Anna Hubbel | Jun. 10, 2018
When marketers say “organic,” they’re not referring to those expensive products in the produce section. Instead, they’re referring to organic reach on Facebook. Organic posts are content you share on your page or Timeline for free. Status updates, videos, live streams, and photos are a few examples of organic posts.
Other than the call-to-action button that appears on the ad, one feature that differentiates a sponsored post (Facebook ad) from an organic post is the presence of a “Sponsored” or “Paid Sponsorship” label. Facebook ads are labeled as sponsored while organic posts are not.
Organic posts also don’t appear to a chosen target audience. You share posts to your Timeline, hoping your followers see them. This makes organic reach so difficult to increase: you don’t have access to all the audience targeting tools available with Facebook ads. You simply craft a good post, publish at the time of day your audience is most active, and keep your fingers crossed. As if reaching users with organic posts isn’t hard enough, Facebook organic reach has been declining as of late, making it even more of a challenge. There are two main reasons for this.
First, Facebook has become a highly competitive platform for both ads and organic content. As of April 2019, Facebook has 2.38 monthly active users. Back in November 2017, Facebook announced that the platform had more than six million advertisers. That’s a lot of people producing content on the platform. The result: a clogged up News Feeds full of content that pushes your organic posts to the bottom of the feed. Organic posts that are seen by their intended audiences are typically there-and-gone in a flash.
Second, Facebook updated the algorithm in 2018 to prioritize posts by friends and families over posts by brands, publishers, and advertisers. Reaching friends and family organically is already difficult for regular Facebook users, but it is even more of a challenge for those with business accounts. With the update to the algorithm, Facebook users—both business account holders and regular accounts holders—must pay to play.
How Facebook Advertising Increases Your Reach
With both the high demand for News Feed space and the new version of the algorithm, organic reach is very difficult to achieve for businesses. If you invest in Facebook ads, it’s still a challenge; however, the various tools and features Facebook has available for its advertisers makes it easier to reach your audience.
For example, Facebook offers a number of ad targeting options that help you reach the right audience. You can target users based on location, age demographics, device, interests, and behaviors. These targeting options allow you to serve your ads to users most likely to be interested in your business. Facebook advertising also gives you ad objectives to choose from. If, for instance, you want to run a campaign promoting your app to get more downloads, you could choose the app installs objective. With this objective, your ad will appear to users most likely to download your app.
Additionally, Facebook advertising offers a variety of different ad formats and bidding options, allowing you to be creative with your content at a cost you can afford. Your ad format options include video, single image, carousel, and Instant Experience.
Although Facebook advertising certainly helps you achieve your business goals, you shouldn’t give up on organic reach. There’s still value in posting organic content, and it’s still possible to increase your exposure on the platform. You just have to work a little harder.
Tips for Improving Your Facebook Organic Reach
To improve your organic reach on Facebook, you must first understand how the algorithm works. To determine which post appears on top of users’ feeds, the algorithm gives each post a score, and this score is determined by three factors: the person who published the post, the type of post, and the post’s engagement numbers. A highly ranked Facebook post is published by an account with which users often interact, and it is the type of format (for example, image versus video) users most often engage with. Engagement numbers also boosts a post’s rank.
With Facebook’s algorithm in mind, there are a number of different ways to increase your reach without paying for Facebook ads.
Use a Variety of Post Formats
To increase your engagement, try increasing your post variety. Contrary to what you might think, your posts aren’t limited to text, images, and videos. In fact, there are several formats you can use. When writing a post, look at Facebook’s list of post types. You can view the full list by clicking the three-dotted menu icon.
In addition to adding images and videos to your posts, you can also tag products, support a nonprofit, create a poll, check in at a location, add a feeling or activity, add a “Send Message” call-to-action button, and even invite users to join a Watch Party on your page. Experiment with these different post types to engage with your audience in creative ways and to increase post diversity, keeping your content from becoming stale. The more interesting and diverse your posts, the more engagement you can obtain. As you try different post formats, keep track of their performance. This will help you determine which post resonates with your followers the most.
