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Social Media Marketing for Business

Brooks Tiffany

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April 28, 2014

Facebook Reach Survival Guide: 7 Strategies to Rescue Your Organic Reach

April 28, 2014 | By | 4 Comments">4 Comments

Some are saying that organic Facebook reach is dead but I wouldn’t start writing the eulogy just yet. This guide will give you several strategies you can use to rescue your organic Facebook reach.

Facebook Reach Survival Guide 1

The Fall of Organic Facebook Reach

As you’re probably well aware, Facebook has an algorithm, unofficially known as EdgeRank, that determines what appears in the news feed. Due to several recent updates and tweaks Facebook has made to this algorithm, the organic reach of brand posts has gone down.

Recently, the decrease in organic Facebook reach took a dramatic drop as EdgeRank tightened its formulaic grip, strangling organic reach some down as far as 2-6%. Those numbers are low enough to alarm even the most stoic Facebook marketers.

Why so low? Because Facebook continues to grow. The average Facebook user has over 1,500 posts to view a day while more active users may have as many as 15,000. These are overwhelming numbers that will only grow as fans like more and more pages.

There’s simply too much content in the newsfeed and Facebook is forced to curate content for their users. In short, Facebook is cleaning house to keep us interested.

In a blog post last year, Facebook stated that “the goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them.” Facebook, hero of the news feed? Not to everyone.

Facebook Reach Survival Guide 2

Facebook was vilified by many brands; one going so far as to write a break up letter and delete their 70,000-strong fan page! Needless to say, their Facebook reach is now 0%.

This change is understandably frustrating, especially for small to medium sized businesses who do not have the marketing budgets to properly take advantage of Facebook advertising. But that’s no reason to throw away what is still an excellent opportunity to reach out to your fans. Facebook did what it had to do to avoid becoming another MySpace: change fast.

So…good luck?

Now don’t flip the table over just yet! The good news is there’s something you can do about all of this. Those 2-6% numbers are the average organic Facebook reach for pages – many of whom are losing out because they don’t even know the score of the game they are playing.

But you know the score and you’re doing your homework. The fact that you’re reading this means you already have a leg up on the competition.

Below I’ve listed several strategies you can use to put EdgeRank to work for you and rescue your Facebook reach.

1. Post High Quality Content

Really? Yes, really. You’d be surprised at how often this is actually overlooked. In fact, it’s part of the reason there is so much noise in the news feed.

With every friend, celebrity, and brand posting on a whim, the feed is inundated with random thoughts, old memes, and pictures of what someone had for dinner.

Most of us don’t want to see all of that and even if we did, we surely wouldn’t have the time to.

That’s where Facebook’s algorithm comes in like a door man at an exclusive club: “excuse me sir/ma’am, you need to have on the proper attire to gain entry.” Otherwise, you have to slide the doorman a $20 and we’re trying to avoid that right?

Facebook Reach Survival Guide 3

Follow these tips to ensure your content gets the high-quality stamp of approval:

Complete your profile. Fill out every possible field you can in the “About” section of your page. Not only is this the professional thing to do but it tells Facebook that you know what you are doing.

You can bet that Facebook’s algorithm takes into account how much time you’ve put into fleshing out your page. An incomplete profile is a sign of a hastily put together page, and hastily put together pages tend to be unprofessional and spammy.

Don’t let an incomplete profile tarnish the reputation of your high-quality page and cripple your organic Facebook Reach.

Pay attention to what’s trending. Looking for an idea? Facebook introduced a handy little “trending topics” feature to the top right of the news feed that clues you in as to what is currently being talked about.

Use this to your advantage when you see something that might connect with your brand or be of interest to your audience. New and shiny topics aren’t everything there is to quality posts, but they are a great place to start.

Keep it fresh. If you have the time to create your own original content, that’s awesome! But most people don’t which is why you end up seeing a lot of the same old images, videos, links, and status updates recycling out there.

