Surviving Digital Darwinism and Thriving under Facebook’s Algorithm Changes
If you run a Facebook page then you probably know by now that Facebook wants you to pay a serious cost to be the boss on your audience’s news feed. You’ve probably also noticed promoted posts showing up at the top of your own news feed lately, while some pages and friends posts have all but disappeared.
According to New Media Rockstars, some Facebook pages have seen a 40% decrease in reach for posts and it has proven frustrating for many small businesses, bands, and news pages that have been building up their following for months.
Instead of talking about the post promotion option in this article, I’d like to focus on how to reach a larger audience without paying for it since many people don’t have the marketing budget to pay Facebook to promote their posts. Let’s jump right into it:
1) Make posts that want to be shared!
Always ask the question: “What benefit am I providing the people that are going to read this post?”. What does your target audience want to know about? What useful information can you give them for free, right then and there? It’s like karma; if you give people something useful, then it will come back around to you, usually in the form of an engaged reader who will most likely share future posts or become a customer of your business. You are the expert in your field, so you know better than anyone what your audience wants. Give them that 🙂
2) A picture is worth a thousand words (or a thousand links)
I’ve seen pages that get stuck in the habit of sharing link after link with little to no original content and consistently get low engagement and reach on their posts. Especially with the more recent news feed algorithms, photos are a much better option. Photos that you upload to your page have a sticky element to them. That is, no matter how many times they get shared, they will always lead people back to your page. If you are sharing links, any trace back to your page is gone within 1-2 shares. Not good for helping your post go viral and bringing new people to your page. No doubt you will want to share useful links from your page, but why not embed them in the picture description? As of now, pictures seem to be the go-to move for Facebook marketing.
Organize your pictures into photo albums centered around certain topics. It’s the easiest, most user-friendly way for readers to browse through your old posts to find what they are looking for and is definitely worth the time to create.
3) Start a Conversation
As part of a larger trend, Facebook has tailored your news feed to show who you interact with. You’ll notice that your friends who you chat it up with are usually showing up while your friend that posts pictures of his pet turtle every day is nowhere to be found (poor turtle). Make your page a forum for people to exchange ideas and knowledge. Ask questions that will spark that conversation, and contribute in the discussion yourself. The pages that I’ve seen consistently succeed on Facebook are the ones that really spark good discussion.
4) Build a Community With Similar Pages
This is perhaps the most important aspect that frequently gets overlooked. One of the best ways to expand your Facebook presence and get new people hitting your page’s like button is to get another page to share your material. It’s amazing what a few private messages to various pages will do to get the ball rolling to accomplish this. Start building relationships with other page admins and ask what you can do to help them. Let them know when you share their posts and keep showing up on their page. They will remember you when you have that amazing post that their audience would be interested in.
I run a relatively new page on Facebook that has a modest reach but when we had an inspired post, we were able to get some very large pages to share it – resulting in a 200K person reach and 200+ new page likes within a couple days.
It definitely takes a lot of practice and skill to effectively reach out to people that you don’t know, but admins from prominent Facebook pages are surprisingly willing to engage and mix it up with their fans. I plan on writing more about this art in future articles. It definitely involves a certain shift in perspective by approaching things from the other person’s perspective. Start planting those seeds right now and get yourself on their radar as someone who contributes meaningfully to the discussion around your topic.
Even though it’s a drag that Facebook is putting more emphasis on paid promotion for posts, I like how they’ve been eliminating a lot of noise from people’s news feeds and facilitating a more social and interactive experience. A lot of the development at Facebook comes directly from user experience studies and if you are giving your audience what they want, you can bet that you will be rewarded.
-David Abramson is the CEO and dishwasher at Make Yourself Visible, helping people market themselves online and in their local communities.