Getting More Organic Reach From Your Facebook Posts
Organic reach for Facebook brand pages is down. Gone are the days of post and they will come. It’s is one of the biggest social media frustrations I run into when talking with small business owners.
I’ve been seeing a number of posts in our personal feed lately requesting people to like, comment and share as a way to make sure “our posts show in your feed”. It may help, but it’s a bandage. It’s not a long-term strategy.
The Pay to Play Mentality
There is no need to pay for reach. This “pay for play mentality” is actually a hindrance to your efforts. Ads and boosting posts are a great way to drive reach, increasing page likes and drive traffic to your website. Used correctly it’s an excellent tool, but it’s not required.
The following images from a client’s Facebook Insights clearly shows plenty of organic reach.
Clearly great reach for a small page. If you’re not seeing results like these, it’s not a lack of payment. Your content is at fault. Crafting and posting good content starts with understanding why what you are posting now isn’t working.
Why has organic reach dropped?
According to Brian Boland, VP Ads Product Marketing at Facebook in his 5 June 2014 article on Declining Organic Reach on Facebook, it comes down to 2 simple points:
- Too much content. We’re at a point that so much content is being created by individuals and businesses now that space in the news feed is at a premium. There’s only so much you can see, especially if you have a few friends who post incessantly. Facebook simply decided to filter what users see.
Before you get on the “I should be able to see every post” bandwagon, consider the fact that Twitter doesn’t filter your stream. Following just shy of 2000 people, we amassed 186 new Tweets in a 5 minute period. That’s 1.62 Tweets per second! On a Friday afternoon! What would it have been being peak Tweeting time?
The point? Even if Facebook allowed every post to find its way to your feed, you’d probably still not see every most posts and that means your page posts aren’t being seen by others.
The idea of not showing posts may seem unfair, but as a business, unfair can be good for you.
Update: The latest Facebook algorithm change (April 2015) has made significant changes to what content appears within the news feed. Much of what appears below is still has an effect on what is seen.
- How the news feed works. This is where what we see from the overabundance of posts and why we see certain content gets cloudy. The short answer from Brian: “To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.”
So Facebook narrows down what you see based on 1000s of factors relative to each person. If you read this like we did, it appears Facebook is behaving like Google.
When you perform a search for a keyword, phrase or full question, what Google returns in its results is based on factors including location, who it sees as your influencers, previous search history, an attempt to understand the meaning in your search query and likely your email content – all in an effort to return results best designed for you. It’s effectively a personalized search result. (You can always log out and run the same search to see a completely different set of results.)
Facebook, it appears, is factoring in your interests (those movies, shows you watched, the books you’ve read) what you like and comment on, what you share and who you engage with to determine what you are shown.
Added into this mix is the quality content factor. Facebook is working to show more high quality content. According to Varun Kacholia high quality content is defined as:
- Timely and relevant
- From trusted sources
- Genuine (think not overly promotional, click bait)
Facebook also takes into account how users might feel about the content. Is it something shareable, something that could be seen as spammy, something others might complain about or hide?
The 3 bullet points are easy to work with, while the last 3 are subjective, if you hit on the other items, you’ll likely avoid any news feed blacklist issues.
There is little doubt Facebook’s news feed weighs far heavier to personal content than business content. We can’t fault them either. Facebook is still predominately a tool for keeping in touch with family and friends. While users do support business and do searches for businesses within Facebook, it’s a secondary role. Facebook, in skewing feed stories to friend’s posts shows they are aware of and protecting the user’s main interest.
What this leaves in an already concerned feed is even less space for business posts. Add in paid posts and we wind up with a game of extreme musical chairs. Think 25 people playing but instead of a scramble for 24 chairs when the music stops, there’s only one. Rather than only one being excluded, only one gets included.
If you’re not seeing good organic reach, your content likely isn’t relevant, timely, trustworthy or less genuine than Facebook would like (no pun intended). I’ll add content type and when and how often you post will affect organic reach, but will leave those for a later discussion. Why? The organic reach above was derived from 3 or fewer posts per week and primarily relies on links.
