Sep 25 2017

How to (Accidentally) Trim the Fat from Your Facebook Business Page

FRIENDS. Let me tell you, having a Facebook “business page” is not for the faint of heart — but it’s teaching this Nervous Nelly a thing or two about building a backbone. If you’ve never had a business page and/or never plan to start one, this (unsolicited) advice post may not interest you whatsoever — but I encourage you to stick around for the giveaway at the end.

For those of you with a business page, here’s some free intel: if your goal is to keep every last follower no matter what, DO NOT CHANGE YOUR PAGE NAME.

But if you don’t mind trimming the fat, go right ahead.

For me, the most surprising thing about a business page is that you can see pretty much everything: how many people hide your posts, how many people choose to unfollow you (and when), how many people your post has “reached.” This is scary info for someone who initially meant for her blog to be anonymous.

Facebook and I have a love-hate relationship. Not just on a personal level (why is her life so much cooler than mine?!), but now on a professional level, too. It can be an incredibly powerful networking tool, but in some ways it is SHADY AF. I didn’t know the true extent of this before I had a business page, but the Facebook algorithm — for professional AND personal pages, by the way — is completely dependent upon engagement.

Here’s what that means: if you post something and no one likes it, shares it, or comments on it, after an undetermined length of time, Facebook just…buries it. They assume no one wants to see it. The more “engagement” a post gets, the more Facebook decides, “Well, I GUESS we’re cool showing this to a few more people.” According to several sites, only 2% of the people who follow a page will get to see its content in their news feed.

That said, if you have ever liked, shared, or commented on a post, I love and appreciate you.

Over time, I became accustomed to the fact that only a fraction of my followers were going to see my stuff. And that’s okay — YOU DO YOU, Facebook algorithm. But the point is, I thought I could change my page name and not bother anybody.

Spoiler alert, business page owners: If you change the name of your page, you will bother people.

I feel like I learn something new about this whole blogging thing at least once a week. There’s a ton of research out there, and most of it suggests that a writer’s Facebook page should include both the name of the website and his/her real name. (It’s supposed to help with the search function — that way, if someone knows your real name but not the name of your blog, they’d still be able to find you.)

So a couple weeks ago, I applied to change my page name — you have to APPLY, and Facebook says it can take “up to three days” for them to make a decision — from “Michifornia Girl” to “Michifornia Girl by Melissa Bowers.” Obnoxiously long and ridiculous, yes; but recommended by experts, so I applied. It didn’t take three days, by the way — it took twenty-three minutes. A+ for efficiency.

BUT THEN. The INSTANT the Facebook gods approved my request, something alarming started to happen: the number of people who “liked” my page began to plummet. More than a hundred followers disappeared in twenty minutes — I watched them fall away like lemmings tumbling from a cliff.

WHAT…WAS…HAPPENING?

Here’s what was happening: good ol’ Facebook — the same Facebook that hides content you WANT people to see — apparently sends a spammy notification to EVERY SINGLE ONE of your followers about the stupid name change. Every. Single. One.

A whole lot of people definitely looked at that notification and thought, “Michi-who?” and promptly unliked the page. Admittedly, this induced a vague sense of panic at first, but business page owners, take heed: an “unlike” is a good thing. It’s way, WAY better than when people click “hide all posts” — because in that case, they’re technically still THERE…but they never see anything, which does some serious damage to your reach.

You want people who actually want to be there. You want people who are interactive and who will engage with you. If people leave, let them leave: trim the fat and find your true tribe.

My page lost almost 300 people in 24 hours (the mass exodus slowed to zero after the first day). To the 10K who stayed: sorry about the annoying notification, and thanks for sticking around! I haven’t done a giveaway in a while, and now feels like a great time to show that you are appreciated.

Three separate $30 Amazon gift cards are up for grabs on the Facebook page. Just head on over and check out the pinned post for instructions. 

Thank you for being my true tribe.

About Melissa

Melissa Bowers is a high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. Her days used to be filled with great works analyses and discussions of intricate film and literary techniques, but they are now consumed by a curious toddler, a spirited 4-year-old, and the desperate urge to write ALL THE THINGS -- which generally occurs a paragraph at a time whenever the children happen to nap. Since moving to California, her work has been published by Writer's Digest and The Writer, and her articles are regularly featured on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, BlogHer, and others.

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