Here are some facts that might surprise you:
- Most fans never return to a page after they like it.
- Most posts by pages are seen by less than 10 percent of their fans.
- Many fans will never see your welcome tab.
- When fans create new posts on your Facebook page, other fans don’t see them.
Those facts run counter to most people’s assumptions. They go to their fan page a lot, so they think their fans do, too.
They assume that all their fans are seeing all their posts, which we’ve already discussed. They also assume their fans are seeing posts made by other fans to the page’s Wall.
Your Fans See the People and Pages They Interact With
In fact, fans experience Facebook through their news feeds. The news feed is set by default to top posts, which means Facebook uses its EdgeRank and GraphRank algorithms to show people the stories it thinks they’ll be interested in.
How does it guess what you’ll be interested in seeing? By keeping track of what posts you like and comment on. People see posts from pages and friends they’ve liked and comment on before.
When fans no longer see your posts, it’s much harder to get them back. It’s best to start engaging your fans while you’re growing their numbers and never stop engaging them.
The Average Page’s Posts Are Seen by Less Than 10 Percent of Its Fans
I was fortunate to get into a beta test program with the Facebook page analytics service PageLever and speak to founder Jeff Widman. One of the most fundamental and important revelations is that pages don’t reach many of their fans:
- Posts from pages with 10,000 fans reach 30 percent to 40 percent of their fans.
- Posts from pages with 100,000 fans reach 20 percent to 30 percent of their fans.
- Posts from pages with 1,000,000 or more fans reach 10 percent of their fans.
Think about what this means: at those levels, pages are reaching:
- 3,000 fans
- 25,000 fans
- 100,000 fans
There’s a diminishing return on getting a large quantity of fans. There are a number of reasons for this diminishing visibility, some of which you can control:
- Many of the biggest pages have fans that are several years old.
- Fans who don’t respond to posts for many months or even a couple years probably haven’t seen posts from that page for a long time.
- Most pages don’t use the interaction-stimulating tactics in this chapter because these best practices were created in late 2010 and most Facebook page managers haven’t had any formal training in Facebook marketing.
If you don’t get your fans to like and comment on your posts, they’ll stop seeing them. Imagine you spend months and hundreds or thousands of dollars getting 10,000 quality fans but in the end only 2,000 of them see your posts.
Disappointing? Definitely. But you can get much better results from the best practices outlined here. But first, let’s go into more depth about how Facebook places posts in people’s news feeds.
Facebook shows you posts from friends and pages whose posts you have liked or commented on in the recent past. New friends and newly liked pages are shown to you for a while, but if you don’t interact with them, you will stop seeing posts from them.
The algorithm for showing you posts in your news feed also takes into account whether you interact more or less with photos, status updates, and videos.
And now Facebook has added a friends and family lists consideration. Your types of friends and your family may not see the same posts.
Post Metrics and Benchmarks
Anyone can see how many likes and comments each of your Facebook page’s posts have received. If you’re an administrator of a Facebook page, you’ll see extra data about each post that your fans won’t.
This is how many times the post was shown. This isn’t a count of unique people because some people might have reloaded their page or scrolled down to see older posts and been shown your post more than once.
This is a calculation that shows how engaging your post was. Facebook adds up the number of likes and comments and divides them by the impressions count. This isn’t affected by how many of your fans you reach; it’s always relative to the audience that saw the post.
Sometimes a post will only go out to a very small audience but have a dramatically higher feedback rate. Don’t fret. Feedback rate is important but can be skewed higher when you don’t reach that many people.
Generally speaking, you want to try to get a one percent or higher feedback rate. I’ve seen others advocate a lower goal, but all the students and businesses who’ve learned the methods in this chapter have been able to achieve a one percet feedback rate.
Impressions And Fan Count
This number isn’t shown, but it’s easy to calculate. Look at your last five to ten posts, find the average number of impressions you’re getting, and then divide that by your total number of fans.
[Average (impressions / post)] / Fan count = percent of fan seeing posts
This gives you a rough idea of how many of your fans are seeing your posts. I’ve seen this be over 100 percent for some posts. I’ve seen pages struggle to get their average above 40 percent, but I’ve also seen a bunch of businesses using the techniques outlined here get 70 percent to 100 percent.
Very new posts won’t show impressions or feedback rate right away. I’ve seen it delayed by as much as a day or two.
Feedback Rate’s Effect on Impressions
Here’s the important insight: I’ve found by analyzing the data for hundreds of posts across dozens of pages that the higher your feedback rate is, the more of your fans you reach.
The pages that struggle to get more than 30 percent of their fans to see their posts also have low feedback rates and probably aren’t using the interaction tactics I discuss in this chapter.
