Reaching Your Audience is Harder Than Ever

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With increased content, advertising and garbage on the internet it is becoming hard and harder not only to reach your audience, but to engage them.

I have noticed over the past few months a number of companies that have amazing followings on Facebook, but have terrible engagement. Why is this happening? How can they have so many fans but such little engagement?

One of the main reasons is Facebook’s new rules, but that’s not the entire problem. Before I address those problem let’s look at two examples of what I mean when I say these companies have low engagement on Facebook.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Let’s start with the most liked Facebook page, Coca-Cola. They have 92,477,063 likes. Their most recent post received around 43,000 likes.

Math time: If Coca-Cola engaged 43,000 fans that is roughly .46% of their entire audience. When you look at that number it doesn’t seem like they are engaging that many fans. Their Christmas day post had 70,000 likes, which is around .76% of their entire audience. Once again, that number doesn’t pop off the page, but compared to other brands that is amazing!

The other companies that I am talking about have around 100,000 fans and only have around 10 to 15 likes for organic posts. Their boosted posts receive around 1,000 to 1,200 likes.

Math time: If they engaged only 10 fans that is .01% of their entire audience. Even if they had 1,000 fans like the post that is only a measly 1%.

Where are the other fans and consumers? Are they not being reached or are they simply not engaging with the content? It’s a little bit of both!

If I was a business owner and I saw those numbers, I would be alarmed. After writing this part of the blog I found an article on Twitter that backs up my math!

There are two reasons for this: Facebook’s algorithm changed and many of those likes aren’t even real people, they are bots or were bought from a farm-click company.

My main point is that it is hard to reach your audience, and Facebook isn’t making it any easier!

Main Changes to Facebook’s Algorithm

Last month’s announce of Facebook’s algorithm change will affect small business more than any other business. The changes will now make it harder for business to reach the fans they have already accrued over the years. So if you have 100,000 fans, it might only organically reach about 1% (1,000) of those fans. In worst cases it won’t even reach 1%.

Businesses will now have to pay to reach the fans who have already liked their page. This is ridiculous, that is why people like Facebook pages, so they can see their posts! Companies have already spent money boosting posts to reach people to obtain likes. Now Facebook is making them pay to reach those fans that they already paid to gain. It’s a scam!

Facebook is making it an advertising game and everyone is going to have to play along or get off. Facebook doesn’t care because they are going to bring in millions regardless. Some business will drop off, but the majority will increase their budget.

Facebook of course is trying to put a positive spin on the change by trying to say that they are “cleaning up” people’s news feeds. Let’s not forget that if a person doesn’t like a brand’s content, they can simply unlike the page. It’s the same thing as unsubscribing from a spammy newsletter that you receive in your inbox. If you don’t like it you can hit the unsubscribe button.

As of January 2015 no promotional posts will be allowed! Facebook defines any of the following as being promotional:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, Chrisy Bossie built a $100,000-a-year gemstone e-commerce business by sharing information about her products on her company’s Facebook page several times a week.

With the new changes Bossie said in the article that she has already had to double her budget to keep sales the same! This change is going to destroy small businesses. OK that might be an exaggeration, but it’s not going to help.

Likes Don’t Equal Profit

I work at an ad agency in the Public Relations department and I sit very close to the Digital Marketing team and we talk often about this problem.

There is a client who wants to reach a certain amount of likes on their Facebook page and each month they are paying a crazy amount of money to do so. Has engagement increased? No!

Owners are worried about “likes” it as if it were a popularity contest; engagement rates aren’t even on their radar. What is more important?

Remember that all likes are not created equal! Smaller businesses are promoting product to a smaller audience, an audience that could directly purchase a product online. Their engagement is much more important than a Coca-Cola post.

I would not directly click on a Coca-Cola post and buy a Coke online. This may be different for the aforementioned Chrisy Bossie, who may have her audience click on the link and bring them to an online store. I hope you can see how this is going to affect small businesses.

Takeaways

If your company is spending thousands of dollars to increase likes on your page, that doesn’t mean that you will be able to reach them in the future, unless you want to pay…again.

