You are probably wondering why all your Facebook notifications right now, are ‘X person invited you to like Z page’ – where have they all come from? They seem to just appeared out of nowhere?! Well, this is down to a viral trend that is circulating Facebook at the moment which encourages users to help out small businesses by going to page, inviting their entire friends list, the originator promises to return the favour by doing the same for you.

Facebook Invite FriendsThis sounds like it’s helping people – so why is this a really bad idea?

This initiative is certainly well meaning, there is no doubt about that – but it is being promoted by people who are not professionals in Social Media and do not understand how page and post performance is measured by Facebook.

Hesford Media are Facebook Blueprint Certified experts – this means we have to undertake tough exams from Facebook under strict exam conditions, in test centres each year to maintain our certification and the right to call ourselves experts in marketing on Facebook and Instagram.

The reason why you should not undertake this ‘Invite All’ strategy, is because while it might boost your ‘like’ numbers, it will fundamentally damage the long term performance of your page.

How?

When you post content to Facebook, how far it ‘reaches’ and how many see it is determined by a number of factors (referred to as the ‘algorithm’) and one of the key performance indicators to Facebook as to whether you are publishing quality content, is how many people engage with your posts.

What does ‘Engagement’ Mean?

When a person engages with your post, it means they have commented, reacted to it, shared it, watched your video, clicked through to see your page, sent a message, clicked to your website or tapped the ‘Read More’ to expand their view of the copy in your post. All of these indicate to Facebook that a post is generating interest.

When your posts get a lower engagement % relative to your page size, your posts will be seen to fewer Facebook users. This is why it is not uncommon to see tiny pages with less than 100 likes, routinely reaching 100-200-300 people with each post, yet a page with 1000 likes might struggle to reach the same. Because that page with under 100 likes, has an engagement % relative to 50% or more of it’s audience size. The page with 1000 likes might only have an engagement rate of 10% relative to its audience size.

Why does Facebook care so much about Engagement?

Engagement is an effective way for Facebook to figure out if people enjoy the content being served up on its feeds. If every time you logged into Facebook and scrolled the feed, you did not see anything that was interesting or relevant, you would naturally become disinterested and you would reduce the time spent on its platform.

People spending less time on Facebook is a commercial threat to the organisation – as a platform it is monetised by advertisers paying for adverts, and your eyeballs on the news feed is its inventory. If you become fatigued with naff content, you will visit the feeds less and Facebook will lose its opportunity to sell advertising space. So it works hard to ensure that posts which appear on the feed, are good quality.

So what happens when you invite ‘All friends’ to someone’s page?

With most of us having between 200 and 500 friends, that’s a lot of invites going out. Some pages have jumped from 100 page likes to 500 almost overnight. Great huh? NO!

When you invite people to a page but they are not interested in the products and services they sell, they have accepted it out of politeness or altruism, they are very unlikely to engage with future content.

That bald uncle you invited to your local hair dresser – is he really likely to watch a video about cutting edge hair trends? Your friend with teenage kids – why would she want to follow a toddler group? Your cousin who lives 300 miles away – is she really going to care that your local butcher has half price rump steaks?

As a result – the engagement rate on these pages drops substantially – this indicates to Facebook a drop in quality content, and the posts start reaching fewer people. When fewer people see your posts, that means fewer opportunities to engage, so the next post gets even less engagement… and so it continues until you’re wondering why your page with 3000 likes routinely struggles to reach more than 100 people, when you were able to reach more than that when you only had 500 page likes (cue the comments that follow from business owners “Facebook is stopping business posts reaching people so we have to pay for it”)

Should you ever invite friends to like a page?

Yes! But do this selectively – inviting people you know would be interested in that page.

If you know your sister has her lashes done every two weeks, sure, invite her to a local beauty page. If you know your friend is a self-confessed cat lady and you see a page selling cat toys, sure, hit the like button. If your dad has been saying for months that he is going to overhaul the garden, then perhaps inviting him to like a page that installs fences or driveways would be useful.

 

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