Just when you think you’ve got a grip of it, they move the goalposts. Why? Because the platform is only as strong as its user base, and Facebook is feeling the squeeze as younger users flock to SnapChat and stay there. Facebook made a canny move when they bought Instagram in-house, and more on that later, but meanwhile, they are making moves to increase user-happiness and hold on to their dominance, whilst also holding onto business users, large and small. The long and the short of it is that they are sick of viral news sites, viral videos and memes which are shared from a third party, rather than original content created in Facebook itself.

Essentially, we’re talking about the final nail in the coffin for easy organic reach for content that is simply a link or a boring businessy post. Organic Reach is what you get when you post something on your page, and someone who follows your page sees that post in their News Feed. It doesn’t cost anything except your time to write the post. In the beginning, it was huge. Now, not so much – I would expect organic reach of around 3% on an average page post, so for every 100 page followers, 3 will see it in their feed. Ouch, right?

Happily, Facebook is being very clear about what they want to encourage, so they will reward your page posts by showing them in more News Feeds if you steer your posts towards creating original and engaging content. We’re going to need to nurture our organic reach now, and not just leave it to fend for itself. Here’s how it breaks down…

What works on Facebook right now and must be tried?

  1. Videos
    Videos are good, and Facebook live videos are better – six times better according to Facebook’s stats. I know they’re a little scary, but if I can do it then you can too. Just make sure your laundry isn’t in the background and your spouse knows you’re live…

    Facebook really loves videos that are created INSIDE Facebook or uploaded to Facebook rather than coming from an outside source that you link to.

    The algorithm for News Feeds will also be keeping an eye out for how long people watch, whether they go back to re-watch, plus the usual shares comments and likes, and giving great video posts a hike up the feed. It’s basically training us like puppies to give users what they want.

  2. Saved posts and news feed references
    Posts that start a conversation are very much wanted. So ask a question, get people commenting and respond to them to keep it going. One great engaging post that has life in it is going to be seen in way more News Feeds than thirty that don’t spark a dialogue with your followers.

    Posts that get users searching for them or saving for a revisit will be getting a big boost as well, so consider that when you’re composing – give them something to go back for.

    You might also want to remind your followers that they can set their News Feed preferences to show your page posts at the top of their News Feed – I have some pages that I did this for, because I love their content and don’t want to miss any, but a lot of Facebook users are not aware of this feature.

  3. Groups
    Consider whether a Facebook Group might be a good fit for you. When you join a Group the notifications are set to on by default, and even without notifications Group posts are still showing reliably in News Feeds because Facebook figures that if you have opted into a group, you don’t want to miss anything.

    If you offer a product or service, where insider information or aftercare is worth something to your followers, you should definitely think about starting a group.

What should I exclude from the Facebook News Feed?

While we’re on the topic of page posts, here’s what not to do:

DON’T use engagement bait . You know those posts that shamelessly ask you to comment, click, like or share? Users hate them, so they are being actively demoted in News Feeds. And believe me, Facebook will know you’re doing it, even if you think you’re being subtle and clever about it. If you pitch yourself against their computing analytic power you will lose.

DON’T stop posting on your page. It can be tempting to flounce off when the rules change, but bear in mind the clout that facebook has in your target demographics, and remember how it looks to you when you click through to a business page and find tumbleweed posts from six months ago and little else. Not a good look!

Maybe paying for reach?

So that’s where we are with organic reach. How about paid reach? Yes, it’s Facebook ads, and you can’t put it off getting to grips with it any longer.

I know a lot of you have tried paid ads before, whether by using that tempting default Boost This Post option for a quick £20 win for facebook, or by jumping into the ad account and trying a few ads sent to enormous interest and location based audiences. Most of you will have been disappointed by the experience, and come out feeling like you just got fleeced, or have not the foggiest whether you got a single lead or booking out of it.

Here’s why you should think about giving it a second chance…

1. Ads you build in the Facebook ad platform get shown to users hanging out in a whole lot of places…

  • In Facebook – obviously.
  • Instagram – yes, that’s right, build one ad, get it shown here as well as facebook. Pretty cool, especially if you have a visually beautiful business like photography.
  • Audience Network – apps and websites that aren’t facebook or Instagram, but that run facebook ads

2. You can serve up ads to exactly the people in your fan base – these are called Custom Audiences. And they consist of….

  • Your contacts and leads
  • Your facebook people
  • Your Instagram people
  • Your website visitors

3. You can serve ads to people who are a heck of a lot like your fan base – these are called Lookalike Audiences. Facebook can use your fan base audiences as a blueprint and find you the closest matches it has. Remember that enormous computer power – here it’s on your side. Better still, you can focus down your pool of lookalikes to hone in even more on your ideal client by restricting age, gender, location and interests.

4. The ad platform will optimise your ad delivery to get the outcomes you want. All you have to do is tell it what you’re hoping will happen when a user sees your ad, and they will show it to the ones most likely to take that action. You also get built in measuring and reporting of outcomes, so you can see exactly what bang you’re getting for every buck you spend.

Ok, what to do now?

  • Link your Facebook page to your Instagram profile
  • Start building email lists
  • Get the Facebook pixel on your site
  • Start right now making posts that Facebook New Feed algorithm will show some love (did I mention video?)
  • Build relationships with influencers and get on their Facebook pages as well as your own
  • Get on our waiting list for our new Facebook & Instagram Ads Course and lock in your 25% discount now.

That’s right. We’re working really hard on a new online course, covering the A-Z of Facebook Ads for any small creative business, due to launch at the end of February. Use the form below to reserve your place with no commitment to buy.