The inexorable march of Facebook

Earlier on this year, Facebook celebrated its one billionth user. Not bad for a website which is no more than six years old. This statistic looks all the more startling when you consider that globally, there are just 2 billion people online.

Their game plan now is to take on the might of the internet itself, certainly with regard to consumer-facing websites. Facebook Pages, pay-per-click advertising and promoted posts mean that brands can engage directly with potentially vast target audiences accessing the site through computers or, increasingly, via mobile devices.

Since its IPO earlier this year, Facebook has had to look at innovative ways to make a profit without alienating its users – not an easy task. The introduction of sponsored stories enabled it to post advertisements in the news feeds of users accessing the social network via smartphones or tablets while it is also introducing Facebook Deals as a way to incentivise engaged consumer bases – again on a mobile interface.

However, all this activity has come at a cost. The sheer weight of content being posted means Facebook has had to introduce a filter. Known as EdgeRank, this algorithm (similar to Google’s PageRank), decides what will and won’t appear in people’s news feeds. The result is that on average, only 15% of a Page’s fans will see the updates which are posted. The same is even true for individual’s Profiles. How many of YOUR friends’ updates do you no longer see?

This algorithm looks at three different factors:

  • What is the quality of the content being posted. Images, videos and links all rank highly.
  • How often is content posted. Three-five times a day is now deemed the norm.
  • How viral the content is. That is to say, how many of your Page’s fans engage with what you post through sharing, commenting or liking.

Clearly, this means that for a Page to work effectively, you need to be devoting considerable time to planning your content, gathering together the necessary information and collateral to post as well as posting the sort of things that your fans will be interested in.

Unfortunately most brands don’t know about EdgeRank and as a result, their Pages are effectively invisible in news feeds. Coupled with the fact that 92% of people who Like a Page never visit again, you may find that having a Facebook presence is a total waste of time.

This is why it is absolutely vital that you have a dedicated strategy for Facebook and you are able to answer these key questions:

  • What are your objectives for the Page? Customer service, lead generation, brand awareness?
  • What are you going to post? Updates, press releases, comments, videos, pictures?
  • How are you going to get people to Like your Page? This is a strategy in itself.
  • Who is going to administer the Page? There are five different levels of access.
  • How will you deal with negative comments on the Page? Think about service recovery.
  • How will you measure the performance of your Page?

We can help with all these aspects so if you are thinking about using Facebook as part of your marketing and communications strategy, get in contact.

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