How fans really interact with Facebook - and how you should interact with themby
In this series of Smart Insights Best Practice Advice, Danyl Bosomworth of SmartInsights.com shares tips on best practice to get better results from digital marketing. This week, with Social Media Week, taking place in nine cities around the world including London, Danyl looks at how to get results from Facebook.
You already know that, along with everything else on your plate, you need to develop Facebook as a valuable marketing tool in some shape or form, so how will you do it? There are a number of ways to leverage Facebook as marketing technique and you need to have ‘a reason’…
- A place to interact with your consumers and potential consumers – brand building in its crudest sense.
- A means to manage customer interactions and feedback.
- A source of relevant traffic to your commercial website.
- A means to build a list of potential consumers interested in permission-based communications.
In terms of applying those goals you need a fan page, and a Facebook marketing plan.
Though your window is your Facebook Fan page 96% will come not come back to it after first ‘Liking’ your brand, in fact Brand Glue estimate that 99.5% of brand interactions take place in the News Feed, not on your Fan page. On top of that Brand Glue also calculate that what you do ’share’ in Facebook is actually been seen by as little as 0.5%. Very few people see what you post – they’re shielded from you by the Facebook algorithm (EdgeRank), much like Google tries it’s best to shield you from the porn, spam or just irrelevant search results (i.e most of the internet). So, like search engine optimisation, it’s down to you to breakthrough because you’re super relevant, remarkable and interesting. You know it’s true, as well. When did you last visit a page that you’d previously ‘Liked’ and how often do those brands appear on your wall? But, all’s not lost, you can still benefit from your Facebook presence and drive traffic to either/or your Facebook page or other more commercial web presence.
It’s an art, not a science
Aside from Brand Glue’s data I really liked this ‘Innovation’ post by The Daily Beast. I’ve summarised it in this section. They basically created there own test with a Facebook newbie to see what really happened around Facebook visibility, by their own admission it’s not a scientific experiment, and yet it’s good enough to reveal the obstacles that you’ll need to overcome with EdgeRank:
- Facebook does not value or help newcomers, which makes sense too – after all do you immediately trust everyone that you meet over people you’ve known months or years? As The Daily Beast comments "following 500 million people into a party means that a lot of the beer and pretzels are already long gone", and the clique’s have formed too. They found that 'invisibility' is a huge issue for those new to Facebook and it’s especially acute amongst friends who are already really popular with several hundred friends (doesn’t that sound like High School!). When people interact with you the invisibility starts to change.
- The Catch 22 of Facebook is that you need friends and fans to interact with your updates in certain ways (more on that below), but you aren’t likely to have friends interacting with your updates if you don’t have exposure in the first place. Dammit. The goal, especially early on, is to get people Liking you like crazy.
- The Facebook VIP area of "Top News" is where the gold is at. The current newsfeed system offers users two options: "Top News", a highly selective feed of updates from friends, and "Most Recent", a "fire hose" that shows updates in reverse chronological order. The challenge is that Top news is the default for 95% of Facebook users. Again, dammit. Top News will show you hours-old updates from some friends while ignoring newer postings from others, Facebook’s ranking system makes judgments about items it thinks you’ll be interested in like Google does on search results. The Daily Beast say this: "What became clear after two weeks was that it’s not the amount of activity you have, but the type" (more on that below).
- Facebook’s "fire hose" of "Most Recent" is also censored – so no matter what you do your brand cannot guarantee any kind of cut-through. If you’ve never tinkered with the “Edit Options” button on your Most Recent feed, this underscores why you should check it out—there’s a little-used setting that caps the number of friends shown in the feed.
- Links in status updates trump plain status updates – and photos and videos in status updates trump those with links. Facebook wants you to bring something more than your solitary thoughts to the party! Think about times you’ve spotted a thumbnail-size photo from a friend in your feed and clicked to see it full-size. Facebook likes those clicks, it’s links, and rich media formats help deliver them.
