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The #1 Reason Why Your Facebook Page Isn’t Growing (And 5 others too)

Facebook Likes

This article was co-written by Jon Ostrow and Ariel Hyatt

If you are anything like the majority of people, artists, authors, entrepreneurs and beyond who have built a Facebook fan page, then I’m sure you’ve noticed something…

Facebook makes it ALMOST impossible to make any sort of real growth happen.

A recent study reported by Mashable (from Napkin Labs), showed that on average only 6% of fans engage with a brand’s Facebook page:

On average, just 6% of fans engage with a brand’s Facebook Page via likes, comments, polls and other means, according to a study from Napkin Labs, a Facebook app developer that works with brands and agencies. Of those fans that did, the average engagement was the equivalent of less than one like over the course of the eight weeks the study was conducted.

There are several reasons for this. Most of these, truthfully, are human error which we will discuss below. But there is no doubt that Facebook is taking strides to make it more difficult for you to achieve growth & impressions on their platform.

The problem at hand is akin to a common proverb:

Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime…

Except in Facebook’s case, it’s more like, once you teach the man to fish, you then put a thick layer of ice over the water, making it FAR more difficult.

So let’s dive into the issues at hand below:

You Don’t Pay. Period.

This is the proverbial ‘ice over the water’. No matter what you do to correct your own understanding of how Facebook works, and implement a more effective strategy, you WILL have to deal with the fact that Facebook uses an algorithm that works in the favor of advertisers. The money that advertisers spend on Facebook grants them first access through the ice to all of the fish in the sea.

A friend of Ariel’s, technologist Marcus Whitney explained the dilemma here beautifully in a recent panel they spoke on for AIMP at ASCAP in Nashville (reported by Music Row):

“Of FB’s $1.53 billion in revenue, 95% of what they earned was in advertising and 25% of that was from mobile ads. You used to be able to reach 100% of the people that liked your page on FB, but now you can at max reach 15% of them without paying.”

At the end of the day, Facebook is catering to their customers. Believe it or not, but Facebook’s customers are not you. They are advertisers. They are the people willing to spend money to be connected with others, and this algorithm was created to ensure that this happens.

Facebook has created an option for those of us who are NOT full-time advertisers, that for better or worse, gives the opportunity to ‘gain access to fish in the sea’ more quickly and effectively. This is the dreaded ‘promoted post’ function that Facebook introduced several months back.

By paying even as little as $15, you are FAR more likely to see true engagement happen on your posts, simply because Facebook is ALLOWING this to happen (because you’ve paid for it!).

As ridiculous as this seems, this option does present you with a good opportunity to jumpstart the engagement of a new page by promoting select posts that nurture strong engagement with your audience.

Ariel and I tested this over the Holiday season with one promoted post and here were our results:

Cyber PR Promoted Post

With just $15 spent, we received 46 likes, 237 comments and most importantly (for the purpose of this ‘algorithm’ conversation), the number of people who SAW the post was 4,517…

A whopping 10 TIMES the number of our average post.

But even with this great response from the one promoted post, it would have meant nothing had we not been prepared to leverage the new engagement through a strong strategy.

This strategy is the piece that so many are missing. This is the human error mentioned above. Here are 5 things that, if you don’t do, you’ll never reach the level of success you hope to achieve through Facebook:

You Don’t Post Consistent, Compelling Content (CCC)

This means that your content is not only consistent in terms of the style and theme, but in terms of frequency as well. A well run Facebook fan page should have 1 post per day (2 if you are getting great engagement) and the content should be varied enough to keep it interesting but similar enough that it helps to develop your overall brand.

Your Don’t Use Mixed Media

Facebook is not Twitter. Text isn’t the answer to success on Facebook. Facebook has acknowledged the fact that people are more likely to engage with photos, videos and links than they are simple, standard text updates.

Engaged Media on Facebook

Facebook gives these types of posts more weight in their algorithm.

3. Your Don’t Focus on Community

Facebook is a SOCIAL network. It is not a broadcast tool. If you spend your time on Facebook telling people about yourself over and over again like a broken records rather than asking, conversing and building real relationships, you’ll miss out on what Facebook actually has to offer. Find ways that your fans can not only interact with you, but can interact with each other, and you’ll really start to see some magic happen on your page as well.

