• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Hispanic consumer expectations are up again this year regarding outreach and convenience, but particularly as regards the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience. Brand trumps dollar-value perceptions among this cohort, and retailers who can integrate some sense of Hispanic culture and store experience with all forms of outreach will likely find it to be a winning combination for this shopper segment. Y una muy feliz navidad este año!
    This holiday season Hispanic shoppers will make the difference between a Feliz (happy) and Feria (fair) Navidad for retailers, according to 2,417 Hispanic consumers who participated in the Brand Keys 20th annual Holiday Shopping Survey.

    The projected individual spend among Hispanic households is estimated to be $985.00, about 7% higher than last year, and nearly 15% higher than the projected 2014 spend for the general population. But retailers will need to work culturally smarter if they want to get their share.

    In this year’s Brand Keys Holiday Shopping survey, 54% of the general population indicated they were going to start Holiday shopping in November, a trend we’ve commented upon for a number of years now. But this is not the case for Hispanic shoppers. Nearly half of Hispanic consumers surveyed (49%) indicated they were going to wait until Black Friday November 28. Many Hispanics (38%) indicated they were going to wait well into the traditional holiday shopping season to buy gifts, which has less to do with discounts and more the time taken to search for the perfect gift. The rest started shopping last month.

    Virtually all consumers interviewed indicated they’ll buy holiday gifts online this year (98%), and this is equally true for Hispanic shoppers. And, even in light of the mobile sales movement, brick-and-mortar retailers rank high on Hispanic consumers’ list of places to shop, with some meaningful differences from the general population:

    Store Type                                          2014               % change from General Population

    Traditional Department Stores               88%                                        +10
    Specialty & Apparel Stores                      63%                                        +23
    Discount Department Stores                  90%                                        – 6
    Catalogues                                                 15%                                        -10

    Gift cards have become as universal as greetings cards, and Hispanic shoppers indicated they’d buy at least one this year, at slightly higher levels (98%, +3) than the general population. Hispanic consumers indicated that the following categories are where money will be spent. The differences from the general population is worth noting by retailers:

    Gift Categories                               2014             % change from General Population

    Clothing and Accessories                    83%                                        +5
    Electronics/Phones/Computer           58%                                        +7
    Jewelry                                                    25%                                        +5
    Food and Wine                                      21%                                        +1
    Toys                                                         15%                                        +7
    Home Décor                                          10%                                        +3
    Personal Care Products/Spa               10%                                       -23

    Hispanic consumer expectations are up again this year regarding outreach and convenience, but particularly as regards the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience. Brand trumps dollar-value perceptions among this cohort, and retailers who can integrate some sense of Hispanic culture and store experience with all forms of outreach will likely find it to be a winning combination for this shopper segment. Y una muy feliz navidad este año!

    Social media marketers have been talking about Facebook reach for years. This week, however, their conversation took on a bit more urgency, thanks to Friday night’s Facebook announcement and a blunt blanket statement from Forrester Research that brands are wasting money by dedicating resources to the network. But I don’t think organic Facebook reach is going to be yanked from pages like the one I manage.

    Social media marketers have been talking about Facebook reach for years. This week, however, their conversation took on a bit more urgency, thanks to Friday night’s Facebook announcement and a blunt blanket statement from Forrester Research that brands are wasting money by dedicating resources to the network.

    My first reaction was to ignore this conversation, as I’m on record with the opinion that relevant content matters more than post-specific reach statistics. But then I saw people I know and respect tweeting that they believe organic reach will not exist for pages in the not-so-distant future.

    So, I got to thinking:

    As a social media marketer, what would I do if Facebook disabled organic reach?

    Imagine a World with No Facebook Organic Reach

    I asked my Twitter followers (almost 3,000 of them) what they would do if this happened, but only one person responded, out of the 173 people that potentially saw it. That’s right—my Twitter reach was about 6%.

    Which also goes to demonstrate that if you’re stressed about Facebook reach you should also be stressing about Twitter, but that’s beside the point.

    If organic reach was truly gone, I think I would still advise my organization to use Facebook, but as a way of sending messages to people that have already given us their contact information (custom audiences are your friend). And my team wouldn’t have to come up with 20-25 pieces of content per week, because we wouldn’t pay to distribute that much. Basically, we’d severely augment our Facebook strategy.

