Stay at home moms do some pretty strange things during the course of a week, (performing emergency Lego minifigure extractions from the bowels of plastic alligators comes to mind).
But probably the strangest things I do with my week, does not happen ‘at home’.
It’s happens on Tuesday mornings when I go to my kids’ school and spend 30-40 minutes straightening up the Lost & Found rack and then photographing every single (kid-germed, playground-dust-caked) coat, sweater, hat, shoe (usually singular), water bottle, lunch box, book, dinosaur, tip jar (?), barrette, etc and post the photos to a Facebook page I set up for the school’s Lost & Found.
I’ve been doing this for over a year now, and we have hundreds of parents who have “Liked” and “Followed” the page so that they receive weekly updates of the items I post.
So yesterday, as I was checking-out in the front office (after a particularly allergy-inducing hour of bagging up October’s items to be donated), I was shocked when the Principal’s admin asked if it was true that I wasn’t going to be taking care of the Lost & Found anymore.
Huh? What the??? Did I just get fired from the strangest self-appointed volunteer position ever?
Nope. It ends up that many people just haven’t been receiving their weekly Facebook Page updates despite the fact that I’m still posting pictures every week.
Why? They “Followed” the Page specifically because they wanted the information and updates.
But what they didn’t realize, (and what most people don’t realize) is that Facebook does not share all Page updates with everyone who has chosen to ‘Follow’ or ‘Like’ a Page. In fact, if you haven’t been interacting with the Page (visiting the Page, liking, commenting on or sharing posts), chances are you’re receiving very few updates from that Page at all.
According to Facebook:
16% sounds pretty dismal, especially since I would guess that 100% of the people that ‘Follow’ my Lost & Found page are expecting to get their weekly Lost & Found updates that they specifically chose to “Follow”.
If 16% sounds bad, according to a research study featured in an article on Ignite Social Media, the reach is actually now under 3% for most brands. So good luck ever seeing the photo of your kid’s Land’s End rain jacket or brand new water bottle that you just bought to replace the last one they lost last month. I hope you’re one of the 6 lucky followers that receives my weekly Lost & Found post. (No wonder I just had to donate so much stuff left from October!)
If this seems confusing/frustrating, you’re not alone. Here are just some of the comments on the Facebook help area:
The overwhelming opinion is that “it should be my choice” and “if I didn’t want to see all of their posts, I wouldn’t have liked them in the first place!”
So, why does Facebook do this? According to most of Facebook’s responses that I have found online, it is due to the need to find an algorithm that prioritizes posts and articles that will be the most interesting to their users.
According to most of the Page Managers who have responded about this topic online, the feeling is that it’s primarily financially based. Remember my first screenshot from Facebook? Even in their own words: “To make sure your fans see your stories, sponsor your posts..”
For Facebook Page Managers Who Want to Better Reach Your Followers
In addition to managing a wildly popular Lost & Found page, I also manage “The Dusty Parachute” page, which 165 people have Liked/Followed.
Here’s a post I did last night.
In a “All Followers actually get to ‘Follow'” world, you would expect that in the 19 hours since I posted this, it would have reached a good percentage of my 165 Followers. As you can see, it has only reached 54 users (and since 7 people ‘Liked’ it, there’s a good chance that some of those 54 users were their friends that saw that they liked it, so not even 54 of my own “Followers”.
Clearly, the rest of the people “Following” my Facebook page shouldn’t have to live their lives without having had the opportunity to enjoy my PowerPoint-meets-Weather.com map skills. So what’s a Page manager to do?
There are a bunch of articles that say you should design your posts and content to make people interact (thereby pleasing the algorithm). But personally, I don’t want an algorithm to dictate what I post, and I don’t want a Page full of surveys and questions designed to force interactions.
So, the primary option is to pay to reach the people that you already thought you were reaching.
Now, I’m a practical girl, and I managed a zillion online advertising campaigns over my 7 years at a digital agency and I totally appreciate the need for a site (Facebook) to earn revenue. I would never complain about having to pay to reach new users. (Like the 3rd bullet option on the picture below) or even to reach my current ‘followers’ with a true advertising message (like they feature in the Facebook right sidebar).
