who I choose not to like are eventually filtered out, their status updates never to show again. That’s frustrating when you want to keep up with friends or, like me, are trying to reach them with my blog topics.
I’m a small player on Facebook, having only 210 page likes for this blog and 448 friends connected to my personal page. Honestly I haven’t engaged much there over the years, only becoming interested recently when I started Luke1428. Facebook is the #2 ranked site in the world for traffic, so the potential to reach people is definitely there.
Those who have been using Facebook for promotion know it’s not easy. I noticed last year that not many fans who liked my page were seeing my posts…less than 10 views on some days. Not knowing what to do, I decided to track it for six months as I worked on developing strategies to increase total views per post – the ultimate goal of course being to convert those Facebook views into regular blog visits.
The results for me have been interesting and encouraging. For the 40 blog articles I posted to Facebook from January to March, I averaged 22 views per post. As my strategies began to unfold, I saw an increase to 176 views for my 39 posts from April through June. That’s an increase of 705%.
Here’s how I did it.
Facebook Strategy #1: Boosting Posts
The first place I turned to increase viewership is the place most people turn – paying money for Facebook to boost my posts to a wider audience. Ugh…I know. Doesn’t seem like we should have to do this but it’s the direction Facebook has headed. As a publicly traded company, they are in the business of making money and satisfying investors so it seems paying for ads/sponsored posts is here to stay.
(Note: In case you are wondering, for the calculations above I did exclude the numbers from the sponsored posts. The 705% gain is only based on non-sponsored posts.)
I had three sponsored posts in the first three months of 2014. Those were sent to a broad audience and produced minimal results. For the four sponsored posts from April to June, I targeted people especially interested in the topic of the post. For example, the sponsored post where I talked about why we paid off our mortgage early was targeted to those specifically interested in personal finance, not just my family and friends. That post produced 312 links clicks for my site.
Overall, the four sponsored posts targeted to a specific audience resulted in more engagement than the first three and brought significantly more referral traffic. That engagement produced a carry over into viewership for my non-sponsored posts.
Facebook Strategy #2: Posting on my personal timeline
As I began to boost a few posts, I also became increasingly active on my own timeline. What’s “increasingly” mean? For me it meant going from totally inactive to posting a status once or twice a week. These updates had nothing to do with my blog but were personal in nature, the things you would expect to see on an individual’s timeline.
Why was this move important?
People started following me as a person. Once they clicked “Like” on a status update, Facebook assumes they want to see more from me. So future updates to my personal timeline have a greater likelihood showing up in their news feed. This step will prove important as the next strategy unfolds.
Facebook Strategy #3: Sharing
Getting posts shared over and over produces site visits and that’s the juice that fuels a blogger. At first, I was only posting my blog content to my Facebook page and relying on my readers to share it around. I learned quickly that many weren’t.
So I began to share my page updates myself in other areas on Facebook.
I started with my own personal timeline. I’ve read before not to mix business with pleasure on Facebook. In other words, keep your business timeline separate from your personal timeline. For a small blogger such as myself trying to build an audience, that didn’t seem to matter. As more people liked my personal timeline posts (Strategy #2), they would begin to see my blog updates once I posted them to my personal timeline.
I also shared them to my wife’s timeline. Even though there is some overlap, she is friends with people that I am not. In addition, I joined some Facebook groups relevant to my niche and shared my posts in those. Finally, my posts began to be shared by other bloggers. Obviously having other bloggers share your content is a significant step in getting more views.
Facebook Strategy #4: Telling Stories
So far, I’ve used my profile on Twitter as the go to social media platform to promote this blog. However, I’ve noticed my audience there is vastly different than on Facebook.
On Twitter, I’ve mostly connected with other bloggers or career minded professionals interested in the personal finance niche in the hopes they will share my content. Not so on Facebook. Most of my followers there are people I’ve personally known and had daily or at least routine interaction with during some part of my life.
What I’ve learned is my Facebook fans really respond to personal stories about my life, more so than my connections on Twitter. On this style of post I’ve noticed a growing viewership, to the point where I recently had my highest total reach on a non-sponsored post. This post on why my family is not renewing our Costco membership reached 448 people on Facebook. Of those, 25% clicked on the link and read the post at my site. That was a high conversion number for me.
Facebook Tips Beyond the Strategies
Besides those four strategies, it would also be helpful to:
1. Respond to comments. Anytime someone leaves a comment or asks a question I get to it. Increasing fan engagement will keep readers interested and coming back.
2. Analyze when and what time of day your fans are viewing Facebook. My highest days for audience traffic are Wednesday, Tuesday and Monday in that order. Their time on Facebook peaks from 3 to 9 pm. Those are the key times when I need to do more posting and engaging.
3. Know your demographics. Not surprisingly, my fan demographics reflect my age and my career as an educator. Over 50% of my fans come from the 18-24 age group (28%) and the 35-44 age group (25%). Posts targeting the interests of those age groups will be more likely to be shared around Facebook, thus producing more overall views.
My Next Step On Facebook
So far my strategy seems to be working. I’ll admit to not knowing what Facebook is doing behind the scenes with their algorithms to help or hinder me. Nor can I quantify how much of this is simply due to the general growth of my blog. Regardless, at least there is progress.
The next strategy I plan to implement will be redoing and then sponsoring my Luke1428 Facebook page. The goal here is to attract people interested in a particular niche to “Like” the page. While slightly different than promoting posts, the goal seems to be the same…to get eyeballs on content and drive people to a site. Of course, I’ll have to budget for and then pay Facebook for that sponsorship which I know many simply abhor.
My goal is to double my Facebook likes in the next six months. That means reaching 420 by the end of 2014. If you haven’t liked my page yet (shameless plug) you can do so by clicking here.
I’ll report back at the end of the year on how this strategy worked.
Only you can decide if Facebook should be an option to reach viewers. Whether or not you enjoy the experience, it is a viable option for drawing people to your blog or business. I would suggest not giving up on it just yet. Analyze the information in the “Insights” section of your Facebook page and produce strategies applicable to your need.
You may not see results overnight so give it at least six months. For me, it’s taken that long to see some real progress.
What is your Facebook strategy? Are you paying Facebook to sponsor posts? Do you feel Facebook is moving in the right or wrong direction in pushing businesses to pay for sponsorships? Does your blog receive more referral traffic from Twitter, Facebook or some other source? What other tips for reaching people have worked for you?