Facebook Posts Falling Flat? It’s not You, It’s Facebook

facebook, reach, organic reach, social, tips

If you’ve ever wondered how many people see the updates you post to your Facebook practice page, the answer is probably “less than ever.” “Organic reach,” the term for the visibility of posts that don’t require a payment for better placement, has not only been dropping for years, but just recently, took another hit.

Late last month, the company announced yet another update to its News Feed. Previously, the company determined people’s interest in branded posts by calculating their engagement via their likes, comments, and shares. That has now been tweaked so that actual shares are the key factor. As Facebook engineering director Lars Backstrom said in a company blog post,

If a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.

The flipside? If you’re generating most of the activity and others aren’t sharing it, the company’s algorithm will interpret their lack of action as a lack of interest, meaning your subsequent posts will be even less likely to show up.

Not surprisingly, the company says the update is part of its ongoing efforts to keep users connected to friends, family, and the things they want to be connected to. On the other hand, there’s no escaping the fact that Facebook has become an advertising juggernaut ($5.2 billion in Q1 of this year), and putting the squeeze on organic reach will inevitably push more brands to consider paying for better promotion and broader reach.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the squeeze. Here are 5 ways you can improve the odds that your followers will see — and share — your posts:

Be more interesting: Yes, it’s stating the obvious, but it bears repeating. If you want people to share your content with their friends, they have to believe it’s worth sharing. Catchy headlines, great stories, and useful information they can’t get in a thousand other places form the basis of shareable content, and it may be worth investing your time in creating fewer, but better posts.

Share more video: Chalk it up to the fact that everybody has a smartphone or the ubiquity of auto-play, but Facebook users watch nearly 8 billion videos a day. And, as recently reported by BuzzSumo, video is “the one format that is driving significantly higher shares on Facebook.” The more you shoot, the better the odds that more people will see it.

Optimize, optimize, optimize: The most compelling content in the world won’t compel much engagement if the people who try to view it can’t. That’s true for all content, but the concept plays an outsized role with the aforementioned videos. If you’re posting videos to Facebook, keep ‘em short, minimize data-hogging pans and zooms, and make sure they play well on mobile devices.

Think like a reporter: Social media is all about what’s trending and what’s capturing people’s interest right now. Newsjacking, as it’s called, refers to the process of putting your own spin on current events, which you can then share via social media. If the topic is of interest and the connection is a legitimate one, it’s that much more shareable.

Embrace the hashtag: Credit (or blame) Twitter, but hashtags provide a great shortcut for people looking for all the posts on a particular topic. You can create your own, join existing conversations, or, as with newsjacking, piggyback on current events. For a quick tutorial on best practices, visit Facebook’s best practices page on the subject

Of course, before you employ any of the above tactics, you should work with your web team to determine whether your organic reach is good or bad, rising or falling, or whether the ROI you’re getting from posting is worth it at all. Depending on what the analytics show, you might decide to pony up the money to actively promote your posts — or decide it’s better to direct your content to outlets that provide better reach, deeper engagement, and more patient inquiries without the hassle.

Photo via Flickr

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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