For months the reach of my company’s Facebook page had been plummeting until many of our posts were being seen by as few as one percent of our 10,000 fans.
The page was managed by a team of volunteers from our network, all bloggers who are avid Facebook users themselves and who understand how Facebook works. They posted 2-3 times per day to the page and monitored activity there.
We tried little tweaks to our posting strategy, but still saw no improvement in reach. After that announcement from Facebook in December 2013 about a “a decline in organic reach” for pages, our reach flat-lined.
We had already stopped offering our clients Facebook parties because the stats from our last two Facebook events were so dismal. We could not in good conscience sell something that was not worthwhile.
Our goal on Facebook has always been to build community with homeschool moms. We don’t find clients there for our blog review campaigns or social media events. So we started to question our investment on Facebook altogether.
If we cannot reach our goal to build community because Facebook is limiting how many of our fans see our posts, what is the point of being on Facebook at all?
For our business model, it didn’t make any sense to pay to promote our posts as Facebook recommends. Many of our individual bloggers were having great success with their individual pages. They were effectively building community and sharing their sponsored content on Facebook.
So we started to consider the radical step of the business page’s abandoning Facebook altogether. Over time and as a team, we came to the conclusion that with the results we were seeing, our Facebook page was a drain on our resources that provided virtually no ROI. It was foolish to pour more resources into something that was not working, especially when we were seeing success elsewhere (namely weekly G+ hangouts and Pinterest) and could funnel our efforts there.
So we started planning our departure.
How We Left Facebook
I wrote an explanation of our decision to abandon Facebook, being sure to include these key ideas.
We are not anti-Facebook but pro-other things.
Many Facebook users are very loyal fans, and they take personally any criticism of the platform. We wanted our audience to know that this was not a decision based on personal preference but smart business.
Our decision is also not advice for others to do the same. Each situation is different, and there is no blanket answer to the Facebook question.
Our bloggers would still be using Facebook.
The choice for iHomeschool Network to leave Facebook was a business decision, not a directive for the network. The individual bloggers were free to make their own choices about Facebook. In fact, we encouraged following an interest list we created of our bloggers’ individual Facebook pages.
Facebook is for friends and family, not marketing.
We appealed to the original intent of Facebook and the primary purpose people still use the network — keeping up with friends and family. We admitted that our business page didn’t fit into the friends and family category, so we were politely backing out of their Facebook streams. (In truth, we weren’t being seen there anyway.)
There are still many ways to stay connected to us.
In all of our communication, we outlined alternatives to keeping tabs on us, always stressing that email newsletter sign up was the most sure way to stay in the know. But we offered several alternatives as well such as Pinterest, YouTube, G+, and Twitter.
Spreading the Word
Then we broadcast our decision to the entire network of 100 bloggers so they would understand our intent and get behind our choice. We had a healthy discussion in our private forum, and the consensus was in agreement with the decision from a business standpoint.
Then we notified our clients via email. And lastly we made a public announcement on our site.
With that announcement, there were two big components: pinnable images and giveaways.
Because Pinterest is so powerful for our niche, we knew that pinnable images would be a main way to get the word out about our choice. I created a series of graphics, uploaded them to Pinterest, and linked them to our newsletter sign up page. I asked the entire network to spread the word by repinning those images.
As incentive to sign up for our newsletter or follow us outside of Facebook, we offered giveaways (contributed by our clients and bloggers). The giveaways made it easier to promote the announcement page because there was a potential reward for the reader.
Surprisingly, we had little push back on our decision to abandon Facebook. We had a couple of frustrated comments on the Facebook page and some outsiders seemed to react negatively to our choice, but overall it was as smooth campaign.
My post on Google Plus about the decision was roundly applauded. And it seemed that everywhere I turned, I found confirmation of the decision to leave Facebook.
- Why I’m Quitting the Facebook Game and You Should Too (article)
- The Problem with Facebook (video)
- Social Media Trends & Predictions of 2014 (infographic)
We expected resistance in getting moms to follow us beyond the comfort of Facebook, and the results paralleled our expectations. We did see an increase in followers on other social networks and to our email list, but it wasn’t dramatic.
That’s okay. The fans we “lost” in the Facebook transition were not genuine fans. They were merely people who clicked the like button at some point.
The people who want to keep up with us will do so in ways that demonstrate more commitment (getting emails, attending hangouts, listening to podcasts). And we will find new followers on the platforms that are working for us.
Leaving Facebook has been a huge relief for my business. We no longer have the continual frustration of trying to game Edgerank and seeing dismal results day after day. And we have more time to devote to the things that are working for us.