“If you like my Page, I’ll like yours back. Then we both have more followers and everybody wins.”
Not even close.
Please stop — for the love of bacon and beavers this isn’t helping you. Worse, you’re hurting your organic reach. (No, organic reach is not dead.) Here’s why.
No matter how many fans you have, the measure of a successful Page is whether people interact and engage with your content in a strategic way. If the intended action to a blog link is to get people to click through to your blog and that doesn’t happen then your platform isn’t solid. If you post a photo and all you hear is crickets, that’s not a successful Page (not that EVERY piece of content has to do super well, but no reaction at all is a bad sign). A Page is successful if it accomplishes what you need it to — build platform, drive traffic, etc. If the point of your Page is to simply have a lot of fans then ignore everything else I’m going to say.
Edge Rank Simplified
When you post content, FB decides — based on several criteria — how interesting you are. Remember — FB wants to show users content they’re interested in. In the FB economy, how does your content’s interestingness get evaluated?
Interaction and engagement is the name of the game. Your interestingness (or edge) is measured in clicks, likes, comments, and shares. When you become interesting, when the edge value (or rank) associated with a specific piece of content increases, FB shows that content to friends of friends, or friends of fans, with the idea that they also may find that content interesting.
The problem with Like-Fests
So, you go to a group of writers on FB and say let’s exchange Likes. Unless that writer is genuinely interested in what you have to say, in engaging with your content on a regular basis, they are actually hurting your organic reach. FB looks at engagement to evaluate how interesting your content is and sees a bunch of your fans never interact. If that’s a large group of your fans, FB assumes that your content isn’t very interesting and shows it to fewer people.
If you’ve already done this and have a collection of Likes from well-meaning writer friends who don’t write in your genre and never engage with your content, you may feel like you have a problem. And you do because there’s no way that I know of to purge those uninterested fans. Sometimes this happens as a result of poorly targeted ads, sometimes it’s the double-edged sword to going viral, but regardless — Like-fests definitely don’t help.
When writers face low organic reach, they tend to react in one of two ways:
1. Post content the writer fans are interested in. Graphics with quotes from famous writers, links aimed to help writers write better, etc. Because that’s what the writer friends are interested in and that’s what gets the desired engagement.
2. Decide that MORE fans is the answer and more aggressively initiate Like-fests. Start sending out Like requests via private messages, Twitter, G+, anywhere people might see a desperate plea and click Like.
The problem with #1 is that unless you’re writing for writers, you’re not growing a platform for your writing. You’re still stuck with the problem that any time you post about your own writing or try to grow your brand you hear crickets. You want to target your content at people who will actually WANT to read what you’re writing.
The problem with #2 is that you still have a Page full of empty likes which will tank your organic reach — PLUS it’s super annoying. People will block you, ignore you, or worse hide all your content.
There’s a 3rd option that takes more time, requires more thought and strategy, and success won’t remain static:
3. Figure out through trial and error what kinds of content fans are interested in and post more of that.
Figure out what your fans are interested in (that’s next week’s post). Create content that not only provides value but also promotes your brand. Take the time to chat with and respond to your fans so they think you might actually care whether they show up and interact.
I have heard of like-genre writers joining together and liking each other’s pages and committing to interact and share a link from another page at least twice a week. My question is: how long does this keep going? Unless there’s an ongoing commitment, when it falls apart you’re right back to the mutual like-fest problem. Granted, presumably these are fans of your genre at least, so that might help.
Building platform on FB doesn’t have an easy button. Finding loop-holes around the algorithm only works until FB adjusts the algorithm to stop the cheating. Old-fashioned relationship building is the key and there’s no fast-tracking that (unless you’re willing to spend money on well-targeted ads). It’s an investment of time, energy, and heart.
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Next week I’ll post more about how to create content your fans find valuable. Do you have a Facebook platform question? I will give away ONE critique of either a Page or a Profile to someone who comments below.