If you are reading this article, chances are you know how necessary Facebook is for marketing your business. With over 864 million daily visitors from all around the world, it has become a meeting ground for almost everybody on the internet.
But, every one of those users has around 1,500 stories that could possible show up in their newsfeed when logging in. Not only that, but you are also competing with 54.2 MILLION other business pages.
These two factors alone make posting on Facebook a challenging task to master. In this post, I’ll be describing seven simple, effective steps you can take to maximize your page’s potential and compete in the ever-changing Facebook Marketing landscape.
Brief History of the Newsfeed Algorithm
You may not remember, but when Facebook started out there was no “newsfeed”. Facebook was a much simpler "way to connect with your friends" before the newsfeed was introduced in 2006. At that point, the algorithm was incredible simple and didn’t have much of a backbone.
But, as Facebook grew, new demands were met with ‘ EdgeRank’.
EdgeRank operated around three primary factors:
- Affinity Score: Determines the relationship between you and a piece of content, person, or page. This score is why you see posts from your family members, pages you visit, or that are similar to the content you have a history viewing. All of these items have high-affinity scores for you and allows Facebook to weed out posts that aren’t related to you.
- Weight: This one takes into account the number of likes and comments a piece of content receives. It gives great weight to comments than likes, so you are more likely to see a piece of content a friend commented on than liked. It also means that your likes and comments effect the types of content appearing in your newsfeed. For example, if you like and comment on a bunch of cat photo posts, you are more likely to see more cat photos appear in your feed.
- Time Decay: The older a story gets, the less weight that story holds. But there are suspicions that how frequently a user logs on to Facebook and how long they are on Facebook also contribute to this factor.
As Facebook has grown, demands for an optimized newsfeed has increased and, in 2013, EdgeRank was pronounced dead. It had essentially become again, too simple.
Now, Facebook’s algorithm is estimated to have over 100,000 ranking factors!
But that doesn’t mean that Affinity, Weight and Decay no longer play parts in the equation. They are still very prominent factors; they just have a few more friends now.
The current state of the Facebook algorithm is hard to pin-point, since Facebook likes to keep many of its factors a secret. We do know that it is continuously growing in complexity as Facebook announces new changes every few months.
Regardless of the secrecy, through extensive research I know that if you follow the actionable steps below, your content will show up in more newsfeeds.
#1 - Find the Best Time to Post
There are thousands of blog posts out there claiming to know the best time to post on Facebook, but in reality, it depends on your page and who your audience is. Keep in mind that only 25% of users on Facebook are from the United States.
Posting at certain times of the day can cut you off from a large percentage of your fans who live in a different time zone. Posting your content at the wrong time coupled with the ‘Time Decay’ factor can make your posts fall flat. So you need to figure out when the majority of your audience is logged in to Facebook.
The best way to accomplish this is through experimentation and the statistics provided by Facebook on the ‘Insights’ section of your page. Over the next week, start posting similar types of content at different hours of the day.
After you posted your content at least five different times, head over to your ‘Insights’ panel and click on the ‘Posts’ section. The data you see there will give you some great stats as to what time of the day is most effective for posting.
This data also provides clear direction regarding which days are best for posting your content. Once you have that figured out, publish your most important content on that day to maximize exposure.
#2 - Determine the Right Amount to Post
The amount of times you post per day/week can drastically change the results of your reach. But again, there is no magic number that will result in maximum exposure.
Experimentation is the key in determining the frequency of your Facebook posts. Start by posting 1 - 2 times per day over the next two weeks and use the data to discover which number is ideal for you.
The Social Bakers did an interesting study where they collected the average amount of daily posts for the top brands on Facebook. They concluded that the average was one post per day. But these were large brands they studied, not small businesses. So their result doesn’t mean one post is the best number for smaller brands.
Track Social also did a study where they measured the reach of their posts with different frequencies. Reach diminished as the number of posts per day grew, with one post a day being the best solution.
After reading dozens of blog posts on this topic, it's clear the overall consensus among Facebook experts is that posting 1-2 times a day and 5-10 times a week works best. My experience backs these numbers up. However, I still suggest you do some experimenting and find out which solution works best for you.
#3 - Try Out Different Types Of Content
The quality of your content is the biggest factor that contributes to your reach. Great content can make all of a pages success, but it can be challenging to decipher what material is most suitable for your audience. Using only one type of content can cut you off from fans who tend to interact with different types of posts, so it’s best to use many.
Here are some ideas:
There is a reason you see so many photo posts on Facebook, they receive much wider reach than simple text posts. Some pages live solely on photo posts and still pull in tons of activity. Social Bakers did a study where they collected data from 5,000 randoms posts over the period of a month.
They discovered that 93 of Facebook’s most engaging posts are photos. That is a convincing datum and clearly gives the upper hand to photo posts.
