I also recommend reading this great link to the article titled, The “Like” Economy: Major Retailers Offer Holiday Deals on Social Networks” by Ian Paul over at PCWorld.
Why Facebook "Doesn't Work" For Your Business
These days, many marketers have been getting very frustrated with Facebook's apparent lack of ability to deliver on the grand promise of being the place where 1 billion potential customers spend six hours a day on average. Some marketers and small businesses are frustrated with what they perceive as a new "Pay to Play" model where Facebook won't show your content to hardly anyone unless you pay to promote posts, sponsor stories, or take out PPC ads. Although Facebook seems like it was the best thing for business since Google Search, it's definitely changing…or is it? In this article, I'm going to answer a few of the most common questions I hear all the time. Fear not, though…all hope is not lost, and Facebook really does have our best interests in mind. Here's my personal and professional advice for the most commonly-asked questions concerning marketers (and a few bonus questions & answers after those):
Facebook Post Visibility and the EdgeRank Algorithm:
This has actually been going on for a while. It's been quite a while since everyone has seen every post every page has created. These days, though, with all the metrics readily available on every post, and the new extensive Insights stats and facts, you know more about your content than ever before. This is a good thing. Before, maybe you thought people were seeing your posts, but you had no metrics to back that up. These days, you can see how minimal and ineffective content can be at times. Analyze and learn from this, but don't blame Facebook for giving you a free place which allows you to promote your business for free and never charges you for access privileges.
More and more people are liking more and more pages and friending more and more people, so you couldn't possibly see everything everyone posts, even if you wanted to (unless you spent even more time on Facebook). The EdgeRank algorithm basically pushes what it considers to be the "most important" content to your News Feed (unless someone, of course, pays to push it there), based on what is essentially popularity scores for everything you post, and the person viewing the post and the relationship they have with your page. I could write all of this out in greater detail, but here's a great website (http://edgerank.net) that already explains exactly what EdgeRank is, how it works, and why you aren't going to see every post from every page and friend.
Many social media experts will tell you that the key to overcoming this is through publishing great content. While that's mostly true, there are always ways to cut corners. For example, brand page admins will post pictures (sometimes irrelevant to their business) and ask you to "Like this if you agree," and "Like if you think such and such, or Comment if you disagree." These are ways that most Facebook content creators are cheating the algorithm. It works, so I would suggest finding a way to do those things but in a relevant way, so your interaction is going to be from customers and potential customers. Facebook figures that the more people clicking "Like" and commenting on a post means that it's popular. Therefore, by having a lot of likes and comments, Facebook page admins are gaming the system to increase their EdgeRank value. However, just like KeyWord stuffers and black hat SEO, Facebook will eventually find a way around that. Just like Google, Facebook doesn't benefit from allowing mediocre or irrelevant content into your News Feed. Which is why they created their EdgeRank algorithm in the first place.
Solution? Still worry about creating great content. All you can do is what you're supposed to do. When Circle Marketing does SEO for clients, we never do black hat nor gray hat techniques, so when Google changes their algorithm, our sites never take the hit. If anything, they improve. Keep that same philosophy with Facebook posts.
Another solution for Facebook marketing: When you promote a post, or sponsor a post, keep in mind your target market. Of course, this is generally speaking, but basically if you are a B2B site you want to make your promoted post or sponsored story visible only to those who like your page, and focus on Facebook Ads to get new Likes. Why? Because if you are a B2B company, someone's friends might not be the target market you're looking for, whereas with B2C you are OK with setting "people who like my page and their friends" because if one person likes a product it's likely their friends could be interested as well. Paid outreach costs money, obviously, and part of making money is not spending money. Therefore, spend your ad dollars efficiently, use laser-focused targeting and stretch those dollars out so that you're giving yourself maximum opportunity to make, not waste, money.
Bonus Facebook Usability FAQ's:
Posting Something Twice:
This happens from time to time. It's happened to me a lot in the past. I believe it has something to do with Facebook being a "live" website where we're all posting in real time and sometimes there are lags in either our own internet bandwidth, or Facebook's bandwidth, which cause some posting issues. Most of the time this happens when someone hits "post" but there's lag so they hit "post" again, even though Facebook received the information and was processing it (albeit slowly) so there's a double post sent.
I Want to See Every Post From Everyone:
Then make Interest Lists, then go to the pages you want to see every post from, and add them to your interest list. For example, to get more advice like this, just go to www.fb.com/circlemktg and click the little "gear" icon to the right of our "like" button. Then select "Add to Interest list..." in the drop-down menu. You will then be prompted to add that page to your lists, or create a new list. When you're in your News Feed now, you'll see "Interests" in the left hand column (most likely under Pages and Apps) with that new list. When there are updates to the pages in those lists, you'll see blue numbers appear and you'll be able to click and view everything from those Interest Lists.
If you want to see more of pages you "like" without going through everything above, just visit the pages, and interact with them more. Like their posts, comment on their posts, etc, and you'll start automatically getting their posts in your News Feed.
Short Links - A Bonus Tip:
Last tip, and this is a great bonus for marketers who might not be aware of this: Facebook owns fb.com and has set up their servers to re-direct anything sent to fb.com to facebook.com. Why is this awesome? Less letters to type! Yay. Now you can use what is essentially Facebook's own URL shortener to link to your page. For example, I always tell people to go to "fb.com/CircleMktg" instead of "http://www.facebook.com/CircleMktg"…awesome, right? Now it will fit on your business cards.
I hope those tips serve you well, and help clear up some of the confusion around how "Facebook doesn't work," because Facebook does work. Maybe just not in ways you may have been hoping it does. Last thing to leave you with is the fact that if one person can do something then another can do that same thing. If people are already selling their products and services and making money on Facebook, then you can, too. If you aren't, then you don't have an optimal strategy to do so and before blaming Facebook, see if there's a thing or two…or three…you can be doing to create the most efficient and effective marketing plan you can execute.
To learn even more from Louis, check out this webinar on 12.12.12 that we are doing together over at Broadcast Louder, 13 Ways to a Bigger Business in 2013!