Facebook’s latest News Feed algorithm update allows Facebook to surface more relevant content more easily based on your past engagement with a post, a friend, or a brand page. Essentially, they want to figure out what you enjoy and show you more of that, even if you missed something by a few hours.
Among the factors Facebook uses to measure your past engagement are Likes, shares, comments, and (perhaps most interestingly) how often you hide posts from a person or company. As a result, Facebook’s brand page analytics, which they call "Insights," now shows you Post Hides, Hides of All Posts, Reports of Spam, and Unlikes of Page by Post. This is critical to note as a marketer, as it represents the only time you want engagement metrics to reach zero.
Social media engagement metrics are typically measurements of positive sentiment -- Likes, shares, retweets, pins, and so on. We as marketers in 2013 aim to increase these numbers. What's bizarre about Facebook Insight's new, um, insights ... is that for perhaps the first time in social media, we now must react to a negative type of engagement. As Christopher S. Penn on the always-stellar marketing blog Awaken Your Superhero called out recently, we now have a set of engagement metrics that we actually want to minimize.
This is smartly said by Christopher, but it brings to mind a scary reality: how do you respond if metrics like "hides" start to climb? This action, after all, measures essentially a “Dislike” button, and now we can actually report its use and act on what we learn.
So what, exactly, should you do if your Facebook Insights report shows a high volume of followers hiding your posts? We put our heads together on the HubSpot marketing team and came up with the following checklist:
1) Examine frequency immediately. Are you posting too much?
The very first action you should take is to examine frequency. Consider your own habits with Facebook posts, whether from brands, friends, or family. Nothing is worse than seeing too much from the same source, right? If you see your negative engagement metrics start to creep up on Facebook, be sure to critique your own posting schedule. Social media, and really all of inbound, is about treating people like people and being helpful, useful, and human. Nobody likes to be bombarded over and over.
Compare posts with unusually high "hide" counts in your Insights report on Facebook -- had you posted right before? Are you leaving enough time between posts to allow your audience's feed to populate with a variety of content from friends and family? Nobody likes the friend who posts 17 pictures of their dog within an hour, let alone the business who opens the floodgates and dominates the news feed.
2) Create (or revisit) your buyer personas.
Checking your post frequency was the first action to take because it may help you solve something quickly and urgently. Building or revisiting your buyer personas, on the other hand, is a foundation on which all your inbound marketing can be built. If you're new to personas, these are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on real data about customer demographics and behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.
Human interactions improve if you have greater context on the person with whom you're speaking, and the same can be said of sharing content on Facebook. Understanding your buyer personas upfront can help you post relevant content. If you're already created personas but still see an increase in followers hiding your Facebook posts, it might be time to revisit your original descriptions.
With your buyer persona description or template pulled up, you can then ...
3) Analyze your content mix. Are you posting the right variety?
Remember the comedian Dane Cook? Those who do will sometimes comment about how great his first standup act was, followed by how progressively awful he got with each subsequent show. The common knock on him? He did the same thing over and over and over again, and now, he’s borderline irrelevant.
The same can be said of providing your Facebook followers with content. People are nuanced and change their motivations, even throughout a single day. Your content should try and match that. You don’t need to do an in-depth psychoanalysis of your buyer, you simply need to create a variety of content. On Facebook, you can share text, visuals, video, links, invitations, and more.
Mix things up to keep it interesting, exciting, and engaging in a positive way ... just like any human relationship! And using that buyer persona description can help you pinpoint the types of content to start with if you're rethinking your posting strategy. (For example, if your buyer is often pressed for time, cut down the amount of text and use more graphics, with relevant copy written in graphical format.)
4) Compare posts being hidden with other, more successful content.
If you see an uptick in post hides, compare the content driving those negative actions to other posts that might have received more Likes, shares, and comments. With what types of content does your audience actively engage? Can you create and post more of that type? Was the negative trend hitting a certain type of content? Facebook Insights also shows you the “Best Post Types” report to make this analysis a bit easier.
In the event you lack any data because there hasn’t been engagement with your posts overall, or if you’re just starting on Facebook, consider a quick glance at competitors' Facebook pages or other companies you admire in your industry. What are they posting that their followers seem to engage with positively? Are visual posts getting Liked and shared more than text-based comments? Do more people share posts when the company publishes fun, playful things versus more serious, helpful content? Some call this “stealing” -- artists call this “inspiration” -- but whatever the case, it’s good to survey the playing field every once in a while, especially if you're just starting out.
5) Examine the ratio between your positive engagement metrics to post hides.
While you should do everything in your power to avoid upsetting followers, it’s important to be realistic: someone, somewhere may actually choose to hide your post. (We never would -- your posts are awesome -- but someone might.) And that’s okay! Once you cover all your bases listed above, crosscheck your negative and positive numbers. How do your overall hides compare to the volume of Likes and shares you’re getting? Keep in mind that the more visibility you have, the more all numbers will increase. Your goal is to ensure that you minimize your hides while maximizing your Likes and shares.
As always, with any content or inbound marketing tactic, react to data and optimize your approach but ultimately, spend your time doing what your customers and fans love. Address any alarming trends in your Facebook data accordingly, but keep in mind that you should be solving a problem, providing education or entertainment, and generally spending most of your time providing your Facebook followers with the best experience possible.
What advice do you have for creating positive engagement and reacting to negative sentiment on Facebook?