Is A Smaller Fanbase Now The Key To Facebook Success?
Komfo recently released results of a study about Facebook Page reach and engagement that’s currently making the rounds. The study looked at 5,349 Facebook Pages. It found that fan penetration has decreased from 25.2% in August to 11.3% in March. Likewise, viral amplification has decreased from 0.42% to 0.39% in that time. The good news is that clickthrough rate has actually increased from 5.62% to 8.33%.
This report makes the case that you should focus on rallying around a smaller community on Facebook. Would this work for your business?
“If you think about it from your own perspective as a Facebook user, our lists of friends are constantly increasing. We follow more and more brands on Facebook, we participate and involve ourselves in different groups, and last but not least we often access Facebook from our smartphones”, says Hans Tosti, Innovation Director at Komfo. “If you melt this down to the very basics, you will see that being mobile and continuously on the run also means that we no longer spend time clicking on different profiles, but primarily focus on what we are exposed to in our newsfeeds. The newsfeed offers limited space, and if the users have many friends and like many brands it becomes really important to expose them to the content that Facebook knows is interesting to and engaging for them.”
“For a long time now, when our customers came to us and said that they wanted to spend money on advertising in order to increase their fanbase, we instantly told them that the size of their fanbase is not directly related to their success on Facebook. As always, it is better to count on quality than quantity”, he adds. “Instead, brands should focus on having smaller fan bases, create some local pages and actually ensure that the users who like their page really love the brand and want to engage with it. Fan engagement is a crucial factor on Facebook, and as long as you prove to Facebook that your fans really are willing to engage with you, no matter the size of your fanbase, the algorithms will automatically ensure that your brand shines through in the newsfeed.”
That might be a bit optimistic. Consider what Valleywag’s Sam Biddle recently wrote, discussing the big decline in organic reach:
A source professionally familiar with Facebook’s marketing strategy, who requested to remain anonymous, tells Valleywag that the social network is “in the process of” slashing “organic page reach” down to 1 or 2 percent. This would affect “all brands”—meaning an advertising giant like Nike, which has spent a great deal of internet effort collecting over 16 million Facebook likes, would only be able to affect of around a 160,000 of them when it pushes out a post. Companies like Gawker, too, rely on gratis Facebook propagation for a huge amount of their audience. Companies on Facebook will have to pay or be pointless.
That 160,000 still sounds like a lot of people, sure. But how about my favorite restaurant here in New York, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, which has only 3,281 likes—most likely locals who actually care about updates from a nearby restaurant? They would reach only a few dozen customers. A smaller business might only reach one. This also assumes the people “reached” bother to even look at the post.
How engaging a Facebook post is is subjective, but things aren’t easy for those just starting Facebook Pages. If you have a small number of fans, at least in some cases, you’re looking at miniscule reach.
Furthermore, more engagement from a small group of readers isn’t necessarily the best outcome for a business who needs to reach a larger amount of people to get its message out. Obviously advertising is the option you’re left with, though plenty of brands have complained about the effectiveness of that too.
Komfo says, “The bottom line of our study is businesses must create Facebook relevant and engaging content, and move their focus away from a large fan base to a smaller fan base that really loves the brand and wants to engage. At the same time, businesses should consider lowering the amount of their call to action posts and focus on interactive posts instead. Brands must also support their content efforts with Facebook advertising, in order to maintain a high level of Fan Penetration, while improving their page’s reach and engagement.”
The reality might simply be that Facebook is no longer for you. That’s what Eat24 recently decided. There also happens to be another social network pretty well known for its smaller communities and higher engagement, and it (so far, at least) hasn’t reduced Pages’ organic reach to get them to advertise. In fact, it doesn’t even have ads on it – at least not on the News Feed-like destination of the product.
Forrester recently declared that marketers need to be using Google+, finding that 0.69% of brands’ fans or followers interact with their posts, which is significantly better than the percentage for Twitter, and only slightly smaller than Facebook. With organic reach on Facebook dropping rapidly, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Google+ overtaking it on this metric.
Another recent report from Shareaholic found Google+ (and connected YouTube) to be a whole lot better than Facebook for post-click engagement:
To be clear, this isn’t some endorsement for Google+ on my part. There are no doubt plenty of people getting much more out of Facebook (or other social networks), but these numbers are worth looking at as businesses grow increasingly frustrated with a social network they once had success with.