After teaching yoga for some time, you’ve decided to get a little more “pro” about things. Great! So you set up a Facebook business page, spend a good hour on the cover image, “about” description, and add some amazing photos… until everything’s just perfect. Then, after asking all your students, friends, fellow yoga teachers, and pretty much everyone you know to ‘like’ your new Facebook page, you collect a few hundred fans.
“Awesome!”, you tell yourself, “the people are hungry for my updates, and Facebook will let me keep everyone in the loop about classes, upcoming events, and maybe the occasional morsel of wisdom.” Not so fast.
If you’re a yoga provider who’s trying to use Facebook to grow your business, you’re not alone. Most Yoga Teachers don’t have a website, and instead maintain a Facebook Page in hopes that it will attract scores of eager yogis looking for a new experience. And virtually every studio out there, even when they have a website, also manages a Facebook page.
Teachers and studios both expect that the Facebook platform will allow them to communicate with their students and clients. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to what you might have been told, maintaining a Facebook page to build a following and grow your yoga business is a waste of time. Here’s why:
1) You won’t attract new clients on Facebook
Even if people did try to search for a new yoga teacher or studio on Facebook (which they don’t), Facebook doesn’t work for finding something you’re not already connected with.
Don’t believe it? Try searching for “yoga teacher + your city”. The default results will be random posts in random order, almost all of them from your own time line. A weird picture from 3 years ago will appear before something more relevant from last week, because it got more “likes”.
Click on “Pages” or “People” for your search results, and you’ll be shocked at how useless Facebook search actually is. And the “Events” category? It shows you mostly broken things that happened years ago.
But here’s some consolation: the fact that Facebook search is dysfunctional doesn’t really matter. Because nobody searches for anything on Facebook anyway. Do you? Didn’t think so.
2) Your people don’t see what you post on Facebook
In the past few years, Facebook has become pretty useless for small businesses in general — but for yoga teachers, it’s a real disaster. Why? Because most instructors teach at several different locations, with frequently changing schedules… and they really need a reliable way to reach their students and let them know what’s happening. But that’s where Facebook fails.
Here’s a very typical scenario (maybe a familiar one?): you cancel class and post an announcement about it on Facebook, many days in advance. But the next time you see your students, you’re greeted with: “What happened? Where were you? We all showed up for class but the doors were locked!” Hm. Apparently, nobody saw anything in their Facebook feed about class being cancelled!
Just a few years ago, you could be reasonably sure that some appreciable fraction of your “fans” would see what you’re posting. Well, that was then. This is now.
Today, very few members of your community will see anything you share on your page. According to studies, only about 2% of page fans actually get any page posts. Yep, you read that correctly: just two people in every hundred who’ve ‘liked’ your page even have a chance to see anything from you. There are good reasons for this:
Facebook wants you to pay
Since Facebook went public, they’ve been scrambling to provide “value to their shareholders”. In English, that means they’ve been aggressively doing things to generate revenue, mainly by choking off the organic reach of all business pages. If you want your fans to see a post, you’ll have to pay for it.
For large companies with huge advertising budgets, this might be fine. But for small businesses, and especially for independent yoga teachers, paying to ‘boost’ posts on Facebook makes no financial sense. Not only can you not afford to do that — the “return on investment” isn’t there either, and even after spending some money you still can’t be sure everyone will see your big announcement.
Facebook can’t show your updates to your followers
The real reason your posts don’t reach anyone is that there are just way too many people and pages on Facebook, as paradoxical as that sounds. With everyone posting all the time, the success of Facebook has created conditions where the items that make it onto your newsfeed are severely restricted. They have to be. Otherwise, the average Facebook user would have several thousand new stories to scroll through — every single day. Holy Yoga!
So, Facebook uses a complicated algorithm to decide what stories it will show to whom. One of the most important factors is whether or not a user liked, shared, or commented on one of your posts in the last week. If not, it’s extremely likely they’ll never see a post from you again. That’s the reason you never see anything from your aunt Clara in Toledo… although she’s posting all the time, Facebook has decided that you’re “unengaged”.
A second huge factor in the filtering algorithm is the “virality” of an individual post. The more a story gets liked, shared, or commented on, the more Facebook thinks it’s a post that other people might enjoy, too… so the thing starts creeping into more people’s newsfeed, where of course it collects more likes, shares and comments.
Ever wonder why you see so many babies in your newsfeed? It’s not because more baby pictures get shared — it’s because people feel guilty about not liking a friend’s baby, so these pictures get more likes… and the Facebook algorithm treats them as more interesting (even though the opposite may be true).
That brings us to the third big reason Facebook is wrong for yoga teachers:
3) Facebook drains you of your time and energy
There’s a lot of well-meaning (but usually outdated) advice out there that purports you can still achieve a decent amount of reach on Facebook by playing the Facebook algorithm. You might have been told to “post frequently, at least twice per day”, or to post things that will “engage your audience”. Things like ‘yoga cat’ GIFs, videos of rabbits hopping between yoga mats, inspirational quotes and memes of all sorts.
But finding and sharing such “engaging” content, and worrying about attribution…. every week… it takes a ton of time. And are these really the sorts of things you want to communicate about with your students and clients? Wouldn’t you much rather be planning lessons, respond to enquiries from students, take a walk or (gasp!) keep up your own practice a little bit?
Many yoga teachers (and studios) feel like they have to spend way too much time on Facebook and post things they’re not very proud of. Well, good news: they don’t! Because no matter how much they post (cluttering up the Facebook universe even more), no matter what they post (even if there are babies involved): without spending money on paid advertising on Facebook, a Facebook page will not reach even a small fraction of its fans. That’s just the reality.
So, unless you really do like hunting for yoga cats (or dogs) or you believe your yogis are the kind of people who appreciate Rumi quotes, you can relax. Breathe a big sigh of relief. Stop wasting your time. Accept it. Facebook is not helping your business, and it’s not a suitable platform for you to connect with your students.
4) There’s a Better Way
YogaTrail is built specifically for the yoga community. It’s a platform that connects yogis with yoga providers, where teachers and studios can effectively communicate with their students and clients. Best of all, thousands of yogis visit YogaTrail every day in search of the right instructor (maybe you?), new local classes and other yoga happenings. And it doesn’t cost anything, either.
YogaTrail lets you keep all your students and clients in the loop with your classes, updates, and announcements — reliably. Send your yogis custom messages, or trigger auto-notifications when you cancel class, start teaching a new class, go on holiday, organize a workshop… and there’s also a mobile app where your yogis can get your classes and updates on their phone.
There are two kinds of yoga teachers. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them:
A) Not on YogaTrail yet?
Set up your profile here and join thousands of other clued-up teachers and studios around the world who use YogaTrail to keep their yogis in the know. Add your classes, connect with other teachers and studios, post upcoming events, even advertise your retreats or teacher trainings.
And then leave Facebook for what’s it’s for: staying in touch with friends, consuming cute videos, seeing inspirational quotes and getting healthy recipes.
B) Already on YogaTrail?
Your challenge is: how to get your Facebook fans to follow you on YogaTrail. Of course you could post something on your Facebook page, urging your people to follow you on YogaTrail… but then nobody will see your post.
What’s been Your Facebook Experience? Maybe it’s working for you? Please share in the comments