Nick SerjeantOn February 6th I had Nick Serjeant from Facebook Canada as my special guest presenter at my Our Digital Coach workshop in Toronto. We had 14 agency executives and marketers and Nick took us behind the scenes and shared some of Facebook’s insider information. My biggest takeaways were:

  • It’s a waste of money to spend a lot of your budget on fancy third-party apps that give you extra tabs and functionality on your Facebook brand page. The percentage of your fan base that ever visits your page is tiny. Most of your fans will interact with your content (the content you post off your page) in their newsfeed. So you need to spend your time and money developing an amazing content strategy so your posts get read, and more importantly, don’t get hidden by the user. 
  • Gimmicky fans are bad for your brand and your marketing ROI. Gimmicky fans are fans that liked you, not because of who you are and your content, but because you incented them to like you. Here’s why they are bad for you: On average a brand can expect about 16% organic reach to their fan base through the news feed. This means that if a brand has 100 fans, every time the brand posts, 16 people will see the post organically in their new feed. However, the Facebook algorythm adjusts this number based on how users react to your content. If users “hide” your brand from their feed, the algorythm adjusts and your posts get shown less and less often. So that 16% drops and can drop all the way to 0%. Now why would a user hide you from their newsfeed? Because they aren’t interested in your content! So fans who liked you only to get a contest entry or something similar are very likely to hide you and this will affect your organic newsfeed exposure to all your fans, even the ones who like you for your content. So those gimmicky fans end up killing the viral spread of your branding that you came to Facebook for in the firstplace. 
  • Email marketing delivers higher organic reach and better branding opportunities than Facebook (on average). Most brands are under the illusion that when they post a fair number of their fans will see their post. I bet most brands think it’s in the 50-70% of the fans range. It’s a bit of a harsh reality check to find it’s only 16%. But if you think about your own newsfeed and how much brand content you bother to read, it’s not surprising. Many good email lists have open rates better than 16% and you get way more space in an email for brand messaging. This is why I advise most businesses to prioritize building their email lists ahead of their social media efforts. This doesn’t mean that Facebook marketing is a waste of time, just that I’d recommend you excel at email marketing first. What I wonder, and don’t have data for at hand, is whether younger people are on social media more than email and so my advice is valid if your target skews over 30 but if your target is teens and 20 year olds then social media might have better organic reach than email. Something to look into.
  • Paid media on Facebook was a key driven of brand success in all the case studies shared. The main way to increase your reach beyond the 16% organic is paid Facebook media and, not surprisingly, all the case studies Facebook shared involved brands who invested in paid media on Facebook to reach a much higher percentage of their fans than 16%. In the Facebook brand promotions I have run for CPG brands, this has definitely been the case. The implication is that you better allocate a decent paid media budget for your Facebook marketing if you want enough reach.
  • You need an inspiring content strategy that will deliver lightweight, authentic content into people’s news feeds. This topic deserves its own separate post but I found it helpful to dwell on the keywords inspiring, lightweight and authentic. So many brands violate these principles and I found them to be a nice simple guideline. Look out for a future post on developing your content strategy for Facebook.