Every month I send my clients a marketing report, updating them about what performed well on social media and their blog, and how much traffic their website earned from social marketing. I also share their audience growth, including Likes on Facebook, Followers on Twitter and Instagram, and email subscribers.
Help! I’m losing followers!
Recently a client became concerned because of the number of Facebook Page Likes her business was losing. Does losing followers on Facebook, Twitter, or email make you worried? Fear not! It’s completely normal to have a rate of attrition (also called “churn,” or loss). It can even be a good thing: when people who are NOT your ideal client self-selects away, it leaves your remaining audience even more primed for what you offer.
Now, a high rate of attrition can be cause for concern. It could mean that people find your marketing tactics off-putting. Perhaps you’re sending emails too often or need to improve the quality of your images, text, and content. It could mean that your audience is tired, and you need to pivot your messaging or offerings to something more fresh. It could be a sign that you’ve already pivoted without realizing it – and that your former audience is quite the right fit for your business anymore!
In my client’s case, a look at Facebook analytics over the past year showed that though we consistently lost likes, the overall trend was upward. We earned plenty of Likes in the past year, through a combination of gains and losses.
More content is a good thing – but not for audience growth
Still, my client was concerned by the losses because we had recently ramped up our marketing efforts on her Facebook Page. She hoped that the uptick in Facebook marketing would correspond to an uptick in audience growth. However, the two do not always walk hand-in-hand, especially at first. Here’s why: the fact that you’re posting more often means your audience sees more updates from you, which keeps you “top of mind.” That’s marketing-speak for “you’re reminding them why you’re here and what you do.”
That is a good thing! It is said to take a prospect seven times of seeing what you offer before they decide to take an action (sometimes called the Rule of Seven). Regularly posting to social media and sending emails to your audience ensures that they are frequently reminded of what you do. The more they remember you, the more likely they will attend your event or buy your product – action steps that are more valuable to your business than Facebook Page Likes, anyway!
So while regular posting on Facebook can lead to audience growth, it doesn’t necessarily – and that’s okay! What’s more important is whether it leads to people taking actions that enhance your business. For example, say you’re offering a workshop about reducing waste in your household. You could…
- post the event to Facebook on a Friday and hope that people see it and sign up, or
- post something every day that week: articles about waste reduction and composting, a link to a local solar panel company, even a simple image of some local plants.
In doing the latter, your audience is reminded of you each day that week. It’s only after offering them helpful content every day that you ask them to take action and sign up for your workshop.
Look to audience engagement for insight
So don’t look toward Facebook audience growth for approval. But if you’re not in the middle of promoting something and you want to look toward something, try engagement. Posting more frequently to Facebook is likely to lead to greater engagement as your audience has more opportunities to interact with your content. If you’ve started posting more regularly, you will likely start seeing more reactions, shares, and comments on your posts. And be sure to respond to comments and thank people for sharing! This is good for nurturing your connection to your audience and helping people feel like part of your community. Additionally, the more people engage with your content, the more likely that Facebook’s algorithm will put your content front and center in your audience’s news feeds.
Speaking of Facebook’s algorithm, Facebook changed their algorithm in 2016. A consequence of the change is that it’s harder for business pages to grow their audiences on Facebook using organic marketing alone. That’s why so many people pay for Facebook Ads or simply boost posts! I often suggest that my clients experiment with boosting posts for $5 or $10 to grow our Facebook audience. Facebook has an option boost these posts in such a way that encourages more Likes, if that is important to you.
But if you’d rather keep trying unpaid methods to grow your audience, Facebook Live is a great way to do so. Uploaded videos do well on Facebook, too. For example, if you recorded short videos of you and someone chatting about reducing waste, upload it directly to your Facebook page and post it (as opposed to uploading the video to YouTube and then sharing the YouTube link to Facebook. Facebook likes for video content to be native, i.e. uploaded directly to the site!). For more ideas about how to improve your organic reach on Facebook, Hubspot has great suggestions.
How does Facebook support your business goals?
But again, audience growth may not be a goal that has the greatest impact on your business. In fact, many marketers and business owners caution against getting carried away by “vanity metrics” – numbers that make you feel good (“look how popular my business is on Facebook!!”) but don’t translate into more conversions or sales. Instead you want to think about metrics that tie directly to your business goals: clicks from Facebook to your website, for example, and then conversions on your website into email subscribers.
Lastly: while growing your number of Facebook Page Likes is fine, especially if it contributes to the goals of your business, consider strengthening your email communication as an equally if not more important goal. Studies have shown that email converts even better than social media. Besides which, the best strategy is to coordinate all your marketing efforts. Social media marketing does best when it’s in good company with email marketing, in-person networking, and even cold calls!