Can a lot of fans hurt your Facebook page?

Find out what’s more important than having a large following on the social network.

Social media is about quality, not numbers. This is particularly true on Facebook because of its ranking system called EdgeRank.

To put it simply, Facebook looks at how many fans you have on your page, how many times they’ve interacted with your posts (shared, liked and commented). The algorithm runs and checks to see if there is an affinity between you and each follower.

Facebook is looking to see if you have common interests and the quality of those interests, and it does this with an algorithm. For example has this fan responded on your page before? Have you commented on something they posted? Have you exchanged posts only once or twice in two years? Are the topics you talk about on your page showing up in the fan’s daily activities?

What does that have to do with numbers?

Facebook also looks to see how many fans you have and how many are interacting to come up with a ratio of interaction. The higher the ratio, the better your ranking and the more likely you will show up in people’s news feeds. Low ranking? You could be the proverbial tree falling in the forest. Nobody will hear you.

For the sake of discussion, let’s say you have two Facebook pages.

Page one talks about reptile raising. Posts are about housing, feeding and caring for snakes, lizards, etc. This page has 1,000 fans and 500 “interactions” per day.

Page two is about wine. Posts are about enjoying fine wines, comparing regions, tasting wines and visiting wineries. This page has 10,000 fans and 500 “interactions” per day.

Which page would you say is the most popular?

If you guessed the wine page, wrong, back to square one you go! Those lizards are getting a 50 percent interaction rate while the wine page is at a lousy 5 percent.

If you fan both pages and so do your friends, you will likely see a lot more posts about snakes than Cabernet in your news feed. In fact, without a real effort to view the wine page, often it may seem like it’s disappeared altogether.

What to do?

1. Quit focusing on getting more fans and start getting deeper engagement so your posts start showing up in people’s news feeds. Only then will you grow a valuable fan base on Facebook.

2. Encourage interaction. Encourage people to comment and share your posts and their own posts on your page. Be polarizing. Start lively discussions.

3. Post pictures, videos and jokes. I know, I know, but people love this stuff. Make sure there’s real content there too, but the occasional cat doing the macarena is going to get your page shared. Live with it or come up with something equally intriguing. Maybe an infographic?

4. Be timely. If we already read it on everybody else’s page what do we need you for? Keep it fresh and be the go-to person in your field. Toss in a dose of politics or breaking local and world news to get things shared.

5. Good content. Figure out what your page is about and make sure you stay on track. Use the hints above but add your own flavor so it suits the goals of the page.

6. Feature users. Face it, we all love a good stroke now and then. Find out what interests your fans and talk back to them. Show off their blogs and products, help them grow their pages and they’ll help you grow yours.

Janet Fouts is a social media coach and senior partner at Tatu Digital Media.

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