Sharing from Facebook is a bit like riding a bike with training wheels.
Yea, sure you’re riding a bike – and a great way to learn to ride a bike – but you’re not really riding the bicycle with all its inherit grace.
Posting from Facebook is, well, child’s play and to be honest, largely a waste of time. But we know you’re going to keep doing it because you keep doing it.
A question we actually hear very often:
When is it good to post information/photos just on Facebook and when does it make more sense to post information/photos to your website first and then share the link to your audience on Facebook?
Hardly ever and almost always.
Face it: unless you’re willing to pay for it, posting on Facebook has very limited reach most of the time, and reach will suffer even more beginning in January when Facebook virtually eliminates any kind of free promotional posts from business and organizational pages.
Why limit yourself to Facebook? Businesses and organizations get much more exposure, more reach, out of posting information/news/photos/videos to the website, sharing it from there to the social networks, including Facebook, and the social channels most popular among the audience of any business or organization. More on this further down.
Okay, so exceptions do exist.
First I want to talk about the exception to the rule: Certain types of photos can actually help you spread your message around Facebook.
If you also interact with a larger community of Facebook friends, you are able to increase the reach of your Facebook post via tagging. You can also tag organizations, that are strategic partners of your organization or sponsors.
One example: Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition has a frequently updated website, and also a sizable and loyal audience on Facebook.
After each event, executive director Pauli DiGrigoli shares pictures of attendees and asks people to tag themselves in the photos, making them visible to their friends and friends of friends.
The coalition works with 40+ other organizations which have Facebook pages themselves. When tagging those organizations, Paula also taps into the audiences of those organizations, too. The photo depicts the people involved and by tagging.
Although, SHC only has 623 fans, the reach of this post was 2067 – almost 3 times as large, through tagging, sharing and commenting. A high-engagement post.
Back in 2012 I published an eBook on this topic: “How to use Facebook to Spread Ideas?” If you don’t know how to tag on Facebook, it’s certainly worth a read for you.
Using the Facebook embed feature.
Sometimes, you might want to published a successful Facebook photo to your website, as insight to what’s happening on Facebook. For this, Facebook created the “Embed Post” Feature.
Here is a Safe- and Healthy Children’s Coalition’s Facebook post
3 Easy Steps and three minutes later you are done.
Prerequisite: Make sure you are logged in on your website’s dashboard, and you are logged in Facebook.
Step 1: Go to the particular post and find the post menu item “Embed Post”
Step 2: Copy Embed Code from the next screen
Step 3: Create a new content item for your website and paste code
Step 3a – Save your work in draft or publish it.
Unless you have a very good reason to post to Facebook, like this example, posts that only live on Facebook are a colossal waste of time.
This embedding practice is merely a crutch for those in the transition, those, who have a hard time breaking with the habit to just post everything to Facebook. You know who you are:-)
The embed tools might also come in handy for people having a hard time working with their website and don’t have the funds to migrate to a WordPress site or need a more modern website. (If you have a WordPress site that’s older than 2012, you are also in this category.)
Facebook: the closed silo.
Facebook-only posts excludes people. And they soon will forget about your organization or, worse, come to believe you don’t care about your followers on Twitter or on Google+.
You say, “But, but… I connected my Facebook to Twitter so that covers that.”
To this I say, well, “have you looked at your Twitter feed lately? Do you think it’s beneficial to your audience to see these kind of tweets. Are they helpful? Do they tell your story?
Here are a few bad examples. when Facebook runs your twitter stream:
I posted 10 photos on Facebook http://t.co/G2yjhshk0n
— Photos Pharaonic (@pharaonic_photo) November 24, 2014
Or this one…
So why do I think, it’s a waste of time and effort to only post to Facebook? What are the advantages on posting to the website first, format it properly and then share it to Facebook?
If you can bring yourself to leave the gated garden of Facebook and venture out on the whole world of the Internet by posting interesting content on your business or organization’s website you let everyone enjoy the great work you do without forcing Facebook on them.
If you publish on website you increase the reach and potential readership beyond the few hundred people that are your fans on Facebook or the circle of friends on Facebook.
Formatted properly, the share button or publicize feature on your website accommodates not only Facebook but also Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and a few other networks, which also increases the potential reach. It allows you to connect to the people who follow on those networks, instead of only Facebook.
Granted it is a little bit more effort to create a website post, but look beyond your initial learning curve of 30 minutes. In essence, once you practice it as much as you already practice posting to Facebook, you will become as proficient in posting to your site as you were posting to Facebook.
If you have a properly installed and developed website – WordPress or other – there is no excuse. Start expanding your reach now. Use your website!
Essentials for good website content.
Here are a few essentials to keep in mind: In contrast to Facebook, website updates have to have a headline, a title. Do not publish any content on your website without proper title/headline. The Facebook-only, Instagram-people don’t know this but you need to have a title, an intriguing headline to have any chance that your new webpage will be found on the Internet and in search engines. The title is also used for browser windows and bookmarks.
All your efforts at inbound marketing via any social network to elevate the visibility of your website will be thwarted if you publish content without a headline at all.
Search engines and social networks also require a good lead into your post. The first few lines will be displayed with your headline on the social networks as well as with search engine result pages. A feature image is optional and it will help you draw attention to your post when sharing the link to your post on the social networks.
Posting to Facebook means your are storing information on a system over which you have no control, that doesn’t provide a good interface for search and discovery. This silo-building on social networks makes you focus on the wrong tools and sometime the wrong audience.
Facebook is simply not a long term solution to communicate content about your work. It is a walled-off garden, where people gather with friends and family. Of course, you can build a community among your friends but you will find that plenty of your customers, audience or organization’s donors, volunteers and sponsors are not friends with you on Facebook. And you will not be able to reach out to new people with whom you have not yet connected.
And if the post only lives on Facebook, those that are not friends with you and those who try to find out about your great good work, will search on Google in vain. You put all the heart and soul in the post and only 70 friends see it? What about the other 1,000 supporters or customers or those who learn about your organization or business by searching for it on Google? They won’t see your interesting information and photos. And what you share on Facebook is interesting and helpful, right? People who find you on the Internet, meet you at a fundraising event, would love to read your success stories, too!
If you spend enough time on Facebook, you will find your circle of friends is hardly growing any larger or very slowly. That’s normal. You can’t make friends that fast, that trust you enough to have you in their Facebook feeds.
How do you reach new audiences? They most likely connect with you first via the website or other networks which don’t require a follow back.
And readers/followers/friends/customers will come to your website to read the rest of the story and also see the rest of your website, including your ecommerce store or sales feature, your donate button or the sign-up form for your newsletter or the volunteer application form.
Our clients, friends and acquaintances know our mantra: publish your stories on the website first and then share them from their on the social networks.