Are Some of Your Fans Unreachable Forever?
If you haven’t stimulated your fans to interact with you for months and months, it can be very hard or even impossible to ever get your messages in front of them again. At this point, you need to use advertising tactics to get them back. There are a couple ways to use ads to reanimate these “dead” fans.
Leading the Community You Create
Facebook empowers you to gather a community of potential buyers and then lead the conversation. This is better than Twitter, where conversation is too fragmented and hard to follow.
You also can use Facebook’s multimedia nature to post images and videos for discussion. It’s possible that the people you serve have never had a community in which to share their passions.
Less connected people like that give you high click-through rates and low-cost clicks, they don’t cost a lot to acquire, and they talk like crazy. Put them in a Facebook group and you have a perpetual motion machine.
You can ask also questions and use polls to gather more information about them. I’ve seen businesses who were having trouble make strong sales through Facebook simply by asking and acting on the insights gained.
Formulas for Posts
There are two or three main goals for each post, and if you want, you can try all three at once!
- To get likes, say “Click like if…” and keep the second part simple.
- To get comments, ask a question or say, “Tell me in the comments below…” followed by whatever you want to know.
- To get clicks to your website or blog post, put the URL in the update and say, “Click this link…” and tell them why.
Here are some more details on each.
“Click Like If…”
This is a really simple formula. It’s all about whether people agree with you. Choose something that you’re pretty sure 60 percent to 100 percent of your fans like. If you got a lot of fans from targeting a particular interest, you can be pretty sure they’ll respond positively to that. Tell them to click like if they like that thing. No brainer, right?
After you have the thing you want to show them or mention to them, combine it with the following variations of the formula:
- Post a photo or video related to the dream or benefits you’re selling, and make it something like “Click like if you’d love (to have this benefit)” or “Click like if you’d love to see yourself (living such and such dream).”
- “Click like if you love…” (ponies, bacon, or whatever applies to your niche).
- “Click like if you think….”
- “Click like if you’d love to have….”
- “Click like if you believe that….”
- “Click like if you want….”
Questions and prompts
The best questions are open-ended, which means they get fill-in-the-blank, not yes-or-no, answers. Imagine you’re on a first date and the goal is to get the other person talking. The more you listen, the more likely you are to get what you want. The more you talk, the more the other person turns off and you don’t get what you want.
Here are some ways to ask questions:
- “What do you think about…?” (For example, you could ask about some recent good news in the niche you’re operating in. Try to avoid asking about bad news unless you’re asking for people’s ideas for solving problems.)
- “How do you feel about…?”
- You can actually tell people to fill in the blank if you want. For example: “My ideal work day includes ______________. Fill in the blank and tell us!”
- “What happens when you…?”
- “What are your goals related to…?”
- “If you could change one thing about…, what would it be?”
- “What’s your favorite thing about…?”
- “When do you feel most…?”
- “Why do you…?”
- “What’s your favorite way to…?”
- “When you were younger…
“Click this link…”
If you put a web address into a post, Facebook automatically pulls in the photo, page title, and description. Most people assume the page title and description are written in stone, but you can actually change them. Click on the title and rewrite it, and click on the description and rewrite that.
That’s a lifesaver if, for some reason, it’s pulling in weird HTML formatting. And make sure you choose the thumbnail that looks more interesting or fits best with what you’re sending them to. If none of the images fit, select “no thumbnail.”
Don’t assume that the information Facebook grabs with your URL is stimulating enough by itself. Add calls to action like these:
- “Check out this blog post because…”; then tell them what the benefits of reading it are.
- “Click here to get this discount now before it goes away!”
- “Check out our latest press release”; then make sure they know why they should care. Press releases are often “me me me” selfish information about the company that no customer cares about.
If your blog post already has a catchy, stimulating title, you might not need to get too creative with the text you add in the Facebook page post. But make sure you add a reason to click and/or a question for commenting. If you don’t, that’s a missed opportunity. Remember, although you want people to click to the website, you still need the Facebook post to be visible to as many fans as possible. EdgeRank might count clicks to other websites, but we don’t know that for sure.
Good Versus Bad Posts
The following are qualities of successful posts:
- Has one percent feedback rate or more;
- Has 50 percent or more impressions compared to fans;
- Is attention-grabbing;
- Is something 95 percent of the audience cares about;
- Asks for a like or asks a question;
- Fits the demographics and geographic location of your fan base;
- Contains no-brainer text;
- Sells the dream;
- Is based on what you learned from ad testing.
