In January this year (2018), Facebook made a supposedly huge announcement, telling us that pretty much all business page Facebook posts will stop appearing on people’s news feeds, and instead posts which involved discussions between people, would be prioritised. This article explains what the changes are to Facebook pages, why they’ve happened and what you should be doing through your Facebook page to harness the huge marketing and business growth potential it still offers your business.
January’s announcement sent shockwaves through many in the digital marketing community; however, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. As far back as 2012, Facebook started cutting back on the number of organic posts (unpaid posts) it was showing on the news feeds of page fans and followers. In fact, in 2012 they throttled it right back to only showing about 16% of the posts that were published on your Facebook pages (if you posted 10 new posts only 1.5 of them would be seen by your page followers). By 2016 it was down to less than 2% and in 2017, well basically it pretty much fizzled out.
So while the reality of what that means settles in, hopefully it will at least help to answer a couple of questions that I’m asked frequently:
Answer = Very few people ever even see what you’re posting, which explains why engagement is generally pretty low/non-existent, especially if not many people follow your page. It's also why you will never be able to bombard your page followers with too much stuff! Because Facebook won't show it to them!
This might make you feel better about why it’s so hard to get engagement. The average engagement (ie. like, comment, share) of a post on Facebook in 2017 was 0.14–0.17. In other words, it’s extremely hard, virtually impossible in fact, to get anyone to engage with anything with your page content.
That said, you can grow engagement over time, especially if you consistently publish good quality content on your page. As more people interact, Facebook will show more of it.
Money – as always! Facebook’s business model relies on people having a great user experience. They want people to spend as much time as possible on the site. However, as business owners began to realise how much potential Facebook had as a marketing tool, it became flooded with low quality content that people either weren’t interested in, or content that’s commonly known as ‘clickbait’, the attention grabbing stuff that leads you away from Facebook to an outside web page.
The low quality content wasn’t good for the user experience, and meant people began disengaging and spending less time on Facebook, and the clickbait usually took people off Facebook altogether. As you can appreciate, both outcomes were bad news for Facebook because the only way they can sell ads is if they have highly engaged, active users spending more and more time on the site.
On the contrary! Here are six reasons why your Facebook page is still an extremely valuable marketing tool.
People are on Facebook, over 2 billion of them as it happens, including 70% of the UK population, so unless most of your work involves people at either end of the age spectrum, your customers are most likely to be on there. And if they're on there, you can get to them (more shortly)!
These days people are just as (if not more) likely to check your Facebook page than they are your website. If your Facebook page is either inactive, or full of dull, uninspiring posts … well there’s a good chance that visitor is going to look elsewhere for a business with a more dynamic presence, irrespective of how good you or your team’s clinical skills are.
So it is increasingly important that you publish good engaging content on your Facebook page, that builds authority and credibility, but is also engaging, and wherever possible offers value.
If you combine your social media posts with offering access to high value resources through email lead collection forms, you can use your social networks as part of your email list building strategy. This is so often neglected, but in my view is arguably the most important role of your social network pages (especially if you combine it with some Facebook ads). Just make sure that your high value offers are authentic, genuinely helpful and good quality, so they reflect well on you and your business.
Think of your website as an online brochure, it’s glossy, formal and functional, answering commonly asked questions (and ideally also providing value-added information that help build your authority and reputation like blog posts (among other things)).
Your Facebook page gives you the opportunity to express your personality (or the personality of your business) a bit more. It is more like dropping in for a coffee and a chat, but not in real time (thankfully). It gives people the opportunity to get to know you and your team (if you have one) and engage in your business in a less formal setting. This is an invaluable tool for developing relationships and when moving cold ‘leads’ ie. people who know little or nothing about you, towards becoming paying customers.
Customer testimonials is one of the most important search engine ranking factors, as well as one of the most powerful reasons people will choose to do business with you. The more Facebook and Google reviews you have, the higher you are likely to rank in search rankings and the greater the chance that people will choose your business over a local competitor.
