I’ve been a huge proponent of Facebook fan pages over the past few years and believe the Connected Comedy Facebook page was a key to the growth of this site and community.
But recent changes to how Facebook treats fan pages has made a lot of comics – including me – start to question their value moving forward.
If you’re not familiar with what’s been happening with fan pages, here’s a crash course – basically, Facebook has changed their algorithms in a way that means barely any of the fans of your page will actually see your updates in their news feed unless you’re willing to pay to promote those posts through Facebook ads.
You can read more about the backstory of what’s happened, but I want to share with you some of my still-evolving thoughts about what this may mean for comedians.
It’s A Reminder You Need An Email List
Any time a social network changes its rules and/or you see its users start to flee, it’s a reminder that you need to build connections to your fans that you 100% control. That’s a long-winded way of saying that nothing is more important than getting people to join your email list.
Too many comics believe email is outdated and that getting people to follow them on Facebook or Twitter is good enough. It’s not.
If your main connection to fans depends on somebody else’s social network you risk losing that connection to your own audience whenever that platform fades away (see: MySpace) or when that platform decides to change the rules and force you to pay to reach your own fans (see: Facebook’s recent fan page changes).
Social networks are great, but they’re not a replacement for an email list and/or a website that you 100% control. And when it comes to an building your email list, I suggest you start here.
Facebook Fan Pages Might Not Be Free, But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Not Valuable
Every comic’s initial reaction to the Facebook fan page changes is pretty much anger that you now have to pay to reach your own fans. I understand that, but if you take a step back you might realize that just because you might have to pay to reach people that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it.
The truth is that Facebook ads – particularly ads targeting fans of your own page – are pretty cheap. Prices vary, but you can reach thousands of people for as little as $5 in some cases. And at least for the moment, most people are still spending a whole lot of time on Facebook, so there’s a whole lot of people you can reach there.
It’s interesting how some comedians will be aghast at the thought of spending money to reach people on Facebook, but won’t think twice about paying money to print up flyers or take out advertisements in newspapers. The honest answer is Facebook ads are still a cost-effective method of promotion to reach fans or potential fans – even if it used to be something you didn’t have to pay for.
Fan Pages Are Still More Powerful Than Personal Profiles
The biggest reason I tell you to have a fan page in addition to (or instead of) a personal Facebook profile is because fan pages are the only ones that you can promote with Facebook ads. That rule is still in effect, which means that if you want to take advantage of Facebook’s biggest strength (more on that in a moment), you’re going to need to have a fan page to do so.
Facebook Is Still The Best Way To Discover And Reach New Potential Fans
If you know who your potential audience is (and especially if you know your niche), there is no better tool than Facebook to find people likely to enjoy what you do. Thanks to the insane amount of demographic information Facebook has about its users and your ability to hyper-target ads or content to those people, Facebook ads are still the best way to introduce yourself or your content to new potential fans.
And since you can only run those ads through a Facebook fan page, that means that abandoning your fan page is the equivalent to abandoning the most powerful tool that exists to find new targeted potential fans or to promote your projects to your existing fans in a cost-effective way.
By the way, Facebook realizes how powerful the ad system is that they’ve created and that’s (one of) the reasons why they’ve decided to essentially make fan pages a pay-for-play experience. They think it’s worth it – and they’re probably right.
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