Amanda Rettke is a food blogging success story. She has 2 million+ Facebook fans and has been blogging for about 10 years at I Am Baker. On Facebook, she links to blog posts to drive her blog’s ad revenue, which is substantial.
To say that she is focused is an understatement. Amanda posts 12 times per day on Facebook, almost all video, including viral content from other posters. And her goal is to post even more often.
Did I mention that she has five kids and it’s the summer holidays? Still, she agreed to an interview by email.
Here’s how Amanda harnesses Facebook to grow her audience:
Q. Why do you choose Facebook as a way to increase your audience, versus other social media?
A. I think it’s more about determining which form of social media is most conducive to traffic and then being purposeful in focusing on that. I considered my niche, my writing and photography abilities, and my knowledge of how to best focus on those skills.
When I started with Facebook — many years ago — the algorithm was very different. Facebook showed posts to my entire audience and the traffic was amazing. Because I saw the power of Facebook at that time, it was easy to pursue it aggressively.
Q. But Facebook now only shows your posts to a small percentage of your audience. Why is it still worth it?
A. I work hard to overcome that small percentage in various ways. So I post often, choose engaging content, and interact with my readers. And I adapt to algorithm changes, using the tools that Facebook provides (like groups and crossposting) to increase my reach.
It’s worth it because 2% engagement can still equal 100,000 pageviews in a day. I am also thankful that, for the most part, Facebook is a free tool that has helped me grow my brand and business more than any other form of social media. Two percent engagement is a gift and something to be thankful for. I work hard for 2%. 🙂
Q. Does video provide better results than other kinds of posts?
A. Video is king on Facebook. A viral video with a decent click-through percentage can be a game changer for a blogger, the same way Pinterest was with viral pins a few years ago. I produce my own video, hire out video, as well as do live video. The combination of the three, in addition to posting frequently (I aim for 3 new videos a week) has helped grow my page and income significantly.
If food bloggers wants to take advantage of video but don’t want to produce their own, they can either share others’ videos or seek to crosspost video.
Q. What do you define as decent results?
A. Anywhere from 1 to 6% click-through on a video is great. Obviously the higher, the better.
A viral video often gets 1 million or more views in a short time. If 10,000 people clicked through from that video, that’s a great day. Even if 1,000 people click through, that’s good. Recipe videos, by design, are not typical traffic drivers.
When bloggers find a formula that shows viewers what they want (instant satisfaction) but still inspires them to click through for more information, that is a beautiful thing. That action can grow your page by thousands if not hundreds of thousands, and quadruple your income in a short time.
Q. Could you explain cross-posting and why it’s effective?
A. A crossposted video is one that is re-shared in multiple posts and pages without having to upload them again. When someone shares a video that way, the views carry over but the engagement is fresh to the page. For instance, Blogger A posts a video that gets 10,000 views, 100 likes, and 10 shares. When Blogger B crossposts that video, that views will carry over and accumulate, but the likes and shares start over.
Q. So before, people had to download a link from a Dropbox file and then upload it to Facebook, and now they don’t?
A. Right. The way other people share your content opened up dramatically with crossposting. It gives people access to video in a way that looks authentic to their readers as well as boosts personal stats and insights.
For example, if we had done this interview in video format, you would upload the video to your Facebook page. You would hop into your settings and make sure my page is approved for crossposting. I would go into the publishing tools on my page, see that your video is available for crossposting, and then I would share it with my page. All views accumulated by your page and my page will count towards your total view count.
Q. Let’s talk more about video, photos and text. What are your goals for adding text to an image?
A. The general idea is that the words are powerful and to the point. A blogger might choose the words “farm to table,” “raw,” “low carb,” or “fat-free,” for example. Text on an image should also compliment the caption. For instance, if I added the words “easy brownies, 8 ingredients, 20 minutes, delicious” to my image, I would want a caption that supports the text but is not redundant. So I might add, “Busy moms love this quick recipe!”
Q. Have you also started a private group for your fan page? What happens in this group?
A. When Facebook offered the option to start a group linked to Fan pages I jumped at the chance. This group can take any direction the owner wants. My group is a closed, meaning people can find it in searches but still need to be approved before joining. I allow all members to contribute without approval. The members create and participate in discussions, share their own work, and share work from the web.
Some people create groups to support the fan page, in that the content is only that of the page owner. Some groups choose 10 (or whatever number) admins who are allowed to post in the group. The possibilities and potential are endless.
Q. What is the advantage to you for starting this closed group?
A. The main advantage to a group linked to a fan page is that Facebook is focusing on it. Facebook wants to build community, so it is putting extra focus into groups.
There are many advantages to a starting a closed group. My group gave readers a voice. They share their content, they ask questions, and they often support each other. My group is far more intimate than my fan page and I am not the focus, which I love. They are. It’s a big opportunity for me to get to know fans in a powerful way and create deeper relationships.
Q. What do food writers and bloggers not understand about using Facebook as a tool?
A. They may be frustrated by the immediate return on investment (ROI). A successful page takes a lot of dedication and work. I spend anywhere from two to four hours a day finding, scheduling, and posting content.
Using Facebook is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be days when posts don’t do well, when your page seems stagnant, when you can’t get a like to save your life. It will seem easier to throw in the towel.
But if you look back at your stats over the last three months instead of three days, you will see improvement and growth. Don’t give up! A focused Facebook strategy can support your brand, increase income, and be a powerful bargaining tool with sponsored relationships.
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