There have been a few significant changes to Facebook recently which have changed, and will continue to change, the way Facebook is used by businesses.
Posts filtered by the user
When Facebook’s was smaller and there weren’t so many people and businesses using it, we used to see everything that our friends and businesses posted. This clearly became a problem for Facebook as it grew, the stream of information became too much and people started to leave, so Facebook introduced a filtering mechanism in an individual persons stream called ‘top news’ and ‘most recent’ – in fact this options are still there in the top right of your stream
Posts filtered by Facebook
It it seems that allowing users to change what they saw was not enough, and so in more recent years Facebook have introduced an algorithm called Edge Rank which determines what we see for us.
Edge Rank gives your business page a rank, and the higher the rank the more your page will be shown to its fans. The rank is calculated using a combination of how many comments, likes, shares and fans you have and takes into account what you posted (images, text) and how long the post has been there.
You’ve probably seen those recent posts on Facebook where pages show a provocative image and asked you to ‘like’ if you agree and ‘comment’ if you disagree. Is this is simply the page trying to manipulate the ranking algorithm to increase its Edge Rank to get itself shown to more fans.
If you have a business Facebook page you can check the Edge Rank here.
This all means that just because you have a Facebook fan page don’t assume that everyone will see all of your updates in this stream.
If you want to see how many people have seen an individual post, this information is now available just below that post on your page wall.
The number of views is going down
If you check back at the number of views that each of your posts have had as a percentage of the total number of fans on your page, you may notice that this percentage is falling.
Businesses are typically reporting that their posts are typically reaching about 9% of the total number of fans on Facebook. The average dental practice has around 300 fans, this means that each post will be seen by less than 30 people!
This new change has been introduced by Facebook as they say it is to increase quality, and to ensure that the stream of an individual is not clogged. Personally, I agree with this as it is a good way to ensure that your posts are good quality (by encouraging likes, comments and shares) however, the reality is that even with a reasonably good edge rank your posts are seen by a relatively limited number of people.
Facebook sponsored posts.
On the face of it the reason for limiting the number of your posts that are seen is because Facebook want to ensure they are good quality. However, the cynic in me tells me otherwise.
Facebook have also introduced sponsored posts, as a way of ‘forcing’ your post into the stream of your fans.
If you have adverts set up on Facebook, with each new post on your fan page you will see an option to sponsor the post in the bottom right-hand corner. If you click this you can then set a budget and ensure that this post is seen by all fans.
I use this function if I have a particularly important announcement to make all my fan page, however it can get rather expensive promoting each post that you make.
It seems that Facebook are looking for ways to monetise the platform even more by telling people they are limiting posts to increase quality, yet allowing people to show posts so long as they pay!
How to overcome this problem and get your posts seen
Here’s a great trick that I found online, if your fans choose to, they can opt to have all of your updates delivered directly to the newsfeed and even have a notification with your new posts. It is down to each band to adjust the settings individually, but not many people know how to do it.
Here is a great image which shows fans how to change the settings so that your posts are seen, why not download this image and share it to your Facebook page and then promote the page with a small advert for £10 to ensure that it gets seen.
Why not download and share the image above to your Facebook page.
Personally I find these changes to the way your posts are seen on Facebook slightly worrying, it used to be that Facebook was a great way of reaching lots of people for free. It seems that you now can’t have both of these at the same time, you can either reach lots of people, or do it for free but not both!
If this continues, I can personally see Facebook becoming more of a barrier to communication than an aid for businesses, unless of course you have a big budget.
I still believe that Facebook is a brilliant way of engaging and creating a buzz and community about your business, but for me, the warning signs are there and I would not put all of my eggs in one basket.
I have said this before, and I’ll it again, this is my preferred sequence for tackling online marketing in any business.
- Get a website.
- Optimise the website to be found naturally on the search engines.
- Use marketing techniques to ensure the maximum number of people convert from your website.
- Set up a robust and automatic e-mail marketing program.
- Setup Facebook and Twitter.
If you focus your marketing energy and activity onto your website this is entirely within your control and you are not reliant upon a third-party to filter what visitors see (I accept that Google could potentially be looked at as a filter).
What are your thoughts, have you noticed the number of posts drop that your fans see? I’d love to hear your feedback…