What To Do When Facebook Engagement Declines [Research]

10 Marketing Tactics To Improve Your Facebook Engagement

Facebook-engagement-declines-researchYIKES! Facebook engagement has lost 20+% since January 2107!

BuzzSumo data analysis by Steve Rayson confirms what you’ve been experiencing: Lower organic Facebook engagement.

Facebook engagement has been a key driver of the company’s revenues and valuation since it went public in 2012.

It’s taken Facebook almost 5 years to find sustainable options in a dynamic digital advertising market. (BTW—I predicted Facebook  would improve their advertising options and means of selling their data in 2012!)

While Facebook engagement declines have a big impact on your marketing you shouldn’t be surprised.

Facebook has been telegraphing this would happen for a while. They just haven’t put it in terms of decreased organic engagement. 

Here are 3 reasons why.

  1. Facebook’s growth rate has matured. They no longer have big segments of non-users to tap into. As a result, their growth rate slowed significantly. Even worse, it’s no longer the first choice for teens.
  2. Facebook’s newsfeed has an upper bound to the number of items it delivers. It’s set at 1,500 per user based on internal Facebook analysis.
  3. Facebook has become a bona fide media entity. WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell announced Facebook was their second largest media investment after Google in late 2016. Aggregated data supports Facebook’s advertising standing. 
    Facebook and Google global ad spend

    Global Advertising Spend (2012-2017) via Axios [Chart]

Before you fret about your 2018 marketing budget, let’s look at the data to see where there are opportunities to support your business and mitigate the impact of Facebook’s engagement falloff.



Facebook Engagement Declines: The Data

BuzzSumo analyzed 880+ million Facebook posts published by brands and publishers.

The average number of engagements per Facebook post fell from 340 to 264 or 20% during 1H2017. @SteveRayson @BuzzSuo #FacebookClick To Tweet

Facebook Engagement

Facebook Engagement Decline via BuzzSumo [August 2017 Chart]

Deeper examination of the data reveals the falloff is larger for plain Jane links and images. No surprise—whether we like it or not, as humans, we’re wired to see things that move. Hence video and interactive content draw our attention.

Facebook Engagement BY Content Format Type – BuzzSumo [2017 Chart]

Take look at the numbers for yourself.

Facebook Engagement By Content Format Type – BuzzSumo Chart (August 2017)

You’ll see a total post falloff in December, January and February. This may be attributable to the post-holiday push. Post publication picks up for spring promotions.

Additionally videos remain a small proportion of total posts. This is visually apparent from the line chart of Facebook posts by content type.

Facebook Post Engagement By Content Format Over Time via BuzzSumo [Chart- 2017]

How to deal with Facebook engagement declines.

  • Make video a key element of your Facebook marketing. Take advantage of the opportunity to stand out in the newsfeed despite Facebook engagement declines.
  • Use a variety of Facebook video options. Test what works best for your specific audience.


How To Maximize Your Facebook Results Even If Facebook Engagement Declines

Despite Facebook engagement declines, the site remains the 800 pound gorilla of social media and media more broadly. As a result, you still need to be present on Facebook.

To illustrate Facebook’s reach, see how it compares relative to other social media networks. (Sprout Social)

Social Media Platform Use By Age Via Sprout Social

Facebook dominates social media reach regardless of US adult demographic breakout. (Pew Internet)

US Adult Social Media Usage Broken Out By Demographics-Pew Report [Chart]

Therefore, you must be smart about your Facebook strategy.

Create a sustainable Facebook strategy aligned with your marketing and business strategies. Ensure that your Facebook goals, audience and content context are aligned with your overall marketing approach.


What to do on Facebook despite engagement declines

Last year, Buffer’s research showed that small businesses have kept their organic Facebook posting rates the same or higher despite lower Facebook visibility. And these are marketers with small to non-existent marketing budgets.

5 Actionable Facebook Marketing Tactics

  1. Create content tailored for your Facebook audience and post on a regular basis. Aim for one engagement per day. Test to see which timing works best for your audience and content.
  2. Invest time in build Facebook engagement. Nurture and keep the conversation going on your Facebook page. Support your major content efforts by being available and responding to readers and influencers. Get employees outside of your marketing department involved.
  3. Shift your Facebook content mix towards increased video. Integrate your Facebook oriented content creation into your content marketing editorial and social media calendars.
  4. Build your inner circle community on Facebook. Face it – your followers and customers want to feel special! Use Facebook’s functionality to build an insider group. Syed Balki recently sent out an email inviting customers to join his Facebook inner circle
  5. Support your best content with Facebook advertising. Use Facebook advertising to test headlines and images. Take advantage of Facebook’s gold mine of user data to target your content.
    Research Chart

    Social Media Advertising By Platform

    45% of respondents have never purchased a product or service based on seeing a social media ad according to Civic Science. People have fine-tuned their ability to ignore digital ads including on social media where they’re focused on engaging with family and friends. Despite that, 16% of respondents have purchased after seeing an ad on Facebook.

    Facebook participants don't click on ads or sponsored contentInterestingly, the level of Facebook  advertising engagement has remained relatively constant over the last 5 years. (Note: The research sources and user actions are different!)


What to do on your owned media to support Facebook engagement

As a marketer, you must think beyond Facebook to build your base and keep your audience engaged on Facebook.

Of course, your long term goal is to create your base on your owned media (including your website, blog or email.)

5 Actionable Marketing Tactics For Your Owned Media To Support Your Facebook Presence

  1. Greet visitors from Facebook with a targeted experience. At a minimum, be consistent and use a tailored landing page and welcome series.
  2. Create quality 10X content. Particularly work on your headlines to maximize attention. Where appropriate, include video and encourage sharing. Also, A/B test your headlines with paid advertising on Facebook.
  3. Schedule engagement with your content on owned media entities such as your blog, email newsletters and employee emails when you plan your social media engagement.
  4. Tap into the power of your events, both online and IRL. Create a Facebook Group to support your event and ask people to join once they’ve signed up for your event. Spend time engaging with followers and create reasons for them to engage and participate.
  5. Make your Facebook engagement personal. Reach out to your personal network as well as your employees to get them to Like and engage on your Facebook Page. Beyond that, do personal outreach to colleagues and influencers for key pieces of content.


The Facebook Engagement Declines Conclusion

Despite Facebook engagement declines, you still must include Facebook in your social media and marketing mix. This means allocating budget and time to actively engage with your Facebook audience.

Facebook is too big to ignore. Even with a one-fifth falloff in engagement it remains the largest and most diverse social media platform. You can’t match it’s marketing effectiveness and cost-efficiency.

Therefore assess your marketing strategy to determine where you can effectively support it using Facebook together with your owned media entities.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.


Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/women-typing-on-the-notebook-6168/ CC Zero

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