social mediaEver since Facebook took the decision to limit the amount of followers that receive your content, reaching your audience has become a problem for small businesses and freelancers.

The resulting strategy is to cull “friends” that are not actively engaging in your content. But for some, this is actually not a bad thing on a personal level as well. It enables you to reduce unwanted posts from your own newsfeed and makes your account more manageable.

Facebook say the reason for limiting organic feed is to reduce the amount of content users are receiving, and only show people content that is more relevant to them. No mention of wanting businesses to pay for advertising which we know is the real reason, but hey ho!

So how do you go about culling your Facebook “friends”?

Friends and family

On the assumption that freelancers and some small businesses operate their Facebook page under your own name, you may well have friends and family listed in your account.

It would be harsh to discount family. Friends on the other hand are a different matter. By all means keep your best friends, and old friends from school or previous work places that engage with your content.

Friends that you do not see engaging with your content can go. If you are not sure, write to them and ask if they are interested in receiving your content in the newsfeed. If they do not respond, drop them like a hammer.

“Friends” you have acquired

Up until last year, it was a common trend for online business owners to accumulate as many social friends as possible. The bigger the audience, the more chances of securing a conversion.

It worked for a time, but since Facebook kicked that easy tactic into touch, freelancers now have to choose their audience. Essentially you need to dig out the people who take a genuine interest in your content and product.

The best approach is to send a quick message. You can do this on mass if you have a lot of followers, but it is better to take a personal approach and use the recipient’s name – otherwise it can appear somewhat callous and nobody will take an interest.

You message does not have to be long. Actually the briefer the better. Something along the lines of:
I have a quick question for you! Do you read content published on -____________?

If you do, thank you for your support, it is most appreciated. If you would like to continue receiving alerts in your FB newsfeed, please respond to this message and, if you like, suggest a topic you would like to read about.

If the answer to the above question is no, please do not reply to this message.

Managing followers

Not everyone will reply immediately and it may take you several visits/days to go through your entire account sending a notification of your intentions. You will need to keep a record to know who you have messaged and you has responded.

Rather than keeping an Excel spreadsheet, direct messages to your inbox. In your email account, open up a new folder titled Facebook and transfer all messages from Facebook into this new folder.

By doing this you can treat interactions on Facebook as a second email account. I find this method is easier to manage than the messages feature built into the social network.

Once you have identified quality friends that are genuinely interested in your content, send them a private message to get them excited about your exclusive community.

Remember however, the same rules of engagement apply. Do not try selling anything to them, but encourage them to become actively engaged in your posts by leaving comments.

Social media networks are still effective platforms for engaging readers with your content and improving conversions, and if you do not have a marketing budget that allows you to pay for ads, building a community of interested parties is the way to go. Maybe it’s time for you to start culling the swathe of followers that are holding you back.