By now, it’s clear to anyone that markets their food blog on Facebook that their organic “reach” (that is, the percentage of your page’s fans that actually see your updates) has dropped to near-uselessness. While two years ago, pages could expect about 15-20% of their “fans” to see a given update, that number is now approaching an officially-stated target of around 1-2%.
Infographic courtesy of Valleywag.
It’s one of the biggest fast ones I can remember in internet history: Facebook convinced thousands of brands, celebrities, bands, and yes, small websites like yours, that their network was the single best way to keep in touch with the people who wanted to see your message. Then they abruptly shifted gears, holding the entire system hostage in an effort to squeeze a few dollars out of you for promoted posts.
Sure, it may not matter to brands like Coca-Cola, who have functionally limitless advertising resources, and who can afford to spend as much money as they’d like to reach only 820,000 of their 82 million Facebook fans. But what about your food blog, or the pizza place down the street, or your favorite non-profit? These are all pages that simply no longer have any ability to reach their fans. Fans who, remember, have specifically asked to be kept apprised of your updates!
In the past, we’ve always advised readers to stay nimble, when it comes to marketing your food blog using social media. We’ve suggested that you not become too emotionally invested in one network, to keep your social media efforts results-focused, and to be prepared to jump ship when the newest, glossiest social network on the block starts offering you better results.
Today, however, we’re suggesting another alternative: Maybe it’s time to consider taking total control of your marketing efforts and the way you interact with fans by focusing on building your email subscriber list, instead of worrying so much about Facebook.
Building a subscriber list was never something that we focused a lot of effort on, on our own website. There’s something about the notion of having “email subscribers” that seemed kind of antiquated, kind of Web 1.0. It turns out, though, that focusing at least some of your efforts on building a list can be one of the best investments of time you can make.
Why? When you focus your efforts on growing your email list, you are 100% in control of your data and the way you interact with fans. You aren’t dependent on paying Facebook to show your message, and you’re not hoping that your tweet will get noticed in a user’s already overcrowded stream. Instead, you are getting your message in front of 100% of the people that asked to see it, and those are the people that will read and share your content with their own networks. In a way, it’s a very back-to-basics way of interacting with your readers, and your fans, without putting yourself at the mercy of the latest social network flavor of the week.
Still on the fence about cooling off your relationship with Facebook? Eat24, a prominent food delivery app, completely deleted their profile from Facebook, citing outrage over Facebook’s “organic reach” changes. The results? Absolutely none. In fact, instead of losing touch with their customers and fans, the brand saw POSITIVE results. In addition to the tremendous publicity the company received, they actually saw fans engage with their emails at an even HIGHER rate, with open rates of up to 40% for some email campaigns. Their fans responded to the closure of the Eat24 Facebook page by becoming MORE engaged with the app, rather than less.
But how do you actually manage your list and send out emails? Mailchimp offers a robust platform for growing your email subscriber list, with widgets that you can embed on your site (or yes, on Facebook, if you’re not quite willing to cut the cord) to collect information from readers. They also offer an “RSS to Email” function, that puts your email marketing on auto-pilot by taking your weekly updates, creating an email from them, and automatically sending them to subscribers. What’s more? The service is free until your list reaches 2,000 subscribers. And no, there are no affiliate links in this post; we’re just fans of the service, and use it to manage the mailing list on our own blog.
With social networks changing the rules, and new networks emerging all the time, focusing some of the marketing efforts for your food blog on email subscribers makes more sense than ever, and should be part of your overall strategy for spreading the word about your site or your product. We’re not suggesting you quit Facebook entirely, since any traffic is good traffic. It’s just that email subscriptions present an old-school approach to keeping your message in front of your readers, that can work even better than posting on fickle social networks, since you are in control of all the data.
We want to hear from you! Have you changed the way you promote your food blog on Facebook, or are you considering abandoning the network altogether? Have you had success with using an email newsletter to promote your food blog? Let us know in the comments!