Facebook changed up their News Feed algorithm again in an effort to constantly improve our experience on the site. Their goal is for us to spend as much time as possible on Facebook and in an effort to keep us there they will now be featuring the most highly ranked posts first in our news feed followed by those with less engagement. What does that mean to all of us? In short, it means if you post something boring it now has even less of a chance of being seen. Let me explain.
According to Facebook at any one time there are on average 1,500 potential stories from friends, people they follow and Pages for them to see. It would of course be impossible for them to feed all that information to us and for us to be able to digest it. So they started running some tests and figured out that if they placed higher ranked content (judged by the amount of engagement, comments, likes, shares) on the top of our News Feed that people were sticking around longer to view it. On the other hand if they just posted popular stories in chronological order the amount of stories people actually read decreased.
I snapped this photo of my boys as they were playing with their basket boats in the living room. I decided to play along and use Photoshop to help them visualize their story coming to life. Within one hour of posting the photo on Facebook it currently has over 300 likes and 17 comments.
So how does the new algorithm work, and how as business page owners can we use it to our advantage?
The new News Feed will respond to signals from you, for example:
- How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted
- The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular
- How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past
- Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post
In addition any organic stories that have received a lot of engagement which you never saw because you did not scroll far enough down will pop to the top of your News Feed the next time you check it. In the past this was just the case with paid sponsored stories, but now Facebook is rewarding the posts that are popular and making sure more people see it.
Now some people will react with the typical, "Damn you Facebook! No one will ever see my posts now." -- OR -- You can try to figure out a way to get people engaged on your posts and interacting with them so that you are rewarded with even more exposure. I suppose the last option would be to focus your attention on the new MySpace. I believe Justin Timberlake is still using it. Anyhow I digress.
My cat loves to sneak attack. So I grabbed my camera, manually powered down my flash, pre-focused and carried my camera at the hip. I then spent 15 minutes walking back and forth from the couch to the kitchen capturing these photos of him sneak attacking me. It gained over 1000 likes, 43 shares, and 115 comments. Thanks kitty!
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to keep in mind when posting to Facebook.
1. Stop posting boring stuff. You might have spent hours editing the photos but if it is boring no one will see it. Which leads me to point #2.
2. Make sure the photos you post tell a story, get people talking, show off something never before seen, or generate lots of likes. As a wedding photographer that means that posting a photo of the couple kissing during their wedding ceremony probably won't cut it. I need to find an image that is different, that is maybe even a bit avant garde. It is these photos that can draw people in within just a split second that will generate the engagement which will help your post soar.
3. Word your photo captions to help tell your story in as few of words as possible. Unless additional explanation is needed, keep your captions short and sweet.
4. Proof your captions for spelling and grammar before posting. Posts with these small mistakes can turn people off immediately.
5. Post at the proper time of day. Photographers love to work late into the night. Sadly many of them also love to post at 2am. It also happens to be the worst time to post on Facebook. If you have something great, resist the urge to toss it up immediately for a few feel good likes from your friends who happen to be up watching infomercials on TV. Save it till the next day and ideally try to post it right around lunch time.
While in Portland, Oregon shooting an engagement session the couple was kissing and I noticed a biker coming by out of the corner of my eye. I crouched down and continued shooting. Turned into a great photo bomb action shot. It gained over 350 likes, and 15 comments.
Something else that has worked well for me is sharing personal photos even on my Facebook business page. Future potential clients want to learn about us, our hobbies, our kids, our pets. Even though I am a wedding photographer I get more engagement from fans when I post up a shot of my kids or some kind of pet. People always LIKE photos of puppies... oh and cats. The internet can never get enough cats.
Now of course some people are going to read this and cry foul. "Trevor I am a wedding photographer, I will never post a photo of cats on my page." That's cool. I am not saying you have to do it. I am simply giving you the same tips I have used to build my fan base up over 15,000. I understand it's just a number. But it does help for future clients to see that you have quite a following and it's nice to have a lot more doors open for future potential business.
This is really driving me insane. I know I shouldn't complain as much as I do, as Facebook has brought me more business than I could even imagine... and all for free (well, minus the 5-10 hours I spend networking). But this is so frustrating to get a handle on. Getting attention is hard enough without Facebook jacking things up every few months. I noticed my likes drop from 30-50 per photo, down to 10-20 over the past 2-3 days. I don't care about likes, but I do care about less people seeing my work.
This most likely has everything to do with trying to get more advertising dollars from companies to satisfy the stock holders. Even spending as little as $5 a post is out of the question.
I agree with you Mark. Facebook is really getting out of hand with the charges to promote posts and promoting offers. What is upsetting to me is when you post an offer but they only give you the choice of promoting for $80 nothing smaller so you have no choice but to accept then Facebook decides they will not approve it but they let you know that if you get any clicks on this offer they will not approve that you still have to pay for those clicks even though they are doing nothing for those clicks so I have to pay facebook for my efforts and there is nobody to call to question about this. They just take your money and you are out of luck.
"Facebook has brought me more business than I could even imagine..."
"Even spending as little as $5 a post is out of the question."
^ Did you read what you just typed, dude? Facebook employees are humans with mouths to feed too, you know.
