Although Facebook was originally created for students, it didn’t take long for businesses to recognize it as the marketing and advertising juggernaut that it is today.
In 2007 Facebook launched “brand pages” which allowed users to engage and interact with their favorite brands and enabled businesses to effectively market their products and services to the masses. The best part, of course, is that it was all free! But since then, it’s become increasingly difficult to ensure your followers see your content.
Facebook isn’t the gravy train it used to be, and here’s why:
Facebook is competitive
As the world’s largest social media network, there’s a lot of competition out there. News feed real estate is limited and it would be physically impossible to show users every post from every page they follow. Especially when you consider some pages post multiple times per day. Facebook uses algorithms to determine which content to display in a user’s news feed. According to TechCrunch, Facebook’s algorithm includes several core factors , including how interested a user is in a particular page, how well the post performed in terms of engagement, the type of post (i.e. status, photo, link, etc.), and when it was posted.
Facebook doesn’t like free promotion
Even if you’re posting great content your audience engages with on a regular basis, Facebook doesn’t want you promoting your brand for free (that’s what paid ads and sponsored posts are for). In June of last year, Facebook announced they would be reducing organic news feed impressions for brands, in an effort to show users “higher quality content”. They also updated their news feed spam algorithm to penalize brands using manipulative tactics , such as like-baiting and posting frequently circulated content and spammy links.
It is important for brands to build online communities and connect with their target audience through social media, but what happens when you’re left talking to an empty room? In this post I’ll discuss a few strategies that can help brands reclaim organic visibility, boost engagement, and improve Facebook ROI.
1. Create killer content.
One of the most effective ways for brands to increase their organic visibility is to consistently post quality content. I’m sure by now you’ve probably heard the tired cliché “content is king”. But if you think about it from the user perspective, that’s all that really matters – especially on social networks.
Similar to Google, Facebook puts a lot of emphasis on content quality and relevance. When deciding which posts to include in a user’s newsfeed, Facebook looks at engagement metrics, such as likes, shares, and clicks to determine the quality of each post.[pullquote] Typically, higher quality content yields a higher click-through-rate (CTR) and generates more likes and shares.[/pullquote]
Facebook also factors in how many times a user has engaged with a particular page. So the more someone engages with a page, the more likely it is the page’s content will appear in that user’s newsfeed. This is why it’s so important for brands to consistently post quality content. When your audience loses interest, you lose organic visibility. Conversely, higher engagement can boost your reach.
But how can a page boost engagement when no one sees their content? This is where I would recommend experimenting with some paid promotion. Facebook allows you to “boost” posts so that they appear higher your followers’ newsfeeds. The engagement you get for promoted posts helps to establish your credibility and effectively increases your organic reach. The amount of promotion needed really depends on the value your content provides for your audience. The better the content, the better the results.
2. Optimize your content formatting and captions for Facebook.
This is especially important as crossposting across Instagram or Twitter has become more and more common.
Simply put, you can’t treat Facebook as a dumping ground for content meant for other platforms. Specifically, make a point to:
- Craft unique captions (think: don’t include needless hashtags or use the exact same captions)
- Avoid posting only external links: focus on formats that keep people on Facebook (videos, infographics and so on)
- Consider including a call-to-action (“comment below”) or question to drive discussions
These tips are crucial for Facebook organic reach and getting more love from the platform’s algorithm.
3. Schedule your posts for the sake of consistency.
It’s no surprise that many of the most engaged-with accounts on Facebook post on a daily (or near-daily) basis.
That’s because consistency matters for the sake of growing your presence and letting the algorithm know that you’re active.
Apps like Sprout Social and native tools such as Facebook Studio allow you to queue up content to ensure you’re regularly publishing fresh posts.
4. Time your posts to perfection.
We’ve seen firsthand from reaching the best times to post on social media how post timing and engagement correlate.
Optimizing your content timing isn’t the be-all, end-all of engagement, but it does increase the likelihood that your latest posts are soon.
Given how fierce competition is for organic reach, anything you can do to increase your content’s visibility is a plus. Using tools such as Sprout’s ViralPost, you can fine-tune your publishing times based on when your unique audience is most engaged.
5. Use Facebook Insights.
The more you know about your audience, the better. Facebook Insights is a proprietary analytics platform that provides of variety of different data sets to help page owners measure the performance of their content. Currently Facebook Insights is broken down into five separate tabs: Likes, Reach, Visits, Posts, and People.
- Likes reveals the total number of people who have liked your page within a specific time range and also where the like happened (i.e. on page, page suggestions, mobile, desktop, etc.) You can also see a breakdown of paid vs. organic likes, as well as how many people “unliked” your page.
- Reach is an important metric because it tells you how many people have seen your posts. You can also see some positive engagement metrics, such as likes, comments, and shares.
