MAR. 1, 2020
The decline of organic reach has been an issue many marketers have had to content with during the past several years. The fear of this decline is not unfounded. A 2018 report by Simon Kemo and Hootsuite found that global internet users grew by 8%. When more people are online, where do they go? To social media, of course. Facebook now boasts 2.4 billion monthly active users, and that number will likely continue to grow in the years to come.
It’s becoming more difficult to increase organic reach on an overpopulated platform where competition is fierce. Many will tell you to pay to play, and although that’s now a necessary step to reaching your audience, you should still continue your organic marketing efforts.
To increase your organic reach, you must understand the ways of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, the strategies you can employ get your posts in front of your followers, and the paid options, should you decide to run sponsored posts or Facebook ads.
How Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Works
Whether or not your post appears on top of users’ feeds depends on its quality score. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm ranks each post according to three factors: the person who published the post, the type of post, and the post’s engagement numbers.
The person who published the post: Facebook will rank your post higher if your target audience often interacts with your account, whether they are engaging with your posts, messaging your business, or visiting your page.
The type of post: Facebook will rank your post higher if your target audience has historically engaged with the type of post you publish. For example, if users often engage with videos (both yours and other accounts’), then your videos would appear higher on their feeds.
The post’s engagement numbers: Facebook will rank your post higher if it’s generating a lot of engagement. All engagement types—comments, reactions, and shares—are valued equally.
For your posts to appear on top of users’ feeds, they must receive a high total score for those three elements.
Why Organic Reach Is Declining
Facebook has more than 2.4 billion monthly active users. Many of those users follow hundreds of friends, pages, groups, and public figures, whose posts clutter feeds—and that’s not counting the ads Facebook prioritizes.
Organic reach became even more difficult when Facebook changed its algorithm in 2018, prioritizing the posts of friends and family over the posts of brands and businesses. This change has convinced marketers that reaching their target audience requires running ads.
How to Increase Organic Reach on Facebook
Increasing organic reach on Facebook may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. These are the ways.
1. Carefully Select What You Post
Posts perform well on Facebook if they are valuable to users. For this reason, it’s better that you carefully select the content you publish on your page. You need to make sure that your posts are valuable and relevant to your followers. This will help increase engagement, which propels your post to the top of users’ feeds.
You can find your top performing posts on Facebook’s Insights. Under “Posts,” you’ll see the reach and engagement numbers for each of your published content. Find the posts that have performed well and resurrect the topics in a new form, whether that’s an article, infographic, case study, or video.
2. Ask Followers to Prioritize You
Encourage your followers to prioritize your page. If they’re fans of your work, they’ll likely be receptive to your request. When you ask for this favor, make sure to include step-by-step instructions on how to do it. If they don’t know how and you don’t provide directions, they’re less likely to do as you asked.
Followers can prioritize your content on their feeds by clicking the “Following” button under your page’s cover photo and clicking “See First.”
3. Encourage Followers to Engage with Your Posts
As aforementioned, posts with high engagement appear higher on News Feeds. To increase engagement, encourage users to like, comment, or share your posts. You can, for example, ask a question related to the content you published. If you’re posting a news article about Facebook’s decision to change the News Feed algorithm, ask people to share their opinion in the comments section. However, make sure your efforts don’t cross into engagement-bait territory, which is against Facebook’s policy.
4. Attract Relevant Fans Interested in Your Business
Although a large following bolsters your credibility, it’s important to favor quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter how many followers you acquire. If they aren’t interested in your business, they won’t engage with your content. Go after an audience relevant to what you do. If you run a vegan restaurant, don’t chase meat eaters. If you own a mommy blog, don’t try to attract single women.
You can increase relevant followers by engaging with your competitors’ fans. Go to your Insights page, click “Overview,” and scroll to the section called “Pages to Watch.” There, you will find your competition. Visit those pages and engage with the users actively engaging with your competitors’ posts.
5. Post Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is always relevant because it isn’t tied to current events or trends. It has a higher potential of gaining engagement even months after it was published. Remember, Facebook posts aren’t organized chronologically, so even if your post was published weeks before, it can still appear on top of users’ feeds, as long as it receives interaction.
6. Create a Group and Engage with Members
It has been said that groups are more popular than pages. It’s not surprising, considering the number of people who frequent them. In October 2019, Facebook found that 1.4 billion people use groups. It’s a sign that if you haven’t already, you should create your own group and engage with its members. This will not only increase your chances of gaining new followers, but it also allows you to create a space where you can promote your content.
7. Partner with Brands in Your Niche
A great way to increase organic reach is to partner with brands in your niche. When you’re featured in those brands’ social media posts, you’re expanding your audience. There are numerous ways to do this: You can exchange guest posts, collaborate on a video, or feature one another in podcasts. When you collaborate, ask to be tagged on social media so their followers can easily visit your account.
8. Run Facebook Contests
People love to win prizes—it’s human nature. Running a contest will catch the attention of your followers, even compel them to engage with your post, which propels it to the top of users’ feeds. Many marketers run social media contests by requesting followers to tag at least two of their friends in the comments section of the post. This not only increases your engagement but also increases your reach. When you run a contest, make sure to clearly state the rules of the game and always deliver on what you promised.
9. Include Hashtags in Posts
With hashtags, users will have an easier time finding your posts. These formerly called “pound signs” function as filing cabinets that organize content according to the description of your tag. For example, if users search for “Instagram ad examples” on Facebook, posts with hashtags of the same keywords (#instagramadexamples) will appear in the results. Make sure the hashtags you use are specific rather than broad (#marketing vs #socialmediamarketing), that they are intuitive—use keywords that people would type. Don’t complicate it.
10. Collaborate with Influencers
Influencers can influence the purchase decisions of consumers, especially the younger generation. According to Emarketer, millennials and gen Zs are more likely to be swayed into purchasing the products they are promoting. To expand your organic reach, partner with influencers, who will give your brand a shoutout. If you don’t have a budget for this, partner with nano influencers who may accept free products or gifts as payment.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Share Only High-Quality Images and Videos
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.
16. 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.
17. Post Consistently
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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. Share User-Generated Content
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.
23. 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.
Facebook Organic Post vs Boosted Post
You may have heard of the term “boosted post,” which is content someone has paid Facebook to increase its reach. Boosted posts have an advantage over organic posts because they appear to a target audience you choose—even people who aren’t your followers can see them. This is not the same for organic posts.
Boosted posts are vastly different from Facebook ads. The former can only increase your reach while the latter supports a variety of objectives, formats, and placements. Although a great way to begin with Facebook ads, boosted posts are not the best for long-term campaigns and for goals like increasing ROIs.
How to Track Organic Reach on Facebook
To track your organic reach on Facebook, go to your Insights page.
From there, click “Posts,” and a list of your published content will appear. Make sure to click on “Organic / paid” so only organic posts will be included in the page. You can monitor your reach and engagement. From here, you can also boost your posts.
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.
More Tips on Organic Reach
To learn more about increasing your organic reach, listen to this episode of Duke of Digital.
By Anne Felicitas and Anna Hubbel