If you’re tuned in to the social tech arena of the internet, you’ve no doubt heard Mark Cuban’s outcry of how Facebook is driving away brands and his follow up post about what he really thinks about Facebook. It has been quite the buzz around the internet for the past week, so much so that Facebook’s News Feed Product Manager, Will Cathcart, even came out with the following statement to defend the algorithm changes:
“The problem we face with the news feed is that people come to Facebook everyday, but people don’t have enough time to check out absolutely everything that’s going on.” he told reporters.
To set the record straight, the four factors that determine whether a Page will appear in your (a fan’s) feed are:
- If you interacted with posts before, (i.e., if you like every post from a Page you’re more likely to see them in future).
- Other people’s reaction to the post, (i.e., if other people complain or hide a post you’re not likely to get them either).
- How you responded to posts of that type previously, (i.e., if you like photos or videos from a Page previously then you’re more likely to get future photos or videos).
- If that specific post has received complaints by other users who have seen it, or the Page who posted it has received lots of complaints in the past, you’ll be less likely to see that post.
All our research confirms what Mark is lamenting about, in that recent Facebook changes are adversely affecting the benefits of prior business pages.
There is a significant risk involved to rely too heavily on the whims of another marketing medium; especially one that itself is under pressured to increase its revenue stream. That provider can shut or severely cripple previous access, filter out content, and yes, start charging you big bucks while only providing partial benefits. The web is replete with examples of this from real estate blogs like Active Rain, to Twitter API access and SaaS-oriented web technologies.
If you are a business caught in a similar dilemma of increased costs and lowered fan reach, follow these simple steps to get your Facebook fans into your own system:
- First, create a landing page outside of Facebook. On that landing page write a short description requesting your fans to “opt in” to receive your free newsletter. Inform them that Facebook no longer shows them most status updates, many of which that will have direct benefit to them in terms of deals, promotions and current news. Make your opt-in form as simple as possible, preferably with just a single field for email address. You can create a good landing page easily using Advantly.com
- Second, post that landing page link to your Facebook wall as a status update and then “Sponsor” it. Yes, you will need to pony up the money (In Mark’s case $3000+ to sponsor the post), but it will be worth it to migrate your fans to your own system where you have the control. To make the most of this, you should also pin the post to the top for a few days so it is the first thing that is seen.
- Third, for high volume fan base accounts, set up a dedicated server that you will use for your email newsletters. As an example, we use Rackspace servers that can handle bulk email to your opt-in list of 1 million subscribers for less than $700 per month. For smaller fan base accounts, there are commercial firms such as MailChimp that can handle mid-level volumes for as little as $75 per month. With the right-sized email server, you can hit your email list weekly if needed without having to bleed big bucks each time.
Using Mark’s large fan base following as an example, sponsoring a post through Facebook 4 times per month, you would have a $12k outlay. $700 is a much better deal. Plus, you now have the email addresses of fans, which is much more valuable than an ambiguous social network “thumbs up” in terms of marketing. You will want to setup the bulk email script, a simple newsletter interface, opt-out features, and bounce handling, but that can all be setup within a few days by someone who is experienced with email marketing and newsletter management.
- Lastly, keep posting to Facebook but make sure each post points back to a page on your website that has an easy-to-track call-to-action for opting into your own list. Or, even post a unique link used only for Facebook that first presents the visitor with an opt-in form requesting them to sign up to your newsletter (which allows them to easily bypass this if they simply want to read the article). It can also be good to periodically invest to sponsor a post, especially if you have important information to share. When doing so, just make sure you follow these call-to-action steps to capture your fans. This approach will allow you to continue to reach some of your fans on Facebook while also enabling you to continually build up your own list.
So that is our advice to you for finding a better way to get control of getting your message out.
Hit us up below if you have a large following on Facebook and want help implementing these strategies.
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