4. You Don’t RE-Engage Your Community / AKA You Only Engage ONCE

It is one thing to ask questions to your fans on Facebook, or to share compelling content that warrants comments, questions, etc. - but it is entirely different for you to RE-engage your community by responding to each comment and question. It is this re-engagement of your community that will keep them coming back, helping them to build stronger loyalty to your brand. Oh… and all of this will help you to rank higher in the algorithm.

It is a snowball effect, the better you perform, the more weight your posts will hold in FB’s algorithm, and the more people will see your posts and engage with them…

5. You Don’t Pay Attention to Analytics

It is shocking how many people ignore the fact that Facebook actually GIVES you detailed analytics on your fan page. They do this for a reason! (See: the snowball effect above in #4).

Facebook’s ‘Insights’ give you a detailed look at who your fan base is, where they live, and most importantly, what content they are most willing to engage with. Your content strategy never needs to be a static thing - it should be fluid! It should shape-shift as you find out more about who your fans are and what their needs are. Using Facebook Insights is critical to a strong Facebook fan page that holds well in Facebook’s algorithm.

Of course, using Facebook Insights are only helpful if you know what the average metrics on Facebook are, so that you can compare your efforts to the standard.

First off, you have to understand the average number of fans on a Facebook page… this will help you establish a realistic goal to work for:

[caption id=”attachment_9247” align=”aligncenter” width=”500”]Source: Source:[/caption]

Secondly, once you have a realistic fan growth goal, you need to understand what the realistic amount of engagement of your total fan base actually is! Believe it or not, the average engagement rate of a fan page (Engagement Rate = ‘People Talking About This Page’ / Total Number of Likes) is between .5% and .99%. A GOOD engagement rate is anything over 1%.

What HAVE You Done in Order to Best the ‘Facebook Algorithm’ and Garner Stronger Results?

We’d love to hear about your own experiences overcoming Facebook’s challenges! Leave us your feedback in the form of a comment below.

Reader Comments (17)

Great article guys!

Just want to add that many of my unpaid posts perform better than my paid ones. Looking at the last couple of weeks, I see two updates that reached 38% and 36% of my fans (3,818 and 3,652 people), and a $15 paid post that only reached 24% (2,397).

The two engaged updates related to Depeche Mode, who have a new album coming out tomorrow. The paid post obviously wasn't particularly engaging. I was featured on a podcast and wanted to help the show out by spreading the word as far as I could.

My take-away is that Facebook isn't FORCING you to pay to reach your fans, as some claim. Only the uninterested ones.

March 25 | Registered CommenterBrian Hazard

Great point Brian, thanks for contributing your own experiences with this!

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterJon Ostrow

We've noticed that the posts which generate the most views are those that are pictures in which people (band members & friends/fans) have been tagged.

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Meh... I do agree with keeping posts consistent and definitely engaging the fanbase. However, my only experience with paid/promoted posts is that it seems to be promoted to nothing but Indonesian accounts. My page has a way stronger base here in the U.S. and even has higher numbers coming from the UK and Australia, but when I pay to promote a post, it only attracts hits from Indonesia. So, not worth my time or money to pay for something that is going to be skewed that severely. If I can't grow here at home, where people are actually willing to engage in conversation via comments and such, what's the point?

Also, lately, it doesn't matter what I post... whether it has video content, photos, etc... 9 out of 10 posts have no engagement at all regardless of how many people might see it. And at best, it's only about 10% of my total and sometimes as low as 1%. Platform as a whole is becoming pretty useless overall, paid or not. I'm just waiting to see where everyone starts to migrate to next.

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterRebelPyro

Facebook promoted posts are great. They really do boost the visibility of a post. My personal experience that they do best when posted in the morning (US Eastern time). Promoted posts on weekends do NOT do that well. Geo-tag your promoted posts so that you don't waste your budget on "likers" from countries that don't really care too much about your brand. I actually have that problem and geo-tagging my promoted posts has gone a LONG way in alleviating that problem. As far as Facebook Insights is concerned, it is missing one VERY significant aspect. It does not "timestamp" the posts. It gives you analytics on posts but without the time that the post was made. We all know that engagement for a facebook fanpage post has more to do with just the type of content. Timing of a post is also key. Understanding how timing interacts with content type is something I would need to know to really leverage Facebook Insights - otherwise it does not really offer me something in the way of aiding me in making data-driven decisions.

