After the 2016 “fake news” scandal, Facebook decided to change its algorithms to reduce the number of pages posts in the news feed and prioritize posts that create meaningful and “social” conversations, especially those from family and friends. Bad news or good news for your business? Is it still worth spending time and money on Facebook? What can you do to keep your organic reach high?
What is this new algorithm all about?
To make it simple, the algorithm selects, arranges and displays the thousands of posts you see in your news feed according to the chances that you will interact and engage with them. And to do so, the algorithm is using signals that heavily favor “active” interactions such as, and in the following order:
1- Comments. However the “engagement bait”* tactics we often see will be penalized (or even banned) and longer comments will have far more value).
2- Shares, but not just simple shares. Here again shared posts that spark conversations among friends will rank much higher.
3- Reactions (love, sad, wow, fun, angry…)
Then “passive” interactions such as clicking, viewing, or hovering hold less weight in the position and exposure of your post.
To give you a more precise idea, the organic reach for the average Facebook page went down from 16% (in 2012) to 6.5%. So if you have 1000 followers, only 65 will actually see your Page's posts in their News Feeds
* Engagement bait is a tactic to create Facebook posts that goad people into interacting, through likes, shares, comments, and other actions, in order to artificially boost engagement and get greater reach on News Feed (examples: “like if you love cats”, “name a city starting with a D”, “tag a friend who is lazy”, “share with 10 friends for a chance to win”…).
The quality of your content is more important than ever
Focus on quality over quantity, 3-4 posts per week are enough if you do not want people to ignore your posts. The following tips will help your to create marketing content driving meaningful interactions.
Do not look for popularity (posting famous quotes or “motivation Monday”-like images), but tell stories, make your content “personal”. It is easier for small businesses. They have the advantage of appearing more personable and approachable than big businesses.
Do not just talk about your brand, but focus on creating content for the people, your audience, that will spark emotion. What are their challenges? What matters to them? What connects them? Share your customers’ stories (it makes them feel special).
To encourage interactions, ask meaningful questions, with more than yes/no answers, invite your audience to share tips, stories, advice, views….
People are 16x more likely to read a post from a friend than from a brand themselves. Motivate your fans to create their own post about your business (send them blog articles, tips and “how-to”, deals, special gifts or treats they can share about).
For your product promotion don’t repeat the same content over and over again, make each post unique, change the wording, from quote, to a question, or praise different qualities of your product.
Take advantage of all interactive Facebook features and tools
The first of them is “live videos”, that tend to generate six times as many interactions as regular videos. Don’t be scared to “go live” on Facebook (with products demos, news, conference/event, interviews…), but have a solid script and plan before you do (you won’t have a chance to re-take), and promote the event ahead. A great tool is the Facebook Boomerang App that lets you create fun looping videos in seconds, perfect for showcasing your products.
Post your “stories” (short videos) similar to the ones on Instagram, they are displayed at the very top of the News Feed which is an extra exposure opportunity.
Polls (with meaningful questions such as favourite products, flavor…) and entertaining quiz will very likely generate more interactions. It’s very easy to create a poll with facebook tools
“Mention” and “tag” of friends, people and partner Facebook pages (using the @ symbol) expands the reach of your publications (they will be noticed and more likely to share or react). Relevant Hashtags (#) can also lead people to your publication (and Page) when they search a particular topic.
To increase interaction, segment and narrow your audience into smaller focused groups. You can then use Facebook’s targeting capabilities to share each piece of targeted content with the correct target group, by interests, geography or language (activate the “audience optimisation” & “multiple languages” features in your settings).
Consider “Messenger” campaigns that currently offer exceptionally high open rates, with high value content/offers/ links …(but don’t “Spam” your audience).
Last but not least, encourage your fans to select your page in their “news feed preferences” or click on “see first” under the “following” menu of your page.
Be active in your community
Don’t wait for your audience to interact first, engage and discuss topics on Facebook groups (relevant to your business or target market), or even create your own community group or sub-groups and connect them to your page.
More than ever, influencers with large audiences have the power to “spread your brand’s word” to their numerous fans, and as they are people, they will have more weight on Facebook algorithm! It is worth spending some time to identify them and find out how they can become your “ambassadors” (most of them will ask to be paid though).
Is it worth using Facebook paid Ads?
Facebook Ads can prove very efficient, as you can target your audience by many factors, but only if you thoroughly understand your target audience to avoid “experimentation” and waste of money! Build our Facebook strategy first: set up your goals according to your biggest needs (increasing quality of sales, raise awareness, recruit, reduce price of customer acquisition) and make sure you know your Facebook fans demographics (age, location, education…).
Other useful Facebook tips to become an expert
Facebook prefers brands to post “native” content on their platform versus links taking the user “outside”. Of course you want to bring people to your website or blog. But sometimes you can for example share an extract or a summary of an article with an image, write a description + image of your product…
Use the help of a social scheduling tool (such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout) or simply an Excel document, to create a custom content calendar, keep track of different posts you’ve created and schedule your posts at times when you have the most of your audience online, preferably weekdays between 10 am to 3 pm (check the “insights” of your page)
Monitor your performance (Reach, Comments & shares, Mentions, Likes, Leads…) to identity what works and makes your audience interact with your page/brand.
With more than 1.86 billion monthly active users Facebook is an unavoidable channel for promotion of your business or brand. With time and patience, I am sure you will continue to find success with your Page. And remember Facebook is not the only social platform you must diversify on networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest…