Monday, 4 August 2014

Facebook Theme Week: Organic or Paid?

Blogging with purpose

original post »

At a recent team meeting at ProBlogger HQ to plan the theme for our next ‘theme week’ here on the ProBlogger blog I nervously suggested that we should create a week long series of posts on the topic of Facebook.

As the word came out of my mouth I found myself almost involuntarily shuddering because I know that there’s a lot of mixed feelings among bloggers about the network right now and I half expect that we’ll get our fair share of ‘I’ve given up on Facebook’ comments on these posts.

However… while I know many bloggers and businesses owners are feeling the pain of changes of Facebook over the last six months I still think it’s a topic we could do well to explore in more depth.

Facebook remains the biggest social media network on the planet and continues to grow its active user numbers at a steady rate. According to Statista it had 1.317 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of this year and it’s still adding tens of millions more every quarter.

Screen Shot 2014 08 01 at 1 57 10 pm

While I would never argue that every blogger must be actively engaging on Facebook (each to their own) to ignore it as a source of traffic, brand building and community engagement would be almost as risky as to ignore Google (Alexa ranks Facebook as the #2 ranked site on the web behind Google).

So – as Stacey mentioned yesterday – this week we’re looking at Facebook here on ProBlogger.

Much of what we’ll be doing is ‘case study’ based by looking at the organic and paid approach of bloggers on their Facebook pages but before we do I thought I’d write a few thoughts to keep in mind as we tackle this polarising topic.

Organic, Paid or Both

Facebook have certainly been making changes of late to push page owners towards paying for reach and results on their pages.

This change in approach has caused many of us pain and left many bloggers disillusioned.

Interestingly I’ve seen bloggers respond to this challenge in a variety of ways.

  1. For some it has meant an abandonment of Facebook
  2. Others have persisted with their previous strategies to get organic reach but have adjusted (downwards) their expectations for what can be achieved
  3. Others still have taken Facebook’s changes almost as a challenge to work harder than ever on their organic strategies
  4. And lastly some bloggers have decided to not fight Facebook and begin to pay for reach

I totally understand each of the responses and over the last 12 or so months have at least considered each option.

As longer term ProBlogger readers would know the decision I made was to go with option #3 – to work even harder on growing our organic reach on Facebook.

Our Approach to Organic Reach on Facebook

Just under a year ago here on ProBlogger I shared some of the strategies I was using to increase the Digital Photography School Facebook Page reach and engagement organically.

While things have changed a little since then I’ve continued to experiment prolifically with that Facebook page and continue to see decent organic results.

If I had to summarise my approach on the dPS Facebook page 11 months later it would be:

1. Be useful – provide those who follow your page with content that is going to enhance their lives in some way. For us this is about providing helpful ‘how to’ content as 90% of what we do.

2. Be visual – I spend a lot of time thinking about the images that we use in our status updates. This is partly because we’re a photography site but mainly because Facebook is a very visual place. A great image will lift any status update a lot!

3. Be interactive – We recently had a week long period on our page where our page slumped both in terms of how much traffic it was sending to our site, how much reach we were getting and how much engagement there were in posts. I realised that I’d not been focusing as much on ‘interaction’ and follower engagement and resolved to add a few more ‘discussion’ oriented posts into our schedule. This definitely saw us lift but up our of our slump – to some extent.

4. Be Inspirational – While the majority of our updates are ‘how to’ or ‘informational’ in nature I find that throwing in the occasional purely ‘inspirational’ or ‘aspirational’ posts works. This might be adding in a quote that is meaningful, sharing a great photo, telling a great story. These posts may drive no traffic at all to your site – but they get people engaging – which has flow on effects.

5. Experiment – I treat each status update that I do as an opportunity to learn something about what works and doesn’t work with our readership. Try different types of updates (images, text based, link posts etc). Watch what happens when you do.

Overall the organic reach of the dPS page is decent, although I’ve definitely noticed the last month has been less consistent.

We Now ‘Pay to Play’: To Some Extent

The change to our Facebook strategy that we’ve not talked much about here on ProBlogger yet is that alongside our organic strategy, we’ve begun to experiment
with small paid campaigns.

Shayne will be sharing with you some specifics of the type of campaigns that we’ve been running on our page later this week but I will say now that we’ve had some success with the paid campaigns that we’ve run.

I know not every blogger will be in a position to pay much (if anything) for a Facebook ad campaign but if it is any encouragement to you the amount of money we’ve put into Facebook advertising to this point is not exorbitant (it has been in the $200 to $500 per month range).

Our campaigns have ranged from promoting our eBooks, to campaigns to grow our ‘likes’. Some of our campaigns have worked brilliantly – others have not – but the beauty of Facebook advertising is that you can set up limits on how much you spend on each campaign and can start small and then ramp up what is working and kill of what isn’t.

The ‘return’ on our investment has well exceeded what we’ve spent. The 2-3 experiments with selling our eBooks with ads have generated over five times what we’ve spent and we’ve also benefited in other ways (more traffic to our site, more ‘likes’ on our page and a flow on improvement in our organic reach and engagement).

I’m still cautious about investing too much into advertising but it is certainly showing some great results for us so far – more on this topic later in the week.

Never Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Before we get into some case studies for the rest of the week let me finish with a simple reminder to not put all your eggs in the one basket when it comes with driving traffic to your blog.

I fell into this mistake in the early days of my own blogging by relying too much upon SEO to drive traffic from Google and have seen many instances where bloggers have obsessed about a single source of traffic (either from search, social or referral) only to find that source of traffic dried up and left them with nothing.

Facebook could well be an amazing opportunity for your blogging but the opportunity is unlikely to be an indefinite one.

Experiment, leverage what you can, ride the wave as long as it’ll last but keep your options open and always use it to build the things you have ultimate control over.

Keep in mind the ‘home base’ and ‘outpost’ model that I’ve been writing about here on ProBlogger since 2008. Don’t abandon your blog for Facebook – rather use Facebook to help you to build your blog (and email list).

Ultimately Facebook will do what is in their best interests and will change the rules of engagement there to suit them. This will at times present you with opportunity but at other times will mean you need to adapt your approach.

So this week as we talk about Facebook I encourage you to read along with an open mind – but also resisting the temptation to obsess. Doing so in this balanced fashion will hopefully lead to some great opportunities!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Facebook Theme Week: Organic or Paid?

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Facebook Theme Week: Organic or Paid?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is switched on. Please wait till I've had a chance to review your comment and publish it. Thanks!