Organic reach on Facebook has recently become quite low, likely due to most brands seeing a higher return on their investments in the paid advertising sector. While promoted posts may be the go-to for many brands, properly constructing organic posts on Facebook can absolutely foster results for companies if the posts are created efficiently. To determine the best strategy for your brand, you have to ask yourself what kind of posts do my users find the most interesting and how do I identify and tailor my content to meet both of our needs?
To understand the type of content that time after time produces the best results, we asked our experts at Blue Fountain Media, as well as some trusted experts in the social media marketing space, to hone in on the best practices that foster the most organic reach on Facebook. Our experts shared with us their favorite tips on how to create posts that encourage engagement and are pivotal to the success of any social media marketing strategy:
1. Listen to your audience
Every brand is different, and subsequently every brand's social media strategy should be different as well. Andrew Hutchinson, Writer/Moderator at Social Media Today, explains that listening to your audience is of the utmost importance when it comes to social media:
"There's any number of blog posts suggesting the best content to post, the best times to post, the ideal Facebook strategy. The problem with these posts is that they don't, and can't, explain the best strategy for your brand, specifically. The only way you can work that out is by listening to your audience, monitoring the communities they're in, the content that like to share. Facebook is the greatest audience insights tool we've ever had, and while it can take time to extract the data you need, it's time that will pay off, over and over again, as you can learn the exact details of what your audience wants to see and hear. The only real rule of social media is that your audience rules. Everything else is just a suggestion."
-Andrew Hutchinson, Writer/Moderator at Social Media Today
2. High Quality Content
While organic reach is extremely low, there are definitely ways to extend the reach of your posts without advertising efforts. Associate Director of Engagement Marketing at Blue Fountain Media, Kate Endres points out the methods she has found most effective:
"High quality content is a must - the content you produce must be relevant to your audience in order to generate engagement. The use of hashtags (1-2 preferably) in a post will allow for increased interactions as well as impressions, and are also a great way to create conversion around a specific hashtag for your brand. For example, if Blue Fountain Media were heading a series of webinars highlighting digital marketing tips, a branded hashtag would be 'BFMedu.' @ Mentions are also quite beneficial in encouraging engagement and extending the organic post reach on the Facebook platform, as that post will then appear to fans of both brands' pages. This is a great way to create & solidify relationships with other brands, and drive organic engagement."
-Kate Endres, Associate Director of Engagement Marketing at Blue Fountain Media
3. Use Videos
Jennifer Shaheen, CEO at The Technology Therapy Group, explains that videos are often an effective way to engage with your audience on Facebook, but only if done correctly:
"Creating organic engagement on Facebook requires two things: knowledge of how Facebook's algorithms prioritize the reach of certain types of content and an appreciation of how your customers prefer to consume content. The sweet spot where these two overlap is video, especially when added using Facebook's native uploader. Short videos consistently enjoy greater levels of engagement and reach than any other type of content - particularly when compared to image-only posts. The key to effective video content is authenticity. Don't worry about making theater-perfect cinema; Facebook users have a demonstrated preference for the real. Just as photos featuring real customers in the real world are shared more often than stock imagery, videos featuring genuine moments - even if they're a little awkward! - will have greater resonance than slickly produced commercials."
-Jennifer Shaheen, CEO at The Technology Therapy Group
4. Facebook Insights
Understanding what's working and what's not should be the premise for how you shape your future posts on Facebook. To gauge your successes, use the "Insights" feature on Facebook suggests Cami Bird, Content and Social Media Manager at LocalVox.com:
"One of the most helpful features for a Facebook Page is the ability to review the analytics for your page, this can be found under "Insights" at the top of the Page. In "Insights" one of the most helpful sections is "Posts," this gives you the opportunity to review previous posts and see which ones had the most engagement (and you can even break it down the Post, Clicks, or Likes, Comments & Shares). You can utilize this section by testing various post formats and seeing which ones resonate the most with your audience (and at what time they engage with them). I recommend trying out funny, short, long, informative, question, article based, product based, contest and/or user-generated posts. Through "Insights" you can best gauge which posts work for your business."