You will no longer be able to post promotional content and if you do the organic reach will be around 0%. This will be effect as of January 2015, but some businesses are already seeing changes.

Do you think that these changes are positive? How will they affect small and large businesses?

NYPD Twitter Fail

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Here is another lesson on Twitter and hashtags, just because you create it doesn’t mean that you own it. The New York City Police Department learned that the hard way.The New York Police Department on Tuesday asked people to post photos with its officers using the hashtag #myNYPD. They thought they had a cool way to show police and praise the police of New York – it backfired.

They got a lot of responses and they were mostly negative.

The posts mostly showed police brutality or misconduct. This was not the result that the police department was looking for.

When a company creates a hashtag it is important to think of the consequences and potential outcomes. This was a great idea in theory, but they didn’t plan it out that well.

Not only did this create a problem for the NYPD, but people in other cities starting posting negative pictures with #myLAPD and #myCPD.

According to a CNN article Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster said that the posts weren’t all bad.

This isn’t the first time that a hashtag has been highjacked, so you think that businesses would have learned by now.

When you are about to name your child you have to put their name through the “Tease Test.” For example: If you are going to name you kid Brady. Kids might call him Tom Brady or they might call him Brady Bunch or something negative.

Matt Markiewicz @MattMarkiewicz

I feel like at least one person at @NYPDnews should’ve seen this whole #MyNYPD thing backfiring. Like, seriously guys. It’s the internet.

I totally agree with you Matt!

Recently, celebrities have been using Twitter as a question and answer forum. It usually backfires.

One that I saw recently involved James Neal and hockey player for the Pittsburg Penguins. The hashtag was #askneal. Just some background for all you non-hockey folks. James Neal has been know for some cheap shots and dirt plays. Here are some of the tweets:

Steph ‏@myregularface  Mar 24

If you could have any super power, how would you use it to hit opponents in the head? #askneal

Sarah Connors ‏@sarah_connors  Mar 24

Do you make rocket noises when you launch yourself at peoples’ heads? if not, why? #AskNeal

#BeatDetroit ‏@Marchant_63  Mar 24

#askneal what’s your favorite strategy when facing an opponent? Elbowing? High hitting? Cross checking? Knee to knees?

Two Olympic marketing campaigns for McDonalds and Coke got highjacked by gay rights activists. They spent millions on those campaigns and they were ruined within days of launching.

Not too long ago J.P Morgan tried the same thing on Twitter.

J.P. Morgan announced a Q&A on Twitter this past Nov. after they were fined $920 million over its “London Whale” trading loss. They wanted people to ask questions so they could clear the air on Twitter. Their goal was to interact with customers and it was a complete fail.

Instead of receiving real questions about the allegations they received a whole bunch of hate texts.

Here are just a few:

Did you always want to be part of a vast, corrupt criminal enterprise or did you “break bad”?”

Did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success?”

What section of the poor & disenfranchised have you yet to exploit for profit, & how are you working to address that?”

Why aren’t you in jail for sending a literal ton of gold bullion to Iran in violation of sanctions?

Definitely not the interaction they were looking for.

Lessons to learn:

  1. Make sure you have a plan
  2. Thing of all possible negative outcomes
  3. Test before launching and get feedback

Given free pizza, people still complaining

It’s been about a month since the explosion occurred due to a fracking in Bobtown, PA and the people are still complaining.

It was a serious accident and there have been reports that one man passed away due to the explosion.

Chevron was the the company that was doing the drilling. They are never far out of the PR spotlight.

Chevron felt bad that the explosion disturbed the town members and decided to give the residents a coupon for a free pizza and drink at the local Bobtown pizza shop.

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Bobtown is a small town of 750 residents and reports say that around 100 coupons were dispersed.

Apparently some people (not the residents of Bobtown) don’t like pizza, or they don’t like Chevron. Some people were outraged that Chevron would give such a meaningless gift after such an event.

According to the Associated Press, nearly 13,000 people have signed a MoveOn.org petition demanding a further apology for the explosion, calling the pizza coupons “an insult.” None of those people are from Bobtown.

