How to build a strong brand on Facebook
“Organic reach of the content brands publish in Facebook is destined to hit zero. It’s only a matter of time.” says Social@Ogilvy writer on March 6, 2014.
Non profits, like Big Cat Rescue, are “brands” so that didn’t bode well for us.
Social@Ogilvy went on to say, “100 brand pages, organic reach hovered at 6 percent, a decline of 49 percent from peak levels in October. For large pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach hit 2 percent in February. And Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future. ”
When in the face of danger, I’m always reminded to do what I do best. Default straight to your greatest strength to over come the crisis before you. In the case of social marketing, our greatest strengths are that our photographs and videos of our cats are beautiful and inspiring and our staff and volunteers are engaging.
If Big Cat Rescue was going to survive the downward trending Facebook algorithms for brands we had to ramp up our engagement and make sure that every post was worthy of our audience.
This chart shows how Big Cat Rescue stacks up against 3 of the most popular brands in 2014; Apple, Coke and Microsoft and in our industry of animal rescue and advocacy.
Note that even though Big Cat Rescue has fewer fans than most of these sites, our engagement is matched only by Wildcat Sanctuary, who has more than twice our number of fans.
The first thing we needed to know is “Who are our fans?” and “What do they seem to like?” and give them more of that.
One of the key reasons for building a strong brand is support for your business or cause. In our case, advocacy is a big part of what we do, so it’s important to note that many of our fans are not from the U.S. and won’t be able to help with legislative issues that are keyed to U.S. zip codes. We need to always keep in mind ways that they can help too.
By paying attention to who our fans are and giving them the content they love; lots of beautiful photos and videos of lions, tigers and other exotic cats, we continue to build our Likes, Comments and Shares, even during these difficult times for brands, as illustrated by this year to date graph. It is clear to see that Facebook implemented an algorithmic change that affected us in a good way beginning in April of 2014.
Comparing last year’s statistics with this year’s you can see that our Total Reach averaged 53,810 in 2013 and is averaging 226,063 in 2014.
Comparing last year’s statistics with this year’s you can see that our individual Post Reach averaged 42,451 in 2013 and is averaging 215,181 in 2014.
Comparing last year’s statistics with this year’s you can see that our individual Shares averaged 508 in 2013 and is averaging 2,852 in 2014.
Comparing last year’s statistics with this year’s you can see that our individual Likes averaged 7,191 in 2013 and is averaging 27,136 in 2014.
How do we know that our continued growth is reliant on engaging with our audience?
During this period of time our primary Comment Responder, LaWanna Mitchell, was off for 3 days and the numbers immediately began to drop. Our New Page Likes had been growing by 8.2 % and dropped to 5.2 % as soon as this person was away from the helm for a few days. For the months of August and early September we were in between Media Producers, and that lack of great content during that period hurt our numbers during that time frame as well.
The good news is that our new Media Producer, T.O. Lawrence, is coming up to speed and he and our primary Comment Responder, LaWanna Mitchell are working together to streamline our posts, using scheduled posts, Buffer and IfTTT.com. Getting some of that automated will free up their time to Like our fans comments and respond to them in real time, which is critical in building a brand.
Our statistics on YouTube.com look very similar and for all the same reasons.
People ask for our “secret formula” all the time when it comes to social marketing and there is no trick or gimmick to it. Building up a strong relationship takes time, requires listening and then demands that we respond to our fans in a timely manner. We are a small non profit, with 14 paid staff and 80-100 volunteers and interns. Our annual budget is 2 million dollars a year to care for about 100 lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, bobcats and other wild cats. We are able to raise these funds and give the best care possible because our fans love and trust us, because they can see how their donations are being spent.
Building a fanatical fan base is a lot of work, but it means the difference of life and death to big cats who are depending on them.
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