The 2015 Guide to Facebook Engagement - Part 1
Here we are, two months into 2015…is it the future yet? On one hand, still no flying cars. On the other, we talk to people directly through screens we hold in our hands! Every now and then, in the middle of a Skype session, I start to feel like I’m on the Jetsons.
This post is all about how to deal with the future happening right now…specifically with regard to Facebook.
We all know that Facebook changes rapidly. It’s changing all the time. Just a few years ago, Facebook engagement looked very different. And maybe you’ve started to feel frustrated by the changes, or have just given up keeping track of them.
I get where you’re coming from, with that. It can be daunting to keep up with Facebook’s constant changing of its own rules. But Facebook is still a valuable place for you to gain traction for your business. That’s why my mission for you in this post is to help you understand what’s working right now on Facebook, and how to make it work to your advantage.
The Facebook Definition of Engagement
Facebook (or FB, as the kids call it) defines engagement in one way and one way only: fingers clicking specific buttons. If a fan doesn’t engage with your post in at least one of four ways—like it, leave a comment, share it with others, or click on a link—it’s not considered engagement by Facebook standards. Period. So what does non-engagement look like? Here are things that your Facebook fans may be doing that do not count as FB engagement:
- Read your update. Kind of makes you rethink how much time you spend crafting the perfect status, doesn’t it?
- View your image. Photos, infographics, inspirational quotes, etc. are great ways to grab attention, but simply having them seen does not constitute engagement.
- Click on a photo. If your photo is not linked (via OpenGraph or some other plug-in) to a specific site, all that will happen is that the photo will open in a bigger window. That’s an opportunity to giving your reader yet another chance to engage…but in itself, FB doesn’t count it as fan engagement.
- Like your page. You heard right. People liking your page doesn’t affect engagement; it only counts when they like specific posts,
Engagement from a Purely Relational Perspective
That’s how Facebook sees engagement; let’s explore what engagement might mean to you. When someone interacts with the content you have posted, they are expressing interest in you. That means your WHY, your meaning, your purpose. What do you do, and how do you do it?
Don’t sell yourself short. Your why and how are powerful stuff to people out there. Knowing about you is reward in itself.
If you are message driven, sharing what you care about in a true attempt to educate, entertain, or inspire people, and those people communicate back to you or push it out to the world… that is a reflection that you are doing something right!
So Why Does Engagement Matter?
This is where mindset enters the picture. Mindset is what will connect the dots for you between fan engagement (likes, comments, shares, and clicks) and exposure to your business (such as getting your posts into your tribe’s News Feed).
The equation is simple: Boost your engagement (likes, comments, shares, & clicks) and get rewarded.
See, the more often your fans engage with you in the ways listed above, the more often your posts will be pushed out into their News Feed. This is how Facebook helps your business–by noticing that people are interested in what you have to say, and giving them more. Therefore, in each and every status update you post, you’ll want to influence your audience to engage in at least one of the four ways that count: liking, commenting, sharing, or clicking a link. This is where your mindset is critical. When you’re creating a Facebook post, it’s not enough to be clever, or even thoughtful.
When you create a Facebook post, you need to come at it this way: “How can I thoughtfully construct this post to ignite the action needed for my fans to engage?”
Remember, if there is no engagement, Facebook simply thinks your audience is not interested. And they’re not going to promote something that they think people aren’t interested in. On the other hand, the more people take action on one of your posts, the more your posts will show up in their feed. Not just that one post they liked, but all your posts.
Say you’ve been getting lots of “likes” on a particular photo you posted, or had people commenting throughout the week on a status update…and then, later in the week or month, you post something about a specific promotion you’re doing. All those likes and comments are what will take your promotional post straight to your fans’ News Feed.
Simply put, an increase in fan engagement also = an increase in the exposure of your promotional posts.
Are you beginning to understand the roadmap? As you consistently offer high quality, valuable content that captivates your audience and motivates them to engage, through an indirect process you will increase your sales.
Is Your Story on the Minds of Your Fans?
Mark Zuckerberg recently shared his vision for Facebook. He wants to create the “perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world.”
What this means is that FB is focused on the fan experience. The fan’s. Not yours. That’s why sharing what is relevant and significantly useful to your fans will give you a BIG advantage to being seen in News Feed. Failing to share what is highly useful will alienate you from your fans. You really do need to get to know your audience. This is the FIRST step to engagement.
