Why does it have to be so hard?
I get the same two questions cropping up regularly.
"Why is it so hard to get people to react and engage with my posts"?
"But if I start posting on my Facebook page too regularly aren't I going to bombard my page followers who then may choose to 'unfollow' me?
The answer to both questions, even though they may seem to be unrelated, is the same and it lies in Facebook's business model.
Facebook's business model
Facebook’s ultimate goal is to ensure that every single individual has the best experience possible on Facebook. They want to keep people on their platform for as long possible, looking at as much content as possible, and as frequently as possible. If they can achieve this goal, then they have happy users and very happy advertisers spending lots of money because, while it may not have been Mark Zuckerberg's original mission, he and his team, have built the ultimate advertising platform.
Never before has EVERYONE, with access to the internet (and a Facebook account), had basically an equal opportunity to promote our goods and services to such a highly targeted and significantly sized group of people, anywhere in the world. What other advertising medium gives you access to more 2 billion people across every corner of the world ALONG WITH the ability to easily and cheaply run ads on it? More about that in a moment.
But the key to keeping this machine finely-tuned and effective for all users, is knowing how to deliver each individual content that will optimise and maximise their experience on Facebook. In order to achieve this, they have to show each user content that is most likely to keep them engaged (and active on Facebook). The mind boggles at how clever and complex this process is with over 2 billion users, but it relies exclusively on algorithms which learn about the sort of content you like to see, so it can deliver more of what you want, and less of what you don’t want.
The chances are however, that unfortunately your content is not going to be high up the list when you’re competing against the media giants publishing the kind of content that we all love to click on, in my case TED Talks, or ads for gadgets!
We think that when we publish a post on our Facebook page, ALL our followers will see it. Unfortunately that's a very, very, VERY long way away from the truth!
The decline of organic Facebook reach
(Definition: organic reach in social media terms means posts that are shown to people through unpaid distribution ie. you don't use paid advertising such as Google ads or in this case Facebook ads/Boosted posts etc.)
The harsh reality is, that for any post you publish, as few as 2% of your followers will see it (and quite probably even less by now after Facebook's Jan 2018 announcement)! Yup, shocking huh? In fact, some very reputable digital marketers believe that organic reach (as it's technically known), may be way lower than 2%, and it's likely that page post reach will drop off almost completely in 2018.
If we did go with the 2% rate, that means that if you have 100 followers and you publish one post a day, only 5 people will even see that post. Even if you have 500 followers, the most that will see it will be 20-25 people.
If you don’t believe me, have a read of this article by Hubspot, one of world’s most respected and well-known digital marketing companies. It’s called the decline in Facebook organic reach, Google it for yourself if you’re still disbelieving.
But this reason alone, is why it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to bombard your Facebook followers with too many posts AND also why it's so difficult to get people to engage.
And to make matters worse, did you know that the average engagement rate of a post in 2017, across the whole of Facebook is 0.17 (it varies slightly by industry and health is even lower at 0.14 - you can read more at this link)? So for each post you post, you've got a 0.14-0.17 chance of getting someone, anyone in fact, to interact with it! Maybe that helps start to explain why increasing engagement feels like trying to find the Holy Grail!
Added to which, on the 12th January 2018, Facebook moved the goalposts once again, by announcing that people's Facebook News Feeds going forward, would prioritise user-to-user interactions. Basically you'll see a lot more posts from your family and friends, and a lot fewer posts from companies and brands This is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's full announcement. This is bad news for Facebook pages Facebook still offers a HUGE opportunity which I've described in more detail the document at the link below).
Once the initial shock of this news and these numbers has sunk in I’m guessing you might be feeling one or more of the following emotions:
- Annoyance - "these people followed my page so surely I should have the right to ‘post’ to them?”
- Relief - “Phew, thank goodness it’s not my fault that I’m not getting much engagement on my posts, at least I’m not doing anything wrong."
- Defeat - ‘Well if that’s the case, I may as well just give up now.”
