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Is it time to give up on an organic Facebook strategy?

Is it time to give up on an organic Facebook strategy?

It’s easy to start an article about Facebook in a way that promises the world: “WOAH check out Facebook, it has over 2 BILLION global users, why aren’t you on Facebook? We’re making you think your page could have 2 BILLION fans!”

But that excitement is misleading, especially these days.

Social media’s golden goose has become just a regular goose. Businesses the world over are having issues with their organic reach like never before; their once-awesome traffic dropped suddenly and never returned.

So we won’t start this article with mega stats that seem amazing, we’ll start with a simple question: Is it time to give up on an organic Facebook strategy?

In this article the answer

Part 1: Organic Facebook strategies: Time to give up?

If your business is having issues with Facebook organic reach, it’s not time to give up yet. But you will have to change your strategy if you’re still using techniques from pre-2018.

What happened to my Facebook?

Changes to Facebook in the past few years saw average organic reach drop from 16 per cent of a page’s total likes (2012 levels), down to as low as 2-6 per cent a few years later, according to research from Social@Ogilvy. Then, in 2016, 2017 and 2018 more changes were made to the news feed, reducing people’s numbers further – Facebook was prioritising content from family and friends over that of liked businesses.

Social@Ogilvy’s report even went so far as to state that page users should be prepared for 0 per cent organic reach in the future.

But wait, didn’t you say not to give up?

We did. While the numbers might seem dire, especially for long-time Facebook users, organic reach still has a place in a Facebook strategy and indeed the new restrictions – frustrating as they may seem – could help you.

When Facebook’s algorithm is deciding whether to show your page posts in fans’ respective news feeds, it looks at four key metrics:

  1. Are people commenting on or liking the post?
  2. Does it have multiple replies?
  3. Is it being shared over Messenger?
  4. Has it provoked ‘meaningful’ interactions?

We’ll cover these in more detail in part 2 of this article.

  • How these restrictions could help you: If you’re forced to publish content that provokes response (i.e. discussion and sharing), it’s encouraging you to produce better quality, more valuable content, with smarter audience targeting. This will vastly improve your social media skills, and make your business look more professional in the process.

Part 2: Organic Facebook strategy ideas

1. Focus on building meaningful engagement

Likes, comments, replies and shares are signs of quality content to Facebook, so your posts will need to encourage these. That said, you can’t straight up ask for them – posts that say “comment for this!” or “Like for that” are considered ‘engagement bait’ and could get your Page demoted in the algorithm.

Instead, encourage interactions with strategies like:

  • Creating quality content that’s worth a like.
  • Telling stories.
  • Posing questions.
  • Replying to every comment to spark further discussion.

2. Target the right audience

Audience targeting can be used for organic posts as well as paid posts.

Audience targeting isn’t just for paid posts. By turning on audience targeting in your page’s settings menu, you can publish to unique demographics for each organic post, too. You can target all the common metrics, like age, location, interests and so on.

While the total reach of targeted posts may seem smaller, the idea here is to get a higher engagement percentage. This could make your post appear more meaningful and, thus, encourage its organic appearance in users’ feeds.

3. Publish videos and broadcast live

Videos are doing very well on Facebook, appearing higher up people’s news feeds and gaining higher engagement. Just look at these stats:

  • People spend up to 3 times more time watching live videos than non-live videos on Facebook (Facebook stat).
  • Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher up the news feed (Facebook stat).
  • Facebook videos receive up to 530 per cent more comments than YouTube, and 477 per cent more shares (Quintly stats).

4. Ask people to change their notification settings

Fans are able to see your posts more frequently if they change their follow settings from “Default” to “See first” – which should help prioritise your content on their feed.

There’s no harm in asking people to do this! If your content is valuable and people want to keep updated, they’ll be more than happy to make the change.

Part 3: Ideas for a Facebook strategy with NO organic component

Time to get a little scary. Let’s say Facebook does drop organic reach further, even down to that horrifying 0 per cent mark. What then? How do you speak with customers if you just turned invisible?

Relying on only one social media platform puts you at that company’s mercy.

1. Focus on more than one platform

Relying on only one social media platform puts you at that company’s mercy – as we’ve seen, this is a big risk. The way to minimise this risk, of course, is to post in multiple places.

Facebook’s best practices – encourage conversation, be visual, create quality content – work well in other places too. So when you’re scheduling those Facebook posts, consider if you could add them to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest as well. And of course don’t discount WeChat or Snapchat, either.

  • Quick tip: Don’t spread yourself too thin. Go back to your user personas and figure out where your customers like to hang out online. If they aren’t on Pinterest, don’t post there. But if they are on LinkedIn, Twitter and WeChat, it makes sense to consider those channels alongside Facebook.

For more advice on good social media habits, check out the article in our tweet below!

2. Use Facebook paid ads

We know, paying for something you’d rather get free is a bit of a tough sell, but hear us out.

Facebook paid advertising is a fantastic, low-cost way of reaching a huge number of people in a very short time. Indeed, with savvy audience targeting and a good post, you can reach and engage tens if not hundreds of thousands of users while barely spending three figures (if that).

If you’re setting up Facebook paid for the first time, read these key tips first:

  1. Use specific audience targeting: Much like your organic posts above, your paid ads should target very specific audience members. Check your personas and mine your existing data to figure out the perfect demographics and interests for each of your ad campaigns.
  2. Recycle existing posts where possible: If you’re about to run a similar campaign to one you ran previously, recycle the existing post. That way your new ad will be boosted with the reactions and comments of the prior post – think of this as the busker putting coins in his hat before playing (nobody wants to be the first coin, you see). You can do this in Ads Manager by modifying an existing post.
  3. Be visual: Facebook is a visual platform, and this is especially true if you promote content in video channels, Facebook Instant Articles or on Instagram. Images should be striking and interesting, without being wordy (Facebook won’t allow wordy images). Your ad copy must be natural and engaging, without being spammy. Tell a story, incite emotion, and gently encourage interested parties to take the next step (whether that’s clicking a link or filling out a lead form).

If you need more tips on promoting with Facebook, check out our “Ultimate guide to successful Facebook promotion.”

3. Try Facebook groups

Facebook groups are like an evolution of forums. These groups are where like-minded individuals come together to share ideas and discussions on topics they like.

Many businesses are setting up their own groups to move content away from the traditional page/follow dynamic and into a more 1:1 discussion space. So, instead of posting an article and hoping for reactions and comments, you’d be an active member of discussion in the group by posting and answering questions. If your article happens to answer those questions, you could use it as a response.

Benefits of Facebook groups include:

  • You can link them to your page, making them easier to find for existing fans.
  • Communication is more personal in a group, humanising your brand and helping build loyal customers.
  • Events can be promoted through groups.
  • You can send mass messages to group members, and people who are active members are more likely to see your posts (as they are seeking them out).

But, there’s a catch:

  • It’s hard to get membership from people who aren’t fans or friends of fans. So it might take a little promo work on your part to encourage traffic to the group (for example, mentioning it in your content on the blog or in videos).

A Facebook group might not necessarily replace your page, but in an age of declining organic reach, it’s another way to speak with customers without paying.

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Duncan Pacey
Duncan Pacey About the author

Duncan has hands-on experience developing and rolling out many of our bespoke search-optimised writing products, making him the perfect Castleford blogger. When he’s not writing about SEO, lead gen, and the art of entertaining people and Google simultaneously, he crafts prose for clients in hospitality, construction and building, and the software as a service field. Current clients include SAS, Altus, Epson - and of course the Castleford website.

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