    Why Organic Reach Won’t Disappear—for Many

    But, I don’t think organic Facebook reach is going to be yanked from pages like the one I manage. Our page exists to inform and engage our customers about a topic that is somewhat mysterious and confusing. We don’t ask anyone to buy anything, so the January change to the Newsfeed algorithim shouldn’t —theoretically—affect us.

    I imagine many non-profits, educational institutions, and publishers feel the same way. While discussing the topic with me today, Jacob Dolan, Director of Web and Digital Communications at Montana State University, offered a unique perspective.

    “We will actually come out ahead or at least stay the same, but with less junk to compete with.”

    A Realistic View of Facebook Reach

    I already have a realistic perspective of Facebook reach, which allows me to act calmly and rationally in response to the recent news. Here’s what I expect from our Facebook page, which has over 60,000 likes:

    • About 60% of the time, I’ll reach less than 2% of my audience with any particular post. There are a handful of highly engaged followers that see every single post we publish in their Newsfeed—I know this because they like and/or share them all. They’ve demonstrated to Facebook that every post matters.
    • Another 30-35% of the time, I’ll reach 3-5% of our followers with a single piece of content.
    • About 5% of the time, a post will reach 15-20% of our users organically, and we’ll consider that a “greatest hit.

    But over the course of a month, more than half of our fans will see at least one piece of content that’s relevant to them. They probably don’t want to hear from us any more than that.

    We augment this strategy with promoted posts (not boosted posts, but strategically promoted posts as suggested  by Jon Loomer), and I’m continually collecting data so when I promote a post I know exactly how many people I can reach, how fast, and at what cost. I can quantify what Facebook reach costs my organization, and make an educated decision on whether or not I want to pay for it.

    Who Should Be Concerned About Facebook Reach

    I think Jacob is absolutely right. If you are on Facebook for the sole purpose of selling products or services, and you’re unable to offer any content that is instructional, useful, or entertaining—you should be very concerned about this news. If you don’t fall into that category, it’s likely business as usual for you … until the next big announcement from Facebook.

    Isn’t it fun to work in a field that changes all the time and keeps us on our toes?

    The busiest shopping season of the year is about to begin! People who celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah will spend an average of $804.42, up nearly 5 percent over last year’s $767.27. So, are you ready to grab a few of those dollars?

    The busiest shopping season of the year is about to begin! People who celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah will spend an average of $804.42, up nearly 5 percent over last year’s $767.27.

    So, are you ready to grab a few of those dollars? Here's an infographic from Sociallystacked filled with stats and tips that will inspire you to step up your marketing efforts.

    Some of the highlights:

    • 47 percent of consumers say that the internet is their favorite shopping destination.
    • 2 in 5 consumers will spend time researching online in order to find a good deal.
    • 52 percent of consumers say that access to exclusive products would influence them to complete a purchase on a social networking site (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) this holiday season.
    • 25 percent of shoppers say easy-to-use mobile websites is an important factor in their decision to shop with a specific retailer.
     
    Stories—and storytelling—are powerful. They help charities secure more donations, persuade juries in trials and sway opinions in politics and the boardroom. Every small, personal story has something of the universal in it, and when the story is well told, it can spread rapidly and change lives in surprising and unexpected ways.

    Stories—and storytelling—are powerful.

    They help charities secure more donations, persuade juries in trials and sway opinions in politics and the boardroom.

    Every small, personal story has something of the universal in it, and when the story is well told, it can spread rapidly and change lives in surprising and unexpected ways.

    Let me tell you about one such story. In 2011, Caine Monroy was a 9-year-old boy much like any other kid his age—except that he had built an arcade in his father’s auto parts store in East Los Angeles.

    Caine built the arcade entirely from cardboard boxes found in the store, along with other everyday objects and old toys.

    Once he finished it, Caine waited patiently for his first customer. Sadly, he waited quite a while since his dad’s store is located in an industrial mall and receives little foot traffic.

