Since Facebook reduced the reach of status updates on Facebook fan pages, many people have been wondering whether it's worth maintaining them. Until recently, I was also in that camp.
But then by chance I discovered a surprising simple technique that increased the typical reach of my Facebook fan page posts to as much as 100% – and even more – without costing me a penny.
I hope it will work for you too.
What's the Point of a Facebook Page?
An author page brings significant advantages over a personal profile. Most importantly, you're not allowed to carry out promotional activities on a profile, but they're positively encouraged on a page, partly because Facebook has monetised the process by charging you to “boost posts” and place ads.
The bad news is that status updates on your page aren't automatically shared with everyone who has liked your page. As Facebook has developed its paid marketing options, the reach of each unpaid post has steadily diminished. My posts had been averaging around 10% of my fans, and I knew I was not the only one thus disheartened. “Tumbleweed” was how one disillusioned author described her page's reach.
It was easy to presume that Facebook's intention is to force us to paying to boost or advertise our posts if we wanted to make significant impact. I'm not at the stage where I want to invest in a FB ad campaign, but nor did I want to write off the time and effort I'd put into developing my FB fan base. It may not be huge – 516 likes right now – but that's 516 more than when I started using it two years ago, and a lot of potential readers.
Two Experiments, Two Surprising Results
My father has a timeless saying: “If all else fails, read the instructions.”
I decided to check under the hood of FB pages to see how I could improve my FB page practice. I soon realised I'd been operating in ignorance of the four main formats in which you can share news on a FB page: image, link, note, video. All of these can contain text. I'd just been blithely posting the same way that I did on my profile – type in a bit of text, add a link, and choose a photo from the ones FB selects from the post to which I was linking.
First, I had a false start, thinking that using the notes format was the key. I'd long admired the look of the notes on M C Beaton's page, which read like mini blog posts and look elegant by Facebook's standards. M C Beaton is trade published, and I'd noticed that her page reserves the notes form for personal messages from the author herself. The difference between post and note are shown in the first two pictures below, and the third picture shows how elegant the note looks when you click on it. Nice.
So I posted a few notes on my FB page and admired their aesthetics – until I checked the stats and saw they still had a very limited reach of 10-20% of my 500+ likes.
It's All About Order
Then one day I wanted to post an update with a photo that was not included in the blog post I was linking to. To get this photo to appear on FB, I knew I had to add the photo before I input the link. Facebook classed this as a photo post, rather than a link, even though both kind of posts contains both a photo and a link. The only difference was the order in which the elements were posted.
- post link then photo: disappointing reach (10-20%)
- post photo then link: pleasing reach (as much as >100% reach)
Here's the evidence from my author page on Facebook. The photo posts are indicated by rectangles, the links by the conventional chain icon. The notes are indicated by what looks to me like a calculator keyboard but might be meant to be a reporter's notebook! (The only link with a decent reach was me getting over-excited about the new snow feature coming into effect, which got lots of shares from author friends who are also use WordPress.)
To test my theory further, I applied it to ALLi's public page, of which I'm an administrator and to which I usually post links to ALLi's new daily blog post.Same result, with over 100% reach now the norm. (I think this bonus beyond 100% must come from likers sharing it.)
Changing my approach hasn't cost me a penny and the different process takes no more time than before. What's not to love?
Worth a Shot
So whatever stage you're at with your page, you may well be able to increase your reach for very little effort. It's never going to give you the same reach as a successful, paid-for FB advertising campaign – but bear in mind that not all FB ads are effective. You have to work at it and invest till you establish a successful formula, and many people give up on them without ever turning a profit.
Although I believe the days of FB pages might still be numbered, reports of their death are greatly exaggerated.
If you'd like an update on how my Facebook author page is looking now, here's the link –
feel free to hop over and like it!
OVER TO YOU Have I missed something? Is there a flaw in my reasoning? Let me know if you disagree with my findings! And if you have other tips to share about optimising the impact of FB pages, we'd love to hear them!#Authors: here's 1 surprisingly simple tip to raise Facebook fan page reach - by @DebbieYoungBN Click To Tweet
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