I post about 10-15 times a week. I do photography part time so money is tight. Facebook employees have been human for a long time. It seems like they started getting greedy and pushing people towards paid ads ever since they went public. So right now, i'm not paying FB employees, I'm paying for stock holders to be happy.
Correction: You're not paying at all.
You are relying on a free service to make money; then you complain when they actually try to make money out of it.
Facebook doesn't exist in a void. Servers need to be bought/upgraded/maintained, employees need to be paid, etc. Facebook did go public for the purposes of profit - I thought that was pretty straightforward.
Facebook remains free for most people because advertisers pay for all those, as they should (and I'm pretty sure the guys running FStopper agrees).
How would you feel if someone stole your photographs to use for profit, then when you confront them, they claim that 'money is tight' or tell you that you're 'getting greedy'?
So does the new algorithm give any preference to those who have thousands of fans compared to those who only have a few hundred? ie do the rich get richer?
I can't answer that, but I would assume that facebook doesn't care. If you have a business page and want attention, they want you to to pay for advertising.
My fan page - 5,900 likes. Posted a photo 30 minutes ago. 1 like.
My personal page - 4,500 friends. Posted a photo 17 minutes ago - 27 likes, 2 comments.
it was a different photo, so not a fully accurate example, but still...
Mark which post is it. I see one on your page from 13 hours ago but I don't see a more recent one. I was going to check it out and give you some feedback as to how you could possibly get more engagement. You got great work on your page by the way. Lots of beautiful shots. Have you ever thought about specializing more in one area (such as models or families) rather than do both? Keep up the great work.
Trevor, First off, thank you so much for looking. I deleted the post and will save it for another time (I do this sometimes when something gets very little attention).
At the moment, I take what work can get. Families, models, etc. Anything that pays. I love doing the modeling work, but cliental is like a roller coaster :)
I did the same experiment this morning. Posted a modeling photo to both my fan page and personal page at 8:45am. Not exact science of course, but I still feel like it's so much harder to get engagement from my fan page
Fan page - 5,900 likes. 7 likes, 1 comments, 0 shares
Personal page - 4,500 friends. 31 likes, 8 comments, 1 share
I'll stop bitching now. lol :)
You clearly put too much effort in counting "likes".... wow.
no, but I clearly put in the time to investigate marketing strategies and whats not working. As I stated earlier. I dont care how many likes I get. But from a marketing standpoint, if no one is seeing my work on my fan page, why bother posting anything?
I get the part "Why bother if no one looks", I do.
But it seems to me it's a bit too much to compare exposure between pages, etc...
Yea, I guess I can see that. I'll chalk it up to paranoia then :)
This is due to what Facebook calls "Edge Rank". An algorythm calculated that can be simplified (not accurately but it shows the mecanism) by
( number of Shares and other interactions) / (Fans and number of posts).
The higher this number will be, the most your post will be displayed. So, if you're a serial poster with a very little number of interactions (if your fans do not react to your posts by liking/sharing or anything else) you're edge rank will be low and your status/picture will be displayed a a very little percentage of your community.
Thanks Leo. I have read about EdgeRank before.
So in theory, it would be better to pay facebook members to like, comment and share then it would to pay for facebook advertising :)
Chris I don't know all the secrets behind the algorithm, but typically it would be set up based off percentages. So if you have a smaller number of fans but the post gets a high percentage of engagement (or what FB has called virality) than it would rank high in their new system. So I believe the answer is no.
Speaking of spelling and grammar, shouldn't you proof that first sentence? I think you mean "improve" and not "approve".
Doh! Good catch. Thanks Jeff.
If I look at the number of your likes it says: Post pictures of cats.
Well, OK - no big surprise. But personally I find the other pictures to be way better.
I was suprised to see the optional answer "It's annoying and uninteresting" when I blocked someone in me feed.
Glad they did this. If you work is cool,, fresh and inspiring, it'l get liked/shared/etc...
Question: Does "fan base" = $ ? How do you translate Likes into Income? I'm sure there is a formula for that, but I think most people would agree that Likes are a feel-good thing and not a business plan. Right?
JH there is no real way of translating likes into income but it does increase your exposure. It would be like having a business with signage along the highway versus one tucked away back in a shopping complex with little to no signage. It would be impossible to measure the return on the exposure there because of the location but of course there is an advantage in having it. That said either business can surely still earn plenty of business. Hopefully that made sense.
I totally understand your analogy. My concern... are the people driving around really interested in your product? Regardless of location - are they buyers? Is the signage enough? Do ad agencies / corporations / clients use Facebook to search for photographers? Is a high Google search score more valuable than Likes on Facebook? Should I be spending more time on a kick a$$ portfolio and SEO or Facebook? I'm still not convinced that professional services like photography can fully monetize their Facebook marketing.
Makes sense. I get what you are asking. I think it really just boils down to knowing who are client is and where we can find them. There are quite a few different genres of photography out there and marketing to our clients in each is definitely going to be different.
I never took Facebook this seriously, and I never will...
Because I never resist to post my work on Facebook, I now use the "Scheduling" function if I have to publish an album or a preview photograph ;) It allows you to post your work at 2am but displays it when you choose to. Very useful for teasing campaign too !