    Finally, a customer arrived. Nirvan Mullick showed up looking for a door handle for his 1996 Toyota Corolla. He met Caine and bought a Fun Pass for $2 that gave him 500 plays in the arcade.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    Mullick is a partner at an L.A. creative agency. Struck by Caine’s inventiveness, he decided to make a video about the arcade. And to make the story even more interesting, he organized a flash mob encouraging everyone in L.A. to visit and play in Caine’s Arcade.

    He posted the event information on Facebook, and it eventually made its way to the front page of Reddit. On the designated date, Mullick organized the surprise party while George, Caine’s dad, distracted the youngster with a visit to their local pizza joint.

    Given his previous track record at attracting customers, imagine Caine’s surprise when his dad brought him back to the store and he saw a crowd of more than 100 people lined up to play his arcade.

    In April 2012, Mullick released Caines’s Arcade, an 11-minute video telling the story of Caine, his cardboard arcade and the flash mob.

    The video quickly went viral, racking up over 1 million views the first day alone. And the impact on Caine was nothing short of astounding.

    According to George, “Caine has really come out of his shell. He talks to everybody freely now and he doesn’t stutter any more. And he’s doing way doing better in school.”

    After the documentary was released, Caine became the youngest entrepreneur to speak at the USC Marshall School of Business.

    He also addressed the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. MIT invited him to participate in a summer program and UC Los Angeles offered to design a course curriculum for Caine when he’s old enough to attend college.

    Forbes and Fast Company both wrote about Caine’s determination and creativity.

    The Exploratorium in San Francisco displayed his arcade. Caine led a workshop at Maker Faire teaching kids how to make their own cardboard creations.

    Mullick started a college fund for Caine, encouraging those who viewed the video to contribute. The original goal was $25,000. Two years later, the fund has grown to over $239,000 with a revised target of $250,000.

    Three days after releasing the video, Mullick began sketching out an idea for a non-profit organization inspired by Caine’s Arcade. Later that year he launched The Imagination Foundation with a mission to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids.

    “The idea is to give kids not only the tools to build the things that they can imagine, but to also imagine the world that they can build,” says Mullick.

    Its signature event is the Global Cardboard Challenge, held in 2013 and 2014 on the Saturday closest to the anniversary of the 2012 flash mob. This year’s event was Saturday, October 11th. The event encourages creativity with cardboard and to date 100,000 kids from 50 countries have participated in 270 events.

    Today, Caine is retired from running the arcade. He’s moved onto his next venture—a bicycle shop that repairs and remakes existing bikes.

    Find your story

    We can’t all be filmmakers like Mullick. And not many of us have a story as powerful as Caine’s Arcade.

    But for your next presentation, whether it’s for your board, potential investors or the sales team, avoid the typical canned corporate talk that sticks to the facts.

    Instead, appeal to your listeners’ love of stories. Find a hero to whom they can relate. Introduce conflict. Show pictures and video of real people. Strike a chord that triggers empathy. Encourage people to laugh. Give credit to others in the company. Dig deep and begin your presentation by telling a story.

    Who knows? You may just find a story that helps change the world for the better.

    Photo Credit: Storytelling/shutterstock

    While there has been much talk about the role engagement plays in Facebook business page success, the reality is that few businesses achieve much more than a very small percentage of obvious fan engagement - likes, shares, comments - for the content they post. But no matter how you look at the numbers, engagement won't happen at all unless the content you share makes it into the newsfeed of your Facebook fans and beyond, at least occasionally. And that's not all!

    Why Engagement Is Important

    Engagement is important as an indicator of how interesting your content is to those who see what you share in their newsfeed.

    While having a large percentage of those who view your content and engage with it would be nice, on average, only a small percentage of those who see your posts -  less than 1% according to SocialBakers - will take some sort of direct action by liking, sharing or commenting.

    Of course, some Facebook pages achieve higher engagement rates than others and some of your Facebook posts achiever higher levels of engagement than others.

    If Engagement Is Low For Most Facebook Pages, Why Bother?

    While engagement, in terms of 'liking', 'sharing' or 'commenting', is statistically low, it doesn't mean people aren't seeing and reading your content in their Facebook newsfeed, or even clicking on links that lead back to your website. It may mean this but it doesn't necessarily. Many of us browse through our Facebook newsfeed never taking direct action. Others frequently do so.

