Disappointed by low organic (non-paid) Facebook reach? Want to increase your Facebook Page content reach and engagement?
With the new year now in full swing, you might be resolving to look at fresh ways to generate interest in your social media content. In this blog post, I'll show you 5 ways to increase organic reach and engagement on Facebook.
Before we start, I must note that I am no way dismissing paying to increase exposure for Facebook content (in fact, I actively encourage it as part of a sound social media strategy). However, I do believe most brand Pages have room to encourage the growth of non-paid reach, either by a little or quite a bit more, depending on their current circumstances.
A 2015 study by Social Bakers found that over 90% of Page posts in the Facebook News Feed are still non-paid, and that paying for more exposure doesn't always mean better end results.
With that out the way, a little primer:
Why is organic reach on Facebook so low?
There are two big reasons why organic reach on Facebook has declined so much for businesses. The company explained them both in detail last year, but here's the gist:
1. The number of content being shared on Facebook, by people and brands alike, has increased significantly. More competition means a more competitive News Feed, making it harder for Page posts to gain visibility.
2. The News Feed algorithm has evolved. Facebook now automatically works to deter the showing of spam posts in favour of high quality content (timely, relevant, shareable, and interesting - amongst other factors). With more posts, inevitably, comes more lower quality content - and Facebook needs to put in some quality control. Interestingly, "low quality" posts also cover those which are promotional in nature; that's not to say that they can't do well, but Facebook would prefer that you pay to reach a larger audience.
How to increase Facebook organic reach
1. Post at off-peak hours
Logic dictates that in order to reach the biggest audience on Facebook, you should post at a time when most of your fans are online. This strategy still has merit, but as it's likely to be when your competitors will be scheduling content as well (e.g. early in the evening after work and dinner), the battle for fans' attention as at its highest. Not to mention the flurry of activity from individuals, e.g. friends and family.
You might not reach as many people by posting at off-peak hours, but with less competition in the News Feed, chances are that your content will be noticed more readily, therefore upping the chances of engagement. And when a post is engaged with, Facebook is inclined to spread its visibility to more people - for free.
To find out when your fans are most active on Facebook, visit your Page Insights and from the Posts section, look at the Times chart to see their most active hours - over the past 1-week period.
2. Target your News Feed posts to specific fans
To compound the impact of the strategy above, experiment by targeting newly-published posts to a specific audience, first within the News Feed and, through sharing, across Facebook as a whole. Some posts, especially if you have a broad target audience, will go down better with some than with others, so it makes sense to hone your potential reach to those who are most likely to engage.
To start, click the globe icon underneath the Facebook status box and choose Limit Audience By: Demographics. You can choose to target your audience by interests, age, gender, language, and more.
Use your Facebook Page's audience insights to decide who to target, and align the test with your business goals. Experiment by targeting on a few different posts, with different targeting options. See which targeting worked best, then compare the results with your average weekly engagement rate.
3. Embed Facebook posts on your website and in emails
One of the easiest ways to generate more exposure for a Facebook posts is to lift it from the site, and to put it in from of people who might have missed it first time around. Your website blog and email newsletter are ideal destinations for this strategy.
For blog posts, embedded Facebook content can simply hover at the bottom of the article as a more visible way to encourage people to like, comment or share. Or, it can be slotted seamlessly into the middle of an existing blog post, with a prompt to the reader to share, e.g. "Like what you're reading so far? Let your friends on Facebook know..."
A similar approach will work for email newsletters, too. To embed a Facebook post, click the little grey arrow next to it in the News Feed, choose Embed Post, then copy and paste the code that is generated.
4. Post less frequently - but make it the BEST content
With competition for eyeballs so fierce on Facebook (and the web in general), brands can no longer afford to cruise along in half-heartedly anymore, pumping out lots of content - but content that receives nothing more than a "meh" reaction. Believe me, it's an easy trap to fall into.
Us social media folk are always harping on making sure that your content is the best it can be if you want fans to take notice (original, creative stuff that educates, inspires, wows, etc.), but now it is more important than ever. One of my goals for 2016 is create valuable content that my fans will love, and to make sure that - in meeting my audiences needs - I go one better than the competition. I know it won't be easy, and as someone who works alone, without a team to help, I might not be able to do it as frequently as a like, but I'm sure that in the long run, it's the best strategy.
Why not re-evaluate your posting schedule, and pair it up with an experiment to really generate genuinely show-stopping content? Analyse your last week of posts, see what performed well, and use the reach and engagement figures as a benchmark. Step back, plan out and create a new week's worth of content, then publish it to see what difference a renewed vigour can do.
5. Experiment with native Facebook video
How to Verify Your Facebook Business Page
Have you verified your Facebook page yet? You'll get a grey check mark on your cover photo to tell customers you are the real deal owner of your business - and, Facebook says, your Page will appear higher in search results. It only takes 5 minutes, and here's how to do it :)Note: If you don't see the option to verify your Page, the feature probably hasn't reached you yet, but Facebook is rolling it out as we speak.#facebook #socialmedia #verifiedpagePosted by 500 Social Media Marketing Tips on Friday, October 30, 2015
I know I've mentioned this dozens of times already in my blog, but if you haven't tried uploading original video content to Facebook, your excuses should be running out! Facebook users love video, and (so far) the Facebook algorithm loves it, too.
I'm not even talking complicated stuff here. In my own recent experience, Facebook video (like the simple slideshow tip above) have generated noticeably higher rates of reach and engagement vs other types of posts I have made, and for not that much more effort.
For some inspiration and video ideas to get you started, check out this blog post: How to Easily Create Amazing Facebook Video Content For Business (With Real Life Examples)
Over to you
Will you be experimenting with any of these methods to increase your organic reach on Facebook, or do you believe that paid posts are really the only way to go? Let me know in the comments below!
Andrew Macarthy is a social media consultant and the author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.