Facebook: The Truth About Engagement

by | Best Practices, Content Marketing, Facebook

The Truth About Engagement

For fans to engage they need to see your posts in their newsfeed … but that’s not all!

Why Is Facebook Engagement Important?

Facebook engagement is important as an indicator of how interesting your Facebook page content is to those who view what you share in their personal Facebook newsfeed.

Engagement is calculated as the percentage of people who saw a post and reacted to, shared, clicked or commented on it.

While having a large percentage of those who view your page content and engage with it on Facebook would be nice, on average only a small percentage of those who see your posts – less than 1% according to SocialBakers (2014) – will take some sort of direct action by liking, sharing or commenting on what you post to your Facebook business page.

Of course, some Facebook pages achieve higher engagement rates than others, and some of what you post to your Facebook page will achieve higher levels of engagement than others. But, on average, less than 1% of what you share on your Facebook page will result in some type of direction action by those who view what you post.

(Note: As of spring 2016 clicking the ‘like’ button allows people to indicate some emotion other than ‘like’. Now, fans can click ‘like,’ ‘love,’ ‘haha,’ ‘wow,’ ‘sad’ or ‘angry.’ It’s too early to say how much of an impact this may have on engagement numbers. But, over time, I think it may have a modest impact on engagement numbers. )


If Engagement Is Low For Most Facebook Pages, Why Bother?

While engagement, in terms of ‘liking,’ ‘sharing’ or ‘commenting,’ is statistically low on Facebook, it doesn’t mean that people who see what you are sharing aren’t noticing and paying attention to your brand and your content in their Facebook newsfeed. They may be clicking a link or links you’ve included in your Facebook post. Links that lead back to your website or to someone else’s website.

Many of us browse through our Facebook newsfeed never taking direct action on anything we see, no matter how much we like what we see. Others are more likely to take action when they find anything they see remotely interesting. We’re all different, including how we engage/react to what we see on Facebook.

Tangible engagement is only an ‘indicator’ of true engagement on your Facebook page. As such, it gives important clues as to whether people in general find what you are sharing interesting, valuable, entertaining, helpful, etc.

It’s actually not possible, at least not yet, to track every type of engagement. Facebook can tell you whether what you have posted on your page showed up in my newsfeed. They can tell you if I’ve ‘liked,’ ‘shared’ or ‘commented’ on your post. If it is a Facebook Promoted Post or Facebook Ad they can even tell you if I’ve clicked on a link. What they can’t tell you is whether I’ve actually taken the time to read what you posted.

Using Facebook To Build Awareness Of Your Brand

That said, assuming your target audience is active on Facebook, it offers huge opportunities for you to build brand name recognition for your business in a local area, and beyond, through what you share. This is important because when people feel like they know your brand, assuming your reputation is positive, this can lead to sales and referrals. Recognizing your brand and being reminded of it regularly, means that when I’m in the market for what you are offering – your name, your business, is top of mind.

In days gone by the way brand name recognition was built was through what today we call traditional advertising. Newspaper ads, flyers, mail drops, billboards, TV, radio. Of course, the amount of money available in your marketing budget was a huge factor in determining which of these forms of advertising you used.

Today, social media has turned the advertising world on its head! Today, the cost of print newspaper ads spent instead on Facebook can yield amazing results over time. But social media in general and Facebook in particular do not offer a quick fix to all your marketing challenges, at least not for most businesses.

However, if you’re willing to invest time, thought, creativity, ongoing energy and capital into using Facebook as part of your overall brand and sales building strategy, you may be surprised at the impact Facebook can have on your business over time.

Like anything marketing related, Facebook is, and likely always will be, one arrow in our marketing quiver. Today, it is one of the sharpest and most affordable arrows in the marketing quiver.

(Watch for the cost of marketing on Facebook to increase significantly as more and more businesses figure out how to make it work for their business. Today it is very affordable, over time the cost will undoubtedly increase exponentially.)

The Facebook Engagement Challenge

As mentioned earlier, the percentage of fans who engage with your content, even great content, will almost always be low, no matter how great the content is. But engagement, while important, is not the biggest challenge you face with your Facebook business page. The bigger challenge will actually be getting your content to show up in the newsfeed of your fans!  

You may be working hard on what you post in the hopes that your page fans will see and engage with the content, but the truth is that a large percentage of your fans will never see anything that you post through your Facebook page. Yes, that’s right, never!

That is, unless you are willing to part with, on a regular basis, some of your hard earned cash. Because, in the Facebook world of today, the only way to ensure your content is seen by fans and beyond that to their friends and others, is by paying to get it into their newsfeed.

This begs the question, “If Facebook is a place where your fans and target audience are active and reachable on social media, should you spend money to ensure at least some of your content is seen in their newsfeed?”

