The Facebook Fan Page Apocalypse And How Your Business Can Come Through It Unscathed

The Facebook Fan Page Apocalypse And How Your Business Can Come Through It Unscathed

If you follow the financial news, you might have noticed that Facebook’s stock took a bit of a dip recently as the company announced some dramatic changes to how it delivers content to users in their News Feed. You can read more about the changes here, but in summary, Facebook is trying to provide more content for friends and family and less from brands and advertisers. Facebook wants people to interact more with the content they do see, which tends to happen when viewing stuff from people they know.

What does this mean for your business? Let’s go through the critical thing you needs to know as well as some recommendations.

Fewer People Will Be Seeing Your Fan Page Posts Over The Next Several Months

Years ago Facebook urged business owners to spend money accumulating “likes” on their pages so that when they post something on their page, a reasonable number of people would see the post. If you had accumulated 1,000 likes five years ago, that might mean that 10% of those people or 100 would see a post you put out about your latest special of the day. People refer to the degree to which fans see a post as the post’s “visibility” or “reach.”

Now post visibility is not the same for each Fan Page or post. The more people who respond positively to your post by liking, commenting, or sharing it, the more likely that users see the post. This “post engagement” will continue to be an essential factor in getting your posts seen, maybe even more so since Facebook is trying to get people to interact with posts more. If you have an in-house team of social media managers, I am sure they will have highlighted this point to you at some point.

You don’t want your posts hidden like this cat!

However, over the last five years, the baseline rate of post visibility has dropped markedly. A page that received 10% visibility 5 years ago might only receive 1% or less today depending on the amount of engagement on the page. Local businesses have not seen their visibility cut as much as national brands over the years. That apparently is changing. I have heard some suggest that total page visibility may tumble to as low as 0.5% over the coming months whether you run a national brand or a local business page.

If you have built up a substantial audience of say 10,000 or more likes, you have likely received a lot of free traffic from Facebook over the years if you post interesting posts frequently. Expect that to change over the coming months. Many are referring to it as the Facebook Fan Page Apocalypse or some variant of that. There is one principle way to prevent this from happening.

The Message From Facebook: It Is Time To Pay To Play

The most cynical among us believe that the changes to organic page reach are primarily due to Facebook’s desire to generate more ad revenue from businesses. Local businesses, in particular, have gotten a lot of “free” advertising over the years from their Fan Pages and Facebook apparently wants these users to start paying for some of the value they see from their platform.

I think things are more complicated than that though. There has been a proliferation of Facebook Fan Pages over the years, in addition to more paid ads run. By definition, no one can receive the same reach they got five years ago because they are competing with so many other pages and businesses now. Organic visibility had to go down. At the same time, the proliferating business messages could have crowded out a lot of personal shared content, prompting Facebook to make this change.

For whatever reason, the reality is “pay to play” for Facebook Fan Pages going forward. Now, to some extent, this has been the case since organic reach has started to decline many years ago. There is not that much new here, only an acceleration of an existing trend. When our social media team comes in to run a Fan Page, we usually will spend money on ads out of our fee to increase the visibility of the posts we make on behalf of a business. The good news is it has not cost much – maybe $10 – $30 a month on behalf of a client to get the post visibility they need to create engagement with a page.

There are two reasons this is true. The first is that ads on Facebook are pretty cheap because there is so much traffic available on the platform. While the exact amount varies widely based on the engagement of the post, you are looking at somewhere in the ballpark of $5-$10 for every 1,000 people that see your ad. That beats TV and billboard advertising!

The second thing is that when you spend a little money on ads promoting posts that are engaging, you are more likely to get likes and shares on the post which pulls up its organic reach. So it is a leverage effect where you are getting more than you paid for out of an ad.

To show you an example, here is a case study of a new business we took over right after the Facebook announcement. We have their permission to use the results as a case study, but we have anonymized them to protect their privacy. They had a total of 663 page likes the day we started on 1/17/18. Here is a post that we did a post engagement ad for soon after:

A total of 1,428 unique saw the ad. 848 were from the ad itself (under “Paid”). However, you will see that the post had an “Organic” reach of 588. Note: there were eight people reached both organically and through the ad which is the reason the unique reach is 1,428 instead of the total of 1,436. In total, the 588 organic reach means close to 90% of the number of people who liked the page saw this in the News Feed for free! Not all these will be people who liked your page due to likes and shares of people who interacted with the post spreading it to their friends.

