4 tips to engage your Facebook fans ... and keep 'em
If you've noticed a steep drop-off in Facebook fan engagement on your veterinary practice's fan page in recent months, you're not alone. Although updates about your staff and thoughtful links were once entertaining and important to your clients, Facebook has decided they're not anymore.
That's right—your posts to your loyal clients are now only reaching a fraction of them at any given time, and Facebook gets to decide who sees what. This new algorithm, called EdgeRank, determines the reach of every item you publish to your business' news feed and is thought to be composed of affinity, interaction weight, and time decay:
> Affinity measures a fan's interaction with your brand, the frequency that they visit your Facebook page or interact with your posts.> Interaction weight means that Facebook gives more significance to interaction types that require more effort. For example, a "Like" is given less weight than a comment, because it takes more effort to write a comment than to click "Like." Sharing a post is given the greatest weight because it requires the effort of social sharing with a friend and indicates that the content is relevant enough to share.
> Lastly, time decay accounts for content becoming less and less important as time passes.
The good news is that there are plenty of best practices and tactics to score better with EdgeRank and increase your exposure to your Facebook fans. Here are four tips to boost your rank and regain the loyalty and love of your followers:
1 Don't be too short and sweet. Posting more than 141 characters—140 is the maximum for Twitter's tweets—has been proven to be more engaging for readers and leads to better overall EdgeRanking than posting shorter posts.
2 Post pictures and videos. Photos are the most effective type of post, followed by videos. But never post a photo or any type of content without accompanying it with at least a 141-character description.
3 Get your fans involved. Including a call to action in your posts' descriptions is the key to this puzzle. For photos, ask a question—for example, "Do you agree with what's going on here?" If 12 people reply yes and 10 reply no, that just boosted your EdgeRank. When you post a cute picture of a pet or something going on in the hospital, why not make it into a caption contest?
4 Focus on quality, not quantity. You should always think to yourself, "Is this great content?" If it isn't, don't post it. Studies have demonstrated that it may take six months or more of EdgeRank-friendly posting to improve your rank and regain the privilege to effectively engage your clients—a privilege you once took for granted.
If you'd like to analyze your Edge Rank, consider a visit to http://edgerankchecker.com/ to get a baseline and to monitor your progress in increasing your practice's edge.
Jed Schaible, VMD, MBA, CVPM , is director of market communications at Purchasing Services Inc., a veterinary group purchasing organization.