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterPranav

This is a great read! Thanks for sharing because I've had mixed emotions about my reach on Facebook. As fans stop by and like or comment, I've found it impossible with some of those post to like or comment back. Recently I performed a showcase and someone posted something really nice but I couldn't like his post or comment or go to his profile to do this. So I had to post on my page hoping this guy catches it. On the flip, I can post music, videos etc...and it seems that the one thing that grabs everyones attention are stupid pics or comments that shouldn't mean anything. So my new thought process is that my fans like this type of thing the most maybe because it seems more personal? I might spend the 15 bucks and give the promo tool a try once but as with every other social sight out there, seems to me none of this makes a large impact.

March 26 | Unregistered Commenterscott wesley

Great article that brings up some really valid points.

I agree that paying Facebook for exposure is a great way to build your base. The money I have invested in Facebook advertising has really paid off...not real expensive but can be very useful in getting your posts exposed...highly recommend.

Also, if you are not posting at least twice a day your are wasting your time with Facebook! some many things that are interent all about producing fresh and interesting content for your particular niche.

Content is king when it comes to inteent marketing...Google requires it...and every other site loves it...YOU MUST WRITE FRSH CONTENT DAILY TO BE A SUCCESSFUL IN ONLINE MARKETING!

The other aspects of your article are true and worthwhile....but if there is one thing that needs to be driven home for findag and reaching your target on audience on Facebook...or any where that you must keep people coming back to find daily updates in their niche of choice and the only way to do that is with fresh content.

March 26 | Unregistered CommenterAlby Singler

I disagree. Facebook fundamentally understands that the user is more important than the advertiser and is taking actions on behalf of their users. The company is adjusting strategy based on user data, insights we can't see from the public eye. Without the user, Facebook has no way of making money. They have no audience.

If your Facebook followers are not engaging in your content, Facebook reads that as a sign that the particular page is not of great importance to the user. Reality bites, not everyone of your followers cares as much as you do about your posts. A percentage of your likes come from diehard fans, some are casual, some only know one song.

As Facebook exploded in popularity and page "likes" grew, Facebook quickly noticed users were inundated with too much content. Grandma could no longer keep up with her grandchildren's photos because ABC, Pepsi, Food Network, Best Buy, and the like were inundating the feed. The Facebook wall feed became less personal and Grandma wasn't as interested in checking Facebook as frequently anymore. Grandma is the example but this was happening on a global level and users starting engaging less. Too much content, too little time to engage and explore everything. Again, its about the users.. without the users you have no social network, and no advertising interest. Facebook made a fundamental algorithm change to keep the audience interested. Reduce the noise, engagement goes up.

For musicians with pages, the real mystery is how many posts without any level of engagement does it take for Facebook to come to the conclusion that your page is no longer important to the user. It could be 5, 10, 15, who knows, its the secret of the algorithm. The determination is likely a combination of post frequency and time (average time the user has been following the page). This is why its important to redefine your Facebook strategy so that even the simple action of a user liking a photo will keep your artist Facebook page in good graces with the almighty algorithm. It shows a level of interest.

Do your own homework, go to your profile and look at all the pages you've liked in the past. I bet there are dozens that you haven't seen pop up in your news feed in a while… Now ask yourself if you've liked, commented, or shared a piece of content from that page in the past 3 months, 6 months, etc.. If you haven't, go like a post from that page and see if the brand shows up tomorrow on your feed :)

March 26 | Registered CommenterJeff Kuprycz

Great information right here. Do you think that it is mandatory to have a Facebook fan page?