Make Your Page a Community Hub
Users typically like to share their thoughts on Facebook. Invite them to do so on your page by creating posts that spark discussions relevant to your industry. For example, you can host weekly chats or Q-and-A sessions that users can participate in, either to learn new information or share their insights on the given topic. Take it a step further and have a different theme for each session.
Let’s say you’re a professional photographer. Each week, you could share a live stream, demonstrating different camera techniques and tricks of the trade, with the opportunity for users to ask questions. One week the theme may be shutter speed and another week lighting. There are a number of different ways to encourage discussions on your page, other than just sharing marketing messages.
Use Facebook Live
Facebook Live is another way to reach your followers. Each time you go Live, your followers will receive a push notification, unless they turned that off in their Settings. Live streaming gives you the opportunity to be completely transparent with your audience, who see your business as it is, without the polished bells and whistles. Since users are more engaged with live video, Facebook considers it a meaningful interaction, boosting your appearance in News Feeds.
Here are some examples of the ways you can use live video:
- Broadcast a business event
- Share behind-the-scenes footage
- Demonstrate how a product works
- Hold a Q-and-A session
- Ask your audience for feedback about a product or service
The idea behind live video is to establish a sense of community. It’s certainly worth experimenting with to improve your organic reach.
Promote Your Page on Other Social Networks
To increase your engagement, you can also try increasing your page followers. Use other social networks for your business, such as Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, to let your followers know you’re on Facebook, too. Of course, don’t flood your posts on these platforms with links to your Facebook page. Rather, include a link to your page in the bio sections. It’s a subtle way to let people know you’re on Facebook as well.
Cheesy stock photos are not going to perform well, and they certainly won’t improve your organic reach. Low-resolution or corny videos won’t help either. If you want your photos or videos to perform well, take the time to make sure they’re high-quality and visually pleasing.
Think about the type of visuals that would make you stop scrolling through your feed and pique your interest. You don’t want visuals that will blend in with other content, or even worse, make users stop for a moment to shake their heads at the unprofessional look of your post before continuing to scroll.
Pretend, for a second, that you run a pizza restaurant, and you’re considering posting one of these two images to promote your latest item on the menu. You might consider posting the second image rather than the first image for various reasons.
The first image is clearly taken by an amateur. The flash is reflected in the wall, the room is poorly lit, the background is distracting and unprofessional, and the man’s eyes are glowing red from the flash. The man is also clearly posing for the picture, with a cheesy and obviously artificial grin. You can’t see the advertised item, the pizza, which defeats the purpose of the post. The second photo, in contrast, looks far more professional and appealing. This high resolution image is beautifully framed at a unique angle that shows the pizza’s texture, detail, and complementary bright colors.
The second photo will likely perform better because it will stand out in users’ feeds. It grabs their attention and shows your business’s effort in maintaining a good brand image, adding a level of credibility.
Similarly, videos should use captivating footage. At no point should the viewer think the video could have been made in a basement with an old smartphone. Take the time to make your videos look good. When they look good, followers want to engage with them.
Of course, that’s not to say you have to invest in expensive photographers or videographers. You can still use a smartphone to create visual content as long as you pay attention to the quality and performance of your posts.
Post When Your Audience Is Most Engaged
So you’ve crafted the perfect content to post. The quality of your post doesn’t matter if you publish it at 4 a.m., when your target audience is still fast asleep. The result: your post quickly gets lost in the shuffle of News Feed content.
Every follower is different. Experiment with the times of day you post and use your page’s Insights tab to identify when your followers are the most active. To view the times of day your followers are online, select “Posts” from the left-hand column. Facebook will then show you that analytical data.
Once you’ve identified when your followers are most active, schedule posts to publish at those times to increase your reach and opportunities for engagement. Facebook’s algorithm will note the engagement on your post and subsequently prioritize it in your followers’ feeds.