Avoid using old meme photos and instead find something available to make your own. There is a bounty of original content just waiting to see the light of day and it takes just a little effort on your part to discover it.

Keep sites like the Creative Commons Search bookmarked for when you’re ready to do a little digging. Once you find what you’re looking for, throw that baby in Pixlr to put your own personal touch on it and, boom! – high-quality content.

If you’d like some further guidance on all the free tools out there – check out this great article that lists and summarizes them for you.

Mix it up. In addition to making appropriate and original posts, you will want to mix up the type of posts that you make. It’s true that in the past photos have drawn the most attention in the Facebook news feed. However, with Facebook now enlarging images, creating images for links, and allowing for auto play videos right in the news feed, the playing field has leveled.

So, rotate the types of posts you are making to take advantage of these new implementations and extend your organic Facebook reach.

2. Stimulate Engagement

This follows closely with high-quality posts but deserves its own category because it is more about actually drawing comments out of users to get them to engage with your post.

High-quality gets you in the club and catches some eyes, but stimulating engagement gets you on the dance floor.

Facebook Reach Survival Guide 4

So, now that we’ve gotten your fans’ attention, let’s start a conversation with them. Here are some great tips to stimulate engagement with your fans:

Ask questions. Would you? Should you? Could you? are great ways to draw comments out of your audience. Post about a trending topic and ask their thoughts on the matter.

People love to talk about what they would or would not do in certain situations and will always want to offer an opinion on a hot topic.

Feel like testing your fans? Ask them a multiple choice question or a fill-in-the-blank and see who gets it right. There are a myriad of ways to get some answers.

Caption this. Another great way to stimulate engagement is to post a relevant image and have your audience compete to see who can come up with the best caption by leaving one in the comments.

You can pick the best caption or the one that has the most likes can win. You can make the prize something as simple as reposting the winner and their caption on the photo.

No matter what, everybody has a funny bone so this is a great way to get the jokes flowing.

Disclaimer: make sure to read Facebook’s terms before running your own timeline contest (particularly section E.)

Cover photo competition. Tap into the inner photographer in all of us. Have your fans compete to take over the cover photo of your page by having them upload their entries into the comments of your post.

The winner would get to have their photo hosted on the cover of your page for however long you determine. This is a great way to tap into the creative bug of your audience and build a relationship with them.

Sweepstakes Contests. Contests are one of the most engaging forms of content you can post. Create a countdown contest with an app like Heyo to drive likes, leads, and shares for your page.

With a reward relevant to your brand as the incentive, you can entice your audience into liking, commenting, and sharing your post – all of which let Facebook’s algorithm know that you are the new hotness.

More importantly, fans who want to make sure they don’t miss your contests may not only like your page but turn on notifications for it, too!

Facebook Reach Survival Guide 5

3. Engage the Engagers

So, you’ve mastered the high-quality post and your fans are liking, commenting, and sharing – the engagement flywheel is spinning. Don’t lose that momentum – engage the engagers! Many brands make great posts that get lots of engagement but tend to leave them on autopilot.

Reply to your fans. Take advantage of a great opportunity to have a conversation with your fans. When they leave a comment, take the time to reply to them and show genuine interest in their comments.

Taking the time to think out responses to your fans can go a long way in building a long-lasting relationship that will build trust and loyalty.

Mention your fans. Be sure to mention your fans’ names in your replies so that Facebook pings them. This will notify them and pique there curiosty, bringing them back to the post regularly to join in on the conversation.

As a bonus, mentioning them will also increase the chances that your post appears in their friends’ news feeds. Talk about knocking out two birds with one stone!

Facebook Reach Survival Guide 6

4. Forge Fan Page Alliances

Henry Ford said “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success,” and it couldn’t ring truer for Facebook business, especially now.

Mention other brands. Facebook recently made an update to their algorithm to help brands with their reach. To sum it up, if one brand mentions another brand in their post, that post can now appear to fans of both brands’ pages!