Should You Pay To Promote Content On Facebook?

The answer to the “Should you pay to promote content on Facebook?” depends on the answer to the this question “Is your target audience, those who are prospective customers or influencers of your prospective customers, active on Facebook?” If the answer to the last question is “yes” then the answer to the first should also be “yes.” Yes, you should almost definitely be paying to ensure that at least some of the content you share on Facebook reaches your fans, possibly their friends, and very likely others you are able to target by age, gender, geographic location and interests.

That doesn’t mean you should pay to promote every post you share on Facebook. But should you pay to promote some of your posts? Absolutely!

Pay to promote your best content, and target your promoted posts to reach your fans and.or  Facebook users in your geographic area, by gender, by age group and by interests, as appropriate. (Find out more about Facebook advertising options, including boosting posts, on Facebook for Business.)

Are You An Early Adopter, Majority Adopter, Late Adopter or Laggard?

Early adopters recognized Facebook Promoted Posts as an opportunity early on, likely not long after Facebook introduced them in early 2012.

The early adopters set aside their frustration with Facebook (when they started cutting back the page content that showed up in a fan’s newsfeed) and took advantage of a playing field – the newsfeed – that was almost devoid of competition (of those paying to get into the newsfeed). They benefitted from lower marketing/advertising costs to reach larger groups of people and they tested and learned what worked best, while the rest of us stewed in frustration.

As time went by the next wave of adopters, majority adopters, started getting over their frustration and recognized they might be missing out on something (and they were!) by ignoring Facebook advertising options, including promoted or boosted posts. Some of these began to see the opportunity and take advantage of it.

Majority adopters missed out on a few years of getting their business in front of their fans and target audience on Facebook. These are now the ones you see taking advantage of these tools now on Facebook.

If you’re a late adopter or laggard, it’s not too late to get in on the action. Trust me when I say that the dollar cost of paying to promote your content on Facebook, whether through content shared directly on your Facebook page and boosted or through Facebook ads, is only going to increase. Paying to promote content is not quite main stream, yet on Facebook. But the time isn’t far off.

You’ll pay more today to promote content on Facebook that you would have a year ago. But, for many businesses, it’s worth it! And a year from now the playing field will be more crowded and the prices will be higher.

Don’t wait for everyone else to get on the bandwagon before you do!!

Remember This When You Pay To Promote Your Facebook Posts!!

Facebook has a number of options that you can use for getting content and ads in front of your page fans and a much broader audience. This article is mainly focused on the important of paying to promote content you’ve shared on your page, so that the content has a chance of being seen in the newsfeed of your fans and others.

When promoting the content you share on Facebook, keep these factors in mind:

  1. Focus on what those you hope to reach will find interesting, valuable, inspirational, helpful. While there is a place for advertising on Facebook, if you’re wanting to build a base of fans who will see you as a resource, as interesting, worth paying attention to, helpful and/or valuable; then focus your efforts on creating content that will produce this result. It’s not all about you, it’s all about them … your customers! Providing them with content that appeals to them will help keep your name top of mind when they need what you have to offer, or when someone they know does – think referrals.
  2. Make sure your profile is branded, complete and represents your business professionally. This means high quality images, a customized URL and be sure to include your contact information and details about your business and what you do. When people visit your Facebook business page you want it to make a favourable first impression, one that makes them want to follow you.
  3. Make sure both your website AND your Facebook page represent your business professionally.  Your website should look as good on a mobile device as it does on a desktop. If your site is not what Google considers to be mobile friendly it will hurt your search engine rankings with them. Is your website design modern/appropriate for your business? Does the content give people a reason to visit your site periodically? Is your branding consistent across all your marketing materials and social networks?
  4. Make sure your business lives up to what you’re promoting. If you’re sharing great stuff online but the experience of customers is poor, it will hurt your business. You know this already but it is an important reminder that in today’s online world saying one thing and doing something else creates an advertising buzz that can destroy your business. Keep your promises and when you don’t own up to it and address the problem. Customer service has never played a more important role in a successful business than it does today!
  5. Pay to promote your best content to your fans and beyond! A great Facebook page with great content that no one sees is pointless. If you’re not prepared to pay to promote at least some of your content on Facebook, you should reconsider whether it is the place for your business to be. A day is coming where, in order to have any business reach on Facebook, you’ll have to pay.

Chances are, even if you make it into the newsfeed of fans and potential fans, your engagement percentage will still be low. But high engagement numbers, while nice to have, don’t tell the whole story. Promoting content that works for your fans won’t always generate rave reviews in the form of high engagement numbers. It might but often it won’t.

But what it will do, assuming you are paying to promote content that appeals to your audience, is build name recognition for your brand and a reputation for being customer focused. And, in our online world, that’s a big deal!!