Facebook organic reach continues to trend downwards as the volume of content on the platform increases, and the algorithm is adjusted to better align to user needs and to encourage marketers to invest in paid distribution. Today the average Facebook post will reach just 5 percent of followers, but with 16 million monthly active users in Australia, Facebook’s reach potential remains significant.
There are many factors which influence whether organic posts make it to followers’ feeds, but as content marketers, the only factors that we have control over are the signals of our content. These signals can be divided into two categories: passive and active.
Passive signals include view time, story type, time posted, posting frequency and other non-active metrics. These can and should be optimised over time with a robust test and learn strategy.
Active signals include likes, shares, comments, and other active events that prompt engagement. Marketers should tailor content to promote positive engagement. However, never use engagement bait language in post copy (e.g. “like, share, or comment below…”). Instead, your content should inspire your audience to engage without having to ask.
Eight tips for driving active signals
1. Optimise your post copy based on best practice, then refine based on results.
Facebook has become increasingly visual and mobile, so let your images do the talking. On average, posts which contain just 40-80 characters receive the highest engagement, while posts which require expanding via the “see more” button see engagement dramatically reduced. It’s best to include no more than one link, and up to three hashtags.
2. Sharpen your brand voice.
Copy should feel as though it was written by a real person rather than a marketing department. Show your personality by aligning your tone of voice to your brand’s archetype, values and behaviours. Make use of emojis and stickers to really amp up the fun factor.
3. Start a conversation.
Rather than inform your audience, start a dialogue by asking a question. Posts which include “should”, “would”, “which” or “who” questions elicit more comments than those that start with “why” or “how”.
4. Foster community.
Facebook is all about interest, not intent. 80 percent of your organic posts should be social in nature (aimed at nurturing a community) rather than promotional.
5. Get personal.
Users don’t come to Facebook to look at ads, so make sure your posts don’t look like ads. For organic content in particular, user-generated is preferable to professional-quality or (god forbid) stock imagery.
6. Skip the algorithm with Stories.
Facebook Stories literally float above the newsfeed, and critically, aren’t governed by the algorithm. 97 percent of users view Facebook on a mobile, and people hold their phones vertically about 90 percent of the time. Stories are optimised for a vertical, full-screen view on mobile that feels natural and allows people to enjoy content quickly.
7. Resist the temptation to focus on follower count.
The brutal truth of a large follower base is that Facebook knows you can likely afford paid posts and therefore adjusts the algorithm to discourage organic reach. This means you have to work even harder to create content that is relevant and interesting to multiple segments within your large follower base, rather than speaking to a smaller but highly engaged audience.
8. Experiment with the latest formats.
While Facebook has never admitted it, most experts believe the algorithm favours posts which utilise its new formats and features as a means of promotion. This could be one reason why Live videos receive six times the interaction than standard videos. But don’t stop at Live, why not experiment with other new features like Watch and Groups.
No matter which of these tips you try, the key to success is tracking results. Get into the habit of reviewing every month what worked and what didn’t, and feed that into your next round of content planning. Now get out there and get reaching!
Image credit: @katya