Myths About Facebook Pages Debunked: The Truth That Filmmakers Need To Know About Reaching Fans Through Updates to a Film's Facebook Page

A Nov. 7th, 2012 post to techcrunch is a "must read' for any filmmaker who uses social media to stay in touch with their audience.

In particular - while Facebook Pages remain a great FREE way to reach out to fans - the facts about how Facebook really works are not what many filmmakers assume.

For example, Facebook Pages are NOT a direct pipeline to 100% of your fans all the time.

In fact, every time you post something to Facebook, only a fraction - typically well under 20% - of the people who've liked your Page will see it.

This is nothing new.

Facebook never reached 100 percent of a film's fans with every post. But starting in mid-2012, certain websites - like Dangerous Minds - started making ominous-sounding posts about a drop in traffic to their websites from Facebook. This apparent fall-off in traffic perplexed some content creators, who expected their visits to keep growing as they diligently updated their Facebook Pages. But the reasons behind a drop in Dangerous Minds visits might not have been as complicated as the sites owners seem to have surmised.

Here's the truth about how Facebook Pages work - or don't work - in reaching fans after they've "liked" your Page...

"Facebook’s news feed ranking algorithm (widely known as EdgeRank) chooses between hundreds or thousands of pieces of content each day to show the few dozen most relevant stories in each person’s news feed."

You're never going to reach all your fans all the time: "That’s because some fans aren’t online when the post is published, a specific post hasn’t gotten much engagement from the people Facebook already showed it to, and because if you don’t interact with that Page when you do see its posts, Facebook will only show you them every once in awhile."

This is simply the way that all the major social media outlets work these days. "You don’t reach all your followers on Twitter with each tweet either. You could, except most people follow so many people that they only read parts of their stream. [Furthermore i]f Facebook did show all Pages posts in everyone’s news feed, it would be horrible. The feed would be full of lame marketing messages that would drown out your friends."

In mid-2012 Facebook did tweak their algorithm to make prior user behavior a more efficient way of keeping uninteresting content from filling up a user's news feed. For example, "if you never click, Like, comment, or share posts by a Page, Facebook made that Page less likely to show up in your feed." In addition, Facebook "changed how it picks what shows up in the news feed so that Pages that get frequently reported for spam show up less often."

This change in the Facebook algorithm - to disfavor frequent posters whose posts go unread or are sometimes marked as spam - might account for the fall in views that Dangerous Minds experienced.

So how can a filmmaker use a Facebook Page - and an understanding of how Facebook's algorithm really works to favor content that users have identified as meaningful or entertaining - to better reach fans?

"Focus on publishing high-quality content. Don’t post too often and don’t cram your marketing down people’s throats. Be entertaining and informative. Then follow your analytics closely, consider hiring experts that can help, and refine your strategy. If your Page’s reach decreased, I’m sorry. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad Page, business, or admin. You just need to work on finding relevant content to post and delivering it with a natural non-spammy tone."

Facebook's algorithm can't help a filmmaker who makes updates to the film's Facebook Page when the fans aren't online. And don't keep posting annoying requests for money or support. And - just because a user liked your film's Facebook Page once - you can't assume that they'll see everything you post after that.

If you, the filmmaker, understand how Facebook Pages really work - you'll be better able to use the potential of this particular tool.

In short - don't make spammy updates. Once a user begins avoiding your updates (e.g., not clicking on an update - or even worse hitting the drop-down arrow and hiding the update or reporting it as spam) your film's ability to reach fans who once liked you is diminished. On the other hand, if your posts appear when your core fans are online and your content reliably succeeds in engaging fans (i.e., your posts are so entertaining and/or useful that they get fans to click through), the Facebook algorithm can be a cash-strapped filmmaker's best friend.

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