One thing you have to watch out for is memes, they are the photos that once dominated Facebook. However, Facebook recently announced they are working to cut down the appearance of these photos in newsfeeds.
Link posts are another great way of sharing content on Facebook. If you operate a blog, these are a must and will drive significant traffic to your website. The key to success is publishing captivating information. If you don't have any quality content of your own to share, you can curate content from other sources that you think your target audience will find valuable.
When posting links, make sure you use the ‘Link Format’ instead of posting the link as a photo caption. Facebook recently announced:
“We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.”
With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.”
This is a mistake that many pages make. Thankfully, it is a very simple fix.
Video posts are rapidly growing in popularity as Facebook updates their video functionalities. Recent updates have added a view counter, a list of related videos after a user finished a video, and an an auto-play feature. These and other features have contributed to the number of video views on Facebook.
According to Facebook, users now watch an average of over 1 Billion videos per day. That is an overall growth of 50% from May to July of this year. BuzzFeed claims that it received 130 Million video plays in June, that number then grew by 200% from July to August.
Those are some compelling numbers. It’s not only Buzzfeed; many other pages are learning to harness the power of video marketing and are profiting tremendously.
Text posts are very uncommon and for a good reason, they result in a very limited reach. For your page, text posts should seldom be used and should be saved for announcements. Even if you have something in depth you want to say, a photo or article accompanying your statement will result in it being seen my more people.
#4 - Craft the Perfect Post Text
Knowing what to say in your posts is a challenge for everyone. However, it's a skill you must develop to engage your fans, and expand your reach. Follow the tips below, and you’ll be on your way to being a Facebook marketing master.
Every detail counts when developing quality content. One of those details is the length of your text. Jeff Bullas conducted a study and found that posts with less than 80 characters perform 66% better than posts with 81+ characters.
Of course, if you are going for a highly informational post, then add as many words as you like. I also encourage more experimentation with post character counts so you can arrive at the perfect number for your page.
Using questions in your post can yield great results if it sparks the interest of your followers. One aspect of the Facebook algorithm gives a boost to post with a high amount of engagement. Questions are one of the best way to spark engagement. However, coming up with a question that your audience responds to is easier said than done.
Dan Zarrella found there are certain types of questions that gain the most reach. Questions starting with the words: "should", "would", and "which" gain the most reach. Contrastingly, questions starting with "how", "why", and "where" have the least amount of reach. So again the action to take involves experimentation; brainstorm ideas for questions starting with the three winning words above and track your results. Eventually, you'll master this type of post.
The addition of emoticons to your post can increase the reach of a post.
BuddyMedia published a
report and found that adding emoticons to your text has a 33% higher potential for comments/shares and 57% for likes.
Tag Other Brand Pages
Last February, Facebook announced would start rewarding posts with tags to other brands. So make sure that you always tag a brand when you can. All you have to do is add “@” before the brand name to accomplish this. Not only will Facebook increase the reach of the post, but you'll grab the attention of the brand you tag. Who knows, maybe they'll return the favor.
#5 - Use the Most Captivating Topics
If you haven't clearly defined your target audience now is the time to do that. How else could you come up with post topics that will drive engagement? Once you've defined your target it's time to research, brainstorm, and experiment.
According to Klout, some of the top 10 most engaging topics are music, holidays, software, books, and business. I’m sure you can find a way for your page to correlate with one of these topics through a piece of content.
Here are a few other ideas to get your brainstorming started:
Switch It Up
A common mistake I see on new Facebook pages is the posting of only their brand's content. Now, it is necessary to get your content out there, but I doubt that you have 10-12 juicy pieces of content to post every week.
Finding quality articles, photos and videos from other sources is easier than ever. Check out
BuzzSumo, and Prismatic for fresh content ideas. Or use Feedly to track all your favorite publishers in one place. After you've been sharing quality 3rd party content for a while, your brand's content will experience increased engagement when you post it on Facebook.
Post about trending topics whenever you can. I don't mean you should start posting about the latest celebrity gossip. But every once in a while, a topic will trend that your target market will find interesting. When you quickly publish a post on the subject, you'll be surprised by the level of engagement it receives.
You can find topics that are trending at Google Trends, Twitter Search, and Buzzfeed. Swayy is another source to check out. It helps you discover the most engaging content to share with your audience on social media based on their interests and engagement
Ken Mueller performed an experiment where he piled together keywords from all the current trending topics and developed them into a nonsensical post. The result was his most successful post yet.
So keep your eye on the trending topics and when you see a topic that is a match with your target market publish a related post. Then, sit back and watch the engagement grow.
Stay away from click-baiting! Click-Bait is content that encourages readers to click on a link without giving much information about what they will see next.
Here’s an example:
This method used to work, but Facebook has declared war on click-bait. Their algorithm will make sure you’re post falls flat. So publishing this type of post is a waste of time.
