For most of us who make our living on the Internet, and even for average folks who don’t, the two biggest social media platforms are Facebook and Twitter. You could argue your case for Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube, but most discussions are going to circle their way back to Facebook and Twitter. Brands know this. Internet marketers know this. And Facebook and Twitter certainly know this too.
Ever since Facebook introduced company pages back in 2009, the social network has been a very viable marketing platform for companies of all sizes. Here was a way that you could reach your fans and customers on a website that they were frequenting so often in the first place. You could engage with these people on a very real basis, participating in conversations that helped to further bolster your brand.
The Decline of Organic Reach
Then, the Facebook team decided that they wanted a piece of that pie. They didn’t care how hard you worked to collect all those fans. They didn’t care how much you spent to promote your Facebook page, because you simply weren’t going to reach all your fans for free anymore.
In a recent Percolate.com blog post on the concept of “always-on marketing,” the above chart was provided. This illustrates something that all of us already know and it’s even more painful when you see the actual numbers attached to it.
When you consider all the Facebook pages as a whole, the average organic reach for any content published on those pages has fallen to just six percent as of February of this year. Based on what we can see in this graph, the current figure is likely even lower and the percentage is even worse if you have a page with over 500,000 likes.
Of course, Facebook is more than happy to provide you with quite the simple solution: pay them.
Boosting a Facebook Post
In the grand scheme of things, “boosting” a post on Facebook isn’t terribly expensive, but it is an expense that has quickly become the norm for a lot of brands of varying size. With the Facebook page for Beyond the Rhetoric, as an example, it would cost me $6 to reach about 100 of the people who already like the page. The level of reach improves as you switch to the friends of people who like the page or to people you choose through targeting.
But if I just wanted to reach an extra 100 of my existing fan base for every post that I publish on my blog, with my current schedule of six posts a week, I’d be looking at about $150 a month or so. That’s only for 100 people, which really isn’t that much.
When you consider a larger following, as would be the case with the Facebook page for John Chow dot Com, the expense can get quite a lot larger and the ROI may be questionable. That’s why if you want to use the “boost” mechanic, you need to be much more selective and strategic in your decisions.
Speaking from my own experience, there is a far more effective tactic that also happens to be “free.” And the irony is that it goes right back to the earlier days of Facebook when it was about connecting people with people and not necessarily brands and companies with people. Just share the link on your personal profile.
This Time, It’s Personal
In the case of posts from Beyond the Rhetoric, on average, I see at least a three-fold increase in the number of people reached when I share it on my personal profile compared to when I don’t. That’s organic. That’s a real person sharing content with other real people.
Unfortunately, this introduces two new problems. Depending on the size of your audience and fan base, this just isn’t viable. Facebook profiles are limited to 5,000 friends. Second, there is certainly something to be said about separating your business “page” from your personal “profile.” And whether you’re willing to cross that line is a personal and professional decision.
Of course, there’s always Twitter, where you can reach all of your followers for free… though individual tweets get lost in the ceaseless stream all too easily. Oh, that’s right. Twitter offers you the opportunity to boost your updates too.