Why Your Facebook Fan Page Traffic Sucks (And How to Change That)

By Lisa Hazen

When you first created your Facebook Fan Page, you were probably thrilled how easy it was to build your fans and easily connect with your audience. (And all for free.) In fact, I know many authors have decided to use Facebook as their exclusive Web presence, rather than building and maintaining a site on their own. It was a tough deal to beat—a free networked Web presence with an easy way to share information.

Gradually and quietly, that has all been changing. About a year ago, you probably noticed the appearance of a subtle bar below your posts on your fan page indicating how many people viewed that post. Since then, you’ve probably noticed that number steadily declining, along with an invitation to pay to “boost” your post to reach more users. You may have also noticed seeing fewer posts in your own feed from other businesses that you have “liked” on your own. This has made a lot of users very confused and angry. What gives?

Facebook is reluctant to tip its hand, but it admits, yes, they are no longer showing your page to all of your fans. AdAge obtained a leaked document where Facebook says, “We expect organic distribution of an individual’s page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.” They aren’t saying how many users are typically seeing posts, but estimates online (and anecdotal evidence from the sites I manage) suggest organic reach is between 10 and 20%. Facebook’s suggestion to reach more users? Pay to boost posts.

Certainly paying to promote your posts is not an option for everyone’s budget—at least on a regular basis. There are a few things that you can do to help your visitors see more of your posts. Then, you can create content that helps you better promote the posts that you really want to promote when you need to. And when that is in place, then you can consider paying.

Ask Fans to Adjust Their Settings
Admittedly, there are limited things you can do as an administrator to ensure fans see your posts, short of paying for them. But you can ask your fans to adjust their settings so your posts show up consistently in their feeds. This is a slightly complicated process of creating a custom list under “interests.” The best place I’ve seen it explained is here.

Familiarize Yourself with EdgeRank
EdgeRank is the algorithm Facebook uses to govern how it displays content in the user’s news feed. EdgeRank uses three different criteria to determine how things are displayed—Affinity (interaction with the users), Weight (the value of certain actions) and Time Decay (how long ago the information was posted). EdgeRank is a complex topic worthy of an article all its own, but when you better understand how Facebook parses out information, you can mold your content to engage users, and keep your content fresh. Dive deeper into EdgeRank here.

Spend Time with Your Facebook Insights.
At the top of your Facebook fan page is a link to “View Insights” about the activity on the page. Here, you will learn which posts are performing best, trends over time, and how users are engaging with your site. Something I find particularly interesting is the tab that shows you user engagement based on the type—photo, status update, or links. Use this information to serve up the content that your users are responding to.

Pay to Promote—When You Need To
All these things will help you boost your page’s performance. But the fact remains that the rules are now different. Your posts are just not going to have the organic reach that they once did. When it comes to something really important that you want to put out there—like a new book or an upcoming event, it makes sense to invest in boosting your post.

You can start for as little as $5, and Facebook will estimate your reach for that investment. (You can always increase this amount later.) You can choose to promote exclusively to people who already like your page, and their friends. Or you can choose different groups through targeting.

We know paying for posts is not ideal, but it’s worth testing out your options before abandoning Facebook entirely.

Lisa Hazen is a Chicago-based Web Designer specializing in author Web sites. She’d love to hear from you at www.lisahazen.com, on Twitter or by email at lisa@lisahazen.com.