- Visits gives you a breakdown of which pages (tabs) were visited (i.e. timeline, likes tab, custom tabs, etc.) and also which referring sites (external) brought people to your Facebook page.
- Posts analyzes your content based on post type, targeting, total reach, time of day, and engagement.
- People shows you the demographics of your fan base. You can see things like gender, location, language, and compare people reached versus people engaged.
Content performance shouldn’t be based solely on vanity metrics. For example, if your visibility is down, you can’t expect to see much in terms of engagement. If you’re only looking at likes and shares, you might be missing the bigger picture. Facebook Page Insights gives brands a 360 view of how their page is performing. Frankly, I’m surprised by how many brands aren’t taking advantage of this data. There’s a ton of value here, it’s relatively easy to use, and best of all it doesn’t cost a thing.
6. Use Competitor Insights.
Even if you’re a top influencer in your niche, there’s still a lot you can learn from your competition. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our brands that we miss out on what’s going on in our industry. The great part about social media is it is relatively easy to see what your competitors are up to and whether their strategies are effective or ineffective.
There are countless tools available to help you gain competitor insights. Some of the most popular are Simply Measured, Social Bakers , and Quintly . My personal favorite is Buzzsumo , which is designed to help brands identify the top performing content for any keyword, topic, or brand name.
If you look at the screenshot below, you can get an idea of how the tool works. You’ll notice for each keyword/topic, you can view the top content, influencers, and sharers, based on a variety of metrics, including social share, number of backlinks, domain authority, and social influence (follower count, total page likes, etc.).
This is just one example. My recommendation would be to do a Google search for “Facebook competitive analysis tools” and find the one that best suits your needs and budget. Also, although these tools can save you a lot of time, you can do most of this research on your own. You can start by manually searching for your competitors on Facebook and seeing which posts and content received the highest level of engagement. In addition to the content itself, try to determine which post types are most effective.
7. Use videos and Facebook Live to encourage engagement.
Facebook has been pretty explicit in recent years about how well videos perform.
Whether it’s a Live session or bite-sized promotion, integrating video into your content strategy is a smart move regardless of whether you’re concerned about Facebook reach. Note that many posts that earn viral reach via “Likes” and shares are often videos.
8. Get in front of fresh followers with Facebook ads.
Depending on your business or industry, paying for reach via ads is a matter of “when” and not “if.”
The fall of organic reach has resulted in a direct rise in Facebook ads. While your potential reach is largely based on your bidding strategy and targeting, ads do represent a direct way to get your audience’s attention.
And for many brands, the investment is absolutely worth it.
9. Use Groups and third-party engagement to increase visibility.
Supplementing your page with activity engagement from Facebook Groups or individual accounts (think: employees or partners) is yet another way to earn viral reach.
Consider that any given account or Page is limited in terms of who can see any given post. Engagements from outsiders, however, can create a snowball effect where content is recommended to non-followers again and again.
10. Build a community.
It’s not about you – it’s about them. For brands, social media is about building online communities and providing value for your audience. The top brands dominating Facebook all have one thing in common: they all managed to build thriving communities that keep their fans coming back for more. And you know what? I highly doubt they have any issues with organic visibility. Brands with strong online communities don’t need to focus on impressions, clicks, likes, or shares. Instead they focus on the value they provide on a daily basis. The rest will come naturally.
Ask yourself: what are we really offering for our followers? Most websites have an “About Us” page that reflects the company culture, core values, and other things that help separate them from the herd. Think of your Facebook page as an “About You” page for your followers. The content you post shouldn’t promote your brand, but instead should promote the values and interests of your brand loyalists.
How to measure your Facebook reach effectively
As noted earlier, Facebook reach can be assessed Page-wide or on a per-post level.
We recommend keeping an eye on long-term reach and spotting trends (either upward or downward). There are always going to be outliers in terms of your content, so obsessing over an individual day or week isn’t going to mean much in the long run.
The good news is that you have plenty of options in terms of how and where you monitor your reach. For example, Facebook Insights provides a solid breakdown of post reach alongside page interactions.
Meanwhile, you can measure impressions and engagement versus people reached for individual videos in Facebook Creator Studio.
But again, it’s important to monitor trends and takeaways rather than obsess over individual numbers. For example, think about questions such as:
- Is my Facebook reach growing or going down? Why?
- How does my organic reach compare to my paid reach?
- Which individual pieces of content earn the most reach? Is there a connection between them (think: format, length, timing)?
Identifying the common threads between your top-performing posts is a must-do for marketers. With a platform like Sprout, you can easily monitor your impressions and reach over time to see how you’re trending and whether changes to your content strategy are moving the needle.
And with that, we wrap up our guide!
How are you growing your Facebook reach?
Getting more Facebook reach doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.
That said, it’s important to understand how reach operates as a metric and what you can do to increase yours over time. Use these breakdowns and pointers as a starting point for grabbing the attention of your target audience and keeping it long-term.