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Seriously Facebook.. What IS your problem?

Posted in Social Media @ May 15th 2014 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
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So what’s the go with Facebook recently?  Have you noticed decreased numbers of your veterinary clients seeing your posts?

We know Facebook are constantly tinkering with their algorithms (the mathematical equations that determine which posts are seen on newsfeeds & which aren’t) but I’ve noticed that recent ‘tweaks’ have caused a dramatic decrease in the number of people seeing posts on their Newsfeed from Vetanswers.  Have you noticed similar decreases on your Pages?

I certainly don’t consider myself a Facebook expert - this is really an opinion piece. 

I might know a little more about the use of Pages than some but I know a lot less than many so the opinions that follow are purely that – my opinions and I would be more than happy to hear from Facebook experts.

I think the big question I now have is...if you have noticed a large drop in the ‘reach’ (Reach = the number of people that actually see what you’ve posted on their Newsfeed) of your posts what does that mean for the effectiveness of your veterinary practice Facebook Page?

Facebook have always said that if your post is interesting and engaging to your audience then it stands to reason more people will comment, ‘Like’ & Share.  This will increase the algorithm of the post and cause it to appear on more Newsfeeds. But now my question is "How is it possible for those that have ‘Liked’ my Page to engage with the information if they never get to see it?" I just can’t see how a Post that is only seen by 1% of those that have chosen to ‘Like’ my Page is ever going to have much of a chance to engage - no matter how fascinating?!

So let’s review where I’m at with the Vetanswers Facebook Page.....

A popular post on Vetanswers used to be seen by 30% of the Page ‘Likers’ but over the last few months this percentage has dropped to lows of below 4%.

Most weeks I used to pay to ‘sponsor’ a post – usually a link to a Vetanswers blog post – and for $5.00 I would be given an estimated reach of around 800 to 1,500 with an actual reach of around 1,000 and would often gain around 7 or so new ‘Likes’ to my Page.  I thought that wasn’t bad value for $5.00.

Now?  Well for $5.00 for a Sponsored Post, Facebook offers a reach of only 310 to 820 – which is effectively the 30%  ‘Reach’ I used to receive from a normal (free) post. To achieve a Reach of anywhere near the 1,000 views I was receiving for a sponsored post I would now need to spend $22.00!  No thanks - all payments to Facebook now suspended!

However it’s not all bad...

Here are some stats from a few recent posts – 2 in particular I’ve already written about – that proved particularly popular without having to pay to sponsor them:

Interestingly this Post that was seen by over 14,000 people has been removed from the Vetanswers Timeline by Facebook.  This information appears on my ‘Insights’ page but not on my Timeline.  Why Facebook, why??

And another post on the toxicity of chocolate proved to be a winner over the Easter weekend & was seen by over 3,000 people...

And finally a link to a fun video also proved popular from a ‘Reach’ perspective (over 1,000), although not so much from a Share, ‘Like’, Comment or New Likes perspective

Interestingly from what I can see, none of these post generated any new 'Likes' for my Page!

Cute vs Educational veterinary information – what’s your balance?

I know I could dramatically increase the number of Views, Likes & Shares of my Posts by only posting cute & funny images or wittily captioned cartoons but that’s not what Vetanswers is all about.  My aim is to help you manage your business more successfully so although a bit of fun is good I also believe it’s important that I share information that’s useful – even if it’s not going to go viral.  But that’s my choice.  

So – where does that leave Facebook for Business at the moment?

My opinion? Well I will admit to being concerned for the future direction of Facebook and in particular Business Pages.  I suspect the ‘honeymoon’ is over and our (relatively) free ride is at an end.  At this stage I no longer think Facebook offers your Business the same amazing opportunities to connect with a wide ranging audience that it used to offer.  Maybe users have just 'Liked' too many Facebook Pages and Newsfeed really have become too crowded.  Or maybe Facebook are not making the financial returns they require.  Whatever the reason for the changes, I do believe as a social media platform, Facebook still offers good opportunities to connect with a smaller more passionate group of clients & potential clients – those smaller numbers who actively engage with your posts (and not just the cutesy ones either!).

I still firmly believe though it is absolutely essential that every veterinary business has a Facebook Page and that the Page is updated daily, or at least a few times a week with a range of posts that are a balanced mix of educational, interesting, fun and cute.

According to Social Media News, Facebook still has nearly 11,500,000 Australian users which means that many if not most of your clients and potential clients are still using Facebook.  They are just unlikely to be seeing your posts! Many people still use Facebook as a pseudo Business Directory.  If they want to find out about a new business or even search for local businesses, then Facebook is often where they go first.  Sure they may look for your website but that’s often a static resource.  They’ll search for your Facebook Page and then look for what sort of information you’ve been sharing.  How interesting & useful is it? How recent is it?

So yes although the (free) glory days of Facebook may be over for your veterinary practice, a  Facebook Page for your business is still essential and you should be regularly posting interesting & engaging content.  You may not have the same number of people seeing your content but it still needs to be there.

So what are your thoughts about Facebook?  What have you seen happening to the number of people viewing your posts?  Do you agree with me or have I got it completely wrong?

I look forward to reading your opinions in the comments section below. 

Comments

Carmel @ May 16th 2014 6:55pm
I must admit I am not the biggest Facebook user- or the most diligent poster for my business, so I have not noticed the change in reach much. My clients are a very niche market anyway, so no increase in customers, just the opportunity to share information with the ones who are on Facebook. Many of them still are not. I think what I have taken from the whole Facebook for Business thing is trying to make my website more social and interactive.
Judy @ May 18th 2014 4:12pm
Thanks Carmel. I think you're right - the key is in being more social & interactive online. The problem is, that can be a bit tricky with a website - the social media platforms have been designed from the beginning to be both social & interactive.... when they work the way they're supposed to that is!

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