Excuse me a second while I hop up on my soapbox...
If you frequent Facebook, you've probably noticed a deluge recently of "pages" posting something about Facebook wanting you to pay for your posts... "please hover over the like button"... "leave me a comment"... etc., etc., etc.
Beyond that "promote your post option" on the Facebook page (I'm referring to fan pages, not personal profiles - but fans, keep reading because I'll talk to you, too), I'm not sure what started this panic.
The fact is Facebook is not demoting people's posts anymore than they have since pages started. The Edge Rank has always existed. This was an element I taught in my social media marketing class at my previous job.
In a nutshell, this is what Edge Rank is - it's a score you get as a "fan page" based on a variety of different things:
1.) the variation in your posts - do you use pictures, video, audio, status updates, links, etc? Or do you mostly just post one kind of thing? "Today my book is #12,000 on Amazon's list. Please buy it so I can be #11,999 tomorrow."
2.) the activity with your posts - do people like your posts? do they comment on your posts? do they share your posts? This is very important to you Edge Rank.
3.) auto-posting - do you autopost everything? Is everything directly posted to your Facebook page from your blog or your Twitter feed by some great application you found so you don't have to spend the time doing it yourself? Guess what? You're not only annoying people, you're bringing your Edge Rank down. Facebook automatically demotes your autoposts!
So then what does your Edge Rank DO? It determines how long your posts will stay in people's news feeds. And it isn't the same for every person. If you have the top Edge Rank of all of the fan pages I follow, then your post stays in my news feed for days. But if SuziQ likes a bunch of pages that have a better Edge Rank than you, you don't stay in her news feed as long. Maybe just a few minutes even.
As a fan, I'm glad Facebook does this. I don't want to see my newsfeed completely full of posts from Mr. Clueless Author who just posted 40 events he's doing in 2012, each as a separate post. Yuck! Or Mr. Pompous Author who posts link after link after link to EVERY review he gets for his new book. And before Miss New Author yells, "that's not fair to people just starting out," I say, if you're posting great content, you have NOTHING to worry about. Does it take work to build your following? YEP! Does John Grisham's page get 10,000+ fans in the first minutes it's live? YEP! But that's because he worked hard back when he first started writing. We just didn't happen to have Facebook then. You'll get to reap your due rewards later, too.
The "promote" option is a way for people to pay to go to the front of the line. You know how people buy special seating on an airline? Special line passes at Disney World? At my library's book sales, you can even buy a pass to shop before the general public. As a society, that's what we do. If we have money, we use it to bypass the rules for the common man. Like it or not, WE are the ones who created this mindset in our society, so now WE have to deal with the repercussions. On the flip side of that, Twitter users, how many of you pay attention to promoted Tweets or Twitter Accounts? No, me neither. It's likely to be a waste of money. The key is always going to be good content.
Tomorrow I'm going to post about developing good content and I'm hoping to get some input from others as well. So while you may not necessarily hear what you want to hear, hopefully you can take some good info home with you.
But before I finish this post, I want to direct something to all the fans reading this...
If you want to support your favorite fan pages - obviously you like these people, organizations, businesses, etc. or you wouldn't have liked their pages (or maybe you liked them just to enter a contest?) - then interact with content that you like or appreciate!! Leave a comment, like the post, share it with your friends. In other words, STOP LURKING! Social media is about being social; it's not called "anti-social media."
Please note that I did not say, "interact with ALL content." That will succeed in people turning YOUR posts off in their news feed. Don't go overboard sharing content because you feel obligated to do so. Pages have to earn the privilege of your interaction. I do NOT like to hear people say, "if you want other people to forward your stuff, you should forward their stuff." No, no, no! You shouldn't feel obligated to share anyone's content just for the purpose of reciprocation. Do it because you feel it's worthwhile for others to see. You all can tell who's forwarding info for the wrong reasons. I'm sure you've all turned a lot of those folks off...or unfriended them.
Think of this like your email. I know you all have the friend who sends you the silly jokes or the friend who guilts you with the religious messages; you don't forward those on to everyone in your address book every time you get one. You might not have many friends if you did that all the time, right? But say you get one that especially tickles your funny bone. Or you get a cause that you feel super strongly about. If you aren't sending emails indiscriminately before that special email, people read it. Same rules apply with forwarding social media posts.
Plus, by selecting which posts you interact with based on your appreciation of the content, you're telling those page administrators what content you feel is quality content, the content you're interested in and will pay attention to.
For social networks to be effective for everyone, both sides of the equation have to play their part. And here's the most important thing to remember, if you don't like your part, you don't have to play. That isn't meant to be vicious or caustic or anything. I say it with sincerity. Really, if you're Mr. Clueless Author who just posted those 40 events as separate posts and you don't care about how people react to that and you're opposed to doing anything differently, then you're better off not being on Facebook - it's a smart marketing move, close the page.
If you made those posts because you just didn't know better, then please take some time to learn how to improve. There are no shortage of resources. The one I recommended constantly in my class is a book called UNMARKETING by Scott Stratten. Scott Stratten understands social media marketing like no one I've come across. If you're on Twitter, follow this man! If you're one of the people who don't "get" Twitter, Scott may be just your ticket. When he started out, he didn't get it either.
O.k., so that's my primer on EdgeRank and how both fan page admins and fans alike can make the most out of what they do on Facebook. Tomorrow I'm going to have a post on what I consider to be quality content and I'm hoping you'll all chime in on what content gets you to interact on social media. Hopefully together we can make a great resource to help everyone.