• What happened to your Facebook following, and how to get it back

    November 14, 2012 by Tom

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    The Tweet above is from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who claimed that Facebook wanted to charge him $3,000 to reach one million people via a promoted post. He declined, then took his beef to Twitter. He even threatened to take his brand to Tumblr or the soon-to-be-relaunched MySpace instead.

    In the few years since Facebook became publicly available, it has attracted countless companies and brands to its evolving “pages” feature. But a recent evolution has brands facing losing touch with their fans unless they are willing to pay for the social network’s new monetization plan.

    Business Insider explains:

    [Cuban's] anger comes as a result of changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which have taken place throughout 2012 for brands. EdgeRank controls which Facebook posts are seen by most fans in their news feeds. In general, only a small minority of posts are seen by all fans; Edgerank discriminates in favor of engaging posts and against spam posts.

    You’ve probably noticed many of the pages you liked on Facebook are desperately posting instructions about how to keep seeing their posts. The first round suggested adding them to your “interest lists”, but that proved to be a useless hoax.

    As Raven explains:

    What’s wrong about it:

    Even before Promoted Posts, a brand’s posts were pretty much never seen by 100% of its fans. Between all your friends’ posts and the posts of the Fan Pages you like (I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of a ridiculous 311 pages), you’d have to stay on Facebook non-stop to see all that’s happening.

    Facebook “fixes” this by using a process called Edgerank. Edgerank weighs each post by what type it is (status update, video, etc.), how recent it was posted and how often you interact with the poster to decide whether or not you’ll see it on a given visit.

    What’s really wrong about it:

    The bad news is that asking fans to create an Interest List won’t solve the problem – or at least not fully.

    Interest Lists allow you to group together updates about similar topics, like music, local restaurants, etc. or suscribe to others’ lists devoted to topics you like.

    Once you create or subscribe to one, they appear along the left of a user’s news feed verrrry far down of the page…

    I’ll admit, I fell for it too.

    The new advice circulating is for fans to use an opt-in feature of brand pages called “Get Notifications” to subscribe to all posts:

    The problem with this is that brands are faced with the need to convince fans to effectively “Like” them all over again. Otherwise, their FB page admins are faced with a daily reminder that their individual posts are reaching fewer and fewer of their opt-in fans — along with the “Promote” call-to-action:

    But is this fair to brands? Here is the official Facebook response:

    Is Facebook “gaming” news feed so I pay for more ads to extend my messages’ reach?

    While we make changes to news feed occasionally, the fundamental way it works has not changed. We mentioned earlier that news feed works to serve up messages – organic and paid – that people are most likely to interact with. Level of engagement with a message or ad is an important signal as to whether the message should be shown in more people’s news feeds.

    It’s important to note that we constantly monitor signals from people in news feed, not only when they engage with a story or ad, but also when they hide a person’s story or a Page’s ad that they might not want to see or report a story as spam. Taking these signals into account, from time to time we make adjustments to the ranking system of news feed to ensure that news feed stories continue to be as engaging as possible. We have done this in the past and will continue to make adjustments so that people see the most relevant stories to them, every time they log in.

    This doesn’t change the fundamental goal of what Pages should optimize for and what news feed surfaces: engaging stories, organic and paid. Regardless of whether you’re paying to promote a story or just posting one to your Page, the news feed will always optimize for stories that generate high levels of user engagement and filter out ones that don’t. So in Page Insights you may see that the organic reach of not-so-engaging posts is lower. Posts that get good organic engagement, however, should continue to achieve healthy reach.

    What this means for businesses is that monitoring what types of posts are getting good responses is key, and always has been. Use Page Insights to determine what types of content – videos, posts, questions, etc. – are getting good engagement versus what types aren’t. Take a look at our Page Publishing Guide for posting best practices, and make sure to use our Page post targeting features (more info below) so that you reach the audiences most likely to respond to your messages. And for posts that you see are getting a lot of responses, you can promote them to extend your reach to more news feeds.

    This is all important information. But for businesses, causes and brands on Facebook, the bottom line is that you are not reaching all of your fans, and the free medium you have been enjoying for the past few years wants you to pay for more influence now.

    You do have a choice, however, and that is to do the work to build your following back up. Follow your page analytics to identify what reached them most effectively.

    You can also share this with them:

    Along with the following information:

    As Facebook grows, fewer and fewer of our posts are reaching you. To receive everything we post, simply check the “Get Notifications” option under the “Liked” button. We appreciate your continuing support.

    Just be aware that instead of putting all your posts in the follower’s newsfeed, this feature will show up in their personal notifications feed, along with interactions, tags, and everything that’s been posted by his or her “Close Friends” (a similar opt-in feature for individuals). If your page posts incessantly, this could annoy them.

    You can follow Acart on Facebook at facebook.com/Acart. You know what to do…

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