half-hearted thumbs up
Companies all over are learning they have to work harder to get those Facebook likes PHOTO: Radly J Phoenix

Creating a Facebook page is part and parcel of launching a business. 

With one, your business establishes a presence on the largest social network in the world. Without one, some might accuse you of not taking your brand’s digital presence seriously. 

But as we move through 2017, Facebook publishers are realizing that their own fans are slowly drifting out of reach.

Organic Reach, We Hardly Knew Ye

Facebook itself announced in 2012 that, “pages organically reach about 16 percent of their fans on average. To make sure your fans see your stories, sponsor your posts to increase the reach of your content.”

But after five years and some radical algorithmic changes, that already small percentage has shrunk yet further. Today, reaching 3 percent of your Facebook fans is considered a marked success.

Let's put this into perspective: if your Facebook page has 10,000 likes, you can expect one of your posts to reach around 30 people — and that’s on a good day. 

This weakening of the Facebook page is impacting businesses of all sizes, some of whom built their brands on the back of a powerful organic Facebook reach that no longer exists:

How Much Is a Like Worth?

The value of a Facebook page like had depreciated rapidly. Based on the numbers above, a Facebook page with 10,000 likes in 2012 would have a stronger reach than a page with 50,000 likes today. 

With that in mind, buying Facebook page likes is no longer a smart way to spend your marketing dollars on Facebook. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and suggest spending any significant time on growing your number of page likes is a poor use of time and effort — the ROI just isn't there anymore.

This doesn't mean it's time to panic. 

There are ways to squeeze whatever life is left out of your Facebook page. Plus, a few strategies can help you leapfrog your existing Facebook page audience to gain a broader reach. 

Approaching Facebook Marketing in 2017 and Beyond

Facebook marketing — perhaps now more than ever — is a complex topic. 

There are countless ways to reach and connect with the massive Facebook user base. But when it comes to the basics of establishing a solid presence on Facebook (and in turn, converting its users on your website or app) here are five methods to live by in 2017 and beyond. 

1. Publish Evergreen Content

Facebook’s algorithm favors evergreen content (content that never loses its relevance), because there’s no expiration date on the engagement it can attract.

Alternatively, topical content remains relevant for a short period of time, meaning even if engagement levels are high, people’s interest in the content will peter out quickly and most likely, permanently.

Because evergreen content lasts longer, it’s automatically in a position to be picked up at any time, even years after it was first published.

2. Start Shooting Live Video 

Live video content marketing is taking off for many reasons, but Facebook’s algorithm placing higher value on live video is a vital one. 

With Facebook users commenting 10 times more on live videos, you can count on a strong level of engagement — which as you now know, Facebook loves.

So if you want to reconnect with your distant Facebook fans, break out the camera.

3. Use Organic Post Targeting

The Facebook Ad Manager is famous for its advanced targeting features. But unbeknownst to many Facebook page administrators, Facebook lets you target segments of your existing audience in similar ways. The feature lets you define a sub-audience based on interests, age, gender and location. 

Facebook provides instructions to help you configure the feature so that you can target each post during the publication process.

The idea here is that, although your organic Facebook reach is weak, at least you can reach a more targeted audience with the reach you do possess.

4. Leverage Your Email List

Getting a Facebook post to go viral is a great way to reach thousands, or even millions, without spending a dime. But doing so is no mean feat. 

To go viral, your post needs a large and rapid response in order for Facebook to show it to more people, and in order to generate enough shares for it to spread across the network. The obvious barrier of course, is the fact that very few Facebook pages have the reach to generate such a rapid, organic response. 

Here's where your email list may help you beat the system. 

The next time you publish a significant post on Facebook, try sending your subscribers a short email to check it out. It’s an easy way to boost a post’s reach, and it might even be enough to jumpstart your post into infamy.

5. Invest in Facebook Ads & Promoted Posts

We could all cry about how Mark Zuckerberg is “forcing” marketers to pay for reach — or we could just accept it’s still a level playing field and that, as per usual, it’s time to adapt. 

The Facebook Ad Manager is renowned for its highly detailed targeting features, and the ROI it delivers has led to Facebook claiming a 45 percent share of the digital advertising market

Imagine you are a B2B marketer looking to land specific companies as clients. With a Facebook ad, you can configure your customized ad so that it’s only served to the employees of those specific companies. You can then drill down further by targeting just their employees in specific locations. Now that’s targeted.

Finally, you might want to experiment with promoting your Facebook posts — which is something that 75 percent of brands admit to doing. It’s a quick and simple way to boost the reach of individual posts, making it ideal if you feel like you have a winner on your hands. 

Don’t Be a Romantic

When it comes to digital marketing, romance is dangerous.

Your Facebook page isn’t as powerful as it once was, so it’s time to rethink any investments that go into it and adopt a fresh Facebook marketing strategy in line with what works today — not with what worked three years ago.