Anthony Mcloughlin

Since its inception a decade ago, Facebook has become one of the Internet’s most powerful and popular websites. By the end of 2013, Facebook had 1.23bn monthly active users worldwide, while 757m people logged in everyday.

Along with these astonishing user statistics, the fact that its own mission is to ‘give people the power to share and make the world more open & connected’ makes it extremely lucrative for any business.

Unfortunately for marketers, things look set to change when it comes to promoting and sharing content on Facebook.

Decline in organic reach

Recently, Facebook announced that because people are connecting and sharing more than ever, competition for each news feed story is increasing. Therefore, pages will see changes in distribution and a decline in organic reach.

While Facebook says this is to focus on quality and ensure relevant content is seen by the right people, critics and commentators believe the social network is deliberately restricting organic reach in order to make more money through paid-for promotion and advertising.

Even if Facebook users have opted in to receive updates from certain pages or organisations, there has been a great deal of concern from marketers that updates are reaching smaller percentages of those opt-in users. Facebook can argue that it is in the best interest of users to reduce organic reach, but even a company spokesperson was fairly explicit in explaining the main reason behind these measures.

“Like many mediums, if businesses want to make sure that people see their content, the best strategy is, and always has been, paid advertising.”

Even though they went on to say that companies should not expect specific numbers relating to organic reach, as it varies by page and by post, data collected by Ogilvy was quite eye opening.

decline in organic facebook reach chart

The average Page post apparently reaches only six per cent of users, but for brands or organisations with 500,000 ‘Likes’ or more, this falls to just two per cent. What’s more, before Facebook’s IPO, the average page post reached 16 per cent of fans, which has now dropped by more than 80 per cent.

Therefore, it is clear to see that Facebook’s algorithm for displaying content has changed and it’s something business page owners are going to have to live with whether they like it or not.

To help ease the frustrations here are three highly effective ways to combat the decline in organic reach.

1. Post content when the majority of your audience is online

Given that posts are only shown to a small percentage of your fans, it makes sense to post content when a larger portion of your fans are online. As long as your content is of high quality then this will result in more eyes on your content increasing the likelihood of engagement. You can easily find this information out in Facebook Insights.

How to do this effectively

On the admin panel navigate to See Insights > Posts.

graph showing number of facebook fans online, facebook insights

The chart makes it really easy to identify the days and times of day when most of your fans are online. The example above shows that on average, more fans are online at 10am. Note that the data is an average for the most recent week; so the data may vary from one day to the next.

To identify what times of day your fans are online for a specific day, hover your mouse over any of the days as shown in the example below.

graph showing number of facebook fans online, facebook insights


By looking at each day in isolation, you can identify the best times to post for each day of the week and therefore maximise your potential organic reach on a daily basis.

TONE TIP: Using Buffer, schedule your Facebook posts to be automatically published at the peak times discovered from insights. With the free version you can set one posting schedule that will run everyday, and the paid version enables you to set multiple posting schedules for each day of the week. Below is an example of how I would set my Facebook Buffer if I managed the page in the first example above with a free Buffer account.

example of facebook buffer schedule

With Buffer in place you can “set and forget” your posts, safely knowing they will be published at the most optimal times.

2. Post photo’s more often

When you’re posting something on Facebook, fans want interesting and engaging content, which is useful to them or their friends. This can’t usually be achieved with a simple worded status update, but the potential power of photos is phenomenal.

A report on Socialbakers reveals that 93 per cent of the most engaging posts on Facebook were photos. They use a fantastic example from Elle Magazine, which indicates just how influential photos can be. This is in stark contrast to three per cent for statuses and two per cent each for links and videos.

How to do this effectively

Whether your posting a simple status update, question, blog post link, new product launch or an offer, always accompany with an enticing image AND succinct content.

sams chowder house photo update facebook

Sam’s Chowder House do this to great effect in the example above. Here’s why:

  • They ask for engagement – “LIKE
  • They use a hashtag – #ShrimpScampi
  • Their image and content stimulates our sensory system  – “LIKE if you love the smell (and sound) of garlic, white wine and butter hitting the pan.”

Facebook has changed its design and layout over the years so it favours visual content, a trend that has also been adopted by Twitter recently. A striking or entertaining image will not only attract the audience’s attention, it may also encourage sharing.

3. Boost posts

If you are serious about Facebook marketing then inevitably you will have to pay to boost your posts. But you should ask yourself what is worth paying for and will it result in additional engagement, leads or sales.

How to do this effectively

Take some of the guess work out of knowing whether a post is worth paying to boost or not by looking back at how your previous posts have performed in Facebook Insights.

On the admin panel navigate to See Insights > Posts > Post Types

facebook insights post types engagement

At the top you can see the overall success of different post types based on average reach and engagement. Unsurprisingly, photo posts trump link posts in the example above.

Further down you can easily see how individual posts performed in comparison to others.

facebook-insights-posts-types-individualYou want to be analysing why certain posts outperformed others. Below are a few things you should be looking out for:

  • Day of week and time posted
  • Did the post contain engaging media – imagery/video?
  • Was there a call to action?
  • Did the post arouse curiosity?
  • Catchy blog post title?
  • Any statistics or bold statements used?
  • Any hashtags used?

Take inspiration from the posts that performed well and utilise the techniques that worked well for future updates.

Finally, when choosing to boost a post, you can either reach more of your own fans or extend that activity to everyone on Facebook. While the advantages of promoting to existing fans are obvious, targeting users that don’t like your page according to location, age, gender and other interests can attract new page likes as well as engagement.

If you decide to boost the right kind of post, this will naturally increase its organic reach, as more and more people will like, comment on and share interesting and engaging content.

In Summary

You can certainly understand why Facebook is changing its approach towards content sharing. First and foremost, it is a social network for individuals to interact and communicate with each other on a personal level. At the same time, as one of the world’s biggest websites, it needs to generate significant revenue in order to keep operating.

It certainly seems like the more fans a Page gets, the less visible it becomes. Therefore, other ways and techniques to increase visibility are required. From utilising Facebook insights in the right way to posting the right content at the right time and paying to boost posts, this is clearly possible.

What posting techniques work well for you on Facebook? Share them with us in the comments below.

Image credits: KissMetrics

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Anthony Mcloughlin

Posted By Anthony Mcloughlin

Anthony is a key member of the digital team at Tone, helping dig deep into stats to further understand user behaviours. Follow him on Twitter @anthony_mac85 and on Google+