The State of Facebook: What’s Working Now

Image of Facebook Logo

You may have noticed some of your fellow business owners are getting just a little bit fed up with Facebook.

If you’re trying to use it to grow your business online, you may have joined them. You might be tired of the moving target that Facebook marketing presents. You might be annoyed at new “features” that seem to make the experience worse, not better.

And of course, lots of people are talking about the latest aggravation — the question of whether or not your Page’s updates, images, and links are reaching enough of your fans.

But there are things that are still working — and working well — on Facebook. So if you’re going to stick with it, let’s get into what does work.

Before we get into the details, let’s step back and cover a very important concept that will help you understand how the Facebook News Feed works: EdgeRank.

What is Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm?

You may have heard of EdgeRank. Maybe you’ve read that it’s an evil force to keep your posts out of the hands of your fans. And, in a way, that’s true. EdgeRank is Facebook’s proprietary algorithm that determines what goes into the News Feed of every person on Facebook.

The average Facebook user has 245 friends — according to a recent Pew Research study. Because a Facebook user is connected to a lot of Pages and Groups, the News Feed would be more like a Twitter feed if they saw every story that was posted from every friend, Page, and Group they were connected to.

(Stay with me, I know some people would like to see every single post, and I’ll get to that.)

Facebook is similar to Google in that it wants to show the most interesting things in the Feed just like Google wants to show you the most relevant items for a search. So Facebook keeps track of how you behave on Facebook.

Let’s take a look at the actual EdgeRank formula:


Before we get all freaked out about this mathematical equation, I’ll boil it down to one simple concept — fresh, interesting content wins. But there’s a little twist: you have to continue to be interesting. Let’s dive deeper and describe the three factors that go into this formula.

Affinity is a measure of how often a person has interacted with another person’s or Page’s content in the past. So I might Like, Share, or comment on every post that my friend Beth posts, and so Facebook realizes that I find Beth’s content interesting. Facebook makes sure that Beth’s posts go into my News Feed every time.

But Beth might find my posts boring and dull. She never Likes or comments on my posts. (Damn that Beth.) Facebook then does not put my posts into Beth’s News Feed. This works the same with Pages that you Like, but it’s more of a one-way street.

So Page owners need to make sure their content is interesting and they are encouraging Likes, comments and Shares so that their posts continue to show up in their Fans’ News Feeds.

Weight is a measure of how many comments, Likes, and Shares a post is getting — sort of a post “popularity contest.” The more popular the post is, the more likely that Facebook will show it in your News Feed, even if you haven’t had an “affinity” with that person or Page in the past.

Let’s say I’ve never interacted with the posts from the Denny’s Fan Page, even though I’m a Fan. One day, all my friends are commenting on one of their posts about Moons over My Hammy. Facebook decides that I may want to see that post too, and puts it into my News Feed.

Decay is basically how old the post is. Facebook usually shows recent content in your News Feed, but an older post that has a higher weight or affinity can beat a less interesting newer post.

Now that we have EdgeRank defined, I want to make sure that you know that it is a proprietary algorithm and no one besides Facebook can “measure” your EdgeRank. The best gauge you have for how much interaction you are getting on your Page is your People Talking About This Number.

The People Talking About This (or PTAT) number includes all the following activities that happen on your page over a one-week rolling period:

  • Liking a page
  • Posting to a page’s wall
  • Liking, commenting on, or sharing a page post (or other content on a page, like photos, videos or albums)
  • Answering a question posted to an event
  • Mentioning a page in a post
  • Phototagging a page
  • Liking or sharing a check-in deal
  • Checking in at a place (if your page has a place merged with it)

All of these activities equal engagement with a Page. They will all increase the Affinity between a Fan and your Page.

If you take your PTAT divided by your total number of Fans, then you get a number you can compare to other Pages to see how their engagement compares to yours. The People Talking About This number is public information.

A healthy Page typically has a PTAT percentage of 2% or more.

OK, now that we’re all on the same page (so to speak), let’s get into what’s working right now and address some of the Facebook conspiracy theories that are circulating.

Images get more engagement, text has more reach

Images are kicking butt by getting more comments, Likes, and Shares in general. One study by Hubspot found that photos were getting
53% more Likes than the average post.

And a little mind-blowing factoid is that Facebook users are uploading 300 Million images per day. That is a lot of cat pictures.

So does that mean you should only post pictures? Not necessarily.

A recent phenomenon has surfaced and been confirmed by many Page owners and number crunchers that Text posts have been getting much higher Reach. Meaning those posts are going into more of their Fans’ News Feeds.

