More than 60 million brands have Facebook pages. These were created for marketers to connect directly with millions of current or would-be customers. But it’s getting harder and harder to be successful through brand pages.
Engagement ratios for brand pages are dropping. The engagement ratio per brand—average interactions per post, per brand, per 1,000 followers—has fallen more than 8 percent.
Why? Because competition for attention is unending and relentless. Even as time spent on screens surges, the speed at which people decide whether to consume pieces of content has also dramatically increased. So, billions of Facebook page posts fall flat each year—even with ad dollars behind them.
And yet we all see page posts in our feeds. The game can be won. The fact is, every brand has an equal opportunity for attention-grabbing on Facebook.
So, what makes for a good page content strategy?
Test every. Single. Thing.
Marketers must test every post. This means looking at everything from positive interactions to negative actions—engagement percentages, view time, click-through rates and more—and identifying patterns for improvement.
Facebook tests every post that goes up to understand if it deserves to be prioritized. If you’re a brand page with, say, 100,000 followers, maybe Facebook will show your post to 100 people and test the engagement. If it’s low, you might be on page 170 of your audience’s News Feed.
This is why it’s critical to split test campaigns and content prior to putting real money toward them. That data gives you confidence to move forward and invest.
But keep in mind, the key metrics will always change. You have to constantly adapt. Facebook is continually making tweaks, which means that the metrics you judge success by change, too.
For example, Facebook recently prioritized minutes watched rather than views. The social network shifted from prioritizing 10-second views (which used to crush it) to giving more weight to how long users watch (which encourages longer videos for mid-roll ads).
So, marketers and brands on Facebook need to change, too. This means fewer 10-second videos and more three-minute videos. It raises the bar for content but delivers better results for everyone. Facebook wants people watching longer videos, and the metrics reflect that. Smart marketers follow the metrics and plan ahead so they can grab engagement before others do.
Don’t be an early adopter
Don’t be first to the party. Facebook rolls out hundreds of new features and products each year for pages. Trying out each one before they’re proven is exciting. But it’s also expensive—which means it’s risky. Many of the new products require dedicated resources and custom creative. Why spend all that time and money if you don’t have to?
Let other brands be the early adopters. Let them test new and risky strategies. Let them spend freely on research and development and beta-testing. Then, if it works, do what they do. Be a fast follower, not an early adopter.
While there are occasionally advantages to being first, when it comes to Facebook content strategies, it’s as good and sometimes better to be a quick second (unless you have unlimited funds, in which case, ignore this). Keep a keen eye on the competition, then imitate.
Facebook Live is a good example. The smartest marketers didn’t jump on it right away. Instead, they watched others exert the energy and spend the money to “figure it out.” This revealed best practices. Being “late” didn’t hurt anyone. There’s only upside.
Don’t be boring
The best way to win on Facebook? Don’t be boring. Boring is a death knell.
When it comes to branded content, the share is king. It’s the highest algorithmic point when it comes to understanding if a piece of content was engaging. It’s stronger than a like and stronger than a comment. You must be able to grab attention in milliseconds and stop users from scrolling (“thumb-stopping content”). This means telling a narrative that not only grabs attention but inspires emotion.
It all comes down to surprise and delight. Surprising them gets them to stop. And then if they’re delighted enough and enjoy it, they share it.
This is why straight deals and coupons tend to perform miserably on pages, even if they’re paid. They can’t compete with the thousands of other posts that are story-driven. Content that surprises and delights has higher engagement, and Facebook prioritizes that performance—whether paid or organic.
So, posting a story-less 25 percent coupon will get buried quickly. Regardless of how many people follow your page, less than 1 percent of that audience will likely see it. That kind of reach decline is purely self-inflicted. Remember: You’re literally competing against every cute cat video in the world.
Brands are spending more money to try to break through on Facebook. But more money won’t make for a successful page strategy. Paid posts and promoted profiles only help good content—that is, content that has high engagement. People on Facebook need to be convinced—almost instantaneously—to pay attention. It’s tough but possible. Just follow fast, test everything and stop being so damn boring.