Facebook is not about selling
Social Media is about being social.
Facebook was not created for brands to sell their products. Facebook was created to ‘bring the world closer together’.
However, Facebook uses brands to make money. We all know the way they do that: they sell their users’ data to companies so marketers can pay for targeted ads.
Pushing people to be ‘brought closer together’ encourages them to be more social, to interact more, and overall, to spend more time on the platform. That helps Facebook collect more and more data on their users and therefore, it allows them to target their audience even more.
So, it’s key for Facebook to have people spend more time on the platform. That’s why Facebook uses complex algorithms to decide on the content the personal Facebook feed is showing.
To simplify and to sum up what the algorithm does: it sorts out contents that you’ll more likely enjoy, interact with and share with your friends. This way, they know that what your Facebook feed will show you will be more relevant than what a regular chronological feed would have been.
That’s why, as a marketer, when you post on your Facebook page, your post is not seen by all of your followers. Because your post might not be relevant to all your followers according to the Facebook algorithm. The algorithm also minimises the people that will see your post in order to tempt you to spend more money on ads.
With all that in mind, it seems pretty tricky to get your message out there for free, right? And it is. But the best way to do it might be to think differently.
Facebook wants 2 things
No more, no less.
- Facebook wants their users to stay in the Facebook ecosystem so they can collect more data on their users: that’s why they integrated Facebook Groups — to gather communities and drive discussions between users — or the marketplace — because selling a good is nothing less than social interactions — and that’s why they want to integrate a dating service as well — because there’s probably nothing more social than dating.
- Facebook wants to sell ads to companies.
Considering that Facebook is a business and that they aim to make profit, the only way to spread your message out there is to please Facebook, and the algorithm, right?
That’s why most companies will just spend thousands of dollars on Facebook Ads. Because it’s an efficient way to spread your message, it’s relatively cheap (compared to other social media channels or traditional outbound ads) and it usually drives great results and ROI if your ads are done right.
And it’s not a bad strategy! It really works out super fine!
However, not everyone has as much money as Trump to spend on Social Media Campaigns, so you have to find other ways to reach your audience.
So, you should definitely try the other way to please Facebook:
Keep the users on the platform!
There is a codependency between Facebook and companies that most people don’t see. Without the content brands publish, Facebook would be empty and no one would ever spend time on the website. Content is key. Facebook is totally dependent on the content people and businesses are putting out there. People spend time on Facebook because of the content they see and consume on their feed.
And Facebook knows that.
So Facebook will naturally push the content that keep the users on the website. It’s a way for them to collect more data on their users and to have these users hooked on the website. This way, they know that people will come back on their feed regularly, because people know they can consume quality content there.
So, to reach your audience and to get a higher organic reach: you need to post content that keeps the users on the platform. And you can do that by being social.
Be a conversation starter
People can consume your content in a lot of different ways:
- They can just ignore it on their feed (average time spent on your content (ATSOYC) < 1 second)
- They can read it (ATSOYC = 1 to 2 seconds)
- They can read it and drop a reaction (ATSOYC = 2 seconds)
- They can read it and go through the comments (ATSOYC around 10 seconds)
- They can read it and comment on it (ATSOYC around 15 seconds)
- They can read it, go through the comments, and leave a comment (ATSOYC around 25 seconds)
- And so on…
Basically, they can spend from absolutely no time on your content to about a minute — and even more if your content is a video. This is a huge gap!
And obviously, you guessed it, the more time people spend on your content, the more Facebook will naturally spread it for you, because according to their algorithm, your content is worth considering as it keeps people engaged, it keeps people interacting and it keeps people on the platform.
So the key here, is to have people engage with your content: what you’re looking for is Comments! Don’t overestimate shares. Most people think that shares are what makes your audience grow and what makes your reach explode. Well, no. If someone shares your content but none of this person’s friends interact with it, it’s bad for you, and you won’t get any extra reach from that share. Comments are the best way to have people spend time on your content, from both the people writing comments and the people reading them.
The best way to get comments on your content is to be social. It is to legitimately talk to your audience, to be curious about the people behind those metrics such as reach, Facebook likes and so on. You may want to ask questions, to give your opinion about your industry, to ask for reviews, to ask for opinions, to ask for their wishes, for their fears. You need to be interested in your community, for real!
Be a conversation started. Your Facebook page shouldn’t be your product page. It should be a social place. It should be a place where you talk about your industry, where the people following your content share their fears and hopes. It should be a place where people discuss about what they’re passionate about. They don’t need to know 4 times a day that you have a 10% discount on a specific product that you can’t normally sell. No one wants to interact with that. What are you expecting from your audience when you spread a message like that? People being thankful in the comment section? People rushing on your purchase link when they’ve originally logged on Facebook to entertain themselves and pass time as they’re waiting for the train? You know, like me, that it is really not likely to happen.
Try to be genuine for once. Forget about the business, forget about the sales, forget about the money. Just react to what’s going on in your industry. Tell your story. Post about your fears and wishes. Post about what you love. Ask people about their lives. Facebook was meant for social interactions. It wasn’t meant for sales.
What will happen, is that your engagement rate and your organic reach will rise. The algorithm will help you more and more as it would rate your content as engaging and as creating interactions. Your posts about your brand will show on more and more timelines. Without noticing it and without making extra efforts, you’ll be building a strong and influential digital brand. And naturally, thanks to your strong digital brand, you’ll sell more and more.
Sell more, by selling less
As I’ve written in a previous article here on Medium: stop selling your brand on social media, try building a community instead. People don’t care if your product is different, or if it’s the best on the market, or if it’s cheaper than your competitors. If all your communication is based on a “PLEASE BUY THIS *insert a shorten purchase link*”, you probably won’t sell anything and your community, that you want more than anything to keep a business profitable, will feel forsaken and might quickly move away from your brand to your competitors.
People and followers aren’t just consumers, they’re humans that often face problems. And like any other human, they don’t like to face these problems alone. That’s why your job, by building your brand, is to have product that solve some of these problems and to create a community so they won’t feel alone facing and solving these problems.
Do you feel like you tried everything to grow on social media and especially Instagram? Hopefully, what follows will be the last thing you will have to do to reach your goals.
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