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Why This Business Left Its 10,000 Facebook Fans

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Earlier this year, I suggested that those using Facebook best practices but not seeing results should explore other social channels. One business, nearly 10,000 fans strong, did just that.

iHomeschool Network admittedly came to this realization without reading my post. Jimmie Lanley, co-owner of this online network for homeschool parents and content creators, explained to me that she saw a dramatic drop in organic reach in January 2014 — just about the time Facebook began releasing fan page posts to fewer and fewer fans. With this new Facebook change, posts sent from the iHN fan page reached only 1-3% of its total fan base.

Any attempt to “spread the word” or drive Web traffic from Facebook seemed like an exercise in futility. So Lanley and her business partner decided to leave Facebook for more productive venues.

When iHN decided to go public with this news, the messaging was celebratory in nature. Instead of whining about Facebook’s move to limit the reach of fan page posts, it chose to acknowledge that people use Facebook to connect with family and friends — and not to connect with online networks like iHN.

Are you wondering how that announcement went?

“We had pushback from people who felt our choice was an indictment on their own choice to invest in Facebook,” Lanley admits. “But we have never made an across-the-board recommendation to companies or bloggers to abandon Facebook. It was a very personal decision. We looked at the data for our own page, compared it to our own goals, and decided that we didn’t need a Facebook page to run our business.”

So where did iHN go? How did it corral its existing fan base to a new channel?

“Our main goal was to get people to sign up for our email list to stay up to date with our work,” Lanley revealed.

A Pinterest pin encouraging email signups

This pin is one method that iHomeschool Network has used to encourage email signups.

Her business encouraged signups through a landing page with a variety of graphics. The iHN blogger network was then encouraged to spread the move-to-email word by posting these images to Pinterest. They also tweeted the news, shared the information on GooglePlus, and yes, posted to Facebook. A few key giveaways also prompted people to make the leap to email.

Not all 10,000 fans migrated to the iHN newsletter, but those who did were much more engaged than they were on Facebook.

iHomeschool Network also invested more time in its Pinterest and GooglePlus efforts.

“Everything we do at iHN has Pinterest in mind,” Lanley mentioned. The majority of her audience is female, and they love Pinterest.

Her bloggers went through their pre-Pinterest posts on iHomeschoolNetwork.com and added pinnable images to them. “It’s amazing how an old post can be resurrected through the power of pinning and repinning a brand new, Pinterest-friendly image,” admits Lanley.

GooglePlus’ live video feature, Hangouts on Air (HOA), has also done well for iHN. It holds a weekly, topical Hangout on Air. These HOAs are recorded as YouTube videos, which not only give people a chance to see these videos in their own time, but also give iHN a great inbound search opportunity. (Remember, GooglePlus and YouTube are both Google properties — and YouTube is the Internet’s second largest search engine!)

 

YouTube Channel for iHomeschool Network

Homeschooling parents can access these topical YouTube videos at any time.

The “Hangouts” are also converted to podcasts for those who prefer to listen to conversations. “Just like good teaching involves many different instructional methods,” Lanley pointed out, “our content is delivered in different ways to reach a broader audience.”

iHN’s post-Facebook initiatives might take more effort than simply posting a link or fun photo to Facebook, but this effort has yielded greater results. There’s no chance iHN will return to Facebook.

“We don’t need Facebook at this point. It doesn’t offer us anything we can’t get in G+, YouTube, Pinterest, or email marketing,” Lanley concluded. “I can’t imagine that we would ever return [to Facebook]. It’s like dumping a bad boyfriend. It hurts at first, but once you get a little distance, you wonder what you ever saw in him in the first place!”

[Love that!]

Is your business thinking about investing its time away from Facebook? What non-Facebook, online marketing channel makes best sense for your business?

 

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3 Comments

  1. Interesting case study, Lisa. The part of me that is trained in Facebook advertising says they’re missing an opportunity. But there’s also a part of me that says, “yay, they moved their own cheese, and it’s working for them!” For me, Facebook is all about getting people to join my list, so it is working for me and my clients, but it is “pay to play.” Thanks for the post!

  2. Hi Lisa, Just giving your name to someone, and thought I’d read an article or 2. I agree that Facebook isn’t the one size fits all. I enjoy Google+ much, much more (better interaction) and gaining on Pinterest although I’ve still got work to do there.

    Other platform I’m returning to is Tumblr, as I’m guessing this might work better than Instagram for my demographic.

  3. Hi Lisa, Just testing to see if my gravatar photo pops up now that I added special email address?

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