Bad posts have these qualities:
- Feedback that’s below .5 percent;
- Impressions that are less than 30 percent of fan base;
- Not understanding audience;
- Posts that 95 percent of the audience doesn’t care about;
- Promotes things that very few people will care about;
- Photos without captions or calls to action.
Learning from Your Previous Posts
Administrators of pages can view some pretty cool insights, and one of them lists your last 10 posts, how many impressions it got, and the feedback rate you got from them. You can use this (and of course you can also scroll through your page’s wall and look at more of these) to look for patterns in which posts got better feedback rates and why. Pick out a few of the ones with the highest and a few with the lowest feedback rates, and see if you can tell what you did right or wrong. After you develop a theory about which posts are best for your audience, test it by trying another post along those lines to see whether you get similar results.
Here are three milestones that will tell you you’re making great progress with getting your audience to interact with you:
- Getting one percent feedback regularly—If you’re using the formulas from this chapter, this is easy to achieve.
- People posting spontaneously on your page—When people are really excited about your brand or page, they’ll go back to the actual fan page and post there.
- Fans seeing and posting on fan page posts—If you have a lot of fans going back to your fan page and it’s set by default to show fan posts, too, then some of them might comment on each others’ posts. This is one way to know you’ve really got your fans stirred up. When they have that much enthusiasm, they’ll tolerate more sales messages.
Guiding Your Community
Because you administer the page or group, you have ultimate control. You can subtly guide the conversation with your posts and comments.
It’s a good idea to step back and let conversations take their course. On blog posts and Facebook I’ve noticed that when the administrator is too involved, discussions don’t evolve. Don’t think you need to respond to every post. I’ve also noticed that if you post something, get one comment, and then comment on that first comment, you are less likely to get more comments. Let five to ten people comment before you comment. If you can, don’t comment at all and see how many you get.
The point is that you create a space for discussion and then leave room. Imagine you’re sitting in a circle with 10 people and bring up a topic. Would the people in the group want you commenting after each person? Or would they prefer to have a normal conversation? Let something evolve out of the fans themselves, and see where it goes.
Dealing with Difficult Fans
You can remove or block troublesome people (but let’s hope it’s because they’re actually weirdos and you’re not just blocking all the people who are bringing to light real problems with your business).
And by the way, if you do have issues with your business that customers complain about regularly, fix them! If you make a small mistake in social media, apologize! I’ve seen businesses take other approaches, and they don’t work. One decided to delete a customer concern rather than address it—this converted an irritated customer into an angry one who pledged to post everyday and everywhere her displeasure with the company. Nestle got in trouble back in 2010 for responding snarkily to customer comments, and a number of brands have had this problem. The way to deal with these situations effectively is to listen, acknowledge the feedback, validate and thank the customer, and then fix the problem.
Because your customer service is public in social media, dealing with problems well or badly is amplified. If it happens in the comments of one of your posts, people are witnessing it. If you do a great job hearing and satisfying an irritated customer, other customers will trust you more.
How to Avoid Publicity Nightmares
Most people have learned not to write an email reply while angry. It’s even easier and quicker to shoot off a negative Facebook comment. When you read something distressing, step away from the computer, take a breath, and do something else for a while. Remember, if they posted it on your Facebook page’s Wall, it does not go out to all your fans. Only the few that come back to the page will see it. It is not an emergency. If you feel defensive, worried, or upset, absolutely forbid yourself from posting a response without getting someone else’s opinion, taking time to relax, and even having someone else edit your response.
Also, if we’re talking about comments that fans see, one of your most loyal fans might respond with a more fair view. It’s much more powerful and believable when a customer comes to your aid. It can be worth the anxiety to wait 30 to 60 minutes for one of them to chime in.
Just as people try not to email when angry or drinking, it’s best not to do social media when drinking. This is up to the individual—if you’re a rock star or comedian maybe you should post while drunk—but just keep in mind that what seems like a great idea right now might not later.
Balancing Engagement and Selling Types of Posts
Some readers of this book might only care about creating interaction and remaining visible to fans, but others want a direct profit from their Facebook efforts. So, how do you combine conversation with sales? Do they fit together? Yes, a number of companies have found that they can alternate interaction-oriented Facebook posts with more direct offers, discounts, and other types of sales-oriented posts. You can see examples of these two types of posts in Table 11.2.
Engagement Versus Sales Post Formulas
|Engagement Formulas||Sales Formulas|
|Click like if…||When are you going to…?|
|Ask a question||Are you ready to…?|
|Share this||Check out our…|
|Guess what/where this is||Contest|
So how do you meld together these two Facebook posting approaches?
