Are you frustrated with your Facebook organic reach figures? Well you’re not alone. Facebook has been reducing its organic reach figures for years both in a bid to improve the user experience and encourage increased ad spend. In fact, Zuck has owned up to the struggle of developing an algorithm that continues to serve the user in the best way possible. As Facebook users use the platform over time, we accumulate more friends, like more pages and join more groups, making it extremely difficult for Facebook to judge the most relevant content to display in your news feed. After all, there are thousands of posts competing for your attention at any one moment.
So how do we cut through and reach our audience in a world where both the system and the users are only making it more difficult? By engaging the following tactics, otherwise known as the best kept secrets of digital marketing managers.
1. Utilise vertical video:
Facebook loves prioritising post types that keep engagement on its platform high. The most time users spend on their platform, the more likely they are to click ads, making Facebook’s bank account and shareholders extremely happy. In fact, Facebook knows we love video content so much, it has introduced a number of video-specific updates including allowing video to play in the bottom right hand corner of our mobiles while continuing to scroll and introducing a video specific feed on mobile recently.
Vertical video not only stands out like a sore thumb in an already cluttered news feed, but it maximises the viewing size on our phones, making it a great execution to show off your product or further develop your personal brand by speaking directly to camera.
2. Say it LIVE
Like vertical video, Facebook loves prioritising content based on features it has developed (call it ego, shall we?) so taking advantage of new features is a sure and fast way to increase your reach and engagement. Why not try an “Ask me anything”, feature some behind the scenes footage of your product creation or film a live event. It’s a bit nerve wracking at first but you’ll soon discover it’s worth the gut wrenching anxiety when you see your reach and customer engagement skyrocket!
3. Say it authentically and build real relationships
I know, I know. There’s no silver bullet for this one but it is without a doubt, the only strategy we can employ that will allow us to ride the wave to increased Facebook ROI regardless of how many Faceboook algorithm changes there are each year.
A few ways to build relationships with your followers:
- Respond to every comment and ask a follow up question: something I touch on a little more below.
- Feature testimonials from your customers: this not only makes that individual feel special, but brings some social proof to your product to others and builds credibility in your brand.
- Show your vulnerable side: people resonate with authentic storytelling. If you’ve made a mistake, sharing what happened and what you plan to do to remedy it might be exactly what your followers want to hear (and is likely to get them sharing the update around with their friends).
- Just be real! Share something that makes you seem human, whether it’s your favourite book, a song that has moved you or a quote that has changed your life. It’s in sharing these things we love that we find connection with those who are like-minded.
4. Be controversial
Well they do say any publicity is good publicity (can’t say I necessarily agree but it helps me in making this point). Jumping on a pop culture reference or sparking a debate on a topic people are going to be passionate about will start the wave of people commenting and liking your posts. This tip and the one above relate to increasing the engagement rate significantly to those who are first shown it, which in turn will increase the likelihood of that post being shown in their friends feeds. Let the wave begin!
5. Get the timing right
Did you know some of the highest engagement rates I’ve seen are from posts that are made at midnight and 1am? Peak post times are likely to have the highest rate of competition (early morning, midday and evening). Start testing your post times by varying your calendar
6. Stop using a social scheduler
It’s been no secret that Facebook has de-prioritised posts that are made via its API rather than on Facebook directly. Depending on how much time you have available to manage your social schedule, you may see increased engagement and reach if taking the extra few moments to schedule in Facebook’s page scheduler tool itself. Like all tactics, the best wins come from testing and learning, so be sure to monitor the performance of posts with and without your scheduler and run a “time/benefit” analysis to determine what makes the most sense for you.
7. Actually just boost it…
Before you scream at me: “But Kate! That’s NOT an organic reach tip.” hear me out. Sometimes if our reach is so low it’s worth throwing a small $10 against a post to increase it’s paid reach and remind your followers (who were not previously seeing your posts) how great your content is! I’d recommend tying this in with tip #11 below on creating “series based” consistent content. That way, those who we’ve reached via paid methods will be made aware of future content and may check back to see what the next post is.
