Your Facebook Fans Are Hiding Your Posts At An Alarming Rate

For far too long marketers focused on maximizing fan count instead of maximizing fan engagement, and now we’re paying the price--to the tune of users who block all of your page's updates. Here are the (bleak) statistics and what you can do about them.

We are all counting numbers around our communities. After all, a thousand fans looks better than a hundred. But have you personally ever hid a post from a brand you're a fan of? And have you, as a marketer, ever wondered how many of your fans do the same thing?

There are four types of negative feedback on Facebook ranging from undesirable, to worst for a marketer, starting with:
●Hide: hides a single specific post from the user’s newsfeed
●Hide All: hides all the posts by that page from the user’s newsfeed. This used to be known as “unsubscribing.”
●Unlike Page: “unfan” the page
●Report spam: user thinks your page is spam

Negative feedback means your content isn’t aligned with your fan base. That doesn’t always mean your content is bad--sometimes you are delivering great content to the wrong audience. Or sometimes you are simply posting too frequently and overwhelming the users.

The importance of this metric seems to be dangerously underestimated by marketers.

I was curious how frequently fans take any of the above actions, so I asked the team at PageLever if they could share some benchmarks. PageLever is a Facebook analytics tool that provides much deeper insights than Facebook’s native Insights. They currently measure more than 1 billion Facebook fans across thousands of fan pages; so I consider their benchmarks to be pretty accurate. (Disclosure: Intel is a customer)

What they found was rather interesting: 98% of post views generate no negative feedback. But the other 2% of the time a fan responds with some form of negative feedback:




(Note: The Y-axis on negative feedback over time uses a logarithmic scale. A linear scale made it impossible to see the Report Spam and Unlike Page because they were so small compared to Hiding Posts.)

Results from the data:
•1 out of 50 post views gets a negative response

•Facebook fans are most likely to block ALL your page stories when they take a negative feedback action, 60 times more likely than unfanning your page. Which means that just because your brand has a lot of fans doesn’t mean all those fans are seeing the page content. Some fans may have just hidden the page.

•Fans are more likely to report a post as spam than to unlike the page.

Why do 2% of fans unsubscribe?

For far too long marketers focused on maximizing fan count instead of maximizing fan engagement, and now we’re paying the price. This has nothing to do with Facebook’s algorithms and has everything to do with content marketers put in front of their fans...in many cases content our fans don’t want to see.

What can marketers do to ensure that fans engage with them instead of hiding their content?

Your fans will remain loyal as long as the content remains relevant and expectations for frequency are met.

1)Focus your fan acquisition efforts on quality fans rather than quantity fans.

Identify your ideal fans-–those are the folks who will truly engage with you because they love your product and your brand. Accept that a portion of your existing fans may no longer be interested in what you have to say, and don’t get frustrated if your unsubscribe rates are temporarily higher than this average of 2%. It may just mean that you need a different set of fans, not a new content strategy.

2)Stay on-topic with your content.

Even the most loyal fan will leave after reading 10 off-topic posts in a row. Be humble enough to admit you don’t always know what your fans want to read--so ask what they want to see.
Whether you run a poll or simply pose a question, it’s worth doing this at least once a quarter. Once you receive the feedback ensure you act on it, and adjust your content strategy according to those findings.

In addition, track your metrics very closely to see which posts not only are getting the most engagement, but the most organic virality. Those are the topics that resonate.

3) Match your fans’ expectations for posting frequency.

How to time your Facebook posts to reach the most fans is a perennially popular topic, but just like an email list, it’s easy to wear out your fans, even with good content. My recommendation is post once a day. If you have an event that offers a lot of good information, go for several times a day for several days of the event, but not more than that.

4) Tweak your copy so it’s recognizably your brand voice.

Sometimes the problem isn’t that the content is off-topic, but that it’s off-voice. Your brand has a unique voice which your fans know and appreciate, so make sure your posts are phrased in a way your customers expect. And don’t forget that you are human, so write like a human, not like a PR professional.

5) Experiment.

Finally, don’t be afraid to try new content, new format, and new approaches. You might be surprised what types of posts your fans might react to in the most positive way. The key with experimentation is not just trying new things, but measuring the results and adjusting in real time.

--Ekaterina Walter is Intel's social media strategist. Follow her @Ekaterina.

[Image: Flickr user Staci Myers]

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17 Comments

  • Successful Workplace

    The need for engagement is so important that it almost can't be stressed enough. A recent story about Mission Control-like command centers only told half the story...about response. To get where social media needs to be, it has to be about engagement across the organization, but funneled through command centers. We wrote it up here:

    http://successfulworkplace.com...

    This are great times to be in technology and business both. Comments are very welcome.

  • Bethany Davidson

    I think it is almost comparable to people watching TV and flipping through the channels
    during commercials. Just like I have the ability to change the channel, Facebook gives the user the ability to filter their information. Being in the marketing industry, I notice that commercials and advertisements really have to WOW me in order to keep my attention. A few things that keep consumers interested may include: discounts (and I mean really,
    really good deals), humor (everyone loves a good laugh) and creativity (we love
    it when you put time, thought and effort into your advertisments.)

    I would say timing is really everything. Don't post to often, that is why they created Twitter. There has to be a variety of posts about your brand and posts about current topics. For example, 711 did a marketing campaign to try to predict the winner of the 2012 election by creating democrat and republican coffee cups. While this isn't a Facebook campaign, the effort took time and creativity.

  • Ellen

    Very good points overall. However I don't think that posting once a day is right for most businesses. I can't think of any business I'd want to hear from that regularly day in and day out. 