Some are from surrounding communities and a lot of them are from other states or even other countries.

This makes no sense to me. Chevron was trying to make a good PR move and show the residents they care. They chose to get angry about it.

If they had done nothing the public would have been mad too. It was an accident, accidents happen. I would be happy if i got free pizza.

In one article I read they had a resident quoted saying that he thought it was a decent more of them to give the coupon to residents.

I thought it was a good move to, like I said they could have just done nothing. People honestly just want something to get mad about. People outside of that town are getting worked up for no reason. The explosion didn’t hurt or affect them.

If they hadn’t done anything to address the problem then that could give people an opportunity to get worked up. They acted and they are still getting criticized.

The problem here isn’t Chevron it’s over-critical people.

Social Media PR: Two Way Communication

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Lots of company’s know that they need a social media accounts to push products, interact with customers and increase awareness.

The reason it’s called social media is because there should be interaction between the customer and the business. The social media platform that I am most referring is Twitter.

It is an easy way for customers to interact with the brand and feel a connection. However, sometimes there seems to be a disconnect and communication is only going one way, consumer to business.

I understand that there are businesses on Twitter that get thousands of mentions each day. However, to keep the customers happy you must please them by interacting with them.

HubSpot:

One business that is really good at doing this is HubSpot. I am currently completing their marketing classes and they always talk about pleasing the consumer. HubSpot always encourages people to interact with them on Twitter.

After each lesson I tweet out thanks to HUbSpot and the individual who taught the lesson. Whenever I tweet the instructor the tweet is always favorited and then they follow me. Every time I mention @hubspot in my tweet they always favorite it.

It’s a simple click of a button for them to favorite my tweet, but it honestly makes me feel special and make me feel that they are listening to me. Whether they read the tweet or not I now have a favorable image of them. Isn’t that what PR is all about? Consequently, I have told a lot of students about HubSpot because of my experience.

Taco Bell has been trending on Twitter the last few days because of their new breakfast menu. When they announced this Monday morning on Twitter they said that they would be answering question for the next 30 minutes. I tweeted them right after I saw that, which was in the first ten minutes of them sending out the tweet.

I asked a question and never got a response. I know that a lot of people were probably asking questions, but I wanted them to respond to me because it would have been cool. I don’t have an unfavorable image of me, but if they would have responded my attitudes and perceptions would certainly be different.

J.P Morgan Fail:

However, don’t set yourself up for a disaster. J.P. Morgan announced a Q&A on Twitter this past Nov. after they were fined $920 million over its “London Whale” trading loss. They wanted people to ask questions so they could clear the air on Twitter. Their goal was to interact with customers and it was a complete fail.

Instead of receiving real questions about the allegations they received a whole bunch of hate texts.

Here are just a few:

Did you always want to be part of a vast, corrupt criminal enterprise or did you “break bad”?”

Did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your            business model a success?”

What section of the poor & disenfranchised have you yet to exploit for profit, & how are you                working to address that?”

Why aren’t you in jail for sending a literal ton of gold bullion to Iran in violation of sanctions?

Definitely not the interaction they were looking for.

Sbarro:

Another good example of this was Sbarro. On Feb. 20 they announced that they would be closing 155 locations, most of them in mall food courts. Approximately 1,400 people will lose their jobs.

Former employees got on Twitter and started to complain that they lost their jobs and they had no prior warning.

Sbarro was on Twitter and responded to a lot of the complaints and told them to send a direct message on Twitter or call a Sbarro hotline.

Twink.I.E @MistaZero2Sixty I got laid off… Wtf. I just found out this morning that Sbarros closed all stores in San Antonio.

Sbarro’s response: @MistaZero2Sixty We are sorry your store closed, please DM us if you want to talk more.

Although I believe that they should have given their employees prior warning that the stores were closing, they did do a good job responding to the people on Twitter. The people were probably still mad that they lost their jobs, but at least they felt heard.

That is the whole point of the word social in social media. The consumer just wants to be heard. Responding to them on Twitter may not fix the problem, but at least they know that their voice was heard.