Footnote: knowing a better mix of post type drives even more organic reach, especially when using native video, we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. Ramping up our client’s content strategy should mean even better organic reach.
Crafting Your Content for Better Organic Reach
Now that you know what Facebook is doing (as well as anyone can outside of Facebook) and where your current posts are missing the mark, you can design that more effective content strategy.
So where do you start? Facebook made part of your job easy. They told us content should be timely, relevant, come from trusted sources and not be overly promotional.
Timely and relevant – If you tend to write and schedule posts weeks in advance, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Scheduling out is a great tool for your general content but you need to keep up and be able and willing to post ‘on the fly’. If a news story breaks and it affects your business, you need address it, post it and reschedule your next few posts. This not only applies to the news but also trending topics within Facebook and those items your fans deem important to them (the relevant part).
The last 2 updates our clients posted See where highly successful. One was written leveraging a trending topic (#TheDress) tailored to their audience and message. The other involved sharing a trending viral ad. A post written about a controversial Super Bowl Ad just before the big game was so successful organic reach was 1357!
At Tactical Social Media we use a number of scheduling tools, but we don’t rely on them. We are actively engaged daily in each platform and maintain a daily pulse on the news to catch the trending topic or story. You need to do the same. If you have or are looking to hire, a social media marketing agency to manage your account, they need to be able to monitor for news and other relevant content, creating new posts as necessary. If they simply schedule content for you and can’t or aren’t willing to monitor and react in real-time (reasonable time), consider another firm.
Trusted sources – Facebook now puts far more weight on links over images. While Facebook’s desire to keep users within the platform was a major reason links were poorly weighted in the past, it also boiled down to where those links took users. The current algorithm resolves the issue as Facebook can determine via domain authority which sites are trusted, better controlling what is seen. Make sure the article you share, if found on multiple sources, is linked to the most trusted source.
#BeTactical: We check the domain authority of each source our client uses when sharing links.
Genuine – make sure your posts aren’t promotional. The more they’re geared to advice, information and helping others, the more likely they’ll make the cut. This isn’t to say you can’t promote, just that it should be done sparingly if you want posts seen. We already know Facebook is cracking down on click baiting and overly promotional content.
Most experts insist all of your content should have a Call-To-Action (CTA). Since a CTA is actually promotional, though not as blatant as “Buy Now”, CTAs in too many posts could negatively affect organic reach. Our recommendation – limit the number of posts with a CTA. Your mix should be only 20 – 30% promotional. Save the CTAs for that content.
#BeTactical: Our client only posts promotional content once every week or two. CTAs are limited.
While fans will follow for content about your business, there is only so much they want to hear about your widgets. If they hide your content or unlike your page, No one said you needed to only post business content. As a matter of fact you might just be better off posting less about what you do and even business in general. Consider being more social. More shareable. More personal. Have fun. Post about what peaks your fans’ interests. If they love coffee, take advantage of that fact.
Remember, this is social media, not direct marketing. You need to connect with your fans on a personal level. Social media, when used correctly, builds relationships and brand awareness (yes, direct sales too). That awareness and those relationships, that turns prospects to leads when the decision to purchase is made.
This will take some work, but the rewards are worth it. You need to find out what appeals to your fan base and post that content. Facebook provides some of the demographics data on your fans. The rest requires a little strategy to obtain.
If you want organic reach, your posts need to play by the rules. Focus on crafting content that is timely, relevant and genuine. Limit the promotions and the CTAs. It will take some work but figure out what your fans want to read. What peaks their interests. What content they’ll most likely share (without asking). This will require some time and effort but you will be rewarded.
Are you still seeing good organic reach? What have you tried that worked? That didn’t?
I’d love your hear your thoughts. You can comment below or you can find this discussion and comment on Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook or simply Tweet your thoughts!
If you’re at your wit’s end and need help creating Facebook posts that generate good organic reach, contact us today to schedule a consultation. If you’re in the Tacoma or South Sound Area, we’d love to buy you a good cup of coffee.
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