-Cami Bird, Content and Social Media Manager at LocalVox.com
5. Treat Posts Like Movie Trailers
For companies that have blogs, using Facebook as an outlet to alert followers that you have a new blog post is an effective way to gain exposure of your content. It's also an excellent way to have users engage with you on social media explains Andrew Jung, Corporate Marketing Associate at Blue Fountain Media. In his tip below, Andrew points out that choosing the right copy is directly related to how many people will engage with the post:
"When you're sharing a new blog post on Facebook, you need to choose copy that is going to make users interested in the post. The wordage you choose should give a clear indication of what the post is about-but shouldn't give away everything. You need a reason for users to follow through and click on the post, comment on it, or share it. The copy you craft should evoke interest from your fans, and make them think "hey, I'd like to learn more about that." Consider your posts like a trailer for a movie-it shows viewers what the movies about and what to expect, but ultimately it's just a way to foster some excitement and have them wanting to see the rest."
-Andrew Jung, Corporate Marketing Associate at Blue Fountain Media
While it may sound simple, engaging with your audience is often overlooked by businesses. Christina Nicholson, Social Media Manager at MascaraMavenandMore.com explains the need for businesses to take time out of their day and respond with their customers on Facebook:
"If you want engagement, you have to engage! This means respond to comments. Ask questions. Don't leave your followers hanging."
-Christina Nicholson, Social Media Manager at MascaraMavenandMore.com
7. Know Who You're Targeting
With any post you're curating, it's crucial to understand the interests of your customers and what they want to see. Anna Klimczuk, Marketing Coordinator at RoseBrand highlights this:
"Know who your customers are. It's vital to know who you're selling to. You may have a breakdown where 30% of your business comes from a few top clients. It's important to keep them happy, but remember there are another 70% of your customers who put money in your pocket. Know when they're online. Dive into your analytics data and see what times your customers are more active on Facebook AND on your website."
-Anna Klimczuk, Marketing Coordinator at Rosebrand
8. Share Recurring Content Consistently
A content series or any type of content that is produced on a regular basis is a proven way to bring users back to your site. Austin Paley, Corporate Marketing Communications Manager at Blue Fountain Media shares his insights on the importance of recurring content on social platforms such as Facebook:
"There's a lot social media professionals can learn from content marketers, particularly the use of recurring monthly or weekly series that users look forward to and can't wait to read or see. From Moz's Whiteboard Friday to our recurring 1 Hour SEO Audit series, recurring content is often one of the best ways to generate substantial amounts of traffic that keeps users coming back for each new post you publish.
This concept can be easily carried over to Facebook marketing initiatives. At Blue Fountain Media, we do two recurring series - "What's The Fact Wednesday" and "BFMer of the Week". Both series tend to have higher engagement rates than our average posts because users know what to expect, when to expect it, and whether or not they have previously found the content helpful. This helps us build better reach and brand loyalty with our posts and also helps our regular posts that highlight new blog or website content to generate more traffic than they would normally."
-Austin Paley, Corporate Marketing Communications Manager at Blue Fountain Media
9. Implement Promotional Campaigns
Customers sometimes need an incentive to engage with you on social media. Alex Bimonte, Director of Social Media at The Buzz Agency explains that investing giveaways can be a great way to get users actively engaging with your brand on Facebook:
"Invest in a subscription to a sweepstakes app (fan of OfferPop and WooBox) and run monthly promos and giveaways. This has a dual benefit and will help build an e-marketing mailing list too!"
-Alex Bimonte, Director of Social Media at The Buzz Agency
10. Open-ended Questions
At the end of the day, users will be far more interested in engaging with a post that they can relate to, or that they find "fun." Matt Chun, VP of Digital Strategy suggests using open-ended questions to encourage user engagement on Facebook:
"Asking an open-ended question is a good tip for Facebook brand publishers. Make it fun, provocative, or timely by including references to pop culture, current news, or the time of year/holidays. To take this strategy one step further, answer the question yourself as YOU...not the brand. This may seem counter-intuitive, but adding a response that is specific and personable acts as a surefire springboard for engagement."
-Matt Chun, VP of Digital Strategy at PCI Communications
Best Practices Produce the Best Results
While every brand is different, and every industry has unique needs, any of the above tips can be applied to your brand to create the most effective Facebook posts possible. Ultimately, the most important things to focus on are identifying what your audience wants to see, and determining how to produce high-quality content that can fit those needs. If you keep those things in mind as you instrument some of our highlighted best practices into your strategy, you'll find your organic reach growing each day.