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Socially Stephanie: Facebook Advertising and Declining Organic Reach
Posted on March 29th 2014
Dear Socially Stephanie,
With all this Facebook declining organic reach talk, I'm getting paranoid. Should I jump ship? Or should I start to look into some advertising options? I'm a bit lost and, frankly, freaked out. What are your recommendations?
Paranoid in Paramus
Dear Paranoid in Paramus,
You are right. Facebook organic reach is about to take a nose dive. While this will present a challenge for you and your marketing goals, this change also presents an opportunity. Because I'm Socially Stephanie, an optimist by nature, I'm going to give you some ideas to help you see the Facebook glass half full too.
First, the bad. Facebook is out for your money. It's a business. And businesses need money to survive. So what can we expect? Somewhere around a 1 to 2 percent reach of your total fans. Some are even speculating that reach can hit a big fat zero.
So you may be thinking, if I can only reach 1% of my fans on a good day, what's the point? You may very well be on to something there. If you only have a few fans, 1% can mean reaching no fans on any given post. So, you are going to have to pay to play and build your Fan page fast. If you aren't in it for the long-run, then I'd say ignore and neglect your Fan page and focus your time and energy on different networks that can help you increase your exposure, traffic and sales. Plus, there are other ways to utilize Facebook beyond just using your Fan page. We'll get into that soon, don't you worry.
Ok, the bad news is out of the bag. Now for the opportunity. Because many of your competitors are in the same exact situation, they are also going to have to make the decision of leave Facebook, or pay-to-play. Many may abandon ship. In fact, Eat24 has already made the bold move and is leaving.
With that said, the lane is clear for you to go full steam ahead. It's going to cost you, but the nice thing about Facebook is that you can get super targeted and spend what works for you. Whether that is one dollar a day or a hundred, that's up to you. But with that money you will definitely increase your page likes and increase your engagement and visibility on specific posts.
When it comes to Facebook advertising, I've tested it all. I prefer boosted posts to Like campaigns for a variety of reasons. One, they drive more traffic to your site; two, they always seem to bring you a few extra fans in the process. It's like killing two birds with one stone. Plus, the math makes more sense.
Hear me out.
Say you have 500 fans to start with. And you have $100 to spend this month on advertising. You could either spend $100 to gain more fans or you can spend $100 to increase your exposure on specific posts. We're going to choose the fans option here. As a side note, I've never been able to acquire a new fan through a Like campaign for under $1; it's been closer 2 to 3 dollars per new fan. But for the sake of math, let's just put the benchmark at $1 per new fan. (I'm optimistic, remember.)
All right, now at the end of the campaign you have $100 new fans. With 500 fans you were reaching 5 people with a 1% organic reach. With 100 new fans you are reaching 6 people. In essence, it cost you $100 to reach 1 additional person per post. Not a good return.
On the other hand, with the pay per engagement or pay per post option, you can advertise each post to a much larger audience, thus increasing your reach for a much better price. Of course, all of this advertising will vary based on your audience, your niche, and your industry.
So how do you go about crafting that perfect boosted post? Here's your formula. Awesome eye-catching image + a one- or two-sentence description encouraging click-through + link + first comment to encourage conversation.
Now that you have the content ready to go, it's time to decipher your target audience. There are two ways to go about this. You can either boost your post to existing fans and their friends...
...or you can boost the post to a targeted audience. For example, you can target Entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, if you are hosting an event and want to get RSVPs to a local audience. You could target 18-24 year old women interested in shopping. The better you know your target audience, the better this promoted post will do, so go deep and make sure the content of your post will intrigue the group you are targeting. Personalization is everything!
Oh, and one last thing. Remember when I said there are other ways to utilize Facebook beyond the Fan page? To be truly successful in this new Facebook age, you are going to have to have amazing content to share from your website. This is content that people will want to share on Facebook for their friends to see. This is blog content. This is video content. This is visual content. This is what will drive real engagement. Why? Because personal profiles aren't limited to organic reach. If a real person shares your content, their friends will see it and engage with it. Bingo! So spend some of that money investing is awesome content that will make its way around Facebook organically from person to person.
Well, you have some decisions to make! Good luck and keep me posted.
Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?
Please email SociallyStephanie@socialmediatoday.com and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)
Illustration by Jesse Wells