- Comments are the not-so-secret Facebook visibility juice you’re looking for – if items you post attract comments from a few friends, The Daily Beast found that it clearly raises your visibility overall. The more people that are interacting, commenting and clicking – the more news feeds you will appear on.
- Breaking into the social elite is hard, even in Facebook! Those with 600+ friends are very difficult to gain visibility with compared to those with 100-200 friends. Hurts, doesn’t it! This is par for the course and a reminder you have to work your way up by doing some remarkable thinking and hard work. So the key, as you build your Facebook tribe, is making sure to include some without huge networks. They’ll see more of your feeds, interact in Facebook-approved ways, and up your visibility with all.
What are the take-aways for you?
Think of Facebook’s news feed as huge popularity contest, one that you get to control just how popular you (and your business) are, ideas and content are your tools.You and your brand need to be more social. In what you say and do, and how you say and do. There’s a reason that some of the kids at school were more popular (not the obviously good looking ones) – they were “involved”, they were social and it made them popular. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
- Interact: "Ask for comments and likes," says Widman, CEO of Brand Glue. That’s the immediately actionable strategy. “Put the question first, rather than last… Ask a question where people don’t need to click through a link to give you an answer… make your questions relatable, to drives results. Another example technique that Brand Glue advocates is fill-in-the-blank posts, for example, "Fill in the blank: I’m saving money to buy ____,". Brand Glue used this with their client which resulted in 210 comments and 13 likes
- Rich media content: Given that this naturally creates more interactions, it’s going to be important that the content is relevant and of interest, think how you could weave rich media into basic posts and interactions, take a varied approach and be topical and entertaining. According to Reggie Bradford, CEO of social media management company Vitrue, "It gives the consumer the ability to engage with that content. If they watch the video or click on the photo to enlarge it, that’d show up higher on the EdgeRank."
- Integrate: Facebook is not the be all and end all, yet it is of major importance as a part of a social media plan – what else are you doing – blogging (hopefully), using twitter (ideally), any industry specific sites? By doing that you have more reach, more touch-points with your market, more content and content ideas and more points of interaction which makes sharing back in Facebook natural as part of a wider social media plan, the content will be varied and your interactions richer
- Strategic influence: In order to show up in someone’s news feed, you need to be friends with them or fans of their page, they can be fans of yours too of course. You need to target specific individuals and businesses to friend and fan. Even if you’ve friended your top customers or clients, you should pay attention to who their friends are and who they interact with on a regular basis. The more you interact with their friends, the more likely you are to show up on their feeds as well. Who are the influencers? You want to fan as many people as I can within the relevant network, maybe I want national media as my friend and follower or to friend partners and alliances. Learn who’s talking, who are the influencers, the advocates and influencing voices. Some will be easy to interact with, if you’re interested in targeting someone that seems unresponsive, you may want to try tagging them in your posts and photos. Put the '@' sign before the person or business’s name, then select the correct name from the drop down menu, this shows on their profile giving you more exposure, just be careful pushing that too far!
- Commitment: It’s a bit like a new site or a new blog – it takes time and commitment before reward comes through, otherwise everyone would do it. So are you prepared to be cute with the tactics and also commit to Facebook and your Fans for the long haul, Facebook hope so, and in return it appears they will (in an unfriendly robotic kind of way) reward you for it. Though you do not want to spam, posting very regularly is important, just make your content valuable as well as regular.
Danyl is co-founder of Smart Insights and a digital marketing contractor. His experience spans brand development, direct marketing and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side over the last 12 years.
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Danyl, excellent observations and presented in an awesome way that really helped me with understanding the machinations that are relevant for brand interactions to be seen in Facebook. This seems to couple very well with some of the research we've recently completed at ROI of Social Media (www.ROIofSocialMedia.com) around the differences and visibility of likes, posts, comments and shares in Facebook. Short answer is that 'Share' seems to present the best opportunity for branding.
Thanks for the insights Amigo!