If you look at your own Facebook Insights and sort by the Reach column, you can see if this is true for your Page. The green quote symbol next to the post indicates that it is a Text post.


So should you be posting only Text posts? Not necessarily. Now take those same Insights and sort by your Talking About This number to see which posts are getting the most engagement. You can also sort by the “Engaged Users” column, which measures the posts that people have clicked on the most. You will probably see a similar set of posts but maybe more Link posts.


So what should you be posting? Here’s the answer — variety. Since text posts are getting to more of your Fans right now, make sure you post some text posts. Since photos are getting more engagement, post some of those.

And since you want to link back to your blog or website to drive traffic, post links!

Just make sure you are watching your own statistics and not relying on what others are telling you to post. See what works for you.

The truth about Promoted Posts

Many people have been speculating that Facebook is deliberately not showing Facebook Page posts in the News Feed in order to increase advertising revenue.

The fact is, Facebook is a public company and does need to make money. I don’t think they’ll allow a mass exodus of brands and businesses away from the platform — I believe there will always be a balance between paid and free reach for businesses.

What we do know is that Facebook made changes to their algorithm in September that have resulted in a decrease in the Reach numbers of many Pages. Facebook continually tweaks their algorithm — another reason not to rely on them as the sole site for your marketing.

Facebook posts have never reached 100% of your audience. The important thing to remember is that if you have good engagement on your Facebook Page, you are going to reach more of your audience for free compared to Pages that have poor engagement. So be interesting!

But if you do want some of your posts to get pushed into more of your Fans’ News Feeds, the Promoted Post can be a good way to do that. The Promoted Post only goes into the News Feed of your current Fans.

By the way, I highly recommend you do not opt for the Friends of Fans option that is offered. There are just too many reports of posts going to untargeted people that make no sense for your Page to advertise to.


When should you use a Promoted Post and how do you get the most out of your investment? I suggest using them if your engagement has dropped off significantly, and for occasional marketing messages.

Make sure the posts you promote are fun, interesting, and valuable to your audience. Promoting content your readers don’t want just won’t do you any good. They can be a good tool to re-engage your audience, but you can only get a good response of Likes, Shares, and comments with audience-friendly content. Again, I would use them sparingly for marketing messages.

What about Interest Lists?

Maybe you’ve seen the posts from Pages telling their Fans to add them to an Interest List.

But does it help? Yes — sort of. But the reader does have to remember to click on the Interest List to see the posts from time to time, which many people don’t think to do. Once someone has created an Interest List, it shows up in the lower left corner of their Home page.


Once the user clicks on the Interest List, they see the posts from the Pages or people that they have put on that list. Even that isn’t perfect. If the list gets large, Facebook still does not show every single update. But you might as well educate your Fans on the use of Interest Lists, since it can’t hurt.

Facebook Pages Feed

Facebook recently introduced the Pages Feed on the Home page of personal profiles. This is similar to Facebook Interest Lists, but Facebook has automatically added all the Pages users currently Like onto this List. All you have to do is to click the Pages Feed to see a dedicated News Feed of Page updates.


This is not perfect either. (Starting to sound familiar?) I have found many updates missing, and they are often not in chronological order. But again, this can only help your Page be more visible to your audience, so let your people know about this option.

Facebook Page Notifications

Yet another fancy tool that Facebook has released is the option for your Fans to request a Facebook notification (the little world icon that appears in the top menu bar of Facebook) whenever a Page posts a new update. All you need to do is go to the Page itself, hover over the Liked button, and then click Get Notifications.


Once again, not perfect. People have to watch their notifications closely, and if they are getting too many notifications, they will miss your update. But I do get the notifications of the Pages I have requested. One more tactic for the “this can’t hurt” folder.


The magic formula for Facebook success

Here’s the magic formula — there is no magic formula!

Facebook constantly changes. Not all of those changes work the way they’re supposed to. And the user experience may not be the same from page to page.

Everyone’s audience is different, and responds to different types of content. So watch your own statistics, try different things, and track your results. The magic formula is creating the good content and engaging updates that your audience craves.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, the moral of the story is don’t rely too heavily on Facebook for your marketing. Make sure you are spending time and effort converting those Fans into email subscribers by offering them freebies, webinars, or other goodies.

And of course, make sure your posts are fun and interesting. It’s called social networking for a reason.