8. Post Less Frequently:
I know it might sound counter-intuitive (and there are exceptions) but let me explain the theory behind this one so you can see whether this relates to you and your brand.
The reason for this is around how the Facebook algorithm works (and potential for community fatigue). If you post frequently (and in particular, a lot of the same types of content) your community may get used to seeing your posts therefore may* be less likely to engage as they become fatigued by the same types of content.
Why does this matter? Well if your posts are shown to members of your audience but they don’t engage with the post, Facebook then sees that as an indication that your content wasn’t “all that relevant” to them.
Why? Because engagement with a “click”, “like”, “comment” or “share” is the only way Facebook can determine whether a post was relevant to the user it was served to (and whether or not Facebook did their job by choosing to show you that one post from the 1500+ posts available in your news feed).
Facebook doesn’t like it when they don’t do a great job. They want to only be showing every Facebook user with content in their News Feed that is extremely relevant and specific to their interests. So if we start posting too frequently and cause our audience to become “fatigued” by our content, they will engage less and eventually Facebook will deem our posts largely irrelevant to our audience (and our engagement rate will subsequently continue to plummet).
*There is however, in many cases an exception to the rule. The exception here is for content based websites or news sites or pages that have extremely high engagement rates on all posts due to the value in which they provide. “Content based websites” are websites that are “publishers” of content. This includes websites similar to BuzzFeed, Vine or Australia’s The Urban List. If you’re considered to be a “publisher” and you genuinely have interesting and valuable things to say on a frequent basis then it may not be possible or necessary to reduce the post frequency as people appreciate the “real-time” nature of the content. For most brands and individuals, we don’t have extremely valuable, engaging or entertaining content that we can post multiple times per day (or even multiple times per week) so my suggestion is to not “fill the gaps” with light heated quotes and pictures of cats, but instead reduce the total number posts and post only when you have something valuable to say.
9. Run “Low Barrier to Engage” Content Pieces:
The way to combat low Facebook reach and engagement figures (and give it a little “boost”) is to run “low barrier to engage” content pieces.
This means, anything that incentives engagement or makes the barrier to engage extremely low.
Why does this work? In the same way that Facebook deems you irrelevant if people don’t’ engage with your content, they deem you to be very relevant if someone does choose to engage with your content.
So how do we get them to engage?
- Run a Giveaway:
- A giveaway encouraging users to “comment” with an answer to a question you ask in order to go in the running to win is a great way to gain a large volume of interactions (make sure you check the trade promotion/lottery rules in your residential area).
- Play a Game:
- You could run a content item that plays a “game” (for example: Finish this sentence. What are the first 3 words you can see in this image (“find a word” style).
- Give Them the Answer:
- Make it extremely easy for people to comment and answer – give them one of a few to choose. (for example: Which of these do you prefer? Left or right? Would you ever wear this? Yes or no? GO!).
- Start a debate.
- This one can always get the comments going. Find a topic in your niche that people tend to have opposing views on and ask people to share their views in the comments.
10. Improve Your Community Management:
You may be thinking “community management is “after the fact” how will this improve my Facebook reach?” Well in the same way that asking a question encourages users to interact and engage (and we just covered how increased engagement leads to increased Facebook organic reach figures) improving your community management can improve the overall health of your community and lead to more engagement and increased interactions over time.
For example, by making an effort to respond to many of the “good and neutral” comments (not just the bad and ugly) you are providing positive reinforcement for constructive feedback. In my experience I have seen that when done well over time sentiment tends to shift more towards “neutral” and “positive” and the more positive interactions from users, the more likely their friends are to see their sentiment towards your brand or blog, and the more likely their friends will be to like and engage with your brand.
It can be both a blessing and a curse that social media provides these “viral” interactions in this way but through taking the time to improve your community engagement, over time you will start to see extremely high engagement figures (which in turn improves your organic reach).
Think of your community management strategy in the same way you think of “SEO” for your website. It’s an extremely important investment to make now to reap the rewards in the future (a long term strategy).
