If a post goes in the News Feed and no one sees it, does it make a sound?

“I read somewhere that you have to pay for your fans to see your business’s Facebook posts. Please tell me this isn’t true!” We wish we could answer that question with the cliché, “Don’t believe everything you read,” but unfortunately there is some truth to this. Before you go un-publishing your business page in loathing toward the social media ogre, keep in mind we did say “some” truth.

Bad news for those who like good news

So let’s rip off the band aid and give you the bad news first. Multiple studies on small, medium, and large brand pages have proven that the Facebook wide average of fan reach per post is 16%. Now, time for the good news: You’re a small business. Although local businesses have a much smaller Facebook community than the big guys, the majority of their “likers” actually wish to keep connected. Big brand pages are packed with fans that only like the page to enter a contest, spam accounts, and even purchased likes. Your page is made up of a genuine and loyal community that enjoys staying connected to your business. Even though you have much fewer likes and less engagement than Oreo and Southwest Airlines, the ratio of engagement is higher and, therefore, the percentage of people seeing a post is higher. For example, if Oreo reaches 850,000 people with one post but has over 27 million likes, their fan reach per post is only 3%. Your business page may reach 100 people out of 200 likes which gives you a fan reach per post of 50%.

It’s good to be a small biz

Now back to that unattractive number. As a small business, it’s unlikely that most of your posts will only reach 16% of your likes. That number is skewed by big brands’ inflated likes and pages that fail to post actionable and interesting content daily. As long as your social marketing plan includes fun quotes, store photos, humor, product sneak peeks, and content your customers will enjoy, you’ll continue to reach more than 16% of your likes. Sometimes it can be tough to create enough posts for every day of the week. If you get stuck or just need some inspiration, you can find great ideas from our Idea Bar in the SnapRetail calendar that will keep your audience interested.

But wait, I still want to reach all of my fans

Nowhere above do we see the number 100%. Although your small business has a better opportunity of reaching more valuable fans than those with millions of likes, you still cannot reach all by simply hitting the post button. We call this Organic Reach. Organic reach per post can be determined in your Facebook Insights and is simply the amount of users that see your post without any paid effort. Like we stated before, as a small business you may see that on average, 50% of your audience see your posts. If you want to guarantee a higher percentage, then Facebook has a solution for you.

You’ll notice the option to promote a post under the Status Box.

By selecting this option, you agree to pay a set fee to reach a certain number of people with a post. In order to promote a post, first create your post, select promote, choose the amount you wish to spend/how many people you’d like to reach, choose your method of payment, and click save.

Be sure to keep track of the Organic Reach of your Promoted Post in order to determine its success. If $5 only awards you a few more impressions, you may want to test $10 the next time. Keep an eye on your Insights for that particular post and test and benchmark your paid efforts accordingly.

I can’t pay for every post!

Do not fear, we would never suggest that local businesses promote all of their Facebook posts. You already have the advantage over big brands, so use this Facebook feature wisely. Only promote posts that are time sensitive, store event oriented, or when total reach is very important. Here are some examples of possible promoted posts:

  • Store event- Create an event page for a Ladies Night Out and promote a post giving details to the event to ensure the best turnout
  • Sale- You may wish to run a weekend-only sale with the goal of selling all past seasonal items. Promote a post of a photo album of sale items and details.
  • Time sensitive- You’re excited to offer a brand new line to your customers. Announce its arrival through a promoted post and give a special offer to the first 5 customers.

Your homework

First off, embrace the fact that you are a small business and have a good chance of reaching a higher percentage of your Facebook community than the big box stores.

Secondly, dive into your Facebook Insights and take a look at the average percentage of customers who see your posts. In order to determine your fan reach per post, divide the “reach” by the number of total page likes. Find your average number of fans reached per post by adding together a week’s worth of fan reach per post, and dividing by the total number of posts. Use this number as your benchmark with the goal of staying the same or increasing. If your average fan reach per post is low during a certain week, look at the type of content you posted to see what’s working well and what customers are ignoring.

Once you have a good understanding on the average number of people who see your organic posts, go ahead and promote a post. Be sure to promote the type of posts that we suggested earlier. After a week, determine the fan reach of your promoted post. If it is much higher than your organic reach, then it was a success! If not, try paying a little more for the next one. After some testing, you’ll find the perfect combination of organic and promoted posts that will gain valuable brand awareness across your entire community.

Posted by Christian Kratsas on August 14, 2012 on The Snap Retail Blog

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