Every marketer managing a Facebook Page has, without a doubt, noticed that organic reach for branded content is on the wane. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the changes to News Feed back in 2018: Facebook will concentrate on connecting people and prioritizes posts by our loved ones.
What’s eventually shown in your Facebook News Feed is determined by a very sophisticated algorithm (Brandwatch has done a great job explaining the Facebook algorithm and the principles behind it). Behind the scenes, the algorithm ranks all the available posts and creates a unique News Feed for each Facebook user. But how does the algorithm actually work and how can marketers make it work in their favor?
How does the Facebook algorithm work?
According to Adam Mosseri, VP of Facebook’s News Feed, the goal of News Feed is to show the stories that are most relevant to users. If we see content that's relevant, we will engage with Facebook for longer and use it more often too.
Four key factors of FB's News Feed determine what you see: inventory, signals, predictions, and the overall score.
Inventory is where Facebook scans all the content out there: the posts by your friends and family members but also content shared outside of your network.
Signals refer to all the characteristics of a specific post and the Page posting it. What types of content are you and your friends talking about? How much time have people spent looking at a post? What about the number of likes? Has someone shared it? Or commented?
Even though Facebook won’t reveal the exact details of their secret sauce, signals are the part that marketers should really delve into; what are the signals of a successful post? Can we recognise any patterns? How do we grow the positive signals?
After analysing the signals, Facebook's predictions determine how likely you are to enjoy the post. The analysis is based on your history and what type of content you’ve consumed earlier. For example, if you’ve liked every single skateboarding video on your News Feed, Facebook will probably assume you'll also like the next one with the Frontside Ollie trick.
All the characteristics and signals lead to an overall score that is unique to you. The score can be seen as a bit like a school grade: the higher the grade of the post, the more likely it is to show up in your News Feed.
How to increase organic reach and fight the Facebook algorithm?
As the reach of organic posts on Facebook has decreased, many marketers have relied on advertising.
Advertising provides a quick fix to reach a larger audience but it might not be a long term solution for your brand. In the mobile era, the available space for ads is limited - and fierce competition leads to increasing prices.
How do we make sure our branded content shows up in users' feeds?
Despite the complexity of the algorithm, the answer is quite simple: create content that inspires your audience to like and comment on your posts - and engage your audience in creating content that mentions your brand.
The more people interact with your posts and create posts mentioning your Facebook Page, the more people will see your brand in their personal News Feed. The number of positive signals increases.
How to grow the number of positive signals? We’ve gathered 8 tips to help you increase organic reach on Facebook:
- Create shareable content
- Post visual content sparking emotions
- Join and create Facebook Groups
- Reply to comments on your posts and keep the conversation alive
- Engage your fans in creating content
- Create an influencer marketing campaign
- Publish video content
- Learn from your personal Facebook Feed
1. Create shareable content
Ultimately the goal of your Facebook activity should be to increase conversions. However, without shareable and engaging content it will be hard to grow your numbers.
Shareable content and the higher number of interactions will help your content to show up in users’ News Feeds more frequently. But it also allows Facebook to determine what type of people enjoy your content. That data can be used for retargeting the same content to the FB's Lookalike Audiences.
So what makes content shareable? What are the key ingredients of shareable content? To answer your questions, I’d suggest picking one of our 13 tips on creating shareable content.
2. Post visual content sparking emotions
You must have noticed that an image often sparks more engagement and emotions than a text post. This observation is backed by data, too, as research by Buffer suggests that tweets with an image receive 18% more clicks and 150% more retweets than tweets without visual content.
Another quick tip to increase reach even further is to ask your audience to reply with an emoji. Facebook prioritises emojis over standard likes. Yes; even the angry face.
By stimulating feelings of love, haha, yay, wow, sad or even anger, you are on the right path towards increasing your reach.
3. Join and create Facebook Groups
Have you already created a Facebook Group for your business?
Facebook has announced a new feature enabling Pages to join and create new Groups and has named this feature as one of their key development areas. At least for now, the reach of Facebook Group content is higher than Page content.
Perhaps start by creating a closed Group for your most loyal followers and customers?
4. Reply to comments on your posts and keep the conversation alive
Facebook prioritises posts that engage others to comment - and there’s a simple recipe for increasing the numbers: ask your audience to comment and then reply to them with a follow up question!
Whether a comment includes a question or not, always reply asap and try to keep the conversation alive. Be a proactive participant and ask your fans to elaborate on their original comment. Your example could encourage others to comment too.
5. Engage your fans in creating content
So many marketers believe that building a user-generated content campaign is only viable for large consumer brands.
In reality, there are not many companies out there that wouldn’t be able to create a successful UGC campaign.
You’ll only need to follow these steps:
- Contact your most loyal customers and create a few example posts together. Let the content show how your customers are enjoying your products and services.
- Display the posts on your site and add a call-to-action encouraging others to posts too.
- Amplify and reshare the best UGC in your own social media channels. Gather and display the social media feeds on your website too.
- Reward some of the most active and influential fans with additional products and services that further increase the value you provide to your customers.
Rinse and repeat.
For more inspiration, check 7 examples of successful user-generated content campaigns.
6. Create an influencer marketing campaign
Have you already built influencer marketing campaigns?
Many brands sponsor an athlete, a celebrity, or a local sports team offline - and the same thing applies online where social media users with large followings are the focus of influencer marketing campaigns.
However, building an influencer marketing campaign with superstars isn’t the only option. Malteser, one of the largest charities in Germany, engages their active volunteers in sharing content with a specific hashtag. Or take a look at GlassesUSA, an online eyewear retailer that encourages customers to tag themselves to an image showing the brand's new frames they've just bought.
Often, influencers are closer than you think - and the total number of shares by a broader community can exceed the engagement level of a handful of posts from superstars.
7. Publish video content
I know this sounds like a bit like going back to marketing conferences a few years ago, but on Facebook video is king.
That’s not only because users love videos as a format. It's because together with Instagram, Facebook is trying to challenge YouTube and become the most significant video search and consumption engine. As a marketer, it’s essential to understand the goals of each social media channel to make an educated guess about what type of content will be prioritised in the long term.
A quick note! Even if you love videos, publishing content in variable forms is recommended; use images, links, carousels, videos and all the other forms Facebook has to offer too. The algorithm will thank you for serving content to a wider audience (not all of us favor watching videos).
8. Learn from your personal Facebook Feed
Last but not least: logging-in to Facebook from time to time and analysing which type of content works the best and generates a lot of interactions within your network will reveal some of the trends. And you are very likely to notice some of the points we've discussed in this post. Just keep in mind that the feed is unique to you!