When you look at the statistics, it’s easy to see that the majority (if not all) of the parents who might want to enroll their children in your school, as well as their friends, are pretty addicted to Facebook. Facebook is smart, and they’ve made it possible for the average American to make sharing family photos, playing games, checking in, and messaging a normal part of their daily operating system.
There was a collective groan among private Christian schools and many other organizations when Facebook turned down the organizational page reach dial again. Most pages were seeing about 1-3% organic reach when the latest announcement let us know that that number would now be, ZERO. But there is a silver lining that may be more beneficial than you think.
Definition: Organic Reach is how many of your followers see your posts for free.
Organizational pages will now get ZERO “listserv” action (organic reach) from their long list of followers. That means that the posts, videos, and information that people will see “for free” will continue to go down. It puts your school and countless other organizations in a position of wondering about the value of using Facebook at all. But it’s like the local mall—everyone is there, and it’s where people usually buy stuff. In your case, Facebook is where parents talk about their children’s achievements, share great stories, videos, and pictures. And having your school figure prominently is worth a substantial amount.
Finding Your Rhythm Following the Facebook Change
While it may seem hard to believe, there are a couple of ways that Facebook might actually be helping us out. While it’s no secret that they want to build ad revenue, their public statements indicate that the public prefers not to “junk up” the personal feed with too much commercial information. Their approach is to reduce the organizational page reach so they can better protect individual’s family and friends in the personal feed. With less automatic business and nonprofit posts cluttering up the personal pages, more relational and personally relevant content should be what appears.
If you thought that jumping to Instagram was the solution, then remember who owns it - Facebook. The algorithm that controls Instagram is very similar to Facebook, and they have complete control over what brands and influencers can do - or not do on Instagram. Some estimates place organic reach on Instagram at about 10% now, which is where Facebook was a couple of years ago.
You can regard their motives however you like, but the sad truth is that wherever there is a free distribution channel available, anyone and everyone is going to fill it with endless ads, commercials, and posts. If you are committed to sharing what is meaningful and personally valuable to parents and prospects alike, Facebook might actually be doing you a huge favor by clearing away some of the noise in the personal feed of parents.
But this sifting of the reported overuse of Facebook by brands (“the chaff”) also presents a problem: how do you get your meaningful and valuable content (yes, this is a continuous theme) to your followers if there is ZERO organic reach?
The Answer to Facebook’s ZERO on Your Page
While you may feel like leaving Facebook, the active presence of 27 million Americans should convince you otherwise. The answer to the Facebook challenge is that your school needs a group of people who will intentionally but authentically start sharing important posts and videos. Once a few people share, the message then goes out into the networks of networks with potentially unlimited potential. Finding that group is what will make the difference between great success in social sharing and a multitude of posts that no one sees.
A Temptation You Should Avoid— “The Boost”
Given the pushback from Facebook, your temptation could be to just click the “boost this post” button. But let me caution you, that is not a good plan. While Facebook might like it (especially since they get to collect your money), it is not an efficient use of advertising funds. It is the most expensive method for using Facebook with the fewest superpowers. That is, it doesn’t put the amazing amount of data that Facebook has collected into your hands for targeting the right people, nor does it allow you to focus your information on a specific part of the Parent Journey to Enrollment. There are only a few specific times when a boosted post is a good idea.
It’s easy to feel a little like Dennis the Menace, with his finger hovering over the copier button when it comes to boosting Facebook posts. But it is a temptation you should avoid.
The alternative to the boosted post is using the full Facebook ads management system. This is where fully-powered and comprehensive ad management begins. Since Facebook is hoping to coax us into using Facebook Ads, they have also created an increasingly effective ad management toolbox. And when used properly, it leverages tens of millions of points of data to allow highly targeted ads with low cost and high conversion.
With the power of this advertising tool comes many options. Some of the choices, the ones that lead to the lowest cost ads and the highest returns, are counter-intuitive and take an intentional strategy. Like Google Adwords system, all of the options lead into a bidding system that has to be used effectively.
Here are a couple of key items to keep in mind:
- Have less than 20% of the image covered with text. Not only is it a requirement for running ads, it helps people to view your ads as real and less commercial.
- Know how your audience will view the ad. This is based on where and when they browse Facebook. Those who are likely to view it on mobile are often going to look at a video without sound, so use subtitles.
- Be consistent. Make sure that your ad takes people to a web location with the same title and theme. Otherwise, it is “clickbait” and will be punished by viewers and Facebook alike.
- Use video. Videos can range from FAQs to special events at your school. Video works more effectively than any other method.