Welcome to the June, 2012 Social Media Channel Update, keeping you informed of recent developments across different Social Media Channels. The last month, not surprisingly, has been dominated by posts covering the recent Facebook flotation. However, of more direct relevance to the readers of this blog, serious questions are once again being asked about the effectiveness of Facebook as a marketing and customer engagement channel.
A post by Cinda Baxter of the Always Upward Blog argued that very few Facebook fans will actually be seeing status updates for your brand.
‘Most of your fans don’t receive your posts. At all. In any way, shape, or form. Facebook is only sharing them with fans who repeatedly return to your page, post on your page, comment on your page, or otherwise engage on your page’.
Page administrators have recently been alerted to this fact by an interesting statistic sitting below each update that shows the number of people each post reaches and the percentage of the total fan base it represents. These statistics, according to Cinda, make for sober reading. The author also calls into question the position of these stats beside the new Facebook promote button – a paid service that ensures your update appears in all newsfeeds – described here by Sprout Social. Is it in Facebook’s interest to under-promote our updates and encourage more to use the promote button?
Always Upward were not alone in their concern according to this excellent post by Ken Mueller on Social Media Today. According to Ken, there are a growing number of Facebook Page owners who believe they aren’t seeing their posts appear in Facebook newsfeeds, that people are not coming to their page and for them at least, Facebook isn’t working.
To top it off, a piece of research published by Simply Zesty confirmed what many of us already knew – the level of Fan engagement (posts, comments, likes) on brand pages is very low with only 1 in every 200 fans engaging on average.
So what can we take from this?
There are a few points to note. The first is that Facebook has been reasonably transparent in terms of how it promotes status updates within newsfeeds.
An understanding of EdgeRank is important here (not everyone will see every update). See our previous post On Facebook? You need to understand EdgeRank which explains how Facebook prioritises content whilst also indicating some useful tactics and best practice advice.
A related point is the importance of setting expectations, developing a clear Facebook strategy with agreed objectives, targets and KPIs. Deciding what you are trying to achieve from Facebook can make it a whole lot easier in determining if your time is being well spent. The research from Simply Zesty and the feedback from users is welcomed – it helps us (as Page owners) gain a fuller understanding of this channel, to set benchmarks and develop more pragmatic targets.
Facebook targets such as post impressions and engagement statistics are important but let’s not become too focused on these KPIs alone. There is some very interesting recent research from Comscore within Business Insider, suggesting that fans and friends of Target and Starbucks increased the frequency of their purchases over a 4 week period. The impact of Facebook can extend beyond clicks and immediate engagement on Facebook.
Are Facebook under-promoting updates to encourage use of the promote button? Its uncertain and will only become apparent through feedback from users – something Energise2-0 will be keeping a close eye on.
Work within the parameters set out
Already, some best practice advice is emerging with regards optimising your use of Facebook:
- For Ken Mueller (see previous link), this is about creating and sharing good content first and foremost. Then thinking about the timing and frequency of posts, where Facebook Insights can help decide what works and what doesn’t.
- For Marie Page, within Smartinsights it’s about optimising content through a knowledge of EdgeRank. This involves posting content that encourages interaction (e.g. fill in the blank type content) and content which is more likely to be shared and which carries more EdgeRank weight (photos, videos and links). Marie also points out that post Decay is important – users will not typically see or engage in content that is more than 20 hours old.
And Finally, is Facebook worth it?
Our answer is – it depends. It depends on what you want to achieve, it depends on how you measure success, it depends on who your valuable customers are, and finally, it depends on how you currently use this channel.
As always we look forward to your comments.