I know most of you don’t come here to read about what it’s like to be a blogger. So thank you for humoring me and reading this post anyway. Because the truth of the matter is, this issue doesn’t just impact bloggers. It affects all Facebook “Likers” too.
So, here’s the situation. As you know, my blog has its own Facebook page (ehem). I’ve worked very hard to organically (meaning no gimmicks, tricks, or giveaway entries) build this audience of 882 Facebook “fans”. These are people who have chosen to officially “Like” the Using Our Words page on Facebook so that all my posts will show up in their feed. And that’s how it works, right? Well, no. Not at all.
Each time I post something on my Facebook page, the company’s algorithms guess who will want to see the post (I’ve written about this, too). Then it slowly shows up in a very small number of feeds—about 5-10% of those who have liked the page. As time goes on, and more readers “Like” or leave a comment on the post, it starts showing up in more feeds. Because if readers are engaging on Facebook, this post must actually be worth showing the people who opted in to see what I post on my page.
Personally, this impacts me in a couple ways.
One, you, my lovely readers, tend to be quiet consumers. You aren’t big on clicking “Like” or commenting—on Facebook or my blog. A few of you are, and I’m very grateful for that. I love the conversation that can happen in social media or in the comments, and make a post so much more than what I put on the page. But I’m grateful to those of you who like to keep our conversations private, too. You find other ways to tell me that my words are meaningful to you—in a quick conversation in line at the grocery store, a private Facebook message, or even calling my kids by their screen names when I see you because you know them better that way than in real life.
Two, brands and advertising networks care about “Likes”—even the ones who understand the algorithm game. Many ad networks won’t even consider working with bloggers who don’t have 1000 Facebook fans. I’ve made a conscious choice that I only want people who truly want to read my content to “Like” my page. I don’t want to pay for Facebook ads that I’ve heard drive false “Likes” through offshore click farms. And, while I’ve done it more recently, I hate sending invitations to my Facebook friends to “Like” my blog page. It feels like begging, and if Facebook were actually showing the people who have “Like”d my page each post, I wouldn’t have to beg for more. I feel confident that more people would read, give me the good ol’ thumbs up, share, etc.
Ok, enough of my personal background and thoughts. I’ll let these numbers illustrate the point.
This post I wrote when school got out in June had 7 people click “Like”, and it was still only shown to 246 people (let’s estimate that I had about 850 people who had opted in at that point, so ~29%):
This post, with 3 likes and 1 comment, showed up in just 157 feeds:
This post, from last night, had just one like and was shown to 118 people (13%):
Last week, I posted this picture for fun—no link—to my Using Our Words page (I’m told pictures are shown to the highest number of people, and links where you actually display the large headline/photo as the link get seen by the smallest number—though as of today, hopefully that will change):
In the course of 30 minutes it had only been shown to a handful of people, so I decided to post it to my personal page as well. By the time Facebook had shown my Using Our Words post in 36 feeds, it already had 47 “Like”s on my personal page. By the next day, here were the two feeds and their numbers:
I have many more examples, but hopefully this will get you thinking. If you really want to read a blogger’s posts, clicking “Like” on a Facebook page is a great start—as I mentioned, those do help—but consider following bloggers in different ways as well.
Personally, I’ve been trying to subscribe to bloggers’ email feeds. Some bloggers do a newsletter, others (like me) use a service that emails the post to you soon after it’s posted. I love being able to read all my favorites in one sitting, rather than being interrupted throughout the day on Facebook. (Though if I do see my favorite bloggers’ feeds in my Facebook stream, I try to at least click “Like” to help others see them too.)
In an effort to help those of you who want to engage more with bloggers after learning this, I asked my personal Facebook friends how they like to follow their favorite blogs—beyond the Facebook “Like”. I’m excited to give these sites/apps a try too.
This was by far the most popular response. Kimberly of Silicon Valley Mamas, Virginia of Mandarin Mama, Rachelle of Tinkerlab, and non-blogger friends all recommended Feedly. Michele of Scraps of My Geek Life said,
“Feedly for sure. I even pay for the premium version and it’s very worth it.”
“I like bloglovin—it’s simple and a clean design. The downside is it’s hard to share posts you love. I also always follow the Facebook page of blogs I like to read. It makes for a richer experience to follow on the social networks as well.”
What do you think? Are these numbers surprising to you as a Facebook user? How do you follow your favorite blogs?
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