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Why aren’t posts on law firm Facebook pages getting seen?

November 6, 2014

Law firms are getting upset that the content they post to their Facebook firm pages no longer reaches the people it once did.

After all, many firms have worked a long time accumulating likes. They’d like their content to be displayed in the Facebook Newsfeed of those who liked their firm pages.

If they want the same reach today, Facebook advises firms to buy advertising on Facebook to promote their posts. Law firms and their marketing consultants are screaming foul play. “Why should we be forced to pay for what was once free?”

Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier (@SarahFrier) reporting from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public question-and-answer session today, shares there is nothing sinister here on Facebook’s part.

Zuckerberg says he has “empathy” for people looking to grow their businesses off of likes, but there is more competition for the same space today.

We understand what it’s like to be a business, and we care really deeply about the different changes in our product and how that affects the businesses using fan pages.

But businesses have to compete with the rest of the content on Facebook, as the service has become more popular. Each user has about 1,500 possible stories the algorithm could show them.

When Facebook is balancing the needs of businesses versus the needs of users, users will always win. Zuckerberg explained “a friend’s baby, that is healthy” would be something too important for someone to miss in a sea of content, so Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes that.

Sure, it’s easy to say Zuckerberg is two-faced, that he just wants companies to pay to get their content seen. But he’s right about what is important to users on Facebook.

I want items from individuals on Facebook. It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal item, i.e., about one of their children or a legal story from The New Yorker someone is sharing.

It doesn’t matter whether the person is a real world friend or a Facebook Friend, i.e., Jeffrey Toobin, I want items of value to my life from my friends on Facebook.

Generally, items of value come from real people I trust as friends on Facebook, as opposed to companies or law firms. The more I engage items shared by a friend by commenting, liking, and sharing an item, the more content I am apt to get from that particular friend. Facebook’s algorithms at work.

Items coming from companies can feel like an ad or content marketing, a real turn off to people. Facebook knows this and does not want to turn off the people who use Facebook.

Plus users are less likely to engage a company’s post than an individual’s post, making it even more unlikely, per Facebook’s algorithms, that the content will be displayed in people’s Newsfeeds.

What’s the answer for law firms?

  • As I blogged recently, get your lawyers using Facebook themselves. They can build Friends, relationships and trust through social interaction which Facebook’s algorithms will recognize. As a result, items they share will get seen by their friends. Not to worry, not all of their personal friends on Facebook will see the legally related content they share. Facebook’s algorithms customize Newsfeeds based on people’s interests.
  • Get more individuals to share and like individual posts by the law firm. Ideally you’d get lawyers in the firm who have Facebook friends with an interest in the subject of the post to do the sharing. The lawyers doing the sharing need to be using Facebook in a real and sincere fashion or the content will feel like spam.
  • You could trash the law firm’s page altogether because of diminishing returns. Copyblogger, one of the more prolific social media and content companies, deleted its Facebook company page with 40,000 likes for just this reason.
  • Change strategies. Rather than think of the firm’s Facebook page as a content distribution center, think of it as a place to show off all the positive things going on at the firm and in the lives of the people that work their. Throw in highlights of clients and community organizations doing good things. Pictures, stories about charitable work, hero pieces on people in the firm. Get people knowing people. No question it will be less boring to most folks.

Though most lawyers and law firms don’t yet see value in Facebook, the social network is by far and away the leading source for referrals to web content among all social media networks.

For those who do appreciate Facebook, just realize the rules have changed — like it or not.

Image courtesy of Flickr by pshab

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