Facebook wants more of this!

The way to think of it is that paid post ads prime the ad to perform much better organically. So you are getting more from your ad than just the impressions you purchased. This same expansion happens with other types of ads that have a high engagement; this is one of the benefits of advertising on the Facebook platform when done correctly.

I will mention, we are one of the few agencies that invest money for our clients to do this. I see a lot of Fan Pages which are professionally run based on the posts they are making (or the business owner is just good at Facebook). But I see between 1 and ten likes on the post, often in the very low single digits. They are just posting and hoping that is will pull through the feed. But their engagement is practically nothing. They are just wasting the money of the business that paid them to post on their page.

In contrast the post above got 43 likes and a bunch of comments from that 1,428 reach. “Pay to play” done properly plus an engaging post has been and will continue to be the secret to seeing the type of activity on a Facebook page that can bring customers into your business.

Now, how much the “organic” side of this equation changes over the next few months as the new algorithm is rolled out, I do not know. I suspect that those spending money on ads will continue to get a nice boost; I am just not sure how much. It also might require investing a little more in ads. For that reason, we are telling businesses that are lowest cost and activity social media management plan might not be a great way to go in the future. The next few months will tell.

Institute A Facebook Check-In Program

If you want to get the most organic reach without paying anything for Facebook ads, then institute a Facebook Check-In Program. If you are a local business that is already paying for ads, you should consider doing this as well.

Here is how it works. When you enable “Check-Ins” on your Facebook Page, a customer can come into your business and go to your Facebook page and “Check-In” there. This action shares the post on the News Feed of their friends. Right now Check-Ins are getting massive organic reach, and this falls directly in line with Facebook’s policy of sharing more content from friends and family. This promotion is the type of strategy that fits right in line with what Facebook wants businesses to do to interact with fans.

The other incredible thing about these programs is that when someone Checks-In, it is a form of referral marketing. Someone they know is in your business, presumably willing to share it publicly as a recommendation. That is a way of instantly establishing trust with a person who potentially has never even heard of you before.

But how do you get people actually to check in to your business? You provide them a very modest incentive. Put out a sign that says “10% discount on your ticket if you Check-In on Facebook” or “extra-sized drink if you Check-In on Facebook.” The display should also have a concise explanation on how to do this as not everyone knows about Check-Ins. Then just have your cashier or other staff member observe them checking in to validate the discount.

This strategy works exceptionally well! If you do not believe me, just try it for a week. You should get enough in customers to justify whatever modest discount you give.

Avoid Click-bait Like the Plague

If you have a dedicated social media team in place, this will be something that you will want to communicate to them. The best managers will know already; but, do not take anything for granted. The most recent Facebook algorithm is explicitly targeting click-bait to penalize the organic reach of pages using it to reach more people.

What is click-bait? Have you ever seen a post like “Click here if you are a Bama fan,” “Vote: Bernie or Hillary” or “Click Here if You are a Pisces?” People love sharing their opinions online, and these are instant ways to guarantee people interact with your posts. That then increases your engagement score and reach. Facebook noticed that people were doing this to get more organic visibility.

The problem is, most of these posts occur on pages that are not even relevant to the topic at hand! Most of them add no value to the user either. I mean if you run a restaurant page, does it matter if the user s a Pisces or whether they support a particular candidate? On the other hand, if you are McDonald’s and get people to vote on a Big Mac versus a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, that is entirely relevant to the people who like your page.

So the basic rule is to be careful about posting click-bait. Make sure that when you do post stuff like this, it is topical to your page and useful to users.

Consider Cultivating A Fan Page Substitute

While Facebook Fan pages are on the way down regarding organic reach, there are other ways of reaching people consistently. From the feedback I have received, the algorithm will not penalize Facebook groups to the same extent that Facebook Fan Pages are. The problem with groups is that you cannot advertise to them. However, for some businesses, it might make sense to start a group and promote it to get that sustained engagement.