What about you? What’s working right now for your Facebook Page? What’s driving you crazy? Are you frustrated with all the changes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author: Are you ready to drink the Facebook Kool-aid? If so, Andrea Vahl has lots of handy tutorials on how to get started and how to effectively use Facebook, with the help of her alter ego, Grandma Mary. Get more from Andrea and Grandma here: AndreaVahl.com.

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  1. Ohhh…. it blows my mind…as I am newbie to the blogging and I have few number of likes on Facebook page… then how do I reach to the more people to get more likes as I am creating great content but because of few likes the percentage of reach is relatively low !!!
    I decided to use Facebook for blog marketing and to reach more people but it also requires seo (Facebook called)

    • It can be frustrating for sure aditya. I think spending some money on ads can be a great way to boost your likes up – sometimes it helps to have a critical mass on Facebook to get more comments, Likes and Shares. The good news is that I think valuable content will work in your favor by building up your blog which will then also contribute to your social connections.

    • Michael Gerard :

      Use FB advertising to drive people outside your own connections to your FB page.
      1. Create an intersting ad that piques interest
      2. Select a narrow demogrpahic to target
      3. Select a narrow geo-grpahic area
      4. Set a small budget to start – $25/wk can easily reach tens of thousands of FB users

      Example: a nice creative targeted to men between 24 and 48 years old in the Des Moines, IA area.

  2. I have never bet all mine on the one horse…Facebook. Content seemed to be the best answer for me 4 years ago when I started all this. It worked out very well in the end. Thank you for this post Andrea, it really confirms what I do and teach, that social media is great, but it is only a slice of the brand awareness creating pie.

    • Yes, that is for sure. I think focusing on great content is the main thing for any business. Digital sharecropping is a risky business but social can help spread the word about your great content.

  3. Outstanding job Andrea!

  4. Excellent break down of the FB situation! I’m one of those increasingly grumpy about FB peeps. Because, perhaps mistakenly, I did believe that most of my followers were seeing my page content. And I think this mistaken belief was shared by lots of us smaller bloggers so there is a sense that we were duped. And I still feel that FB is cheating in that they’re coaxing us to advertise on FB/pay for promoted posts so that we can get more “likes” even as an increasingly smaller % of our fans will actually see our content.

    This may not represent the norm but I did a “promoted post” experiment last week (admittedly stingy budget of only $10) and while the views was high the increased engagement (shares, likes, etc.) was low so by my own math, it cost me almost $2/new page like and $.50/post like. In my little world that is an exorbitant sum to pay, I would pay far less to get better traffic via Adwords. Would love it if anybody else has run any promoted post experiments they would be willing to share?

    • Promoted posts are great for your own audience and can really help with bringing about awareness to a particularly awesome thing you want to share. But I would not suggest them as a means to get new Likes. Traditional Facebook ads are a much better way to do that and have been economical – I’ve seen anywhere from $0.11 – $1 per new Like with the average costing about $0.50 per new like. But I think it makes sense to try and convert those Likes to e-mail subscribers so you aren’t relying on Facebook to get your new content to them.

      I’d love to hear others experiences as well! Thanks for your comment!

      • I experiment with promoted posts frequently for my businesses page and have learned several things but most importantly, ALWAYS geo-target a promoted post. Without geo-targeting, and like Andrea suggested, selecting just those who like your page, your post will be sent out to the whole world. After one promoted post that on the surface looked wildly successful, I noticed that within my top 3 engaged cities 2 were in Taiwan and Indonesia (we’re a regional theater in Minneapolis, MN!). Furthermore, upon further inspection the people who liked the post we’re often times real people but most of their friends were bot profiles. Facebook has made some acknowledgement of this issue and cleaned house of fake profiles a month back or so, but the problem is far from fixed. It is a bit of a suckers game if you ask me. Before executing anything on Facebook, do your research!

  5. Facebook business pages are bullshit. I reach more prospects, deliver more content, and get more referrals thru my friends lists, LinkedIn, and an e-news letter than on a FB page.

    Never let someone else decide if your content is worthy enough for your clients because it is your brand you’re selling, and how knows better about your business than you?

    • That’s awesome DSC. :) I think it really depends on the business. I have really been enjoying LinkedIn lately and think that they are doing some great things with Company Pages as well. I think it makes sense to stick with what’s working for you or any business. It’s so important to track your referrals so that you know if your investment of time is worth it.

  6. Andrea, I am not utilizing the power of Facebook Page, instead I’m more focusing on my personal profile and it’s content. You’re right images taking place in engagement, especially if you’ve grip on what your target audience is looking to have.

