Got this message from one of my clients earlier this week: “Eeeeek! My Facebook post only went out to 63 people, but I have 4,962 followers. What went wrong?!”
Nothing’s wrong at all. That’s just how Facebook works these days. In fact, I’ve just attended an enlightening workshop on our favorite social media giant, and I can finally explain why some posts seem to get very little traction while others go out to hundreds of followers.
It starts with any one of us putting up a post. Facebook then shows it to approximately 1% to 2% of our followers—no, those aren’t typos (and in the near future, that number may actually drop a little more). In general, it prioritizes the followers who typically interact with your posts, so your biggest fans will see the post first. If the few people who initially see the post respond in any way (like, comment, share), Facebook recognizes this as a “good” post, so it then shows it to a few more of your followers, and so on. But as the responses dwindle, as they inevitably will, Facebook stops showing the post to additional followers and the numbers peter out. So really, there’s nothing wrong with your posts if the numbers seem small. It’s just that Facebook makes it impossible for you to reach all of your followers with your messages, especially if you have a large following.
It’s just one of many ways that Facebook has changed over the years, and Zuckerberg is about to roll out another round of extensive changes. Facebook (and by extension Instagram) used to be an excellent place for us to market our artwork for free in a very natural way. But for a variety of reasons—some for the benefit of Facebook users and, yes, some for the benefit of Facebook itself—Facebook is about to further change the way it functions so that it’s nearly impossible to use it for free marketing. This doesn’t mean that we should give up using Facebook, but it does mean we have to think about Facebook differently and learn to use it effectively. So, based on that workshop I just mentioned, here are some new tips on using Facebook, along with some older favorite bits of advice:
New Insights for Fall 2019
Forget about marketing on Facebook for free. As you can tell from the explanation above, any one of your “organic” posts (meaning posted for free through your account) will only go out to a small portion of your total followers. What’s more, those organic posts will probably go out to roughly the same group of followers each time, which means that many of your followers will never see any of your posts. I know that’s a disappointment, but there’s no use fighting city hall. I think it’s time for us to accept that Facebook is no longer the home of free advertising. With that said, though, Facebook still has the biggest number of users on it every day, and it’s still a great place to market your work. Perhaps it’s time to consider setting up a business page (if you haven’t already) and paying to advertise your work. The good news is that advertising on Facebook is super affordable.
Avoid using promotional words and links. In the future, one thing that’s sure to limit the number of people who see your posts even more—to, like, 0 people—is to include any kind of sales-y language and especially links that will take the reader out of Facebook. For example, your posts will not be shown if they include links to your website/blog or to a gallery or art center’s website. Also, posts that include a call to action, such as “contact me” or “sign up now” or “click here” will also get shut down. From now on, if you want to promote works of art for sale, workshops, demos, events, giveaways, contests, or whatever to a large number of people on Facebook, you’ll need to pay to advertise.
Clever trick: One workaround that might work is to post the link as a comment after the post has gone out to some of your followers, just for their convenience.
I used to promote this blog on Facebook by providing a direct link to it, and I had very low "reach." Since switching to this method below and adding the link in a comment box, my reach has skyrocketed...
Focus on creating posts that create meaningful responses. It stands to reason, if Facebook is going to continue promoting a post based on the initial reaction from a few people, you want to encourage some kind of reaction. And a simple “like” isn’t enough. Facebook actually gives more weight to a post when people respond by clicking on one of the other standard emoji buttons (love, hate, sadness, etc.) or with comments and shares. So, round out each post by specifically asking people to respond to the post somehow. Ask for their opinions or to share a memory or anything that will get people to respond with something more than the Like button.
Reply to every comment, using the person’s full name. Another thing Facebook is watching is your interaction with the responses to your posts. Now more than ever, it’s important to respond to each comment individually. It’s okay to simply click the Like button under the comment, but it’s even better to respond with a comment of your own. And when you do, make sure to use the person’s full name in your response. For example, if Jennifer King Logan makes a comment that she loves your new painting, you should reply, “Thanks, Jennifer King Logan” and wait for Facebook to populate her name.
Tips Worth Repeating
Don’t boost posts. Ever published a post and seen that pop-up window asking if you want to boost your post? Don’t do it! You’ll be paying to have your post shown to anybody who is currently on Facebook at that moment. What a waste! Instead, go through the process of setting up a Facebook ad so you can strategically select your targeted audience.
Use Stories. If you haven’t tried this new-ish feature on Facebook yet, now’s the time. Although the posts only last for 24 hours, they appear at the top of everyone’s news feeds so at least you stand a good chance of having your Story seen. It’s a fun type of post to add into your mix of post types.
Shoot and post video. Facebook loves it when people post videos directly into the platform (not links to videos posted over on YouTube) and will actually promote these video posts to more of your followers. So, grab your smartphone and start shooting quick clips of your studio, your classes, and more!
Now, that you’ve read all these, do you have any questions on using Facebook? Any advice to share with others? Please post your comments in the box below. Let’s connect!