But to me, Facebook ‘Following’ feels a lot like when people opt in to receive emails from a business…and when you send out an email blast to people who have opted in for your messaging, you don’t send it out to 3%, you send it out to 100% and let the end user decide if they want to open it up and engage with the content.
Yes, you could make the argument that email services charge based on the volume of emails sent, but email providers also don’t benefit ‘beyond the blast’, like Facebook does from all the additional pageviews (therefore ad revenue) that these business Pages drive. And even if you could make a case for charging to reach your followers, I would think that would certainly only be for Pages with significant Follower counts. It’s hard to justify charging the same for a school’s Lost & Found page the same way you would for a huge global brand.
For Facebook Users Who Want to Follow the Pages That They Have Followed
So, what can you do? You’ve ‘Followed’ Pages and want to actually receive information that they post on their Facebook page. You can either cross your fingers and hope that you’re the lucky 3-16% or here are a couple other things that you can do to up your odds. (Please note that this won’t guarantee 100%, so if you really want to know everything that is posted on a page, you’ll likely have to go visit the actual page from time to time).
- One of the easiest things that help increase the amount of posts you see from a Page (or even from your friends) is to ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ on and/or ‘Share’ their posts.
- You can also try clicking on the very top left “News Feed” link and switch it from ‘Top Stories’ to ‘Most Recent’. You’ll automatically get a much wider variety of stories in your feed, but unfortunately you have to continually reset it as every time you do pretty much anything on the page it defaults back to ‘Top Stories’.
- Select ‘Get Notifications’ (see example below). Simply go to the page that you’re following and when you mouse over the ‘Liked’ button, this option box will come up. Click on ‘Get Notifications’ and a check will show up. Ta Dah!
- I would like to thank Kim Bongiorno from Let Me Start By Saying for introducing me to the topic of Facebook Lists in her newsletter last week. As you can see in the picture above, right under the “Get Notifications” you just clicked, there is also a “Add to Interests Lists”. If you click on this (see below), you can choose to add this site to a new list or to an existing interest list, like the list I created for “Funny Moms (and David Sedaris)”…..because he’s freaking David Sedaris! I also have one for School Updates (Our Lost & Found list & the PTA page, etc). You can also use lists to sort your ‘friends’ into Family, College, Coworkers, ‘Friends I Actually Like’, etc.
Then, you can just scroll to the “Interests” section (see below) on the left side of your personal Facebook page. Click on which group you want to see and it will change your News Feed to only include stories from pages within that group.
If you cursor over the word “Interests” you can click on the word “More” and go in and create all kinds of groups, even for pages you haven’t “Followed”.
You can even choose to follow an existing list that someone has already created, like my Funny Moms (and David Sedaris) group. (Sorry y’all, my School Updates List is private – you’ll have to look through your own Lost & Found rack). And if you, or someone you follow, is a Funny Mom that should be on my list, be sure to let me know so I can add them!
But first things first. Go to my Facebook page and practice “Liking” and doing the drop down for “Get Notifications”.
Seriously, do you want to risk missing out on my Pinterest-worthy meal ideas?
I would like to wrap up with a personal note to Facebook:
C’mon, Facebook, you know I love you…let’s not fight. Let’s just agree to disagree on what we believe “Follow” means to your users. I have always been the person that stands up for you when people complain when you’re always changing your layout. You’re a free service, and a pretty dang cool one that some would argue I have a bit of an addiction to. (Yes, I manage 4 pages, and 4 groups, what of it?!) But for heaven’s sake, a school’s Lost & Found page shouldn’t have to pay to let its 300 followers who have gone out of their way to “Follow” it know that someone’s kid’s stinky shoe is on the Lost & Found rack.
Now, let’s hug and make up…and then go fix that damn algorithm…..
BREAKING NEWS – UPDATE: I just read in Mashable that Facebook is going to be rolling out some customization tweaks to give users more control over their newsfeeds in the coming weeks. Fingers crossed that it helps us being to actually follow the pages we’ve followed. (I’m sure it’s in response to my scathing expose). Here’s the article.