Facebook moved your cheese. When Facebook began rolling out the new news feed algorithm, downgrading reach for business pages and making it necessary for brands, businesses, entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs to “pay-to-play” to reach more of their fan base, there was gnashing of teeth, wringing of hands and groaning heard throughout the publishing industry and beyond. People threw up their hands and declared they were leaving Facebook.
But is that really the answer for authors, publishers and booksellers who want to help readers find their next book?
Facebook visibility, in my opinion, is a math problem first and a content marketing strategy problem second.
Facebook Visibility is a Math Problem
More than one billion users log into Facebook every month. That’s an enormous ecosystem for authors. The average Facebook user sees updates from only a fraction of their friends or the pages they’ve liked.
The Facebook algorithm – a multi-part equation that predicts which posts a user is most likely to want to see – decides what people see in their news stream. The majority of users do not seek out pages they’ve liked, through search, to check for any new posts. If they don’t see a post in their news feed, they aren’t aware a page has posted.
So the page owner must explore ways to get their posts into the news feeds of their fans. One of those ways, of course, is to pay for reach. Facebook, as a publicly traded company with an obligation to deliver to their investors, has made it clear that the days of free reach are over. These are my new rules for Facebook marketing in an era of suppressed reach – and fear not. I still believe the massive Facebook ecosystem is worth the effort for most authors and brands.
The New Rules of Facebook Marketing 2015
#1 – Pay to Play. Your posts are seen in the news feed by less than 10% of your fans. If you want to reach a larger percentage of your fans, you’ll need to dedicate a budget for advertising those posts. This budget doesn’t need to break the bank and every post does not need to be boosted. But a modest investment, strategically used, can bring more eyeballs to your content and help you achieve your marketing goals.
#2 – 10% of 100,000 fans is 10,000 highly targeted people. If 10% of your fan base made a purchase, came to an event, shared your posts or took any action you asked them to, you’d be thrilled. Facebook is a math problem. 10% of 100 people makes it hard to create buzz for your book or product. 10% of 1,000 people makes it a little more desirable to post every day. 10% of 100,000 means real visibility and the ability to spread your message far and wide. 10% or 300,000 or 500,000? I think it’s worth your time and effort to grow a large Facebook following, even if that means spending a modest budget to do so.
#3 – Facebook Video brings higher reach to business pages. Facebook is in competition with YouTube. Facebook is downgrading reach for links shared from YouTube and rewarding brands who upload video directly to the Facebook platform with higher news feed reach. Enough said. Just do it.
#4 – Enable your Call to Action feature on Facebook business pages. Facebook provides some very nice, free tools to help business pages achieve their business goals. One of the newer ones is the “Call to Action” feature. Located in the lower right hand corner, superimposed over your cover photo, is a button marked “Call to Action.” Admins can click that link and choose from seven action presets including “Book Now,” “Shop Now,” and “Sign Up,” which are all applicable for authors and brands. Choose a call to action and add the URL of the website page you’d like users to visit and click save. I did this for my book page, Queen of Your Own Life, and without any promotion or even a post calling attention to the link, I had 132 people sign up for my book newsletter in just 7 days. This is almost a set it and forget it feature and you’d be remiss not to use it.
#5 – Embrace Apps. You can pull your Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or even YouTube feed into app tabs on your Facebook business page, for free. A variety of excellent, easy to use providers make this so easy to do. Why would you want to display your other social networks on Facebook? Because just as there are different types of learners, there are different social platforms where readers like to spend their leisure time. As someone who wants to reach readers, you’ll want to let them know, for example, if they love spending time on Pinterest, you’d love to connect with them there. In addition to free apps from Woobox, Iconosquare and Pinvolve, to name a few, Facebook allows you to install custom apps or iframe tabs to your page. These are like one page websites appended to your page. You might add a tab to let people sign up for your newsletter without leaving Facebook. You can add a custom tab with a “Welcome to my page” video message to tell followers what they can expect from you. You could set up an iframe page to showcase your books with live links to the sales sites for each book.
#6 – Stay put. People don’t like to be redirected away from Facebook, if they can help it. So when you’re adding a link that takes them elsewhere, make sure you let them know what they’ll get for investing their time in following your link. Don’t tease them with the promise of valuable content, creative images or brilliant writing unless you are prepared to deliver once they click through. Better yet. Give them what you offer in a custom app tab so they don’t have to leave Facebook at all.
#7 – Create Intimacy. Treat fans as insiders, worthy of special attention from you. Then over deliver. People have two basic psychological needs – in my experience. They long to be seen and heard. When you see them, acknowledge them, thank them, answer them, ask them questions and honor their work and time, you’ll create a more intimate cyber friendship between you and your followers. Friends care about your books. Friends share links when you have new books. Friends review your books and post them online. Friends cheer for you and support your writer journey. Make friends, not fans.
Follow the new rules of Facebook marketing and help people – who wand and need what you offer – find you. When Facebook changed the news feed algorithm to suppress reach, business pages thought the sky was falling. It is not.