Today's big Facebook marketing/advertising event contained a ton of new information for anyone who uses Facebook to reach customers. And Techcrunch pulled out one little nugget that I thought most of you would need or want to see: Only 16% of your Facebook friends, whether you're an individual or a business, see the things you post on your wall.
Have you ever posted to Facebook some incredibly clever one-liner or super-interesting piece of content, only to grow sad and pathetic as absolutely none of them "like" it or comment on it? Yeah, me too. But it turns out, it's just the nature of the beast.
Due to users online habits, and the fact that many people on Facebook do share things fairly frequently, only 16% of your friends even see what you post, be it video or any other content variety.
What Can We Learn From This?
Some general thoughts, off the top of my head, on what we can learn from this revelation:
Post more often. We've talked before about the value of re-posting your best content (assuming it's good and warrants sharing in the first place), and this stat seems to confirm that this could be a good strategy. Some of the folks who missed your shared content the first time will surely see it the second time. But be careful: those who saw it the first time won't want to see it again. You'll have to find the sweet spot between re-sharing content to reach more people and annoying the people who are already paying attention.
Don't buy likes. As a commenter over on the Techcrunch article pointed out, you'd be foolish to spend much money buying Facebook "likes" for your links or content. The point of buying "likes" would be to boost the content's profile–when it's "liked," it shows up on their wall. But knowing what we know now, every like is only worth 16% of that person's friend list, not all of it. In other words: those likes aren't nearly as valuable as we thought, because 84% of the audience is consistently missing the share. If you want to target "likes" as a metric for success, you're going to need to a lot more of them to make the impact you were hoping for.
Don't rely solely on Facebook. This should go without saying, but don't consider Facebook your biggest or only distribution source. Even if you have thousands of fans or friends, you're reaching far fewer than you think.
This is why content-as-marketing works best. When brands (and small businesses) create content instead of ads, fans are more likely to have a good time and stick around for the duration of the video. They're also more apt to share that video they loved on their wall. Your branded Facebook fan page is never going to reach as many viewers with a Status Update as the legions of satisfied viral video viewers could reach by spreading the content for you.
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