Create and Solidify Brand Relationships. Work on finding some brands you can ally your self with. Target brands that complement your own and are small to medium sized (or equal in size to your own) because they’re more likely to appreciate the tag and return the favor.

If you have a friend running a larger brand page whose willing to lend a hand, then great. Just remember that you don’t have to go it alone! Rescuing organic Facebook reach is much easier as a team.

5. Teach Your Fans About Notifications

Your fans like your page for a reason, right? They want to see your awesome, high-quality content and you want to make sure that they get it. It can’t hurt to explain the current state of affairs and ask them to turn notifications on.

Facebook Reach Survival Guide

Many fans don’t know how to do this, or they do, but just need to be reminded. So add a little mini-tutorial to your page or post that explains the reach issue and teaches them how to get around this by turning on notifications.

If your fans are true fans and really want to see your content – they’ll do this and never miss a beat.

If you think they might need a little incentive, remind them of some of the awesome contests you have coming up!

 6. Become a student of Facebook Page Insights

That’s right. Not only do you need to be a teacher, but you need to be a student: a student of Facebook Page Insights. Page Insights is the ultimate tool in determining what your organic reach is, what it can become, and whether or not your strategies are working.

Know your fans and their friends. Facebook Insights is how you come to know your actual audience and your potential audience.  Be sure to track each and every individual post and find out how they are performing.

What did you do that made that post so popular? What happened with that post that got no engagement? By paying attention to and noting all the valuable numbers and graphs that Page Insights provides you, you can become a master Facebook poster.

Know the algorithm. You can’t really know the entire algorithm since it relies on over 100,000 personalizing factors but you can sure get a feel for it. Use sites like EdgeRank Checker to find out more about your page’s performance and stay in the loop with the latest on what’s going into Facebook’s Kool-Aid.

 7. If You Decide to Promote Posts, Be Meticulous

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re probably not a giant corporation with a massive marketing budget. So I completely understand if you’re not up for forking over cash to get your posts seen. After all, this is where we cross over from purely organic to paid.

However, if you’ve read this far and are going to implement many of the strategies I’ve already mentioned, you most likely won’t even have to deal with this. You can get a whole lot of mileage out of those free strategies. In that case, look to this as a last resort.

Facebook Reach Survival Guide 7

A well-timed, well-thought out promoted post can get you a lot of bang for your buck. I know the budget is tight so get the most out of it by being very meticulous with the process.

Sweepstakes contests are the perfect post to promote since contests tend to be the most engaging forms of content you can put out there. Other solid posts to promote include special events, new products, and exclusive deals.

Run lots of test posts, analyze the results, and do all your Page Insights homework. When you feel like you couldn’t be any more prepared, hit the switch on your promoted post and enjoy the ride.

Your Move

I hope you feel this guide has empowered you to extend your organic Facebook reach. Some of you may see immediate results while for others it may take a little time.

Your brands and fan bases are different and so are the combination of strategies you will need to reach them. Don’t get deterred by few lousy performing posts – keep at it and you will see results. Once you get the hang of it you’ll see your Facebook reach no longer needs rescuing!

Brooks Tiffany

Meet 

Brooks Tiffany is the Customer Engagement Leader and Technical Writer at Heyo in Blacksburg, VA. He's an Air Force veteran with a B.A. in English from Virginia Tech. He'll start pursuing an M.S. in Human Centered Design and Enginnering at the University of Washington this Fall.

  • Joni Edson

    You had me until you suggested boosting posts ….

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Hi Joni, thanks for the comment – I thought it was worth pointing out as a final option ( I saved it until last because I think it should be a last option). For some it may be the one spark they need to get ignition.

      The other 6 strategies are well worth a try first and I mention that you most likely won’t even need to boost if those go well. So feel free to kick #7 out the door 🙂

  • http://www.ncwiseman.com/ Teddy Burriss

    You’re Da Man Brooks. Thanks for a good article.

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Thanks Teddy – I appreciate the comment and I’m glad you enjoyed it! Which strategy do you think is the most promising?