There’s been quite a bit of buzz about Facebook’s tweaks to EdgeRank. Are less people seeing your content? Is it all just a big scheme to get more ad dollars? Should your company jump ship to Google + where it is safe?
While we may never know the answers to all of our pressing Facebook questions, I can tell you this…If you do the basics you’ll be able to ride out any EdgeRank craziness.
Think of it in terms of weight loss, if you want to lose weight eat less calories and stay active. I know it sounds waaaay too simple, but I’ve seen it work. When it comes to Facebook you also need to do the basics to stay in the game – post regularly, post engaging content, interact with fans and buy advertising from time to time to get fans re-engaged or to draw in new fans.
In the meantime, Facebook will fumble, tweak and hopefully come up with a solution that makes both fans and brands happy. Your role as a page owner is to do the best you can to ride it out and keep fans engaged.
Psst. Here’s a secret. If you want a lot of fans quickly you need one of two things: Money for an ad buy or an existing database (think your email list) that you can easily convert to fans.
If you don’t have either then your best bet is to grow organically by providing interesting quality content in your wall posts. Sure you can offer a giveaway, but even a giveaway without a large fan base and advertising support will only draw in so much activity.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with growing slow and steady, just make sure your expectations are set correctly.
If you have a page that has under 500 fans – expect to grow somewhere between 5 – 15 fans a month. 2,000 fans you could up it to 30 – 50 new fans/month. 30,000 a fair bet is 1,000 – 2,000 new fans/month. These are rough estimates but should give you some guidance.
Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t pulling in thousands of new fans each month. Slow and steady isn’t a bad way to go, especially if you are getting the right people and your engagement rates are high.
So next time you get pulled into a meeting and the boss man wants to hit 1 million fans in two months, it’s best to be upfront and tell him or her to budget some $$ for advertising. That’s just the way it works.
Facebook is prompting us all to get our heads out of the “I wanna be popular” mindset, by forcing companies to pay equal, if not more, attention to engagement metrics as to “likes.”
The new insights page offers more in-depth engagement metrics if you want to dig around, but the feature “XX people are talking about this” may be one of the most useful new metrics rolled out. The Talking About metric lives directly under the number of fans on the left hand side of the page and is not only available to page admins but to any Facebook user. So what makes this metric so useful?
- The Talking About metric is an easy way to keep tabs on engagement. Start to know the percentage of fans who are “talking about” your page every week versus total fan numbers. I’ve found most pages live in the 1 – 3% range when they aren’t running ads. Set goals for yourself and tweak content when this percentage starts to dip.
- It’s also an easy way to spy on your competitors. Let’s admit it, it may seem childish but at some point we all develop a case of fan envy when it comes to competitors’ pages. Sure your competitors may have more fans, especially if they’ve invested in Facebook ads in the past, but do they have as high engagement when you look at the Talking About metric vs Total Fan base? Now that you can view the “Talking About” metric on any page use it as a benchmark to see how your community is performing against others and then tweak.
- The Talking About metric is an easy way to spot good ideas. If a page has high engagement rates (# of People Talking About / Total Fans) see what types of content they are posting and what ideas you may be able to learn from when building your own content calendar. Are their posts shorter? Are they using the Questions function more often? More photos than you typically use?
Facebook is trying to ease us into the idea of quality over quantity. Sure it doesn’t hurt to have a large fan base – more potential for exposure via the newsfeed – but a community with a high engagement rate could lead to more word of mouth exposure (friends seeing friends’ activity on a brand post) as well as a chance to create deeper connections and loyalty (brand and fan interacting versus just brand posting). So don’t dismiss the Talking About metric and try for a week or two focusing on engagement versus total fan base numbers. It won’t be easy – we all want to be popular – but it may be worth it in the long run.
The change game is complicated. Don’t make drastic changes (see Apple iPhone 4s) people complain. Don’t see change coming (see Blockbuster, Borders) you could go under. Make too many changes (enter Facebook) and you risk ticking people off.
Facebook’s new Timeline, Ticker and Newsfeed may take some getting used to, but after getting over the initial shock, I actually find the new changes worthwhile. Timeline is light years better then my profile page which had little use. Ticker brings what was “Recent News” to life giving more real-time exposure. And the Newsfeed? Well I’m happy to not have to toggle back between the two tabs. Only time will tell if brand pages are hurt by the move. I’ve noticed some activity lighten up on pages that don’t have as many fans but the ticker does seem to offer a quick burst of exposure every time you update.
Let’s be honest, if Facebook didn’t change it would become MySpace. Instead of ranting and raving about changes I think we should thank Facebook for forcing us to learn how to be flexible. Yes, the changes are irritating at times for the user, but we’ll survive and in the end so will Facebook.