It's been a while since I've talked about one of our "blog experiments," so I thought I would pop in and share some things I've been learning about Facebook recently. Whenever you mention Facebook to a group of bloggers, you'll most likely hear a collective groan. For me (and many others), Facebook has been one of the most difficult social media outlets to figure out, mostly because it feels like the game keeps changing!
When I first started blogging, I could share my new blog post on Facebook (to a very small audience) and immediately see an uptick in traffic from Facebook to my site. That just isn't the case anymore! I knew that some bloggers were still seeing big benefits from their Facebook pages though, (even without "paying to play") so I wanted to see if I could figure out how to use Facebook in a way that would benefit my own blog and business.
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How I Screwed Up My Blog's Facebook Page (And What I'm Doing to Fix It)
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
When I really dug deep into my Google and Facebook analytics, I quickly realized that I had spent the last few years screwing up my Facebook page. I had studied what other bloggers had done, listened to podcasts about Facebook, watched YouTube videos about strategies, and read eBooks on the topic. Every time I would dig into one of these resources, I would try to do exactly what the other Facebook page owner was doing, but it would never work for me, and I couldn't understand why.
For a while, I was trying to share whatever popular or "viral" Facebook posts (read: cat videos 😂) I could find because if they were working for someone else, they would work for me, right? Even though my blog focuses on decorating and organization, on Facebook I shared funny memes, videos, and posts about a whole wide range of topics because they were doing well on other larger Facebook pages.
Every once in a while one of these posts would be a success, but for the most part, they flopped. I was frustrated and kind of resigned myself to the fact that my page was "broken" because the things that were supposed to be "viral" didn't do anything for me. (And the Facebook posts that linked to my blog posts weren't doing very well in the midst of these "random" posts either.)
One day I looked at my Facebook page and thought, "every post on my page seems gimmicky and kind of dumb." If I wasn't loving the stuff I was sharing on my page, why would the people who had chosen to follow ME love it? They wouldn't. So I changed directions.
Again, I looked at other Facebook pages, but this time I focused in on mostly home decor pages and what was successful for them. On these pages, I was seeing tons and tons of pretty pictures, and people were loving them! Great! I could do that! I love pretty pictures! So I started sharing some of the prettiest photos I could find on the web (giving credit to their proper sources, of course) on my Facebook page. And my reach dropped lower than ever.
What was going on?! I was doing the same things I had seen large, successful pages do, but it wasn't working for my page? Why wasn't it working?
And then I realized what you've probably figured out by now: I hadn't stopped to think about MY exact audience-- who they were, what they like, how they spend their time, and what would be helpful for them. I was trying things that were successful for audiences that were TOTALLY different than mine!
Knowing your audience is like Blogging 101. It's something I teach all the time! But for my own Facebook page, I had missed it... for years! But now that I knew what my biggest problem was, it was time to set things straight. So what was I going to do to fix this?
Like with many areas my life, I started out by thinking about goals. What was the goal of my Facebook page? I ultimately decided that the goal of my page was to drive traffic to my site to create a loyal readership and encourage people to join my all-important email list.
With that goal in mind, I started to think backwards from there. Who are the ideal people that I would want on my email list and/or as loyal readers of my blog posts? I wrote down a long description of who my ideal readers would be-- who I write my blog posts for!-- and tried to think about what those exact people would be interested in. What would be helpful for them? What struggles do they have? What skills do I have that can help with those struggles? And when I had answered those questions, I had a much better idea of what type of content would do well on my Facebook page.
Since my sister/assistant helps me schedule Facebook posts, I wrote out a detailed description of the types of posts I thought we would be sharing, and we talked together to brainstorm ideas of what to post and where to find the best content for our page. We highlighted some awesome blogs that shared similar content that our audience seemed to resonate with. We listed criteria for posts we could look for on Pinterest. We realized that videos that were related to our niche/ideal readers did really well, so we identified some sources for those. We thought about questions we could ask our audience to encourage interaction and spark conversation on our page.
