Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

A lesson on Facebook EdgeRank: Fans miss out when they don’t engage

Like ButtonIt’s not a secret that – as a user of Facebook – you don’t see every single thing posted by people or pages in your little corner of the Facebook universe. It’s all based on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.

If you’re not familiar with EdgeRank, check out this nifty infographic by PostRocket – EdgeRank is Facebook’s formula that determines what a user sees in their newsfeed. It’s a complicated secret sauce, but the basic idea here is this: between your friends and the pages you like, there’s a lot of stuff being posted, and Facebook wants you see the posts that are most relevant to you. Relevancy is based on how much you interact with a friend or a brand page. The more you comment on, like or share posts, the more often that friend or page will appear in your feed.

Facebook has become a primary source of where we get our information about our friends’ lives, news, and what’s happening at local businesses. And if something’s not in your newsfeed, you’re missing out.

I experienced this in my life this week. It’s a small incident, but it illustrates the power of EdgeRank:

My friend Andrea and I take a Zumba class at our local gym. There are 2 instructors who teach the Zumba classes, and we prefer one instructor’s teaching style over the other. When we walked into the class this week, the other instructor was setting up. We saw a mutual friend and asked if she knew what was up – she said that the regular instructor announced on her Facebook page that she wouldn’t be teaching that day.

Not a big deal to most people, but it was to us. We left during the class, before the first song was over.

“We were on Facebook all day,” I said to Andrea. “Why didn’t we see this?”

And then it hit me: EdgeRank!!! (shakes fist and screams at the sky) I didn’t see the Zumba instructor’s post because I never interact with her content. My lack of engagement means those posts are hidden from my newsfeed.

Something else hit me: Marketers talk all the time about what brands need to do – create engaging content, share more visual content, think about the frequency of posts, and find out what days and times are best – but the fans have a responsibility too.

If you are really loyal to a business, it’s a good idea to interact with a brand on Facebook on a regular basis so the information you’re interested in is coming to you in the newsfeed. It can be as simple as liking a post, or you could take a few seconds to write a comment. Or – if it’s something you think your friends might enjoy – click that share button.

Another thing that helps? Use Facebook’s interest list feature and give yourself easy access to all the recent information from the pages you really want to keep track of.

Have you missed out on something because you didn’t see it on Facebook? Let me know in the comments!

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Want loyal customers? Take a lesson from Sephora: Teach them how to use your products

After the makeover: Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

I am a member of the cult of Sephora.

Actually, I’m a VIB member – that’s Very Important Beauty – of their Beauty Insider rewards program for spending $350 in a calendar year (don’t judge; it’s not all for me – I do buy lots of birthday and Christmas gifts there!).

Why do I keep coming back? Because Sephora is not just a place where you buy makeup. You also have access to information and education – in the store and online – to help you choose the right products and learn how to use them.

This is a lesson that anyone – whether you’re a small business or big corporation – can use to win loyalty by letting customers try out products and services, and going beyond that with in-person demonstrations and social media content that provides education and best practices.

It starts with the store itself. If you haven’t been to a Sephora (or if you’re a guy and have stayed far, far away from them), they have a knowledgeable staff and aisles and aisles of makeup. Each product has a sample available that customers can try on. There are plenty of endcaps with disposable eyeshadow brushes, cotton swabs and tissues that allow you to try on the makeup (without getting any germs from the last customer). Beauty Insider members also get samples to take home and try based on purchase points earned – and a free birthday gift.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

Sephora also offers a range of in-store educational services: express makeup application, classes and personalized consultations. Most are free, and a few are paid. A few weeks ago my friend Melanie and I made appointments for the customized makeup application, and it was definitely worth the price. The Sephora consultants were fantastic – they helped us with all of our questions on makeup application, indulged us with our “I always wanted to learn how to do ____” requests, and helped us find our own perfect colors and combinations. I had such a great experience and shared it on Facebook (word of mouth!), which is why I’m going back this weekend with 3 more friends – I’m picking up a few supplies and hanging out while they get express makeovers.

Most of their social media and email content shares that same combination – they strike a good balance of education and best practices vs. sales. The Sephora Facebook page and Pinterest boards are full of pro tips, links to Q&As with cosmetic company founders and reps, links to instructional videos, ideas, trends and invitations for fans to share their tips and photos.

Yes, Sephora is a global company and they want to make money, but they’re also providing a good experience for the customers with the sampling and educating. If you’re a customer, you can know on the spot if something’s right for you and not waste money on products that you’re never going to use. And if you’re a loyal customer, you’ll come back when you’ve used up your favorite shade of lipstick.

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How your social media content can drive traffic to your fans’ content

Social media marketing is about getting the most exposure and engagement for your business to help you spread word of mouth, create community and grow your business.

Notice I said the word “your” twice.

What about the people who follow those businesses? We don’t often talk about exposure, engagement and growth for the customers and fans.

Recently, I had a few interactions with businesses that helped me get a little social media love, and it was a great thing – it’s nice when a brand or businesses send some clicks, views and followers your way.

Sharing followers’ content

One of those interactions was with the Content Marketing Institute. I retweeted their post about creating engaging content using Facebook’s Graph Search. They answered me and asked for more tips. I just happened to write a blog post on this topic a few weeks before (wink, wink), tweeted it to the CMI, and they retweeted it.

Content Marketing Institute Retweet

Score!

Thanks to their huge readership, I got a bit of blog traffic. In the next 24 hours, I had 54 unique views to my blog, and that post is my third most viewed post. That may not be a whole lot for some people, but that’s fantastic for me and my little blog.

The Content Marketing Institute did not have to retweet my post. They could have said nothing or a simple thank you. The fact that such a prominent marketing blog shared a post on a blog from one of their followers who they’d never interacted with before made me feel pretty special.

Putting the spotlight on what others are saying

The second thing that happened was also Twitter-related. I tweeted about a recent episode of the NPR show Radiolab (if you have not listened to it, make some time to check out their podcasts – amazing stuff).

Radiolab’s website had an embedded widget that didn’t promote their tweets – the widget found tweets that included the search term Radiolab. My tweet appeared in their stream, which, according to HootSuite’s analytics, led some visitors to the link that I shared:

HootSuite Analytics for Referrers

The important part of this example is not the number of clicks (I know, it’s a small number). It’s the fact that Radiolab shared what their followers were saying, not their own Twitter content. Yes, it’s still content that promotes the show, but it was a nice way to spotlight what their fans were saying about Radiolab. Embedding your fans’ tweets on a site that gets a lot of traffic has the potential to direct readers to any content the fans share, whether it’s their own or yours. It’s nice exposure for the people who provide positive word of mouth for what you do.

Share the love

I know this is another item to add to the Social Media Marketing To Do List, but helping your followers get a little social media love is a win-win. Awesome Merchandise, a UK promotion and printing company, does this well – they asked fans to send them photos of their products, and then promoted the fans’ businesses in a Facebook photo album.

Keep an eye out for the people who tweet your stuff, comment on your Facebook posts, or share your pins on Pinterest. Ask them for their tips or blog posts, and share them with your audience. Take a look at your followers’ profiles, check out their work, and link to it. Carve out a little space on your social profiles to show off your fans. It makes the loyal supporters even more loyal, and gives those fans a wider audience for the work that they’re doing.

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