A Facebook Messenger list probably makes even more sense. Facebook has dramatically expanded its Messenger functionality. The open rate of Facebook Messenger is approximately 90%, which approaches that of text message marketing (which is the most efficient way of communicating with customers on an ongoing basis). Facebook has made it much easier to get people onto a Facebook Messenger list recently.

A great place for no cost ads!

For example, if you go into the Power Editor to create an ad now, you will have an option of sending someone a Messenger response sequence when they click a button like “Learn More” instead of sending them to a website address. You can then use Messenger “chatbots” to create a sales sequence that prompts the user to take action or directs them to an actual text conversation with a live representative.

Once they have interacted with your messenger bot, they join your Facebook Messenger list, which means you can send targeted blasts to them on a regular basis! If you have an extensive messenger list, that is going to serve you much better than a Fan Page ever did.

The Facebook Messenger chatbot is powerful technology that people are very efficiently using on their websites now. You can have a customer service window in the bottom right-hand corner of your site that people can interact with, get value from, all while opting in to receive Facebook Messenger blasts.

You also can get people into your Messenger list if they comment on a post that you make. The best way to do this is to run an ad that asks people to comment on something. If you make engaging posts on a regular basis, these should even accrue naturally over time.

Consider Spending Money On Targeted Conversion Ads

Since “pay to play” is the new name of the game, you might want to consider investing in a robust Facebook ads campaign instead of just promoting posts. While advertising posts can get you the type of visibility that you used to get from your old free posts on your Fan page (actually the reach is much better), the problem is that it is tough to track how well your ads are doing. You can post a tracking link to your page and see how many people are visiting your website from Facebook. However, if you get say 65 clicks in a week to your site, how many of those turned into customers? How many people came in without even checking out the website? More importantly, the types of posts you use to get engagement are not always the types that bring in the most customers.

A targeted ad, on the other hand, can generate very high returns on investment by putting an offer in front of a customer and then take them to a separate web page that you are only sending people who have seen that ad. Or, you can send them to a lead form where they directly sign up for service. At the end of the month, you can see exactly how much was spent on ads and exactly how many new customers you generated from those ads. You, therefore, know your exact return on investment. There is little to no guesswork involved. And when you have confidence the amount of money you are spending is producing positive return on investment, you can increase it and grow your business consistently until you reach a point of diminishing returns.

The Facebook Ad Every Business Should Be Doing

Let me give you a tangible example of how you can use Facebook ads to increase your business. Every day visitors come to your website. Most will leave. How do you get them back?

Simply install a Facebook conversion pixel on your website. It will “cookie” the visitors to your site, and then you can target them directly on Facebook to get them back to your business. You can provide them with a special offer, remind them about the product they were looking at, or even offer an alternative suggestion. The point is, you are building your brand while increasing the probability that the person takes action on the purchase they might have just forgotten to complete.

These ads are called retargeting ads, and you can read more about them by going to the following link: Retargeting: The Magic Ad That Recovers People Who Did Not Buy From Your Website.

The ROI on retargeting ads are the highest you are going to be able to get from paid advertising. However, that is not the only option. You can market to lookalike audiences, expand your reach through Facebook video view ads, boost your reputation by doing a “like” ad, and even do an external birthday marketing campaign to capitalize on your highest value customer. For more ideas of what you can with Facebook ads check out the 14 Tactics To Get New Customers Using Facebook report below.

DOWNLOAD REPORT: 14 Tactics To Get New Customers using Facebook Report

This quick four page guide will give you 14 ideas on how to grow your business with Facebook.

Click Here To Directly Download Your FREE Report

How To Maximize Facebook For Your Business – Our FREE Offer

If you are intrigued by the possibility of what Facebook ads can do for your business, you can schedule a free consultation with us by clicking the button below. We can answer your questions and determine what might be the best type of promotion for your business.

While we believe that Facebook ads are the best long-term solution for businesses who want to expand genuinely, we do offer page management services for local companies as well. For qualified companies that (1) have an existing Facebook page and have tried marketing on Facebook in the past, (2) are struggling to get their Facebook page engagement up because they either do not have the time to post or cannot get the reach they want, (3) are local based businesses (i.e. not national, network marketing, consulting etc.), and (4) we believe we can actually help, we do offer a free Facebook makeover and one week marketing trial as well. If you are interested in that, you can click the button below to schedule a talk with us to go to your page and see if you qualify.

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