  7. Fantastic post Andrea. I am a big believer in the power of marketing with Facebook and I think you nailed it by clarifying that there is not magic formula for success. It’s all about variety, trial and error, along with a combination of paid and organic. Facebook has turned into a very nice lead generation tool for us over the past few months and has become one of our top prospect drivers. Only time will tell regarding the quality of the leads, but that’s another post altogether. We published the results from the past three months of FB advertising here and I went into detail regarding what specifically worked for us. http://blog.marketo.com/blog/2012/11/does-facebook-work-for-b2b-lead-generation-hell-yes.html
    Would love to hear your feedback on our results.
    Thanks! – Jason

  8. This is extremely informative on a much talked about topic. Wonder if this will cause more folks to look at Google Plus which doesn’t currently do this or if folks will appreciate more seeing predetermined good content?

    • It’s definitely been a threat that I’ve heard a lot of people say. But I think there still needs to be a little more action over at Google+ I like Google+ a lot but I know a lot of people don’t get over there too much.

  9. I think the two points raised here are of real importance. One not to just rely on facebook for all your marketing. Agreed people are on facebook, but that is just not the only place. Other is that facebook does not want mass exodus of Brands and thus it will create balance between advertised and non-advertised pages.
    I had no idea friends of fans was a bad option.

    • Thanks Nikhil! I think the friends of fans option has worked for some, I have just had too many people get strange results from it so I’m telling people to stay away for now.

  10. This is the most thorough article I’ve read lately about FB. Everyone is just saying it’s changing… but not enough folks are talking about what to do next. Good read.

  11. I’m finding on my page my text only posts are getting more views than those with images. Thank you for the explanation of what’s working, Andrea. You are my to-go person for all things Facebook.

  12. Great info Andrea. It’s nice to see EdgeRank laid out in laymen’s terms. Thanks for your help!

  13. Hi Andrea,
    Thanks for giving these nice &useful tips.Facebook is the best way to engage with your audience.

  14. I have had very good responses when I ask for help. I tend to ask questions that don’t relate to my niche and usually get tons of comments. I think it’s because here we are offering them advice over an over… it feels good to be able to help someone you look up to.

    • Great advice, Jill! I think that asking for help and asking people chime in with their advice really makes a community come together. Everyone has their own experiences to share.

  15. Thanks for this post, Andrea! I’ve never been a huge fan of Facebook pages, simply because I don’t use them myself. But, in this business you go where the people are, and the people are on Facebook!

    I really enjoyed reading about all the new changes in a clear, succinct, understandable format. And, I now have even more ammunition to convince my clients that email is the way to go. Sometimes, I get clients who think that Facebook is the end-all and be-all of their marketing strategy. :)

    • Definitely Felicity! It helps to have some backup in that arena and to be able to lay the reasoning out. There are so many cries of “e-mail is dead” but it definitely isn’t!

  16. Thanks for such a clear, thorough explanation. Re-reading makes me think I actually understand what’s going on with FB’s evolving Edgerank. What it currently means, and how to capitalize on it.
    Well, my understanding is rudimentary at best, and I have a simple question about Promoted posts. I bet many others are asking a similar question.
    I’ve promoted a few posts to only my Fans, and I’m unclear about the results. For example, I have about 900 fans, and a recent promoted post had 336 “organic”, 1780 “viral”, 1917 “paid”, and 2110 “people saw this post”. What do these numbers mean?
    Specifically, how can I learn how many of my present fans saw each post in their newsfeeds? And how can I learn how many new people saw each post in a friend’s newsfeed?

    • Glad you liked it Robbie. Those are some interesting results and Facebook has not broken out exactly how it count these numbers to my knowledge.
      -Organic is how many people saw your post without it being “pushed” to them. It probably would have been how many users your post would have reached without the promotion.
      -Viral is how many users saw your post as a result of people interacting with that post (if someone commented on your post, then their friends may have seen that activity in the ticker)
      – Paid should be the number of people who saw the post as a result of the post being pushed into their news feed. But I think it is also a bit strange that you only posted it to Fans and you got a higher number that your total number of fans. I don’t have a good reason for this number and I haven’t seen anyone else address that problem either! Hmmm if I get to the bottom of it, I’ll let you know.

      • Thanks for your note, Andrea. Here’s a clue that might explain the # of “people who saw the post” exceeding the # of my fans: I failed to target the post’s location. I should have guessed this when so many “Likes” are coming from Europe and Asia.

        I bet lots of people share this problem.

