How Engaging is Your Website?

I just read Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, by the Aspen Institute.

On page 15, they talked about the library as place. I was struck by this:

The library as it exists within virtual space must be considered as a wholly independent but highly integrated experience; that is, the library’s virtual presence must be as engaging as its physical space and fully serve the library’s mission built around equitable access, learning and civic development.

Wow. Did you catch that? ” … as engaging as its physical space…” and “fully serve the library’s mission …”

Are we there yet? Look around your building, your service points, your programs. Your most popular stuff. Then look at your digital spaces.

Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

Pic by Quinn Dombrowski

The Drop in Facebook Reach – Is it a Big Deal?

What’s the deal with Facebook’s recent drop in Reach? I’ve been reading about it and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Read on to find out why!

What exactly IS Facebook Reach, and what happened to it? Facebook Reach is a number that reflects how many people saw your Facebook post. Facebook changed something in their algorithm, and Facebook Reach (more specifically, Organic Reach – reach not generated through Facebook Ads) seems to have dropped. Dramatically. Some Facebook Page owners have seen a 40% or more drop in Organic Reach.

Bummer!

Why is Facebook messing with Reach? Facebook is trying to keep their customers interested. To do that, they are constantly tweaking what can be seen on the Facebook News Feed. When you log into your Facebook account, you are dropped into your News Feed, and you see the Top Stories view (you can toggle to the Most Recent view, which provides all stories).

The Top Stories view automatically sorts through your News Feed, finds the stories that you would most likely be interested in, and presents those to you rather than showing you everything.

Here’s what Facebook says they’ve done (from Brian Boland, who leads the Ads Product Marketing team at Facebook):

Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

Over the past year, we’ve made some key changes to improve how News Feed chooses content:

  • We’ve gotten better at showing high-quality content
  • And we’ve cleaned up News Feed spam

As a result of these changes, News Feed is becoming more engaging, even as the amount of content being shared on Facebook continues to grow.

Because of these changes, some Facebook Pages have experienced a drop in Engagement and Reach, because Facebook is effectively hiding posts from those Facebook Pages.

What does this mean for a library’s Facebook Page?

Should you stop using Facebook? Um, no. According to Pew Internet, 57% of American Adults are on Facebook. And that percentage is still growing. That’s still a majority of your community – your customers – on a social platform that you can use. For Free.

Should you just pay for ads? Advertising is a good thing if you do it well. Advertising on Facebook is cheap, and can have a quick response (i.e., people actually click over to your site from a Facebook ad – go figure). So yes – experiment with Facebook ads to see if it works for you. Just remember that ads aren’t the only way to use Facebook. It’s just one strategy.

Should I worry about the drop in Facebook Reach? No. Instead, focus on creating better content and making it into your Facebook Fan’s “top 300” posts on their News Feed. Because that’s the real problem. The reason some posts don’t make it into the News Feed is simple – Facebook users don’t find that content engaging, and ignore it. Then, Facebook helps them continue to ignore it.

If you don’t improve your content to make it into the top 300 posts, your Fans will ignore you (with Facebook’s help), and your content won’t appear in their News Feed.

Here’s a simple Facebook formula to remember: useful content = more engagement = better Reach.

Read more about the drop in Facebook Reach:

Image by Johanna

Improve your Twitter Engagement

Twitter recently posted an interesting article on their blog – What fuels a Tweet’s engagement? Good read!

They did a study of over 2 million tweets, and discovered that there are a few simple things that help increase Retweets. These include:

  • Adding a photo – averaged a 35% boost in Retweets
  • Adding a video – averaged a 28% boost in Retweets
  • Including a quote – averaged a 19% boost in Retweets
  • Including a number, of all things – averaged a 17% bump in Retweets
  • Including a hashtag – averaged a 16% boost in Retweets

In the world of Twitter, Retweets = engagement with your content. People find it interesting, so they share it with their friends via a Retweet. So make sure to walk around your library once in awhile, take a smartphone photo, and include that photo with your tweet (or a video, quote, number, or hashtag).