- Rebellion - “Right I’m just going to bombard my Facebook page with as much stuff as I can - and hope that at least some of it gets through.” (please don’t try this approach, we’ll explain why shortly)
- Frustration - “OK, if that’s the case, then what the h*ll am I supposed to do about it?”
Let me take a very quick diversion, because it’s relevant.
Beware of building a house on rented property
I quote this phrase often, particularly when it comes to social media, it’s been around since the invention of Web 2.0 and basically described the move towards the ‘interactive’ internet, user-generated content and the growth of social media. Basically, where internet users ie. us, could actually dynamically add and publish real content rather than just click on buttons of web pages and fill out the odd form.
But that means we’ve invested a lot of time, and very often also a lot of money, on things we don’t ‘own’, like the content on our Facebook pages. The trouble is, we don’t own our Facebook page, Facebook does. If they decided to take Facebook offline tomorrow night, for good, that’s it, all that content we’ve so painstakingly created and posted, along with those hard earned fans and followers would all be gone. It’s just like building a house on land we don’t own. If the landowner wants their land back, bye bye house!
OK, it’s unlikely that Facebook would go up in a puff of smoke (although with Trump at the helm anything is possible), but it is something we should be mindful of. Facebook changes things on its platform hundreds of times a month, it has to, to make sure advertisers keep spending money, and we have the best experience Facebook can give us, but who knows what the future brings.
This doesn't mean just ditching our Facebook page, because then we're cutting off our nose, to spite our face, but it does mean using it to generate real leads ie. collecting email addresses, that we actually own. And Facebook's has another major strength that we should be capitalising on, it's great for letting someone get to know you and for developing more personal relationships with people we might never have come across. And this is what we should be focusing on (and incidentally, something that we as health care providers, are ideally suited to doing.
The Facebook 'gold rush'
Facebook is a MASSIVE opportunity. Even if you hate it personally (which I confess at times I do), your customers are on there.
If you don’t believe me, check these stats out. Facebook has more than 2.07 billion active users as of 2017.
Find more statistics at Statista
Forty four million of those users are based in the UK, that’s just under 70% of our total population.
And unless we specialise on working with the very young, or the very old, our clients and patients are on there, this is how it breaks down by age range.
Find more statistics at Statista
But the most powerful opportunity of all, is that we can get to them. And we can get to them in the most focused, targeted, strategic way that’s EVER been possible, while sitting behind a computer, potentially hundreds of miles away.
I wrote a short and quite simple article which explains just how powerful Facebook ads can be when used as part of a bigger-picture marketing strategy, but I can say for sure that I will be writing several more over the coming year, because this is a ‘here and now' opportunity. Nobody knows what the future brings, especially when developments happen at supersonic speed in the digital world, but right now, if you want to grow your business, and even more so as a local business, advertising on Facebook is arguably the best single weapon at your disposal.
Stop chasing the wrong goal!
Most people are obsessed with building followers but it’s not followers that matter, it’s engagement and relationships.
Think it through logically, if we have a small number of followers who are highly engaged (meaning they like, comment and best of all share your content), they can have a considerably greater effect on the distribution and reach of your content, than a totally unengaged audience that may be in the 1,000s.
This is a massive topic, and one that we’ll cover in more detail in future, but the first piece of advice I’d offer would be to start concentrating on building engagement and developing relationships.
The more people that engage with your content, the more likely it is to be posted on walls (the changes might be indiscernible to our human eye and they may not happen fast, but they’re built in to Facebook’s algorithm and over time, that effect will grow).
If more people are sharing, and your post engagement is going up, your content will be seen by more people, which in turn increases the potential for additional engagement and inevitably will bring you more followers.
The trouble is that building engagement is hard. Incredibly hard. In fact, most of the time it probably feels completely out of reach or so far in the distance, you can’t see it - which is exactly why people fall back into the trap of focusing on follower numbers.
What is social media engagement?
Simply: Like, Comment and Share
Increasing engagement does take time and effort but it is very achievable if you think smart.
Download our Step by Step Implementation Guide on how to use Facebook to grow your business in 2018, despite the decline of Facebook Pages.