How to get more Organic Reach: Confessions of a Facebook Ads expert

Feb 1, 2019Blog

Despite recent changes, negative press, a cryptic announcement from Mr Zuckerburg last year about a shift in focus to family and friends; and the resulting (strange) global advertising campaign where Facebook tries to reassure us we are still friends… Facebook is still the number one destination for people when they go online. And if you ditched Facebook to focus on Instagram, well, its really the same thing, they both run out of Ads Manager and if you feel like Facebook is strangling your business then you can bet on the same happening with Instagram, in fact it’s already started.

Last year saw a revival of Facebook Groups, and many businesses jumped on board and focused on building an audience of engaged people who were now seeing all their posts once again. Hurrah! This year, a key change to the Facebook Mobile App has seen all groups moved off into their own feed, so your audience (who are overwhelming on mobile) now have to go looking for updates from their favourite groups. Ask your members to make sure they have Notifications turned ON for your group. Groups are still super useful, but if you want to run paid ads, you need a Facebook Page and/or an Instagram Business profile.

A few years ago, when organic reach from our Facebook Page was still relatively high, we were really focused on Content Marketing. In fact, Facebook asked us to produce content and rewarded us with extra reach for our efforts. One of the biggest changes in the past year has been the plummeting organic reach of posts to our Facebook Page, even when shared outside of that to our Personal Profiles, our content just doesn’t seem to get further than the immediate circle of people we interact with most. There is now so much content that it’s harder to get noticed than ever before.

So, is Content Marketing dead and is there no way to get noticed for free? No, there will always be a place for good content, and I’ve got some great tips to share with you on the best things you can do to make sure your organic content is seen by the most amount of people, so read on. However if you’re spending hours and hours every week creating and scheduling posts just for them to seen by a handful of people, isn’t there a better use of your time? I firmly believe there is a case for spending something on Facebook Ads, even if it’s just a little, and here’s why.

At the end of the day, Facebook is a business. There will always be a place for Business on Facebook, because Facebook wants your money, in-fact they need it, and they will reward you with extra reach if you follow their rules and use their tools – some of which are getting super smart right now.

Why else would you spend? Because you’re competing with other companies (in a noisy market) to be seen, and because your time is money. Even though we’re seeing the cost of Facebook Ads rising, it’s still one of the cheapest ways to promote your content and build your audience, because you can reach 1000 people for as little as $5 (even cheaper if you take advantage of some of the newer mobile ad formats). That’s more eyeballs than the average page post for a small business is getting right now.

When I start working with a new client, I often ask them to do their own Content Marketing (eg posting on their page), so I can focus on a strategy to make direct sales via Facebook Ads. There are a few reasons for this:

1. No one knows the business and how to talk to the customer better than the person who’s in it, all day everyday.

2. Now more than ever, people are using Facebook like Google, they’ll actually go on and find your page to check you out, it’s a big part of them researching on their path to purchase. I like to call it “keeping the lights on” – you want to be sure when customers are researching you that you have at least posted something in the past month.

3. Don’t sell in your page posts, Facebook will penalise you if you include external links, overly promotional posts or if you do the hard sell – save all that stuff for your paid ads, because there is no penalty when you pay, that’s what ads are for! In fact, Facebook wants your ads to be successful, so you buy more.

To get more organic reach on your posts, try out all of the new posts features. Facebook loves video right now (it’s trying to compete with TV for your attention). So upload your videos direct to Facebook, and remember that longer videos with higher completion rates will rank higher. We’re talking about 60-90 sec of content, and people need to watch at least half of it for the algorithm to push it up higher in the feed.

Try Facebook Live, but remember to be brief and stick to the point. You need to keep your viewers engaged to improve your completion rate. According to Facebook, live videos generate six times as many interactions as regular videos. We’ve all sat through some terrible live broadcasts which are boring and go on forever, don’t be that person, keep them snappy and smart and give people a reason to hang around for at least half of your broadcast.

Don’t over post. With the life-cycle of a post now stretching for 2-3 days, recent testing has shown that Facebook and Instagram will cut short your first post if you post again within 24 hours. So try a different approach: a page post, a personal post, a Facebook or Instagram story, by mixing it up and not be so caught up with posting multiple times per day, you should see your organic reach improve.

Don’t be obsessed with always saying something new, it’s OK to repeat yourself. Now that less people are seeing your posts, you can say the same thing more often. Re-share that awesome success story, business win, award, glowing review or special moment. Remember the algorithm has a preferences for authentic content – we’re talking motivational, aspirational and positive; and timely posts – those of immediate interest, current events, trending topics. So jump on that bandwagon whilst it’s a hot topic!

One of the first things that many of us self-proclaimed experts will tell you is to avoid the Boost Post button at all costs, and head straight to Ads Manager to build your campaign. This is sound advice, and whilst Facebook has been improving the Boost Post feature with more targeting options, it still falls short in terms of reach – you will reach more people for less money when using the more sophisticated targeting features found in Ads Manager.

That said, I have a confession to make; occasionally I still use the Boost Post button! The reason? Sometimes it comes down to time, if I don’t have time to build a proper campaign in Ads Manager (and I’ll be honest, Ads Manager can be super slow going sometimes) then boosting a post can be a quick and easy way for me to get things moving. It can make all the difference if my client is waiting for their ads to start and I know I wont get to it for another day or two. I certainly wouldn’t go for that as my first choice, but there are occasions we’ll choose quick-and-dirty over slow-and-polished. If you have a large number of Page Likes on your Facebook Page, then the Boost Post button offers a quick and easy way to reach these people too.

Ultimately, however, Facebook Ads Manager will give you much more bang for your buck, so it’s worth investing time into learning how to use it effectively.

If you found this content helpful, please share it with your networks.

Fred has played a key role in brand marketing and digital transformation for more than two decades.

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