Targeted Page Posts

What if Facebook allowed Facebook Page administrators to target posts using social graph data?

Throughout 2011, I managed and grew a Facebook page that started at 15,000 likes, and currently sits at over 65,000 likes. As the page grew, reaching everyone became increasingly difficult. Facebook’s Edgerank algorithms reward pages for posting engaging content and punish them for over-posting or posting content that does not generate significant response. As a page grows its following, each post carries more and more weight, not necessarily because it reaches more people, but because it has an increasing impact on the future ability of the page to reach its following.

By posting a few pieces of engaging content, the administrator of a page with under 10,000 likes can reach the majority of the page’s active following quite easily - the dedication and participation of the initial following creates a high affinity score. As the page grows, a given post reaches a smaller percentage of people relative to the total number of likes, pushing the page administrator to post more in order to spread a single message. Repetitive content and messaging generates less engagement though, hurting the page’s Edgerank relative to its fans.

Pages with over 100,000 likes face the most difficult struggle - marketing to a large and diverse group of people, with no way to segment messages by anything other than language and location. Facebook has the data and infrastructure that they allow pages to use to target posts by age, gender, education or connections with other pages, but this data is reserved for Facebook Ads. Allowing page administrators to use this data would cannibalize Facebook’s ad revenue overnight.

What if Facebook allowed Facebook Page administrators to target posts using social graph data?

Let me sketch out a simple, plausible scenario - Let’s say I’m the page administrator for a popular apparel brand who makes clothing for both men and women. I know, from experience, that when we post photos of our new women’s clothing line, we get a huge positive response from women, but most of our male customers either don’t care or just comment on the attractiveness of the models. But in order to get the message out, in the current paradigm, I have to post content to an undefined portion of the brand’s following, and trust Facebook’s semantic and affinity algorithms to display that content to the “right” people.

As the community manager, I know the brand’s customers incredibly well, but outside of advertising, lack the tools to properly segment which content is posted to a particular audience. If only I could choose to post photos of our women’s clothing to women, and our men’s clothing line to men.

This kind of segmentation is a large part of why email marketing remains incredibly popular - the ability to create different messages based on rich data allows smart marketers to create dozens or even hundreds of messages tailored to specific audiences.

Imagine catering a party of thousands of people, but only being able to serve one dish at a time - there’s simply no way to please everyone this way. The more diverse the tastes of the audience, the more generic the dishes have to be, in order to appeal to the widest set of people. Moreover, the next time you throw a party, it’s for a whole new subset of your audience.

This prevents page administrators from running more precise experiments. Whereas the success of the Facebook Ads platform hinges upon advertisers experimenting with targeting options, even if Facebook Page Administrators use the Ad tool to gather data about their following, they cannot use the data to run smarter experiments that target more specific audiences.

While this may be a strategic decision, because it could potentially devalue Facebook Ads, or because the vast majority of Facebook Page Administrators still struggle with the basics, I think targeted page posts in some format are inevitable. Facebook values dynamic and personal campaigns from brands and advertisers that use Social Graph data to create value for fans and customers, and if Facebook Pages are to remain dynamic, not just repositories for millions of “likes”, Page Admins need better tools to direct their message to the right audience.