How often you post is also an influential factor in your organic reach. Experiment with how frequently you post each day and use Facebook’s analytics to see how it affects your reach. You may find that your audience engages with your content when you only post four times a day but loses interest when you post 10 times a day. However, depending on your followers, the opposite could also be true: your reach may be better when you post more times daily. That’s why it’s important to know what makes your followers tick.
Once you’ve pinned down the post frequency that delivers the best reach, stick with it each week. Continue to track your analytics in case your followers’ behavior changes then adjust accordingly. Always remain consistent with what proves most successful.
Refrain from Posting Engagement Bait
It may be tempting to use manipulative means to generate more engagement on your posts. One tactic is known as engagement bait. For example, posts with messages like “Tag a friend who owes you pizza,” or anything that uses trickery to get users to like, comment, vote, share, or tag in the comments section would be engagement bait.
Facebook discourages engagement bait because it does not create meaningful connections. As a result, Facebook pushes your posts to the bottom of News Feed or removes it as spam. Resist the temptation to post engagement bait. Put the work in to create quality, organic content, and it will pay off.
Repurpose Successful Content
If you have a few posts that performed well, keep them in your back pocket. Then, after an adequate amount of time has passed, repost them. As long as they’re not tied to a day, time, or event that is no longer relevant, they can still be used. If your followers enjoyed the post the first time, they will likely enjoy it again.
Even posts that were not quite as successful can be repurposed. You can make slight adjustments, such as rewording the text or changing the image, to see if a post performs better the second time around. You may be surprised at what a minor change can do.
Get Facebook Verified
You may have noticed on other pages a blue or gray badge next to the page name. This is a verification badge, which tells users that the page isn’t fake, that it is owned by the brand, organization, or public figure. Having a verification badge helps distinguish your page from those with similar names that try to pose as your business to lure users in. There are two major perks of the verification badge. First, it establishes trust that your page is authentic, and second, it pushes your page higher in search results.
In order to verify your page, you need to make sure it is complete. Fill out the “About” section in full, create an official name for your page, upload both a profile and a cover photo, adhere to Facebook’s terms of service, and post regularly. You also need to formally submit a request for verification once all of the aforementioned required steps are met.
Invite Followers to Turn on Notifications for Your Page
A loophole around Facebook’s algorithm is to outright invite your audience to turn on notifications for your page. Doing so ensures that any time you post, the content will be prioritized in your followers’ feeds.
To follow your page, users must click “Following.” From there, they can choose how they want to prioritize your content. If you’re lucky, they will choose “See First” under “In Your News Feed,” placing your newly posted content at the top of their News Feed every time.
Make Sure All Links Lead to Quality, Fast-Loading Sites
There’s nothing worse than going on a poor-quality site that takes forever to load. Before including a link in a post, make sure it directs users to a high-quality site that doesn’t make them sit around, waiting. Otherwise, fewer followers will engage with your content, which Facebook will determine to mean that your content belongs at the bottom of News Feed.
Users tend to be drawn to content that’s made by other users. When one user creates content for you to share, other users see that you are a business or brand that other users trust. As a result, your engagement levels and organic reach may increase.
Whether it’s video, photos, or reviews, invite your followers to create content for your page. You can do so in the form of contests, hashtag campaigns, or simply inviting users to write a review about their experience with your business. Then, share the best content that comes in.
Use a Balance of Organic Posts and Ads
While it’s certainly important, you shouldn’t rely on organic reach alone. Use a balance of both organic content and Facebook ads on the platform. Facebook ads offer valuable targeting and ad options that can boost your business and generate conversions. Running Facebook ads in addition to organic posts is the best way to reach your followers. If you’re having trouble working it all out on your own, a Facebook advertising agency can always help.
By balancing your Facebook campaign between organic content and ads, your audience won’t be walking past you like a disinterested customer in a grocery store. They’ll be stopping in their tracks and giving you their undivided attention.