Over the last few months, just about everyone I’ve spoken with in the communications world has had an opinion on Facebook’s algorithm “tweaks.” While few of the reviews have been positive, I’ve been lucky: I haven’t seen the same kinds of drops in Facebook Page post readership that others have.
I set out to figure out why, and in the process, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for things Page owners can do to ensure that their audience actually sees their content. As always, your mileage may vary — as with all things digital, results differ from audience to audience. Be sure to experiment and see what works for you! With that caveat in mind:
1. We Need to Stop and Think about How We Approach Content Strategy and Content Creation
Not only does our content need to be high in quality and information, it must be content people will want to be seen interacting with publicly.
It’s no longer enough for people to SEE your content and think it’s cool; for them to actually Like/Share/Comment/RT or otherwise interact with it, they must be willing to be seen doing so by other people. This is why knowing your audience -– what they like/don’t like, etc –- is imperative before you even publish your first post.
2. Basic Tips and Tricks to Boost Facebook Engagement
A. Stop asking for Likes/Shares. Seriously, just stop it. It’s crass. If you have to ask people to Like/Share, you should question how great your content is to begin with. This practice is even more important now because Facebook makes no secret of the fact that such asks will negatively impact the organic reach of that post.
Note that this warning applies specifically to Facebook; asking for RTs on Twitter still seems to be a best practice for important tweets, though you should ask rarely for the best effect.
B. Upload your video to YouTube and to Facebook. In experiments I’ve conducted with posting a link to YouTube vs. uploading the video directly to Facebook, I’ve seen 7-10 times more engagement on videos uploaded directly to Facebook. Note that this difference appeared whether the posts were “boosted” or relied solely on organic viewership. You’ll still want to upload videos to YouTube for all the usual reasons (easy embedding and Google searches, for example), but be sure to ALSO post directly to Facebook if you want them to spread widely in that medium.
C. Make sure any links you have include a thumbnail image with which people will connect. If you need to, make your own image and include the link in the text of your post (note: images in the newsfeed are now 504 pixels by 504 pixels). Never forget to give attribution to whoever tipped you off to the link when appropriate!
D. Rethink your habits regarding third-party sharing. A post that says “I just listened to Eric Church’s The Outsiders” will get much less organic reach than a post that says “Just listened to Eric Church’s new song and man it is the awesome!” that also includes a link to the song on, say, Spotify. Posts that contain links to major social or media sites (like the NYTimes, and one hopes, Epolitics.com) get a boost compared with posts that don’t contain such a link.
E. Take advantage of the newer way to tag brands in your post. Not only can you tag outside Pages in photos, you can tag then in the actual text of your post. When you do this, your post will appear in the newsfeeds of some of that brand’s fans – people who may not even know you already exist. I’ve seen a small increase in engagement and audience whenever I’ve done this, though be sure to only employ this tactic when it’s appropriate!
F. Running a petition or thank-you campaign? Use Action Sprout. You’ll see higher engagement rates, and meanwhile the back-end data the app provides will help you understand your audience and how it interacts with your content.
3. Audience Education
Teach your audience how they can best help you on social media. Don’t just ask them to share, offer them reasons to do so! Perhaps reach out to them via email or even phone (if they’re also on your email list) to offer them opportunities to learn more about using their own social presences to help you.
Finally, at the end of the day, genuine engagement still beats any small hacks we can come up with. When engagement is two-way, with genuine conversation, your reach will grow as you build a community who has come together to accomplish a goal…whatever that goal may be.