Every FB fan sees a constant stream of stories and now more than ever only the best of the best will get through on a consistent basis. You can use this to your advantage by taking action. Consider it an opportunity to up your game by taking your communications to the next level.
According to Zuckerberg,
“There’s more competition for what they (users) see, so only the highest-quality content is actually going to get through and get shown to those people.”
Does your content match that description? If you’re not sure, now’s the time to start taking inventory! If you have taken the time to learn about the people sitting in front of you, your fans will have you on “notifications” because they won’t want to miss a single one of your FB posts!
Caution for Overly Promotional Posts
As of January 2015, Facebook has taken on a new philosophy regarding overly promotional posts that will affect how your promotional posts are seen in your fans’ News Feed. In an ongoing survey, Facebook asked hundreds of thousands of people how they felt about the content in their News Feed. The feedback revealed that people wanted to see less promotional posts and more stories from their friends and Pages they loved. When FB says promotional posts, they’re not talking about paid ads. They mean the free status update posts that are advertising something. Examples would be:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
If you’re wondering why fans are not as bothered by actual paid ads in their News Feed, it’s because FB has executed more control and limited the amount of ads fans see. The same control has not been allocated toward free promotional posts. Until now.
So what’s a business owner on Facebook to do?
Earn Your Right to Promote
You may be wondering why I’m talking so much about promotion when this post is supposed to be about engagement. In fact, in order to do engagement right, you have to understand the relationship between engagement and promotion.
Your mindset around promotion directly effects engagement and therefore exposure, even when you are not actively promoting with a given post. It works the other way around as well. Holding a mindset that drives you to heavily promote while not offering your fans compelling content they want to consume will decrease fan engagement and decrease your organic reach.
On the other hand, cultivating a mindset that propels you to create posts with the intention of informing and meeting the needs of your fans (without an intent to sell) will both increase engagement and News Feed reach.
Two Types of Posts: Native & Non-Native (And How to IntegrateThem)
Native posts blend in. They are non-promotional. Instead, they create a conversation or add to an ongoing conversation among the tribe. Their high-quality content is an authentic offering from you, often delivered in a voice that is familiar to your audience and is easily recognized as an extension of your brand.
Non-native posts are specifically created to promote your course, product, or service. While your fans’ needs are still at the heart of the content, non-native posts show a clear intention to sell, or at least move your fans closer to the end buy.
There is another type of post that is less black and white. We can call this a semi-native post. Its purpose is to accomplish the tasks of both native and non-native posts. Examples are posts that offer free webinars, free irresistible giveaways, or a free video series etc. While giving away useful and valuable content, you are also moving your fans through a sales funnel.
The Mindset of Integration
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to separating native and non-native posts. They can be mixed and matched to your liking and intuitive sense of your audience. What is important is that your native posts go out consistently and much more often than your promotional posts. Here are three suggestions for integration:
- Keep native posts running regularly and consistently during promotional and non-promotional periods. They should never stop.
- Intentionally post non-native status updates (go ahead and promote) for a specific time period during which native posts are also running.
- Intersperse your semi-native posts casually alongside your native postings.
It is normal for promotional posts to get far less engagement than native posts so don’t be alarmed. The mindset here is to know that you will be relying on native posts to really boost that engagement so that when you do promote, you’ll get the organic reach you are looking for.
As your fans like, comment, share, and click on your native posts, Facebook will deem your page valuable. As a result, the number of your promotional posts served in News Feed will increase.
Earn your right to promote by offering purely valuable and sometimes entertaining content. Go ahead and give away the good stuff. Make it about your fans… not you. Go the extra mile. Over-deliver! Connect and make it personal.
How to Make a BIG Splash to Elevate Facebook Engagement
You may have heard that organic reach (the number of fans that see your free posts in News Feed) has declined. Perhaps you’re already experiencing it.
Here’s the deal: What you decide to do with that information can either set you apart from those who fail or land you in the same boat.
Once again, it comes down to mindset. It is your choice what you focus on. You can see this as an opportunity to fly high or a disaster waiting to happen.
It has been said that during times of economic downfall, there are folks who seek to discover what works. They read between the lines and take the extra steps that others don’t take. They find a way to use the situation to their advantage, creating tremendous success against all odds. Failure has no place in their vocabulary. Don’t let it be a part of yours.