Of course, the number of fans who see a brand's wall post is likely far less than the number of people who have "liked" the brand. Implying that every fan sees a wall post is no more accurate than implying every email subscriber receives and opens a message; this is because, just like email, Facebook communications have to pierce a spam filter firewall that protects Facebook users.
Facebook doesn't say it has a "spam filter;" instead, it has a "News Feed." As noted in Facebook's Help section, the News Feed "is a constantly updating list of stories from people and Pages that you follow on Facebook." The center column of your Facebook home page isn't a pure stream of posts by friends and brands but a distilled view of the posts and shares you'll find most interesting.
How does Facebook know what's interesting to you? "The News Feed algorithm bases this on a few factors: how many friends are commenting on a certain piece of content, who posted the content, and what type of content it is." Put another way, Facebook knows you don't sign on to the social network to find out what your underarm deodorant or favorite retailer is doing but to interact with the content your friends create and share. Friends' content makes it through the filter; brands' content largely does not.
Here's how you can tell just how much brand content is being hidden from your eyes. The following assumes you have friended a number of brands on Facebook, and if you haven't, why not start by friending USAA? (In the event it isn't perfectly clear, let me disclose that I am an employee of USAA.)
First, sign into Facebook and check out the News Feed on the home page. Review the posts made in the past eight hours and count how many of them come from the fan pages of brands. Since the "Top News" feed isn't in strict chronological order, it is an inexact science to count the posts made in the past eight hours, but you need not be exact to recognize the point being made.
Tonight, I counted approximately 30 posts on my News Feed, not one of them from a brand. Does that means the brands I follow had an off day? To find out what your favorite brands posted today:
- Step One: Click "Most Recent" at the top right of your News Feed (see image below.)
- Step Two: Click the tiny arrow that appears next to "Most Recent" and select "Pages."
- Step Three: Count how many wall posts were made by brands in the past eight hours.
Tonight I counted 52 brand posts made in the past eight hours, and not even one of them earned its way onto my News Feed. I wouldn't have known a single one of them existed had I not specifically checked the Most Recent Pages feed. (Give Facebook credit for playing by its own rules--as noted in the image below, despite the fact a Facebook wall post garnered 1,048 comments and 4,486 likes, it still did not make it through Facebook's filter and into my News Feed.)
What does this mean to you if you manage a brand page? First, posting to your wall is nowhere near the same thing as delivering a message to your fans. Second, your Facebook content strategy has to be focused not on what you want to tell your fans or even on content your fans will read; instead, if you want to pierce the Facebook spam filter, your content must get fans actively engaged. If you get them reading but not commenting or sharing, your wall post will only be seen by those few people who visit your page before that post scrolls off the bottom. (How often do you visit brand pages on Facebook, and how frequently do you navigate beyond the first page?)
The number of fans for your page is not the number of fans that will see your content. To maximize your wall posts' visibility, your content strategy has to create action and not just interest.