Going Beyond Engagement Baiting On Facebook
Despite what the user numbers suggest, Facebook is witnessing a slowdown in recent years. According to one study, the engagement on Facebook Pages has dropped by as much as 50% in the last 18 months. Individual page posts have witnessed a decline too – of over 66%.
As a marketer, this should concern you. Facebook is still the largest social media platform by a mile. Regardless of the massive drop in engagement, the platform still houses the largest chunk of target customers for any kind of business. It is imperative to figure a way to reach your audience despite these falling metrics.
Why Engagement is Falling
Before we can devise a strategy to capture audience interest, it is important to understand why engagement rates are falling. There are a few obvious reasons such as evolving demographics. The younger social media users have been steadily moving out of Facebook to other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. If your target audience is not active on Facebook anymore, it is probably a good idea to run your campaigns on the other platforms.
There are however other reasons for your user engagement to drop. One of the biggest changes comes from Facebook itself. Recent news feed algorithm changes are geared towards disincentivizing users from indulging in engagement baiting.
This is typically the use of phrases like “Like this comment if XXXXXXXXXX`” – users liking a post as this, are not engaging because the post itself is like-worthy. Instead, the messaging subtly (or overtly) nudges them towards this.
Engagement baiting does not nurture posts that foster discussion or is value-adding. Instead, it incentivizes the farming of likes and shares at the cost of everything else. While this was a popular means to grow your Facebook audiences in the past, this is no longer a viable model anymore.
In its quest to turn profitable, Facebook has also been actively stifling organic growth and nudging its users to pay for visibility. So while your post may have actively garnered hundreds or thousands of likes in the past, it may no longer bring you similar success today unless you pay for visibility. Consider investing in Facebook video ads to trigger engagement and exposure to your content in such cases.
The Right Way to Engage
The ideal way to capture audience interest is by adding value through the content you produce. While this does sound generic, success depends on how unique and interactive your content is. Some studies show that despite Facebook exhorting users to produce video content, images still prevail when it comes to engagement. A Buffer study finds that users interact with images a lot more often than they interact with videos.
One possible reason for this is that with the introduction of in-content video ads tend to disrupt viewing experience and thus bring engagement down. If you are a publisher, it is a good idea not to monetize your video content in the interest of higher engagement.
Also, create a holistic brand strategy that goes beyond Facebook and also includes other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. For instance, an intro video you create for YouTube needs to align with a cover video you produce for Facebook. This allows for cross-platform engagement continuity and thus better ROI.
Your followers tend to overlap across media channels and it is important that the content, positioning, and branding you create on Facebook seamlessly extends to the other channels as well.
It is worth pointing out that while engagement and interaction are all good, businesses also look at Facebook to grow their business. Too many posts focusing on engagement would mean lesser real estate for marketing your business. On the contrary, too many marketing messages bring down engagement on your Page. Experts suggest a 30-60-10 golden ratio where 30% of the content is owned by you, 60% of it is curated and the remaining 10% is promotional in nature.
The trouble with most forms of content is that despite how engaging they are, they are not interactive. That is, they do not require the viewer to do anything besides watch or read. You can increase engagement by investing in content that is primarily interactive. This includes creating content like surveys, quizzes, and calculators.
For instance, if you run a Facebook Page for personal finance, you could create an Income Tax calculator that your followers can check during tax season. A Facebook Page for programming professionals can conduct periodic surveys to match salaries across various organizations. Such forms of content make it necessary for the followers to chime in and this builds greater engagement.
Engagement baiting as a technique is well past its due date. To succeed in Facebook marketing today, it is important to invest in high-quality content pieces that are engaging and interactive.
What content formats have worked best for your audience? Share your experiences in the comments.