March 26 | Unregistered CommenterPraverb

Comparing numbers from over a year's worth of data from my fan page reveals that even with very limited "paid" type advertising the "organic" views of post are exponential when compared to periods in which I didn't utilized any paid advertising. Recently was streaming my content at SXSW and Shaq was at the booth as part of a co-promotion. I posted one of these photos and that post got "viral reach" that was 50x greater than any other post I've ever made. It's possible that "celebrity" oriented content is also somehow elevated in their algorithms also.

To address one commenter above about geographic regions. Paid advertising allows you to restrict the targeted base. So you can specifically exclude or include areas to target. It also allows specific targeting based on other pages a user "likes" already. So I used this criteria to target specifically people who liked similar sounding music and referenced those artists in my ad wording. My "talking about" has risen to > 3% since taking this approach. Also the click/action rates are exponentially higher than non-specific ads.

So.. the text:

"If you like New Order,Pink Floyd,DEVO, Stevie Wonder or Herbie Hancock. You'll LOVE PHATA."

Targeted to people > 18, located in the US, who "like" .. New Order, Pink Floyd, DEVO, Stevie Wonder or Herbie Hancock pages that are NOT already affiliated with PHATA .. produced very high conversion and "buzz"

March 28 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Hardee

This was a great read and informative. I use Facebook Ads on my profile not pages simply because it's cheaper, just $1. What I like the most is that all my friends will see the post when they log-in, like it or not haha...

What I normally do is post the album art of my latest release, click promote, pay $1 and wallah... Many likes, comments and my most favorite, "Shares" I like when my friends or fans share my post. But I don't do this frequently, mostly I'll use it when I have something new out in stores or promoting something. After all, it's a dollar

So, all I can say is, take this advise and use it guys it's really worth it. Great info I'll be sharing on my page. Thnx!!

March 28 | Unregistered CommenterGugulethu

I've posted several times through out the day. I've watched the time my audience is mostly likely to be online first. Because if they're not online it doesn't matter what you're posting or paying for. I have almost 12k fans and sometimes only 900 people see the post. Then other times 30k people see my post.

I rely on my fans sharing my post themselves. This seems to be the best way to deal with facebook. Again I will never pay for a post. I don't see the purpose if they're going to charge outrages prices. I also named my page the same as my website so every time a fan shares my post their friends are reading the name of my website and yes I have .com behind my name.

March 30 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Great article loaded with really useful information.

The key developing a following on Facebook is to post 2-3 articles a day and gear them toward exactly what problems people in your niche are having...this will attract the most followers quickly. One of your post can be on something of general interest...but most people are looking to solve problems. If you can show them how, they will follow you daily!

April 1 | Unregistered CommenterDazzy Goodman

I find the only asset of having a Facebook fan page, is the custom url that matches your Twitter account. This gives your customers the warm and fuzzy when they see your company has social media interactions. If you conduct an internet search on your company, you should find your Twitter will be on the top of the search results. When Google slows down to take a breath and sets their priorities..., Google+ and Twitter will be here to stay. With Facebook being forced to go public...I see "Facebook II" being a great hit like Myspace II. Also I find the ones that originally had a Facebook account for their company (instead of fan page) are better off with getting their feed seen.

April 8 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Olsen

I am always adding photos or talking to other Facebook users and commenting on many things I see, but for three days now I can't get onto my page and keep being prompted to start a new page. I know my page is still there as other people can still see it. But I can't get onto it any more. Colin

We find it easy to drive the Facebook Page numbers...and agree with your suggesting. They align with our experiences.
But what we now see is that these page numbers are not transferring into website page views.
On a recent post on our FB page we got 140+ likes in a few hours.... But it translated to <30 page views over 2 days.
Since the whole point of the website is to get reads per post.... The Facebook Page and indeed FB itself, seem to be getting in the way or real interaction, just like real life......

My promoted posts were also shown to a lot of Indonesian fans. This is because Facebook shows your promoted posts to the fans it believes are most likely to engage with your post/page. Unfortunately fake profiles engage more than real profiles! So I was effectively paying for posts to be seen by...well no one really! I limited my paid posts to exclude Indonesian fans. By the way I hadn't been getting any business from Indonesia anyway. After working so hard to build up my page I have found it disheartening now paid posts have been introduced.

December 31 | Unregistered CommenterToni

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