Are Facebook Pages Worth It?

I’ve always been a firm believer in having my own site be my online “home”, and using social networks to simply augment the audience. By that, I mean I’d write here, and simply push it out to Twitter, Facebook, etc. for folks who preferred to use those sites to follow their favorite blogs. I wanted to be able to reach readers where they are online, but maintain control over things myself, by having it here.

A while back, when Facebook starting showing us exactly how many of our followers were actually seeing the posts we put up on a Facebook Page, and then asking us to pay to promote it to more of my followers, I was somewhat taken back by the small percentage of people who had “liked” the page, who were actually seeing the posts, according to Facebook’s own reporting. I figured it was a ploy to get us to pay for promotion, but since I do this as a hobby, that was never going to happen. However, after a while, I started to notice the number of people who saw posts continue to go further and further down, so I decided to do some experimenting.

For the experiment, I had to use the Fan Page for my Child Abuse Survivor site. The fan page for this site doesn’t have enough “Likes” to warrant seeing any stats from Facebook, so if you want to help me verify my experiment there as well, go like the page!

First the background. I currently have 749 likes on that page. That number has gone up a few since I started playing around with some things, but not significantly. I use If This, Then That to post links I save to Diigo with a certain tag as links to the Facebook page, and I use RSS Graffiti to post new blog entries to the page from both blogs at the site.

For the record, I am ignoring posts that were shared by others, where you obviously would have more people exposed to it, for the sake of seeing what it is Facebook is doing by itself.

Here are the average results (rounded off) of various posts on the page:

  1. A typical shared link posted from Diigo through IFTTT- 31 people saw this post
  2. A manually created link to an article from another site – 55 people saw this post
  3. Posts added through RSS Graffiti of new blog posts – 24 people saw this post
  4. Manually entered status updates or Wall photos, with no links – 103 people saw this post

From my results, I’m concluding two things. First, that nowhere near as many people see the posts as like the page. Now, that may be because many of the people who like the page don’t check in on Facebook, or a myriad of other reasons that have nothing to do with Facebook doing something, though we obviously know they are manipulating what people see in their feed based on their behavior and interactions. Secondly, I think Facebook is punishing pages who have things post automatically, and also pages which link to content that takes people away from Facebook by limiting the number of fans who are seeing those posts.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Facebook owns the medium in this case, and they can do whatever they want. That being said, as a page owner, I want to spend my time and resources somewhere that is going to actually help spread the word about my website, and do it as efficiently as possible. The nice thing about having a Facebook page is that I can have things posted there for folks who choose to live in Facebook and follow the site from their without ever having to go to the site and spend more time doing it myself. One of the biggest complaints I have about Google Plus is the inability to do this, though they are perfectly within their rights to not allow it as well. However, it seems, based on what I’m seeing on my page, that Facebook is taking a page from Google Plus and making it more difficult for page owners to interact without actually coming to the Facebook site. I’m not a big fan of that.

That being said, I will probably continue to have things cross post, and just depend on the page’s fans to come to the page and see what’s been posted, and to continue to share items, which increases the audience tremendously. I can only assume that the more items are shared, the higher ranking the page will have in whatever algorithm Facebook is using to determine whether to show the updates to fans. Just like I depend on folks re-tweeting when I do the same to Twitter, or folks hitting the share buttons when they are on the site itself. So please, share away! I’ll also re-evaluate some of what I have posted over there. Maybe instead of sharing Diigo posts, I’ll just let the weekly blog post with all the links for that week show up over there? I’m not sure where I’ll go with that, all I know for sure is that many posts over there are being seen by less than 5% of the pages fans, and it seems somewhat pointless to continue to do things the same way when that is the case.

I’m also hoping to get up to 30 followers for this blog so I can see if the results duplicate. So you can help me out there, or if you run a fan page for your blog, I’d love to hear if you are seeing similar results too!

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