What are 43 million Facebook Page posts telling researchers? That Facebook Page engagement is down 50%, and social media engagement strategies should be re-examined ASAP.
Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm in January 2018 to prioritize content from friends over that from Pages. Naturally, this hurt the ability of businesses to reach prospects through the News Feed.
Here are the top four takeaways from their report seven months later. We’ll also tell you how much you or your agency should worry about the trend -- and what to do to counteract it.
4 Key Findings That Should Impact Your Social Media Engagement Strategies
1. Page Engagement Continues to Dwindle
When Facebook announced the News Feed change, everyone assumed that branded content would suffer. Buffer’s discovery that Page engagement dropped by more than 50% in a 18-month span was a bit of a shock, though.
What’s to blame? Facebook’s recommitment to the good ol’ days of helping users catch up with friends and family first. Facebook Page content isn’t entirely gone from News Feeds but it has to deal with this revised priority structure for all content:
- Was the content shared over Facebook Messenger?
- Has the content been Liked or commented on?
- Has the content received multiple replies?
- Have there been "meaningful interactions" between users?
Shares and comments are considered "active" interactions, which Facebook considers more "meaningful" when prioritizing content on the News Feed. For that reason companies who fail to create meaningful content will see lower:
- Organic reach
- Referral traffic
- Video watch time
If your social media engagement strategies heavily lean on organic Facebook reach, there’s a good chance your lead generation is sagging.
What You Can Do
- Give your fans a gentle nudge. Your fans can go to the Pages Feed on the left sidebar of their News Feed to view posts from Pages they've Liked. It’s OK to occasionally remind them of that. It’s also cool to encourage fans to engage with your posts so they see more of them. You can do this subtly by adding "Please Like and share!" at the end of a post.
- Spend more time and effort on other social sites. Focus your marketing strategy more in places like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn (we love this one for B2Bs and manufacturers).
- Spend more time and effort on things you CAN control. Email marketing is still a viable lead generator. Your blog could always use more fresh or repurposed content. Your website might need some touching up for mobile friendliness. Sometimes it just make more sense to focus on the channels you entirely own and control
We’re not telling you to quit Facebook. Just remember there are other avenues to reaching prospects.
3. Pages Are Flooding Facebook With Crap
Over the past year, the number of posts per quarter from the 20,000 Pages analyzed has climbed 24% to 8.1 million.
There's so much content being published that cutting through the noise is nearly impossible. And Facebook is trying harder than ever to show people the content most relevant to them, further reducing your reach.
What You Can Do
- Pay to be seen. Many marketers suspect Facebook has a hidden motive behind these changes: to get businesses to spend more on ads and "promoted" content. If you really want to reach a highly specific audience, you’ll need to do some paid advertising of your relevant blog posts, e-books, etc. Nowadays can pay to reach your buyer persona based on demographics, interests, and online tendencies. Check out Facebook Ads Manager here.
- Adjust your publishing times. When are your ideal customers online? Which times of day seem to the best results. Analyze and revise your posting strategy based on your findings.
- Take your message elsewhere on Facebook. Is your industry one that loves to use Groups on Facebook? Groups are mini-communities within Facebook that are created by users with a shared interest. Join Groups to extend your reach by promoting your brand -- tastefully and when appropriate (some prohibit promotional content). You can also make your own Group and invite users to join.
3. Stop Spamming the ‘Share Now’ Button
Pages that post less than once each day get the highest per-post engagement. Those pages also received the lowest total engagement. The more you post daily, the closer you get to that threshold where it’s no longer effective.
HubSpot and Buffer say 5x per day is the ideal compromise. We think that’s a little excessive for small- and mid-sized B2B and manufacturing clients, so feel free to go a bit lower.
What You Can Do
- Be more selective about what you publish. Audit your page's posts to get an idea what sparks engagement among Facebook users. Useful content is far less likely to make people tune your brand out once they see its name scroll across their feed. By making meaningful posts that stir discussion, Facebook's algorithm will push you up the News Feed.
To summarize: Maybe posting that same lame ad for the 50th time is doing more harm than good.
4. Images Get the Highest Engagement
Buffer’s study found that images get the most engagement out of any content type on Pages.
When its algorithm change was announced, Facebook encouraged Page admins to invest in more video -- particularly live video -- which makes this finding a bit surprising.
Facebook eventually announced several new live video tools, such as Watch and IGTV, to help with live video efforts.
Not that even for photos, interaction is down -- they’re just sucking the least right now. The average engagement per image post fell more than 63% from Q1 2017, to Q2 2018.
What You Can Do
- Use both. Users can digest photos quickly. Videos make visitors stop, watch, and maybe even unmute their volume. Any sort of striking visual element is a great way to cut through the noise.
- Make ‘em live (and local). Facebook claims live videos get 6x more engagement than non-live ones. So start broadcasting on Facebook Live. Don’t forget to advertise on other platforms what you're doing on Facebook. Broadcast for at least 10 minutes to increase your odds of making the News Feed. And keep it local -- native Facebook videos have a 186% higher engagement rate and are shared 1,000%-plus more than videos linked from other sites.
The Future of Facebook Engagement
It’s probably a matter of time before organic reach is extinct.
This summer, Facebook predicted slowed growth for the rest of the year. As the platform continues to focus on growing social connections rather than business ones, It’s reasonable to expect Pages to stop growing, too.
Content marketing has taken a backseat, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon the road completely.
Instead, we recommended you re-evaluate your social media strategy using the points above. Study the data, keep experimenting, and hold tight until the next aggravating algorithm change from Team Zuckerberg.