Take these statistics for example:
Facebook advertising is, without exception, the most powerful marketing tool that we have ever had at our disposal, and that’s likely to last at least for the foreseeable future (as far as one can foresee technology that is!).
Once upon a time we had to rely on putting ads in either special interest magazines that were distributed nationally, or in regional or local generalist magazines - each option would mean that only a very small percentage of the total number of readers would even be relevant for your offering, let alone take action and express and interest.
With Facebook ads, you can target specifically by interest narrowed down to people living within as little as a couple of kilometres or miles from you place of work. It's crazily easy to build an email list of people that are almost guaranteed to respond to a well-pitched offer.
It's a phenomenally powerful tool, particularly for local businesses. And if you're not doing it, then you can bet your competitors are, so the slower you get to the start line, the further you risk falling behind.
And in order to run Facebook ads, you need a Facebook page.
I put together a series of short videos taking you through all the key aspects of running Facebook ads specifically for email lead generation purposes.
It takes you through: what the Facebook Pixel is and how to get it installed; an overview of the ads structure in Facebook, what you control and at what level; how to set up an ad step by step; how to collect leads through your ads; how to boost high performing posts to increase your lead collection; how to create custom audiences and why they're important and much more.
You can access the course it at this link -just register a free account if you don't already have one, or log in if you do.
Here are three things you should absolutely start doing now, to use Facebook effectively for your business.
1. Use paid ads on Facebook to build your prospective customer lists and collect data that you can use outside Facebook to grow your business. Be mindful that you are building a house on rented property (ie. you don’t own or have control of it) so just because you have fans and followers now, doesn’t mean you will have in a year’s time.
What does that mean in real terms? Use Facebook to target people and collect things of real value that you can use in your everyday business. For example offer (and pay to promote) value-added resources for download in exchange for an email address.
2. Use Facebook to build relationships and move cold ‘leads’ of people who don’t know you, to becoming familiar ‘warm’ leads.
Practically, that could mean using your Facebook page to start conversations around topics of concern or doing live question-and-answer events on a regular basis, or on a specific topic where people can visit your page and get advice. If you have a team, get them involved too. It doesn’t have to take long, and it’s a valuable chance to build relationships and establish authority.
3. Use it to support existing customers and build a community that’s wider than just your own clients. Think of turning it into a digital version of a pub or church. It’s all about community. This is your chance to shine and take a lead in your local community.
You could set up Facebook groups (posts from which do appear on people’s news feeds) around certain topics and encourage people who are active on social media to contribute and help support the group. The groups could get as niche as you like, for example a low back pain group, or pregnant mothers, or any groups where you have a significant number of patients, and particularly those who are socially active. Facebook groups is a great opportunity, that I’ve written more about (see Related Content).
Use your groups to encourage discussion and participation, but again without being spammy, turn those contacts into real email leads by adding the occasional document that people will give their email address in return for downloading.
We've produced a practical guide explaining exactly how to do this here: Download the step by step guide at this link
Facebook Groups - The Powerful Business Growth Back Door that Facebook Left Open for Businesses
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Tor began her professional life training as a physiotherapist at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, UK. She went on to complete a BSc in Sport & Exercise Science at the University of Birmingham whilst also achieving a WTA international tennis ranking.
After graduation she worked for a London marketing agency and then moved into medical journalism where her passion for publishing was born.
At 27 she established sportEX medicine, a quarterly journal for general practitioners focusing on sport and exercise medicine.
sportEX grew into an internationally known journal for all sports medicine practitioners, including physical and manual therapists; articles covered the practical application of evidenced-based research alongside professional development with expert contributors drawn from across the world of medicine and rehabilitation.
With a passion for technology as well as publishing and sport, Tor's leadership grew sportEX into the Co-Kinetic journal and website which included a more collaborative, royalty-based form of publishing as well as a wider content remit. As well as the quarterly magazine Co-Kinetic, offerings now include e-learning opportunities, breaking clinical research infographics, marketing kits for therapists, business growth tools, and a business discount club.
Tor's focus is providing resources to help practitioners and therapists develop their businesses and to work more efficiently and effectively, a topic that she speaks regularly on at global conferences.
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