#6 - Start a Contest / Giveaway
Contest and giveaways are wonderful sources for growth on Facebook. They not only expand your reach, but will also help you gain new fans. Who doesn’t like winning something from a page that they already like? Buffer claims that 35% of Facebook fans like a page so they can participate in contests. That's a stat that makes an occasional contest a must.
There are several 3rd party tools to help you run a successful Facebook contest. Check out ViralSweep, ShortStack, WooBox, WishPond, or Antavo to see what they have to offer. Of course, you can keep it simple and just use the text/photo options that Facebook provides, but if you can afford one of the tools listed above I suggest you do. They'll increase the chances of running a successful contest and can offer valuable guidance.
Here are 3 ideas to get you started:
“Like” or “Share”
One of the common ways is just asking your fans to ‘like’ or ‘share’ the post to enter your contest. Be aware that Facebook recently stated, “It’s OK to encourage discussion about your posts’ content, but you should avoid asking for likes or shares to get more distribution.” My question is, do the algorithmic penalties you will face outweigh the boosts of shares and likes? There’s no clear cut answer, so I suggest you test out this method and see what happens. You may increase engagement and reach in spite of what Facebook says.
Another common method is to ask your fan base a question. The more difficult the question, the more comments you will receive and the longer your contest will last. If the question doesn't require a long answer, it will result in a good amount of comments. Why? Because it makes entry into the contest easy, and a person can win with a little creativity and knowledge, instead of luck.
Photo contests are one of the most successful contest ideas on Facebook. Once again, they gain a lot of comments because that’s how people enter the content. Also, it’s easier for you to engage with those comments since each photo will be unique to itself and worthy of a different comment. You can also connect it to your Instagram page for even more exposure.
BuddyMedia' report revealed words like event, winner, offer, new, win and a few others, were more likely to make your contest successful.
There are many ways to hold a contest on Facebook. These are just three common and successful methods that you can start with. Get creative, try out some new methods, and have fun with it!
#7 - Set-Up an Advertising Budget
Organic Reach on Facebook is in constant decline. Ogilvy wanted to see how rapid this decline is, so they studied 23 pages with over 500,000 likes. The results were a decrease of 12.5% in October 2013 to 6.15% in February 2014.
Those are significant declines month over month.
The main driver behind this decrease in reach is always increasing amount of content on Facebook. Every user has approximately 1,500 possible stories to shown up on their newsfeed when they log in. Facebook allows 300 to be initially loaded and less than that are viewed by the user.
The fix for this quick decline is providing interesting and engaging content to beat out the other 1,500 possible stories. But, Facebook is saying that we should all expect a day where organic reach descends to 0%. So, paying to boost your content is becoming more necessary as time goes on.
A simple, and not too expensive way to increase content reach is the ‘Boost Post’ option. You’ll notice when you post content, there is a button at the bottom of the post that says ‘Boost Post’.
First, click on that ‘Boost Post’ button. A window will come up with your post and some options for boosting. You can keep it simple by making the boost only visible to people who like your page and their friends, or people similar to people who like your page. You can also target users according to various demographics and interests.
I strongly suggest you use the targeting options. You can choose which countries, age groups and genders you want the post to reach. More importantly you define what interests your target users have. These interests can include key words and even better, brand pages. So if you want to target every user that likes a competitor brand you can. This option is so much fun to play with that once you get started you won't be able to stop.
Then comes the money part. Every page and post has a different amount of estimated reach for the amount of money assigned. Start low and experiment with the extra reach it provides. It’s best to use this on content that you think will be most successful or content that is important to your business, but wouldn’t necessarily do well in the newsfeed.
Power Editor is the ‘Boost Post’ option steroids! It’s a plug-in that you can check out and install
here. You’ll see that it is a dashboard for all Facebook ad campaigns connected to your count. It also provides more in-depth statistics, grander audience targeting and access to all the pages you currently administer. If you’re serious about taking your page to the next level, this option is for you.
Although it may look complex at first, the structure of it is rather simple:
With a little knowledge and practice, you can bend it to your needs to accomplish all your Facebook objectives. Some of the objective-based ad campaigns they use are: clicks to website, website conversions, page likes, mobile app installs, desktop app installs, offer claims and more. As you can see, it is the ultimate Facebook advertising tool.
If you want to go more in depth, check out this awesome tutorial article from KissMetrics.
If you use any or all of these suggestions, your reach will grow on Facebook. While the algorithm may be changing often, the underlying tactics behind each of these 7 actions are fundamentally sound. They will, for the most part, carry over into the next iteration of the Newsfeed Algorithm.
Take the time and really entrench some of these tactics into your workflow and really do them right. If you do this, you can enjoy new levels of engagement within your community.
If you have suggestions / tips that I missed, please share them in the comments section below.