Do Page Owners have to Pay to engage with fans?

Here’s a long one, but let me start off with the following…

Why exactly do you have a Page on Facebook?
Stop for a second, think about it.  Got it?  Now write it down.

Besides your own website (double meaning fully intended), name a place on the internet where you can set up shop, conduct business, sell your stuff, and post your posts.  Easy right?  There’s plenty of them.  Let’s bump it up a notch.   Add to that when someone comments on something they also tell all their friends.  Ready for another bump?  Let’s make it FREE.

Let me rephrase that.

I can build websites all day long.  I can build the slickest white hat SEO objects into them and get my content show on the front page for most any Google search.  Heck I could even pay adsense and get to the top of Google.  In short, I can get my message to you.  What I can’t do, is get my message to your friends.  The people I don’t know, but you do.  That’s a huge pool to fish from – right?  Yet I can’t build a website to get there.  There’s no SEO trick, tool or setting for that. None.

Yet a Facebook Page does just that for a business all day long and does so for how much?  (yup, it’s free!)

Ok, let’s get to the topic, eh?

My friend Carole Sanek started out by

She was referring to an article in Facecrooks.  Which was shortly followed by Bill Swanson who queried…

Hence the topic at hand.  Here’s the issue.  When you post on your Page it doesn’t mean the people who have Like’d your Page will see it in their newsfeed.  There’s a possibility they will based on what is called “EdgeRank”.  EdgeRank is Facebook’s algorithm that draws on three factors; Affinity, Weight and Time Decay.

Affinity is the important part here.  It’s defined as the relationship between the User and the Person or Page that created the item.  By relationship, say you and Tom interact a bunch, comment and like each others stuff.  Guess what?  You and Tom are building a higher Affinity Score between the two of you.  The higher the Affinity Score, the better the chance that the Page’s item will show in the newsfeed.  That’s why you always see Tom’s stuff in your newsfeed.  Facebook and their algorithm thinks it’s important to you.

Oh oh.  Page’s usually don’t have relationships with people (users).  Page’s typically just post stuff.  That EdgeRank stuff isn’t going to work for Pages.  Page owners saw their engagement rates with users plummet.  That’s when the slimy (ok, smart) Pages started asking their Fans to Like or comment on their post.  Even withholding valuable information until they did.  “If 100 people comment on this post we’ll post the link to the 47 Page downloadable report on how to get more Facebook Comments“.  That kind of crap.  You remember it.  Now you know why.

So now what?  Last September at their F8 Developer Conference, Facebook mentioned they were working on answer.  “What if we could make sure that at least 75% of your Fans saw your post?” they asked.  The crowd applauded wildly.  “We’ll have a solution for you soon” they said.  Page Owners rejoiced.  There was once again joy in the land.  The Great EdgeRank Crisis had been averted.

Their solution of course is what both Carole and Bill are asking about.  Facebook does what again to make money?  They sell ads. I’ll argue that for now, their ads are the best marketing dollar you could hope spend, if you do it right.  When you run an Ad Campaign on Facebook you do so for only one of three reasons.  Brand Awareness, Building Page Likes, or to Sell Something.   That’s all.  Pick just one.

SPONSORED STORIES

If you wanted to run an ad to build Page Like’s you generally run a campaign using what is called “Sponsored Stories“.  These show up in the sidebar and lead back to the Post on the Page.  You can target everyone or anyone with your ad.

But that just puts a small snippet of your post over in a sidebar.  That’s not pushing it to the news feed – right?

PROMOTED POSTS

Correct!  Different from a Sponsored Story, Facebook is now also selling what they call Promoted Posts.  Think of a Promoted Post as an Sponsored Story styled ad, inserted into the newsfeed, with all the content.  So Facebook’s answer, their way of getting your Page Post in front of 75% of your Fans is to sell you an Ad?  Yup!  As simple as that.