Then see what happens!

Follow me on Twitter!

Twitter logo from Twitter

 

Engaging People via Twitter

Twitter recently created a new best practices site – check it out at media.twitter.com. There’s some really useful info there, but you have to wade through it a bit to find the good tidbits.

I did the wading for you – here’s the good stuff!

Best Practices on Engaging people via Twitter:

  • Use @mentions. This makes it more likely that people will find your conversation and join in.
  • Include photos and videos. Inserting media into tweets makes them more likely to get favorited and retweeted. Tweets with photos get 1.5x the number of Retweets compared to the average Tweet, and 2.3x the number of favorites.
  • Tweet regularly. Twitter users like to see conversations. Set a schedule if you need a reminder to Tweet.
  • Hold a Q & A live tweet session. This can be a fun way to involve other Twitter users.
  • Find conversations. Listen for people talking about you, and join in if it makes sense.
  • Use Hashtags. Picking the right hashtag is a great way to reach more readers and make your Tweet a part of a larger conversation. Including a hashtag can double engagement for individual journalists and boost it 1.5x for news organizations, for example. So in our industry, it can’t hurt either, right?
  • Show what happens “behind the scenes.” A fun way to connect with followers is to show them what happens behind the scenes.
  • Use a call to action and a hashtag together. specially for things like live tweeting, events, or a Q&A session
  • Vine videos are useful, too. Vine videos drive high engagement (Retweets and favorites).

And an interesting tip. Are you familiar with this command – .@ (a @reply command with a period?)? I wasn’t. Here’s what it does: Tweets that have a period (.) before the @reply are meant to be seen by all of a user’s followers, not just those who follow both the sender and receiver. Twitter calls a normal @reply narrowcasting, and a .@reply broadcasting. Interesting!

Are you successfully connecting with customers through Twitter? I’d love to hear about it! Share in the comments. Thanks! Oh, and feel free to follow me on Twitter too, while you’re at it :-)

Photo by Maryland GovPics

What do you Want from your Facebook Page?

looking closer at Facebook PagesThinking a bit more about my last post on using Facebook ads to actively seek out new fans … Why try to get more fans in the first place?

Another way to ask that – What exactly do you want from a Facebook Page?

Here’s a list of 5 things libraries might want out of a Facebook Page. These five things are a happy convergence of stuff Facebook is good at, and stuff that libraries (and other organizations) might find useful, too. See what you think, and add to my list!

Five things a Facebook Page is good for:

  1. Visibility – the more we interact, the more we are “seen” in Facebook. Which means that more people see our posts about library stuff.
  2. Listening – we share, but we also listen to our customers. They say stuff about us on Facebook! Some good stuff, some bad stuff. It’s a place to answer questions, to field complaints, and to actively ask for input. For free.
  3. Advocacy – this one’s huge, and should be a constant. Share good stuff about the library, and point out when we see customers saying good stuff about us.
  4. Purposeful Engagement – why gather a crowd if you don’t ask them to do anything? We should be including Calls to Action in our Facebook Posts, on specific things we want our customers to actually do. That might mean Liking the page, or it might mean attending a movie at the library. We need to start asking … and then measuring results.
  5. Conversions – Doing that Purposeful Engagement thing in #4 can lead to “conversions.” What’s a conversion? Simply stated, a conversion in social media is when your ask turns into their action. For example, if you ask Facebook Page visitors to register for an event at the library (and supply a link to the registration form), and 20 people actually click the link and fill out the form, that equals 20 conversions. Conversions can be measured and improved upon. But the important point here – you WANT conversions. You want to drive your Facebook Page visitors and fans to actually DO something – to interact with and engage your library. Conversions provides a way to measure that interaction.

Those are my five things … What are yours?

Photo by Flood