11. Keep Things Consistent:
We all love a little predictability. In my experience, developing a “trigger” focused content piece that runs at the same time every week is one way to draw users back to your page organically.
Why does this work? Well one reason comes down to “triggers”. Let me explain. Jonah Berger discovered in his research while writing his book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” that “triggers” are a great way of reminding people to check out and share your content.
One example he discusses is Rebecca Black’s song “Friday“. We all remember that one don’t we? The song went completely viral and while it could be argued, I doubt any of us believe it was because the song deserved a Grammy award…
Well I don’t know, this bit was pretty amazing…
The reason Jonah says Rebecca’s song gained so much traction was because the song itself contained a “trigger” that reminded people every Friday to share this song. Friday would roll around each week and people would be chatting within their group and someone mentions “Oh have you heard that song “Friday” yet?” and there you have it. A trigger.
While I’m not saying that creating your own mini “trigger” campaign will guarantee you go “viral” yourself, it will (if done consistently) provide a trigger for people in your community to return to your Facebook page and check out what you posted relating to your topic.
Your topic could be anything from “Monday Musings” to “Friday Night Movie Review Night” – it could be anything!
There are a number of successful content creators who use this tactic to generate consistent engagement with their content from the likes of Jenna Marbles, How To Cook That to the agency I used to work for when they ran their “Geek Shirt Friday” content series.
When thinking about a consistent content piece that would work for your brand, try to keep the concept unique to you. Jumping on things like #ThrowbackThursday can be great to gain traction for a different reason (more information below on jumping on trending topics) but developing something that is unique to your voice will be important in gaining return visitors to your page from the members of your community.
12. Make sure everything you post is high quality:
For those of you who have been following me for a while, you would know that I’m really big on creating and publishing purposeful and considered content in the world.
Gone are the days where any old post will “cut through”.
Building content that you’re truly proud of and that creates value will capture the attention of your audience.
You want to build a community of people who are highly engaged and completely love (and look forward) to everything you have to say.
Acknowledge and respect what their attention means to you in an oversaturated world where attention is everything.
6. Vary Post Types:
There are so many different post types on offer and yet, image and link are the most popular. At present, Facebook is preferring video content and has geared its algorithm to promote video more heavily in News Feeds.
You don’t have to be a video maestro to be utilising Facebook video. If you’re a blogger, why not capture a quick little video on your phone that introduces a blog post you’ve written? If you’re a freelancer or contractor, why not sit down and record a “mini series” of quick tips?
The camera quality on smartphones these days is amazing so there really is no need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a you-beaut fancy camera unless you’re going to make video content a key part of your strategy.
13. Check Your Page Insights:
Facebook gives you a breakdown of “When Your Fans Are Online” and there are a couple of ways to use this information to your advantage.
I would recommend testing your “peak times” as well as your “off peak times” and measuring the organic reach you receive accordingly.
Why “off-peak” times you may wonder? Well many believe this can have an “infomercial” effect, making the post more likely to see greater penetration in the news feeds of users who are up and awake at this time.
I will say that I personally haven’t seen any success with this approach for any of the brand pages I have worked with but it’s always great to test and learn these things for your audience as everyone’s audience is slightly different.
14. Tag other relevant pages:
A number of years ago Facebook announced that “tagging” other relevant pages in post updates can increase the likelihood of posts appearing in the News Feed of users who “like” the brand who is mentioned, but who do not necessarily follow you.
If you’ve done a brand collaboration or have featured another brand in some styled photography, be sure to “tag” them in your post to capitalise on this increased reach!
15. Use hashtags:
People tend to either believe in Facebook hashtags or think they’re a load of B**S*** but I can tell you from my experience, that adding some short, generic hashtags to the end of your posts definitely increases organic reach (or at least it has for my clients).
The data in Facebook insights shows a clear increase in organic reach for all posts that include hashtags. Too many for me to consider it an ongoing coincidence.
Whether or not you “believe” that Facebook hashtags “are a thing” or not (because I don’t know about you, but I certainly never click on them from a personal perspective) you can’t argue with data!
Another test to throw in the mix next time you post.