Then again, it isn’t like any other ad.  It’s smack dab in the newsfeed.

Is that important?  Some would say yes, others, want more.  Coincidentally, I read two articles recently.  One about Matt who was speaking at a conference and said

The future of advertising, he said, is in-stream. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, which have rich streams that get a lot of attention, are best placed to capitalize on this new breed of advertising. ”It’s like a magazine,” he said. “It’s not that bad to see an ad for a page or two because you can just turn the page.”

Traditional Web advertising models will quickly become outdated, he said. ”The first’s thing that’s going to die is above-the-fold. It doesn’t matter at all.”

Matt is Matt Mullenweg, he founded something called WordPress.  You might have heard about it.  ;)
When he says above the fold, he’s referring to those Sponsored Story ads on the sidebar.

The other article had to do with GM pulling all advertising out of Facebook.  That would be $10 Million Dollars worth!

The automaker cited the ineffectiveness of ads on the social network, but said it will proceed with its marketing campaigns on the brand’s Facebook pages, which the company will not have to pay Facebook to operate, according to the Journal.

Guess what?  They’re still operating their Pages and

GM spends a whopping $40 million per year on Facebook marketing, according to Business Insider’s Silicon Alley Insider, but only 25 percent of that total is directed to advertising, while 75 percent goes to content creation.

Why did GM really pull out?  It turns out they were dissatisfied with the ROI of  Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts.  They wanted a full PAGE dedicated to their marketing (as in a full pop up overlay for everyone) and Facebook wouldn’t give it to them.

We’re not GM  – What are we going to do?

As a Page Owner you have a few options.  Before you consider them, you must have a clear and defined goal for your Page in mind.  Remember at the top I asked you to write down
Why exactly do you have a Page on Facebook?  You did – right?

Ok, let’s look at your options.

1. Keep on doing what you are doing.  Write posts, answer comments, engage with those you can.  Hey, a 10% reach still better than nothing right?  Work on improving that as best you can.  Better content means better engagement.  Start posting your good stuff.

2.  Try a Sponsored Story.  Setup an Ad Account and try running a few ads for your best posts.  It’s only going to grab a snippet of your post. What you’ll see is a larger amount of Page LIKE’s and maybe just a few more comments.  People could like your Page right from the Ad.  Your ad could show to just people who have Liked your Page or even to just their friends.  What you pay is determined by the bids of others competing for the same ad space.  Give it a try.

 

3.  Try a Promoted Post.  When the option becomes available you’ll be able to buy your way into the EdgeRank Top of the Charts.  What will you get for your money?  More comments.  You probably won’t see a bunch of new Likes on your Page but you should see more comments.  Remember, this style of ad brings the whole post and it’s content.  To me, that means video.  On the downside I read that a Promoted Post only shows once a day to people.  Sponsored Stories could show over and over again.

So, does a Page Owner have to pay to have their fans see their posts?
Not really.  Yes you could, and if you did, a whole lot more would, but is that what you really need?
Read the reason you wrote down that you have a Facebook Page.  Does running an ad make sense now?

That’s my opinion.  I’d love to hear your take on this.  Fire away!

Update:
Facebook launched this Page to better explain Promoted Posts

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Mike Mueller


A former professional hand model, Mike now builds the custom Apps that create the Tabs that make Custom Facebook Pages special.He also builds WordPress Blogs.
He's an avid hockey fan, rides a mountain bike and a motorcycle (a really fast one), loves strong beer and good red wine.
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  • http://tvpglabs.com Jason Sanders

    I think facebook will push this to it’s natural ending where the market is flooded and no one pays attention. The smart people will continue to create great content, but find face to face ways of sharing it. Then means stepping back from social media.

    • http://AreWeConnected.com mikemueller

      I agree on creating great content (and SM isn’t the whole ball of wax). Advertising/Marketing will always be looking for the next ‘best’ way to stand out. It’s inherent.

