This past summer, when Facebook changed its algorithm, the reach on my business page plummeted. I had to do some serious soul searching. Keeping that page active and highly engaged was, indeed, a work of heart. Curating material for my business page and posting every couple hours took a great deal of time, energy, and … devotion. I knew I could keep it flourishing, albeit not as prolifically, but I really had to ask myself: was this the best use of my time? I am a writer, a consultant, a coach. My time is precious.
The answer was no.
So I simply stopped posting there, indefinitely, with the exception of an occasional announcement when I had an event or class coming up and I wanted to let my followers know about it. I didn’t leave Facebook. I simply stopped posting on my business page for a while and spent more of my time engaging in the ‘social’ aspect of social media. And then, I sat back and watched fellow entrepreneurs and writers and business owners manage their pages. I’m a keen observer. I have been closely watching Facebook since I opened my business page in 2011. Some pages are thriving. Many are not.
I know there are a lot of questions out there about the wisdom in using Facebook as a means of growing your following or generating income. Here’s what I’d suggest if you’re wondering whether or not to put your energy into your Facebook business page.
Some do’s and don’ts if you will:
Do look closely at your engagement. If it remains strong in spite of the algorithm changes, by all means keep posting and sharing and engaging with your community on Facebook, if and only if, that page is serving you in some way and it doesn’t have to be monetarily.
Do support fellow page owners by visiting their pages and sharing their content. The best way to grow community on Facebook is to be generous and to support your peers. This is not a one way street.
Do acknowledge people when they respond to something you share on your page if even just to ‘like’ their comment. If Elizabeth Gilbert can take the time to interact with her followers (hugely flourishing page!) so can you.
Do consider growing community in smaller groups where you give your members mostly wonderful value and a sprinkling of paid offers or invitations but please be sure to ‘invite’ your members. No one wants to be added to group without a proper invite.
Don’t schedule all of your posts through something like Hootsuite and expect engagement on your Facebook page. And by that I mean, schedule some of your posts (you’ve got a life) and then schedule in some time to actually interact on your page. People want to feel you; they want to know you’re there.
Don’t turn your personal page into a business page. I thought this trend was over but it appears to be back. Entrepreneurs are thinking it makes sense to turn their personal pages into a business page when they reach 5000 friends because it sure beats having to ‘attract’ 5000 followers. Here’s the thing, those people did not ask to be your followers. Chances are, when you sent them a ‘friend’ request, they believed you genuinely wanted to get to know them. Socially. (SOCIAL media, right?) After all, it’s not a ‘will you be my follower’ request. Respect that. When people send me a friend request I look at their page. If it appears to be a billboard for their business, I delete the request. And speaking of billboards. . .
Don’t turn your personal page into a billboard for your business. That’s why Facebook has business pages.
Don’t drag and drop your offerings in groups you belong to unless that group is set up with that intention. I engage in many Facebook groups. It pains me to see people show up in groups to hawk their wares by dragging and dropping their latest offering when they rarely, if ever, ‘interact’ in the group. Call it social media etiquette; call it common sense. People are far more likely to engage with you (and possibly even with your offerings) if you actually show up in their world (online or off) with something other than a pitch.
Don’t expect your page to flourish with promoted posts or ads if it isn’t flourishing without them. Crickets. I know there are ‘experts’ out there who would disagree with this one but I think we need to do a whole lot of experimenting and some deep reflection before we spend our hard earned money on promoted posts or Facebook ads because someone told us we ‘should’. Look closely at your community and the people you’re hoping to reach. Do a survey, ask your followers how they feel about ads. Case in point: I have Firefox adblock on my computer. I don’t even want to see those ads. Another great question to ask your community, particularly if you’re selling high end packages or programs: would you invest in a program or service before you got to know, like, and trust the person delivering that program and if so, how much? As in price point. I don’t know about you, but I follow someone for quite some time before I invest in a high end package or service. I want to be sure we’re aligned.