February 13, 2013

Rachel Strella

How Can I Expand My Reach on Facebook?

Facebook LikeLast week, I talked about why Facebook engagement is more important than ever. Because of Facebook’s EdgeRank system and its attempt to make money, they’ve changed the way content is viewed on the channel, much to the chagrin of business owners trying to leverage the medium ‘free of charge.’  Some of our clients have asked what they can do to expand their reach on Facebook.

My first response is simple – write engaging posts. First and foremost, strong content is what will grab the attention of your audience and ensure that your posts are seen in this new Facebook environment. Write posts that offer valuable information that your audience wants and needs. Remember to throw in some open-ended questions to get them talking as well as some entertaining or fun pieces that have the potential to be shared.

There are also some tactical methods you could employ. One way to assure that your content is viewed by a Facebook fan is by encouraging that they add your fan page to their interest list or select the ‘receive notifications’ option.  However, some believe that pushing fans to take these steps can actually be a turn off and potentially damage the relationship between a business and its fans.

If you’re hesitant to ask your fans to take these steps, an alternative might be to invest some money into promoted posts and paid advertising on Facebook. As much as I hate to put more money in Facebook’s pocket, it’s certainly something worth examining.

Promoted posts are relatively inexpensive and give you the opportunity to reach more of your total fan base and non-fans, too.   A business can spend as little or as much as they want to promote particular posts on their Facebook fan page. What’s nice about promoted posts is that they have some great metrics to assess the effectiveness of the promotion.  For little upfront cost, a business can quickly get a good sense of whether or not this will work for them.

The drawbacks of promoted posts are that the actual page impressions don’t necessarily mean people ‘saw’ the content – rather it’s the ability to see it. Ken Mueller tested promoted posts with a client in Lancaster and also found that engagement was dramatically lower than organic posts, meaning the clicks and shares increased but the interaction did not.

Paid Facebook advertising is another option for increased visibility. The advantage of running a Facebook ad campaign is the ability to target the audience by location, occupation, gender, and other demographics.  You can also set a daily or weekly spending limit based on clicks to the ad.  The effectiveness of paid advertising – based on my experience and the experience of my clients – has been mixed. For some, it’s another inexpensive way to bring fans to their page or promote an event. For others, the ads were heavily viewed, but ineffective in getting the audience to take action. 

I advise clients that it doesn’t hurt to try one or both of the paid avenues offered by Facebook.  For those who want to try it, though, I strongly recommend setting a clear goal.  It’s important to know exactly what it is you hope to achieve before running the promotion (ex: more page ‘likes,’ event sign-ups, etc.) and how it will be measured. Be sure to match relevant content with a strong call-to-action.

At this point, my general approach is to continue finding creative ways to drive engagement with free posts, unless the client has a specific, targeted aspect of their business that they want to heavily promote.

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