      Like you say, it’s a tool to get to that F2F as you say. That is the basis of selling RE. But some business never gets F2F. How would you suggest a biz go about using FB in that case?

      • http://tvpglabs.com Jason Sanders

        What businesses never get face to face? Either you’re figuring out a way to get face to face or you’re paying a premium for a steadily decreasing return on investment of your marketing dollars.

        • http://AreWeConnected.com mikemueller

          Mine doesn’t. (usually)

          #justsayin

          • http://tvpglabs.com Jason Sanders

            Then you have to admit that you’re vulnerable to local professionals who might be just as talented as yourself but willing/able to put in face time and show a personal touch. In fairness, you seem to do a really good job of showing a personal touch online, but still.

          • http://AreWeConnected.com mikemueller

            Absolutely – but then again my customer base isn’t local. If it was, I’d surely push for the F2F.

            The same would apply to the guy that designs WordPress themes or scripts or plugins. By nature, local would be too small of a pool, global is their marketplace. It has to be.

  • Dean

    I suspect that you’ll see an increase in comments alright. Most of them along the lines of “Why the $#^%^ is this showing up in my feed?”

    • http://AreWeConnected.com mikemueller

      Dean, that deserves a whole hearted LOL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolelynnesanek Carole Sanek

    Thank you for the limelight moment. I spent $5 today as an experiment to see what would happen on my 365 Things to Do In the Greater Tampa Bay Area (long title I know but I wanted the whole damn area). Of course the people who will benefit the most is the event I suggested I realized that. I have a very scientific mind I wanted to see what would happen if I spent $5 – I will let you know in 3 days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1030324689 Marge Dovichak Burkell

    I spent $5 with FB estimating they would get my post in front of 1,000 of my fans. It ended this morning and they reached 198 of my fans for which they took $4.89. Not exactly what I paid for. I already know of pages that are backing OFF using FB if this continues. So will this blow up in FB’s face?

    • http://AreWeConnected.com mikemueller

      That sucks. As for the backlash, it certainly could. They’ve made bad mistakes before and then reversed them.

      For me, I still see the huge upside in having a Page even if only 10% of the people see the posts.

      If you have a twitter account for the business what % of the followers there might you guess see the tweets? Same idea. Twitter might push the promoted tweets more in the future and when they do there will be the same argument happening.

  • workingmom

    My beef with the whole thing is this… I have a fan page with over 16k fans. Each and every one of those fans clicked “Like” on my page at one time or another because they wanted to see the information I post. It’s not like I’m targeting anonymous people in hopes of gaining something – these are fans who have essentially said “I want to see your posts”, but now FB has determined that the majority of them cannot.

    • http://AreWeConnected.com mikemueller

      WorkingMom – You are absolutely right! Every single person who pushed your page’s LIKE button, in effect, has said to Facebook that they want the content from that Page in their News Feed. By the way – Congrats on the 16,k fans! That doesn’t happen by accident. What’s the URL of your Page?

      Then again, I have almost 4,000 friends (I know that’s not normal), would I really want all of their posts and comments to show in the News Feed as well? How many pictures of semi cute kids could I handle? That’s why they created EdgeRank – in an effort to filter out the non important stuff (as it relates to me).

      Unfortunately Page Content also get’s sucked up into the algorithm and that’s where the breakdown happens. I think the best and easiest fix would be if they adjusted the EdgeRank algorithm to put more weight on content coming from a Page. That’s an easy thing to do.

      There’s a problem though. FB needs to keep making $ and needs to keep expanding. Much more now, than before the IPO. Promoted Posts attempt to solve the Page vs EdgeRank issue (poorly so far) but they also are a revenue source. If they fix the algorithm like I suggest, they kill the Promoted Post revenue stream.

      What if instead, they started charging Pages an annual fee and fixed the algorithm? Would that work for you? If so, I imagine they’d charge by the number of LIKEs. How much would a fan be worth to you?

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