        Facebook explains how to target: http://on.fb.me/11WjWUl. From now on I’ll try to target something closer to “50-mile radius of San Francisco”. Hopefully this will resolve the puzzle.

  17. I deleted my Facebook last night.

  18. I do some marketing on Facebook for my colleague. You hit the nail right on the head. Interesting content=engagement=revenue, just like it does for blogs, Twitter, YouTube etc.. Great post!!

  19. Kenneth Brown :

    This was some good information. I’ve been trying to figure out EdgeRank.

  20. This is the best post on EdgeRank that I’ve ever seen. Thanks, Andrea. I was unaware of the changes that were made in September.

  21. I totaly agree with most comments above. I believe that no business owner should ever rely on one or two social media sites. Yes they can be good to engage with your audience and yes, you want your customers to be able to find you there, but in my opinion online marketing should allways lead to your own website. Just how copyblogger does it so well!

  22. Excellent article . . . very well broken down. Thanks for the insight!

  23. Great blog post!

    After being a Facebook skeptic (for a B2B company like ours), I decided to experiment with Facebook to see if we cold actually get a return on all the time I spend on our company page. I used the Promoted Post option with a budget of just $10 per day. I’ve been running this test now for almost a month, pausing the ad every 3rd day so the ad doesn’t get “old” and overlooked. I was very careful to enter about 40 job titles (of all things) in the Interest field so that only our target audience saw the ad, and I limited it to our state and a few surrounding states.

    The result has been several new business leads at a cost of around $7 per lead. Our sales cycle tends to be longer, so I can’t tell if we will actually get new business from this, but the cost per lead sure beats Google Adwords and LinkedIn, where I’d pay that much just for a click!

    • That’s great, Rick! I think it definitely helps to track and compare what your cost to acquire a lead is on each of the ad platforms. I hope they convert!

  24. Excellent article! Like Frances says, “…the best post on EdgeRank that I’ve ever seen”. I’m lucky posting for an amusement park with a wonderful fan base, photo ops, and fun content abound. Interesting photos have always been top engagement posts for us. Especially when using Instagram. Which leads me to believe that the Facebook owned photo sharing app pulls a little extra “weight” in the scheme of things. Thanks bunches for the article. :)

  25. We’ve had fabulous success this month with some contests related to our 5K that is this week. Our engagement numbers are fabulous. We have had photo contests where people could post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter; Pinterest board contests, and they had to post their board to our FB page; and YouTube competition, which they also had to post to FB. The prizes have been additional money added to their fundraising total, with top teams and top individual fundraisers being eligible for some cool prizes and trips. It’s a layered approach that is across channels and has been very effective. Once all of this is over, we hope to keep some of our new folks engaged in new ways. The reality is that we know this will be a big boost and then it is back to the daily engagement strategies.

  26. Nothing substantive to add here as I currently focus on Twitter and Google+. A more concerted FB presence is in the offing, though. I read a lot of blog posts and have followed the recent fanfare about FB with interest. This post is really well done, explains EdgeRank as well as anything I’ve seen previously, and I’ve subscribed to your blog ;).

    Cheers,
    Wesley

  27. Fantastic post with insightful, thoughtful, and well organized information that we can all benefit from. In other words…typical Copyblogger ! Thanks so much.

  28. Hmm, very interesting. I’ve been focusing on Twitter a lot more than Facebook recently and it’s working well. More targeted traffic for me. Though I do wonder how the new MySpace will hold up, may be very interesting for people involved in the creative side of stuff. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Sam

  29. Yes, some people have gotten down on Facebook recently, but, let’s face it, FB remains a hugely important marketing tool. I enjoyed finding your post in the BizSugar community and am sure others will get plenty out of it too.

  30. Kudos for a well done article and certainly the best discussion on edge rank that I seen. FaceBook is one site that requires a lot of work as well as study to stay anywhere near up to speed on. Luckily articles like this one are out there to help us all out. Thanks!

  31. What a great in-depth article about Facebook. I just tried my first FB ad from a $50 coupon. I’m smalltime, but slowly growing. We’ll see how it works. I don’t put a lot of stock in FB. Wouldn’t buy any either. The fact about images vs. text was interesting. Thanks.

  32. Samantha Teter :

    After tracking our posts for several weeks, I have found that posts with links are NOT receiving as high of news feed penetration as standard text posts are. We have approximately 1500 likes. A standard text post with no photo or link is getting about 300-400 news feed views. Posts with links are only getting about 70-90 news feed views. I’m interested to see if others are experiencing this, and ways to get around it. Maybe adding the link in the comments?

