In recent months we’ve seen uproar amongst brands; page owners were beginning to notice significant drops in engagement and web traffic driven by Facebook, and the worst part? These drops seemed to coincide with Facebook’s Promoted Posts feature. It has been suggested that changes in the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm are a move to monetise audiences and force brands to invest in promoted posts in order to reach fans.
This got us thinking, how would Batman deal with this? If he wanted to reach his fans what would he do? He’d use the Bat Signal, of course! So, what’s your Bat Signal? Your social content!
Paul Chaney of Bizzuka has highlighted a great formula to help balance your social content:
- 70% of your content should relate to your fan’s interests
- 20% should be other people’s content, allow fans to post to your page
- 10% should be promotional – use words like ‘win’ and ‘giveaway’ or ‘new’ but don’t bombard your fans with promotions as this will be viewed as spam
By allowing your fans to post to your page and regularly mining their conversations you can unearth trends and preferences to find out what your audience really think and care about.
“Great story, Granddad, do you have time to tell another?”
Don’t kid yourself, your fans don’t care about your ‘unique story’ – they care about their own problems and goals so unless you are offering them something they need or want you can kiss goodbye to any type of engagement. Your fans care about how you will solve their problems and offer them a service that benefits them personally, use your audience as a focus group to establish what type of content they want and manipulate everything you do into a question that provokes a response.
Listening and engaging in dialogue, including customer service, with your audience leads naturally into iteration of the process. You will organically fall into a structure of measuring metrics, listening to fans, analysis, and evolution, social strategies should continually evolve to meet the demands of your fans.
Unfortunately, even if you’ve managed to build a huge audience, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are ‘winning’ in social media terms. Unless that huge audience is engaging with you, and therefore seeing your content, you aren’t getting anywhere – a fact that super confectionaire Cadbury picked up on this year.
Despite having an epic amount of followers (almost 1million), they were disappointed to find that a mere 16% of their following army ever saw the content they were posting. In order to push their fans over the 1million mark and test how much they could increase their engagement Cadbury decided to build a giant ‘like’ thumb. Of course.
In the run up to the big reveal the brand used teaser ads on their Facebook page that included a countdown – the intention wasn’t to get people to share the content, but to see whether people would come back to the page to see what was going on.
The build was then live streamed in a studio that was filled with user-generated content and photos and to prove the stream was live the team regularly responded to fan comments and requests in the video. One super fan was even given the opportunity to place the last chunk!
Dairy Milk Brand Manager, Sarah Lindley said “it was a way to show it was real and that (Cadbury) aren’t just a brand team of marketers, (they) are people that want to interact with you.” By giving their fans something to come back to the page for Cadbury increased their engagement rate to 33%, giving them an audience that was more likely to respond to future campaigns.
So, your audience isn’t engaging with you? Not everyone has the budget that Cadbury do, so how would you like some easy peasy tips that’ll get the conversation flowing? You can thank us later.
- Posts that feature images encourage 39% more interaction than average.
- Like short skirts, short Facebook posts receive interaction rates that are 27% higher than average. (Try 80 characters or less)
- Asking fans to caption your photos increases comments 5.5 times.
- Asking fans to ‘fill in the blank’ receives 9 times more comments that other posts.
- Use emotions Everyone loves a smiley face and posts that use emoticons have a 57% higher like rate, a 33% higher comment rate, and a 33% higher share rate.
- Don’t use URL shorteners! Buddy Media conducted a study that showed that posts using full length URLs had engagement rates that were three times higher than posts using shortened links. Would you get on a bus if you didn’t know where it was going?
- Timing is everything: your post NEEDS to be at the top of the newsfeed so make sure you are posting at optimum times. Bit.ly data has shown that the best time to post is 3pm on a Wednesday and click through rates are highest on links posted between 1pm and 4pm. Posting on Thursday and Friday shows engagement rates that are 18% higher than the rest of the week and Dan Zarella of Hubspot found that if likes are your goal then you should be posting on the weekend.
- Don’t post whilst another post is still receiving a continuous stream of engagement.
- Quality not Quantity – don’t overcrowd the newsfeed with your updates.
- Use promoted posts to boost EdgeRank in the run up to a competition. This newly engaged audience will then be more receptive to your competition.
- Ask questions!! Using a question at the end of a post increases engagement 15% more than when a question is used at the beginning of a post, and posts which feature ‘would’ encourage the most likes.
- Another simple way to master Facebook’s EdgeRank is to simply ask your fans to change their newsfeed preferences. By getting your fans to add your brand page to their ‘interest list’ they will automatically start seeing more of your posts.
- Be George Takei. Best known for playing Sulu in Star Trek, George’s Facebook page frequently shows an engagement rate that is higher than 100% (the average engagement rate is only 2%) How does he do this you ask? Well, for one, he is George Takei. Secondly, George uses consistency and humour to win over the masses. You might not be a celebrity, but make like George and offer fans great content on a regular basis.
Why so serious? If you are Batman, Facebook is the joker. These simple tips should help you fight back, just like The Dark Knight.
The Bigger Picture
Some of us remember a time when old school Google search results were extremely low quality, and very easily gamed. In order to give the people what they want (READ: need) Google were forced to evolve. Facebook are effectively now evolving in the same way, using their own algorithms, to move away from their primitive free-for-all newsfeeds to a much more targeted feed.
In effect, Facebook being ‘broken’ might not be such a bad thing. It might not be broken at all. Controversial, I know, but hear me out.
If you logged into your personal Facebook account and your newsfeed was an equal opportunity space then the likelihood is that you would see a hell of a lot of new babies and Farmville updates. Do you really like babies and Farmville that much? Or would you rather see something that interests you personally? We should be viewing the changes in Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm as less of a kidnapper hijacking your precious fans and more as helping hand to ensure that the fans you are reaching see your content as relevant. EdgeRank is a feature that Facebook have utilised for a long time, it’s nothing new and Facebook Ads Engineer, Phillip Zigoris took to the Facebook blog to write that “regardless of whether you’re paying to promote a story or just posting one to your Page, the news feed will always optimise for stories that generate high levels of user engagement and filter out ones that don’t.”
The more time we spend moaning about changes to Facebook’s algorithm the less time we have to evolve our social strategies to work with the algorithm. If we evolve along with Facebook our product or service will reach an audience that is specifically targeted, an audience that is more likely to invest their time and money in what your brand offers.
Social is evolving, just like search. Work with it, not against it.