Facebook page reach is on the decline, notes this article from TechCrunch, as people like more pages and add more friends. News feeds are increasingly log-jammed with updates and information, and nonprofits, associations and businesses are in greater competition for user attention. The article does a good job in summarizing the issues, nothing that:
The surplus of content and lack of space forces Facebook into the role of the ‘bad guy’ for filtering the feed in an attempt to show the most relevant posts (plus some ads). And so far, Facebook has done a terrible job of communicating how and why it filters the News Feed. The result is widely shared criticism like Eat24′s breakup letter to the social network that saw the company delete its 70,000-Like Facebook Page in protest of fewer and fewer of its fans seeing its posts.
The new $10 million question is: how do you get your page’s posts to show up in the news feeds of people who have “liked” your page? Facebook uses a news feed sorting algorithm, known as EdgeRank, to sort your feed. These factors hinge on a host of personal factors, but they also include your page’s past popularity with users, what type of posts you have made that were popular in the past, how recently it was published, and how popular it is with the people who have already seen it.
What matters in the algorithm is how consistently you are sharing quality content that people care about. This means that page managers and the people writing content for Facebook posts need to work harder to craft quality posts that people care about.
Rule #1 – Don’t publish crap. The quality of what you post, is ever more important. That means no posts without photos, carefully crafted copy, and an editorial strategy for maintaining momentum on your page. Go for great copy and engagement every time.
Rule #2 – If you have boring or obligatory news, be creative. Many nonprofits include Facebook recognition for donors or program partners, who are increasingly requesting social media mentions as part of partnership programs. News of these projects – if presented in the tired old formula of “xyz gave abc” can be deadly for your Facebook news feed. Think creatively about ways to talk about partners. Use first person voices, photos, videos, graphics to punch up the interest level.
Rule #3 – Consistent publishing and page curation matter. The algorithm (and your page fans) do not care if your community manager went on vacation for two weeks – the page needs to be updated regularly and curated. Make sure you have backups trained and ready to step in when needed and an editorial strategy to guide them.
Rule #4 – View your Facebook page as a community. Seeing your Facebook page as a community, not as just a static megaphone for information, is key to growing page reach in today’s climate. If you are building community, you are talking to people who choose to be in that community, and sharing information that they care about. While big numbers are great, the passion of the followers really matters now. This means you don’t ignore their wall posts or comments and respond to them. This means you come up with creative ways for them to participate in building content or sharing. And you should know who they are and be able to define your page audience. If you can’t answer, “who is your audience?” with more than “everyone” – then you have a long way to go.
Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.