    • That is the way some people are doing it! I think it’s worth trying and seeing how things change for you. Thanks for the feedback on your experience – always good to see what’s working for others!

  33. Great summary Andrea. It clarifies one undeniable truth – Facebook is unpredictable, and there is a lot to not like about that.. It may be a direct result of their philosophy to “break things” – something that may have worked in the early days, but the scrutiny of being a public company raises the bar.

    My prediction is Facebook is going to wake up someday and realize the game for them is over. Google has always employed a simple strategy of delivering the best content to anyone doing a search query, whether that happens to be via organic or paid ads. It works because their users are also their customers.

    Whereas, Facebook has a billion personal users — and then businesses (their customers), and their needs are in conflict with each other, especially now that Facebook introduced their Job Board. If someone is looking for work they will change their behavior, which moves away from their true identity, which compromises the ability for businesses to accurately target consumers.

    Google is evolving. Facebook is devolving. I could think of plenty of better business models, like charge every user $100/year and let businesses have at it. A writer for Adage suggested paying for Likes – another good idea.

    Open the doors wide, let everyone play, and just charge us for it – (for full access, of course).

    Facebook has so much potential, but the longer they wait to fully unleash their semantic search engine the more unwieldy that behemoth is going to get.

    • Thanks Jeff! There definitely are some people calling for a flat rate fee. But I think that a lot of businesses would leave if that were the case. Interesting predictions – it will be interesting to see how things play out with Google and Facebook.

  34. Chris Pirillo who runs tech website Lockergnome has found out the best way to reach all your followers on facebook is to make a post and THEN post the corresponding picture or video as the first comment. All your followers will see it!

  35. Wonderful research! Yes, Facebook doesn’t show all your updates in feeds. The reason is, if no one is liking or commenting on your post, image or status, Facebook will not prioritize that particular post to show everyone! If you want more user engagement on every post you do, try to add more images and ask people to like or share if they agree. This way you can see better results. And as said in the article above, Facebook is a public company and doesn’t need to make money out of your 2$ or 5$ worth page or post :P I just loved the way Andrea explained the topic :)

    Regards
    Satish

  36. I really loved the posts of this website! The idea to convert followers in customers opened my mind!! Congratulations for the excellent post.

    The thing is I am from Brazil and we don’t have a page like this in portuguese… people should know these things.

  37. Thanks for sharing.

    This is one of many reasons why business owners should outsource all of this stuff. It’s ALWAYS CHANGING lol. I do think this is not a bad change. The goal of business owners with Facebook should be to engage and get traffic back to their website. Facebook rents space to us FREE. Do whatever you can to engage, collect emails, and get the right customers to your home.

    Happy Holidays Everyone

  38. Hi, I tried running a contest. Engagement was good. However, when I offered free advice, the likes were a 100% higher. Looks like free stuff is still a killer online. Good thing is free stuff usually only needs to be created once and can get a lot of people’s attention. However, it can be dangerous in attracting the wrong sort of customer – the one that is only after free stuff. Nonetheless, I see people from Frank Kern to Tony Robbins using this strategy.

  39. This is a great piece and it helps to explain a lot. In my case though I think the friends of fans doesn’t fly..
    My background.
    I’m a writer of a small niche blog that deals with fall foliage in New England. As such my best months are those leading up to September (April on) and then they slow down to a trickle as everyone actually starts their trips to search for fall foliage in New England.
    I tried the FB advertising for the first time this year to see if I could capitalize on my FB fans and get them over to my blog website. I always picked the friends of fans because I feel that even though I may get shown to people with no interest in fall foliage travels (in this case they won’t click the ad) I may also get shown to someone who had no idea that I was there. My target audience is 40-55 age women and in general they may not always be the most adventurous when it comes to computers. They may be mothers or working women who use FB to stay in contact with their kids in college or school friends but they may not use FB as a tool.
    So if my ad catches their attention and they click through I can develop a new fan or maybe strike a chord with my photography.
    With $35-$45 in ads this autumn I increased my FB likes bu 350 members and many of them were very vocal when joining the page and they even shared their pictures (this is what I’ve been trying to get them to do).
    I also had 79,000 views in Sept 2012 so I think even though the author feels they may be the wrong audience to court, I think that even if I get 10-20 click through out of an extra 1000 friends of fans reach then it only helps me.

    • That is great that the Friends of Fans did work for you. Always good to hear different cases. I encourage people not to use it just because I’ve heard so many stories of strange Likes with that approach. So it’s good to see the flip side!