Ratio and Frequency
There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how many of your posts should engage or sell the dream versus how many should actually sell your products or services. Some go with this rule of thumb: four engagement posts and then one sales post. Your audience might be okay with more sales posts than that, or they might want less. One business I’ve previously mentioned does four engagement and one sales post per day. Another business sells one homeware per day, and almost all its posts are sales-oriented and no one has a problem with it.
But if you’re not sure, start with one post per day, mostly engagement oriented, and do one or two sales posts per week. You can look at your sales records to see which days of the week you sell best on, and do the sales posts that day or the day before.
I think you’re missing an opportunity if you don’t post every day, but there are exceptions. If you really run out of post ideas, it might be better to wait a day or two than post something inane. On certain holidays, almost nobody is online, so it might not be worth it to post then either.
Some businesses are seasonal and the customers aren’t buying all year long, so you might not be able to sing the same tune all year. But I would advise against taking weeks or months off posting because of EdgeRank’s time decay factor—otherwise, you might come back to posting and be reaching fewer people. Find things to talk about in the off-season. Even a summer vacation spot can show its fans wintertime photos and possibly get them to visit twice a year instead of once. If you know when people buy, you have a big advantage. For example, I know that most people who go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, book their vacations in January and February. The resorts there can start selling the beach dream while everyone in the Midwest is stuck in their cubicles and sick of the snow.
Ideas for Posting
Some businesses with fans see good sales right away. Others have to work at it, especially those with longer sales cycles.
How often do regular customers buy from you? If they buy every three months, then expect new fans to take three months until they’re ready to buy. Your goal in that three months is to build awareness and a relationship so that, come decision time, that relationship and their knowledge of your offerings will be a strong influence to purchase.
Some of your fans might never have bought what you offer online. So, follow these suggestions:
- Post why it’s good to buy online.
- Post why you’re better than other online stores.
- Find previous customers with positive feedback whom you can quote.
Put a link to your website in more of your posts. If you get more likes and comments, you’ll get more impressions. Let’s say you’re getting 15,000 to 20,000 per post. You should be able to get one to two percent of those to click to the site if there’s a link. That means you could get perhaps 200 site visitors per day and 1,400 per week. So create posts that give a reason for people to like, comment, and click. Here’s an example:
- “Click over and check out this product: [link]. Do you LIKE it? What would you do if you owned it?”
Here are some posts that get people thinking and talking about products:
- “What’s the most important product for…?”
- “What ________ products do you like or dislike?”
- “Do you have trouble finding products for…?”
- “Do you buy _______ online?”
- “Are you ready to…?”
Another clever way to bring business into the picture without being so in-your-face that you turn people off is to talk about what’s going on in your business. Not all companies are willing to be this transparent, but it can be a big advantage.
Here are some examples:
- German shepherd puppy breeder: “Essie seems to be stalled with her labor… recommendation for a C-section tomorrow morning….” More than 1,000 fans had been following Essie through her pregnancy. Daily photo posts remind potential buyers every day that new puppies are coming. (Essie was fine and gave birth to eight pups.)
Vacation rental company: “We are almost all booked up for May and June. We’re actually looking into buying a couple of other properties to meet demand. If you haven’t booked yet, you can call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx.” This bragging post creates urgency due to scarcity. If you’ve been watching this company and thinking about booking but haven’t yet, you’ll probably jump on the phone at this point.
Attorney: “Great settlement in one of our cases today. A very happy client!”
Chiropractor: “Trying out our new massage table myself today, and boy is it nice. Next time you come in, you can use it, too!”
Association: “Just over 5,000 people attended our national conference this weekend. Great time! We’re going to be putting on a bunch of local get-togethers over the next few months, too. Click here to check them out: (link)”
Feedback Rate and Sales Posts
Anytime you ask people to click on a link in a post, whether you’re sending them to a blog post or to a product on a e-commerce website, your feedback rate will look low. The feedback rate only counts like and comments. Facebook doesn’t say they count clicks on other links you add to posts, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do, or will in the future. Anyway, don’t freak out that your sales posts have lower feedback rates—that’s normal.
Engagement just asks people to participate around shared interests. Sales formulas try to get people to give up their money. There is definitely a gray area because you can get people to engage around your products and services, and you can send people to innocent-looking informative blog posts that are surrounded by sales messages.
Whenever you’re in doubt, you can ask your fans whether they like some of your approaches better than others. Just take the feedback with a grain of salt, though, because some of your fans might never buy from you. You can phrase it more specifically like this: “If you’ve bought something from us because of our Facebook posts, tell us what you bought and why.” That way, you’ve eliminated the opinions of those who aren’t really your customers.