The Current Status of Facebook

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There’s no one single, mystical thing you can do to make your church’s Facebook page reach more of your followers. 

Managing a Facebook page has become a frustratingly depressing task for many.  Facebook tweaked how it decides what’s interesting enough to appear in someone’s News Feed, reducing the reach of your page’s posts.  At the same time, it launched promoted posts, which are paid posts guaranteed to reach all of your fans.  The conclusion for many was if you’re not paying, Facebook is a waste of time.

It’s easy to make that conclusion.  I was at that place myself.  But like many things we do, managing a Facebook page isn’t easy.  You have to look at how all the features of Facebook work together and also understand the realities of how Facebook fits into your overall communication strategy.

  • You never reached all your fans.  Ever.  Sometimes it’s easier not knowing what’s really going on.  Facebook used to not tell you how many people saw your posts.  Once they did, folks started to realize their reach was less than what they thought.  But if they never showed the numbers today, would we still be in a hub-bub?  Yes, Facebook changes their algorithm and my gut tells me fewer people are seeing posts now than before, but it would be naive to think there was ever a time everyone saw what you’re doing.
  • No single post style will guarantee more exposure.  The traditional thought was posting pictures got you more exposure.  Recently, some are finding that text only posts are better performers.  The truth is: good content wins.  Brian Clark (no relation) did a little research of his own and found that pictures get more interaction (comments, likes, etc.) while text posts got more reach by ending up in more people’s News Feeds.  His conclusion: mix up what you post.  I agree.
  • Consistency matters.  Part of the Facebook algorithm is affinity.  How much has someone interacted with you in the past?  The more they do, the more likely they are to see your post in their feed.  So if you’re sporadic in your posting, it’s likely someone’s affinity for you will drop because they forget about you.  I can attest to this.  We see higher exposure for Church Juice Facebook posts when we’re regularly posting a variety of stuff throughout the week.  If we post nothing for a while, our exposure is less when we finally post something. 
  • Your fans need to find value in your content.  The more people like, comment on or share what you’re doing, the better it is for your exposure.  Facebook is trying to filter content for people so they see only what they’re most likely to be interested in.   That’s why it’s so important to know your audience.  What are they looking for from you?  Check Insights to see what kind of posts and topics are getting more interaction.  Facebook isn’t a place where you have to share everything.  Post things that fill a need for your users.
  • Help your fans use the tools available to them.  I recently wrote about a couple of changes Facebook made to appease page managers.  There are three new features, but they all take some level of action from your fans.  When a user hovers over the “Liked” button on your page or your name in a post, they can choose to “Show in News Feed” or “Get Notifications.”  The first will make sure they get your stuff in the their feed and the second will send them a notification anytime you post something new.  The third feature Facebook added is the Pages Feed.  When someone clicks on that link, they only see stuff from Pages they like.  By the way, Facbeook says this feed is generated by an algorithm as well and doesn’t guarantee everything will be seen.
  • Understand Facebook for what it is.  There are people in your church who will love interacting with you on Facebook.  This may be the only way they stay connected.  But realize Facebook won’t reach everyone.  Ask yourself, “How does Facebook fit with everything else we’re doing in communications?”  Another key thing to understand is you may have to give Facebook money.  Not on every post.  But if there are big announcements or information you need everyone to see, it might be worth paying to promote that post your your fans.
  • Focus on areas where you do have more control.  You know what Facebook can’t touch?  Your website.  They also can’t filter who sees your weekly emails.  Spend the time making sure other communication outlets are the best they can be.   Facebook is a piece of a much bigger puzzle.

Getting the most out of Facebook is frustrating.  Things change.  There’s always something new to learn.  Facebook makes decisions we don’t like.  I will agree that it’s becoming harder to justify spending lots of resources on Facebook, but I’m not in the crowd ready to abandon it (yet).  The key is understanding Facebook for what it is and using it accordingly.

How does Facebook fit into your overall communication strategy?

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