  40. Ok, here’s my take on Facebook: I’ve never seen it as a marketing tool because every page I’ve seen, every person I’ve friended, tends to be a social page only. That is, I just don’t see anyone marketing on Facebook. I admit I’m still new to social media and the FB communications I’ve had have been social only. My Friends report on their lives. No one I know is marketing anything. I have a lot to learn because I know lots of marketing is going on.

    I’m even newer as a marketer so I’m looking for some savvy experienced soul to bring out an ebook for new marketers who are also new to social media itself. Believe me, some expert will make a ton of dough because I’m not the only one out here who needs real step-by-step social media help.

    • Ana – In regards to your inquiry, I have a book (not an ebook) that will publish this coming April with Wiley. In the meantime, this just published article may help: http://www.jeffkorhan.com/2012/12/engage-social-sales-process.html

      • Great article, Jeff, on the importance of learning how to sell using social media. But again, it assumes everyone knows how to use it. What I need are step-by-step directions on using social media in general, then a nice long chapter on using it for marketing. Believe it or not, there are lots out there like me. I’m literally just getting into FB, Twitter and LinkedIn. In reading the pages of Friends, I’ve not gotten beyond them posting photos of their babies or cats and making comments about an upcoming event.

        Questions like, What’s the difference between writing on someone’s Wall or not … or, How do you post to an individual Friend privately? Oh, and How do you upload a photo or other image? (Would you believe, with no digital camera and only a basic prepaid cell phone, I never got around to learning?)

        You gotta get to all that before you can even think about social media marketing. :-)

        Any book I read had better not assume knowledge at any level.

        I’ll tell ya, once I become expert, I’m gonna write up the best ebook on these basics and make a killing.

        • Ana – Much of what you are looking for is represented in what I call the social marketing process. That is what the book covers, and it will answer many of your questions. It is step-by-step from the standpoint of building a solid foundation of online relevance for mainstream small businesses.

          And yes, I know with certainty there are lots out there like you. I speak regularly to small to medium sized businesses and the percentage using social media well is less than 20%. That is actually how I got the book deal, but then, you can only cover so much in one book.

          The mechanics of uploading a photo and so forth are not within the scope of the book. Maybe you should write that ebook as you learn more. A great source for those “how-to” details can be found at socialmediaexaminer.com. I guest blog over there a few times/year and can assure you Mike Stelzner is a stickler for detail.

          Best advice is just jump into this and don’t be afraid of making mistakes – we all do. That’s how we keep learning.

          Good luck!

          • Great advice from Jeff! Another great source of information is the Facebook for Dummies books – I co-authored Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies and as Jeff said, these books are hard to keep up to date. A new version is coming out at the end of December which will be up-to-date but it doesn’t cover the basic mechanics of how Facebook profiles work – we focus on the Page aspect. It’s challenging to get so much in one book! Social Media Examiner is a great source too.

  41. Very informative post. I have heard a lot of fuss over this but had not really read about it until now.

  42. Ana, this is from the other Jeff.. I hate to say this but I would go to to you nearest book store and pick up a copy of Facebook for dummies or look for a ebook on this subject.. The only downside is that hard cover books by their very nature are behind the times by the time they get printed..
    Also you can go to the library and ask questions there and they may have some suggestions on current reading material that is up to date.
    For a quick and easy way of learning, try YouTube. I just searched for “how to use Facebook” and I came up with several vids that may help you out. like this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6Lq-P4jeTQ After you have gone through a few of these check out the library… Good Luck!

    • Hi other Jeff, thanks so much for your advice. I’ll go to the link when I do my daily YouTube thingy. The idea I had for an ebook — when I’ve achieved expertise, that is — is something along the lines of “How to Do Those Techy Basics Everyone Else Has Always Known.”

      Meanwhile, here’s a question: When a business owner markets on Facebook, is that where they create a separate “Fan Page” not connected in any way to any personal FB page they might have?

      Thanks again, guys.

      • Ana,

        To answer you question, yes. Usually you try to create a separate FB page, “Like Page” or “Business Page” (People refer to them differently, used to be called “Fan Page”). The pages can be connected to allow you easier access as a moderator of the “Business Page,” however, you can always make it separately with a different email account. The “Business Page” is the one that the article refers to, just so that’s clear.