  • Gillian Griese-Polard

    I'm in the habit of sorting my newsfeed using the Most Recent tab. That way I don't see the same messages over and over. I wish that more people did that! This was a great reminder that we can easily loose footing with all those fans we've worked so hard to accumulate. 

  • Nichole Edwards Kennard

    This is a great article that brings attention to a growing problem for businesses. Most companies are missing the mark with their social media for one simple reason: what they are posting has no social relevance. When we use social media purely to inform, talk about our business or product or use it for advertising, we are only engaging our customers in the moment. The real value of social business is to create a community around the thing(s) your company truly values, supports and believes in. This transforms your relationship with your customer from transactional to fully engaged and creates a whole network of brand ambassadors. Companies need to respect social space as social, stop trying to "sell" to customers and start building a relationship with them.

  • Katherine Mancuso

    PS: one other con of frequent posting is that your posts will cannibalize each other's reach in the newsfeed and while I believe you'll still have a similar total reach, your per post reach will go down. This probably is not a big deal in many cases where frequent posting is actually totally appropriate, but it can impact important announcements, etc.

  • Katherine Mancuso

    I just want to let folks know that:

    1) if you export per-post insights to Excel, you'll get a negative feedback tab so you can see which posts people are hiding. 2) Concerning someone's post about "fan pages which post frequently" - the frequency thing is totally an individual brand issue.  Are your users obsessed with your brand, do they interact and talk about it on a regular basis, is it something they genuinely want to from community & identity around? Then you can post more. (this is frequently true of games, strong "lifestyle" brands, etc)

    Or are you an expert in a space that your users really care about and they want to see that expertise? (social media tips, current news issues, GLBT issues, other strong interests) Then you can post more.

    In both cases, however, you might alienate people who aren't as interested.  You might consider starting a group or a second fan page, in such a case.

  • Marc LeVine

    Just another reminder that the audience controls the message.  Social Media has provided the tools (i.e. hiding posts, no linkbacks) for a reason - people want a way to take action when it comes to messages they do not want to receive or share (for any number of reasons).  In fact, these tools have actually turned post commenting, LIKES,  re-tweets and backlinks into a kind of "currency."  When you really think about it - what does it really cost us to do these things for another.  The answer is - absolutely nothing.  In fact, doing so for others is as much a courtesy and pleasantry than anything else. It's a nice gesture. Yet, receiving these pleasantries from others isn't as common as we might expect.  Frankly, we don't seem to gain compliments from others as much as we once did, either.

    In the case of sharing online being a new form of currency, I think that people increasingly realize that sharing someone else's information with their friends online may be bringing others monetary value one way or another. For example, their Klout score may rise as a result and be marketed for gain. Their friends may end up buying something from someone else, based on your sharing of their message and profit from it. They also may realize that their friends are expecting them to be acting as a spam filter to limit certain kinds of messages coming their way.

    I share and compliment others fairly easily - when they deserve it and only with good stuff  - because I strongly believe it is a friendly thing to do in Social Networking.  But, I see that others hold back, perhaps more than they should be, because they may view promoting others online gives these folks some advantage they may not want to offer them so easily. 

  • Muckens

    Sorry, correct me if I'm wrong but are the statistics saying that less than .1% of the 1000 posts where either hidden, reported as spam etc?! If so this seems very insignificant 

  • 8 Circle Media

    Or perhaps people are experiencing Facebook fatigue in general. It seems unlikely that users signed up for Facebook expecting to see a newsfeed filled with...marketing. The "post once a day" bit struck me as ironic because I found this article through a fan page that posts frequently. 

  • Jan Fish-Brown

    I often hide posts from pages I subscribe to, because once I look at it or scan it, I don't want it continually on my home page.  It's like a newspaper, look at it and throw it out.  There is no delete button on FB so the only choice is to hide the post or hide all posts.

  • LB

    This negatively impacts that Page and means you won't see as much of their content in the future. For a while, every post I made was getting 1-2 negative feedback regardless of the type of content. I wondered if those people were doing exactly what you describe here without realizing the impact.

  • Elijah Hatcher

    Deans right. That's the price someone will pay to not look at the post. Weather they are aware of it at the time or not. What is there was a delete button....hmmm

    Elijah

  • Carri Bugbee

    It's nice to see the stats. I suspect more people tag posts as spam than unlike brands because it's quick and easy to do that in the feed, but FB has buried the "unlike" button in an illogical place (smart UX practices would dictate that it would be part of the "like" button, not in an unrelated drop-down menu). I don't think 2% is an "alarming" rate for unsubscribes. That actually seems very low compared to the rates at which people unsubscribe from email lists. Again, I suspect it has to do with the fact that FB has made it unweildy to unlike. 

  • www.ulliappelbaum.com

    Great and insightful article Ekaterina (and btw, your blog is great too). And great data points. As a community manager I have also been alarmed by this phenomenon which appears to be recent and growing. However, fans hiding your posts doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad or alarming thing:

    As long as your content and format is “on brand” this might just be part of a natural weeding-out process .To your point, yes a higher number of fans always looks better but the quality of the fans on your page is equally important so losing less engaged fans might not be a bad thing. 

    Sometimes controversial statements lead to a higher “hiding” rate, but again this is not necessarily a bad thing if they also increase the engagement level (participation, sharing, etc.) of your loyal fans.

    This phenomenon however becomes a problem when the number of people hiding or un-friending your page becomes bigger than the number of people joining your page or engaging with your page. Every brand knows this “leaking bucket” phenomenon.  And the phenomenon becomes a problem when it is the result of poor community management, i.e.
    posting at an annoying frequency (btw, I’ve noticed that 2 to 3 posts per day is an ideal frequency for me) or simply posting the wrong type of content in a wrong format.

    Again thanks for a great article.