(That conversation part is key! We're trying to up interaction and engagement, so we want to get people talking! And I'm trying to respond to each and every comment as quickly as possible so we can keep the conversation going too!)
It took some trial and error (and it still is!), but the longer we employ our new strategy, the more we figure out what OUR audience likes and can choose posts appropriately. Since we have started employing our new method, the average reach of our Facebook posts has about tripled. It's still not anywhere as high as I would like it to be, but I think if we keep honing in on our audience, we will get there!
[And just because I know people will be interested in the nitty gritty details, we post to our page 5 times a day at 7 am, 1 pm, 5 pm, 9 pm, and 12 am EST (using Facebook's own scheduler). Usually 1-2 of those posts link to my blog and 3-4 do not link to my blog-- they link to others' sites or are a question, video, etc. This schedule seems to work well for OUR audience, but yours may be totally different!]
Obviously the biggest thing I've learned about growing an effective Facebook page is to clearly identify my audience and share posts that are specifically catered to them. That sounds easy enough, but it can take a lot of tries to figure it out. Even the slightest difference in wording or types of posts can make a big difference.
For example, I have tried to share a type of post that I see many other bloggers in the home decor niche have success with. They'll share a photo of a space and say, "What do you like about this room?" or "What would you change about this space?" and they get tons of responses. When I try that type of post though, I usually don't get many answers. "My people" don't really seem to give an opinion just to give one.
But "my people" ARE fixers (which makes sense, because I am a self-proclaimed fixer 😉 ). If I present a home-related problem and ask them what the solution should be, I get tons of responses! Donnie and I have been in the midst of trying to decide whether to put a patio or a deck behind our house, for example, so I showed the picture of the space and asked my Facebook followers what they thought I should do. I got TONS of advice, opinions, and information! Not only did this boost my Facebook reach, but I learned a lot from my readers' knowledge and experience, and Donnie and I were able to make a more informed decision about our space!
As another example, I have learned that on my page, a post does not do well if I simply show a pretty space and say "Look how beautiful this is!" If I show an example of a clever organizing hack or a really practical, helpful DIY project though, people LOVE it. On someone else's page, the clever hack may flop and the pretty picture might go crazy. It is all about figuring out what my EXACT audience likes and giving them more of that. (And it has been/will still be quite the process to figure that out!)
genius toy organization idea from Chelsea at Two Twenty One
I still don't feel like I have it all together when it comes to Facebook. In fact, when I looked at my Google Analytics, my referral traffic from Facebook is actually down compared to the same period over the past two years. (I partially attribute this to Facebook tightening up their algorithm and showing less and less unpaid posts, but not completely.) I also can't say that I've seen massive or speedy growth of my follower numbers, even since my Facebook "aha moment," so I definitely still have some work to do with improving my page.
Even though I can't say I have magically "fixed" all of my Facebook problems, what I find encouraging is that I am now building the exact kind of page that my audience will love, and my page will now attract more members of my ideal audience because I am curating the content specifically for them.
At this point, my Facebook experiment only tackled organic methods of growth. I haven't even begun to dig into paid Facebook reach and boosting posts yet, and I know that is a potential untapped area of growth. There are definitely more possibilities out there!
Facebook is still a complicated beast to try to tame and I'm attempting to learn more all the time! I hope my realizations will be helpful for you as you try to grow your Facebook page as well! I have read two eBooks about growing a Facebook page that were really helpful to me, so if you're looking for more information on the topic, these would be great resources:
Strategies Worth Sharing by Brittany Ann from Equipping Godly Women
How to Create an Amazing Facebook Page by Mique from 30 Handmade Days
If you'd like to continue to see how our strategy works, I'd love it if you'd follow along with my Facebook page (#shamelessplug)!
I would also love to hear what has worked for YOUR Facebook page-- let's help each other and discuss in the comments!
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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.