To begin with, what are these changes?
The “kill bill” option
On December 10, 2014, Facebook announced the Post End Date feature for page owners. This feature enables you to set a time and date to stop showing a post in your newsfeed. The post, however, will continue to be shown on your page.
This is a useful feature when you are into launches, events and other occasions that come and go. It is also useful for media, as it enables automatic removal of yesterday’s stale news.
The “it’s always prime time” fix
As of January 01, 2015, Facebook will be limiting (yes, even further, but this time, with justification) the reach of posts that are “too promotional”. Seems like this is the result of surveys where users expressed their desire to see more (human interest) stories from other users they care about and less promotions.
The algorithm change probably means any author who keeps on yammering on about my book, my book, read my book on her Facebook page is going to get slapped silly. Already miserable Facebook reach is going to dwindle even further for these folks. Facebook has warned promo-prone users they will see a “significant decrease in distribution”.
Based on user feedback, here are the criteria Facebook will use to judge if posts are “too promotional”:
- Their sole purpose is to pimp some product .
- Their sole purpose is to pimp contests, events or promotions with no identifiable context.
- Their content is suspiciously similar to content used in their ads.
However, subtle promotion that is camouflaged in content may get away with it.
A post announcing that “Your wait is over! I have launched the third book in my SellWellSchmell series! Available here (link) for $0.99 till December 25, 2014!” shrieks promotion and begs Facebook to hone the ax.
An ax-proof post would probably read something like “If you are like me, you have experienced the hard truth that writing a book is child’s play compared to marketing it. It took me three books over three years to find a formula that works reasonably well. I have explained this formula in a new book, SellWellSchmell, that tells you exactly how I sold 4,027 copies of my third book in two weeks. The book is available on Amazon.” Preferably no link, mind you, but you may probably get away with linking to your Amazon book page.
The “in the line of fire” gift
Facebook also announced the Interest Targeting feature for Facebook fan page owners on December 10. The feature came into usable effect immediately. Finally, Facebook has done something that may actually boost users’ organic reach without having to ease the process through with credit card grease.
Yes, you read that right. Free.
Facebook taketh away with one hand and maybe, just maybe, giveth with the other.
The Interest Targeting feature allows you to target your posts towards audiences using interest fields. Earlier, this feature was only available to users paying for ads; it allowed them to narrow down their targeted audience. Other users were able to target their posts using broad classifications like gender, relationship status and educational status. For most users, these classifications were about as useful as spam posts on sunglasses. With the new feature, you can go narrow and specific.
Let’s get something straight here. The Interest Targeting feature works only with people who have liked your page and who share the interests you choose. It is obvious that some of your Facebook page fans are people who were just being nice by liking your page—kinfolk and friends. They may or may not be readers of your books (sad truth of an author’s life: most kinfolk and friends are not). There are others who swapped likes with you and then forgot all about your page. You want to reach out to those who became your fans because they were actually keen on your books and on you, the author.
That means you are looking at a highly limited audience to begin with. To continue, the feature does not enable you to reach every person you are targeting.
However, it seems likely that when you target the right interests and are persistent, your engagement will improve long term. Initially, because you have narrowed down your target audience using the interest filters, you may actually see a decrease in engagement. However, over the long run, your posts will be more visible to your true fans and therefore, may receive more likes, shares and comments. Better engagement means Facebook shows your posts to more users. You should be able to make hay while it lasts: at some point, Facebook will probably decide you have had enough of a free ride.
What all this means is Facebook no longer solely decides who your posts will target and reach; you get some say, too.
Does that also mean you launch some kind of a like harvesting effort? Go ahead, but remember:
- Likes are meaningful only from people relevant to your fan page. For an author, that means other authors and readers (and maybe editors, proofreaders, designers, agents and publishers).
- Likes should never be bought.
Setting things up
Here’s how you set up things. You first make sure your targeting function is turned on.
Click on Settings at the top of your page. On the next page, click on the Edit link for Targeting and Privacy for Posts in the General tab. The box for Allow targeting and privacy options when I create posts on my Page should be ticked.
If not, tick it and hit Save.
You are now ready to target your posts. After you have loaded your “What have you been upto” details and just before you hit the Post (publish) button, click on the target icon at the bottom right of the box.
Since you are targeting an audience based on interests, click on Interests in the drop down menu.
Click on the teeny weeny downward-pointing arrow nest to All Interests and start listing your interests.
You can click on as many interests as you want, and the box will show the potential strength of your targeted audience (Targeted to: 350 to the right, in this case). Please note the word “potential”: you don’t really know how much of the potential will be realized.
Once you are done with the interests, publish your post.
Statutory Warning: The Interest Targeting feature may be available only on desktop devices for the time being. Please pay heed.
You think that maybe I have something wrong or that I have missed out on something? Please, let us know in the comments.
If you found this post worth a read, it would be so nice if you could share it. Please.