        Hope that helps you. :)

        @DKonopatskiy

        • Yes, it does. Thank you, Dimitriy. I figured as much but with my general ignorance on FB I thought to ask. I too can’t blame FB for wanting to bring back the “social” aspect of the page. Everyone and their dog seems to be marketing on FB or at least talking about marketing on FB. I like good old-fashioned email marketing. (sigh)

          • I realized I spelled your name wrong, Dmitriy. I’ve always considered it important to get someone’s name right.

          • Ana,

            No worries, but thank you for taking the time to correct it. Yes, email marketing is of the old age. However, it’s still waaayyyy better and more important than any social media tool. I am actually looking to get my foot into email marketing, but not sure how to get that off the ground. Maybe, if you would not mind, we can exchange emails and then information. I can help you with FB and Twitter, while you can assist me with email marketing. Let me know if you’re interested.

  43. Great article Andrea Vahl. From the research that I’ve gathered it seems that trial and error is your best friend. It appears that the main goal for Facebook is to take back its “social” quality. There were way too many brands, that includes commercial brands, entertainers, and random users that were peddling something to the masses. Now Facebook decided that if you plan on marketing then you have to either pay or get smart about it. I’m not completely against the idea. I have experimented with my page for less than a week and already was able to bring it up from 13 people talking to 40 people within four days (needless to say I kind of neglected it for a little while).

    I think a fine balance between random content, useful information, as well as self promotion is key. Also, my goal was to post something on Facebook about three times a day. It has worked well so far…

  44. As page admin, I find it is difficult to connect with other pages through SSA’s Facebook newsfeed. The feed is often “broken”… not showing any pictures at all, showing updates that are impossibly old, or not showing updates period. I get frustrated with Facebook because I love my fans, but I also love supporting other pages that do a great job delivering original and interesting content. It makes them very difficult to find and support when I get garbage in my feed. Has anyone else noticed this or have a solution?

  45. My thoughts on the continuous Facebook changes are: Facebook is just weeding out the non serious users and looking for the cream of the crop so they can keep Facebook a highly valued source. Does that make sense? It does seem frustrating though to open FB in the morning and find days old posts, even by the same person..annoying if you ask me.

    I plan to stick with FB because I really love the platform. I don’t get overwhelmed as much as I do when I open up twitter. Anyone else feel this way?

  46. That’s really useful Andrea, great detailed info. I’m a relative newcomer to FB marketing, but have seen many of the changes happening over the last year or so, the loss of landing pages, the new timeline and cover graphics, and the more recent changes in reach etc. that you talk about. Couldn’t agree more though, it’s clearly important to realise it’s just one tool, and it’s best to own your own ‘real estate’ wherever possible, so using whatever they provide (since it’s free) in the way they say you must (T’s and C’s) to drive traffic to your own place (be that a website, blog, sales page or whatever) has got to be good advice :) Thanks for the post!

  47. Fantastic Article and well explained! thank you so much. I have a question about the “people talk about” part. Today, i just noticed a page which are posting a lot but never a comment or share maybe only 2-3 like. The page has over 8000 fans and the talk about 6000….we know some people are buying fans but how can the people talk about can be so high when there is no interaction on the page?

    • Thanks for your comments! Remember that any clicks from advertising also do count towards the Talking About This number. So if they are buying Fans, and the page gets a Like, then that does count towards the Talking About This. Same for regular advertising too, if they are advertising their Page or a Post on their Page. HOpe that helps!

  48. Lawrence Pickup :

    Excellent post, thank you. One thing though, I’ve read recently that the PTAT figure can be a bit of a red herring because it can include a lot of less relevant engagement by friends of fans and that to measure engagement you really need to delve inside the insights at Post Level. This normally brings up a lower percentage. When I did this on the page I manage (with a 38K following) the PTAT percentage was just under 20% but insights revealed it was closer to 7%. What is the best way to measure engagement in your view?

  49. I really think FB would deserve it if everybody just left (ideally all together one morning – just one big walkout) – plus it would be very funny.

    The thing to remember however much you like FB, it’s not your platform, they don’t owe you anything and the rules WILL change. Often. They seem to like to do that.

  50. The problem with facebook marketing is people go to google, then websites to solve a problem. However, facebook to be entertained and “social”.

  51. I agree with William. Wasn’t that the original purpose of FB — to be social, to communicate with friends? Seeing it as a marketing tool is still a challenge for me. My sister and I were just talking about it. I told her I have only a Profile page and have yet to see anyone I’ve friended try to market something. Mostly they do a lot of plugging for nonprofit causes, and they do that by posting pics and more pics. When I start seeing more actual businesses being promoted, I’ll start to believe FB is more viable. I’m still studying it.