16. Jump onto (relevant) trending topics:
Similarly to using “general” hashtags, jumping on a trending topic can be a fast way to gain increased traction. If it makes sense for your brand to “weigh in” on a trending topic.
Be sure to check out the topic hashtags so that your posts will be picked up by Facebook in the “Trending topics” section of Facebook.
Relevancy is key here, while you may see a high organic reach by participating in topics that aren’t relevant to your brand, any engagement or followers you gain in this case will be a waste if they’re not likely to translate into ongoing members of your community (or customers).
17. Utilise Facebook Location Targeting:
One sneaky way of increasing your organic Facebook reach is to split up your post into multiple posts and push them out to different countries or regions.
If you’re going to the trouble of doing this I would say you may as well add in a line of copy that makes this post even more relevant to that area if possible.
I have found that when using this tactic for my clients I have been able to gain up to 3x the organic reach of a single post! Definitely worth a try.
Simply click the button (as per the image below) and choose your “Audience Restrictions” next time you post.
If you don’t see this option available on your page, you may need to change your settings. Follow the tutorial below to set up organic location targeting for your page.
2018 update: Facebook has now called this “Audience Optimisation for Posts” however it can be found in the same place:
18. Target based on Interests:
With brand pages I have found that through targeting content based on interests (organically) Facebook can sometimes prioritise this content in the news feeds of the users who are targeted. This is likely due to Facebook believing that as the content is targeted to a specific group the content is likely to be more relevant to them.
Like the “location targeting” definitely one to test out with your audience.
19. Allow people to “tag” themselves in photos
If you’re a brand who sometimes holds events or workshops, taking photos at your event and then uploading them to your Facebook page is a great way to gain relevant fans to your page (as attendees scour the internet to find their photos).
In addition, this can be a great strategy to increase the overall organic reach for your Facebook page as images (posted by the page) will go through the News Feeds of those users who were “tagged” in the photo. Be sure to add your logo to any event images to capitalise on this reach and increase your brand awareness.
Before adding a call to action in your post asking users to “tag” themselves in the event photos, make sure you “allow tagging” in your page settings.
20. Encourage People to “Tag Friends” In the Comments (without being spammy)!
Somewhere along the line people stopped using the traditional Facebook “share” functionality and started “mentioning” their friends in the comments of posts they wanted their friends to see. So now that we understand this behaviour why not provide a call to action to encourage it?
It is important to ensure this doesn’t appear to look “spammy”. One way to avoid sounding “spammy” is to provide a genuine reason for people to share:
“Did you like this post? Why not share it with a blogging buddy who you think will find it useful by “tagging” them in the comments below!”
OR you can be even more subtle by merely making a suggestion that they think of a friend that the post relates to:
“Do you have a friend who does this?”
If you are going to use this tactic be sure to stay within the Facebook guidelines and refrain from encouraging “tags” on promotional/competition related content.
21. Encourage your followers to hit “See First in News Feed”:
This is the absolute golden nugget of all tactics. If you just choose to implement one of these tips, make it this one.
Every so often (perhaps once every fortnight or month) provide a call to action at the end of a truly valuable and useful post for your fans to head to your page and choose the “See First” option.
Did you like this tip? To make sure you don’t miss any future top tips from us head over to our Facebook page, hover over the “like” button and choose “See first in News Feed”
Facebook Organic Reach isn’t dead. Facebook just wants to make sure they are serving highly valuable, engaging and entertaining content to every single Facebook user. Ultimately Facebook just wants every user to spend more time on the website and click more ads (making Facebook more money). After all, Facebook is a business too.
To get ahead in the Facebook Organic Reach game you simply need to focus on building extremely valuable content and work on developing your community to be highly engaged with one another and with your brand. If you do this, Facebook will reward you for creating value and show your posts more in user News Feeds.
Did you find this post valuable yourself? I would just love it if you would “pin” it to your Pinterest page or “Tweet” this article to someone you think might find it useful.
[question]If you try any of these tips I would love to know how it went for you and if you have discovered any other tricks to increase your Facebook organic reach.[/question]
Best of luck spreading your message in the world!