    Facebook offers huge opportunities  for you to build brand name recognition in your local area, and beyond, if you're willing to invest the time, energy and capital in doing so. And brand name recognition is a big deal when people are looking to make a decision on where they will go for a particular product or service.

    The Challenge of Engagement 

    The percentage of fans who engage with your content, on average, will be low. But as already mentioned, engagement is an indicator of interest and the value of what you share. Some content will produce higher engagement than others.

    But here's the challenge: if Facebook is a place where your fans and target audience are on social media, to have a hope of improving your engagement numbers you need to get into their newsfeed. To get into the newsfeed, chances are high you'll have to pay!

    Should You Pay To Promote Every Post On Facebook?

    That doesn't mean you should pay to promote every post you share on Facebook.

    But should you pay to promote some of your posts? Absolutely!

    Pay to promote your best content, and target it to reach Facebook users in your geographic area, by gender, by age group and by interests, as appropriate.

    Many small business owners are still in the "I'm ticked off that Facebook suckered me into growing my fan base and now I can't reach them unless I pay" mode. This mindset is equivalent to "cutting off your nose to spite your face." You're not hurting Facebook, but chances are you are hurting your business!

    Are You An Early Adopter, Majority Adopter, Late Adopter or Laggard?

    Early adopters recognized Facebook Promoted Posts as an opportunity early on, likely not long after Facebook introduced them in early 2012.

    The early adopters set aside their frustration with Facebook and took advantage of a playing field - the newsfeed - that was almost devoid of competition (of those paying to get into the newsfeed). They benefitted from lower costs to reach larger groups of people and they tested and learned what worked best, while the rest of us stewed in frustration.

    As time goes by the next wave of adopters, majority adopters, are getting over their frustration and recognizing, or at least beginning to wonder, whether they're missing out on something (and they are!) by ignoring Facebook promoted posts. Some of these (I'm hopeful) are beginning to see the opportunity and take advantage of it.

    Majority adopters have missed out on a few years of getting their business in front of their fans and target audience on Facebook.You'll pay more now than you would have a year ago for the privilege. But, for many - if not most, it's still worth it! And a year from now the playing field will be more crowded and the prices will be higher. Don't wait for everyone else to get on the bandwagon before you do!!

    Remember This When You Promote Your Posts!

    If/when you decide to invest some cash in promoting posts to your fans and beyond on Facebook, keep these factors in mind:

    1. Focus on what those you hope to reach will find interesting, valuable, inspirational, helpful. While there is a place for advertising on Facebook, if you're wanting to build a base of fans who will see you as a resource, as interesting, worth paying attention to, helpful and/or valuable; then focus your efforts on creating content that will produce this result. It's not all about you, it's all about them ... your customers!
    2. Make sure your profile is branded, complete and represents your business professionally. This means high quality images, a customized URL and be sure to include your contact information and details about your business and what you do. When people visit your Page you want it to make a favourable first impression, one that makes them want to follow you.
    3. Make sure your website represents your business as well as your Facebook Page, if not better.  Responsive design or mobile friendly, up-to-date not dated, content that gives people a reason to check back periodically, branding consistent with all your marketing materials and social networks, for starters.
    4. Make sure your business lives up to what you're promoting. If you're sharing great stuff online but the experience of customers is poor, it will hurt your business. You know this already but it is an important reminder that in today's online world saying one thing and doing something else creates an advertising buzz that can destroy your business. Keep your promises and when you don't own up to it and address the problem. Customer service has never played a more important role in a successful business than it does today!
    5. Pay to promote your best content to your fans and beyond! A great Facebook page with great content that no one sees is pointless. If you're not prepared to pay to promote at least some of your content on Facebook, you should reconsider whether it is the place for your business to be. A day is coming where, in order to have any reach on Facebook, you'll have to pay.

    Chances are, even if you make it into the newsfeed of fans and potential fans, your engagement percentage will still be low. But high engagement numbers while nice to have, aren't everything. Promoting content that works for your fans won't always generate rave reviews in the form of high engagement numbers. It might but often it won't.

    But what it will do, assuming you are paying to promote content that appeals to your audience, is build name recognition for your brand and a reputation for being customer focused. And, in our online world, that's a big deal!

    * Information on how to calculate your engagement rate is available on the SocialBakers website.