Organic reach, on Facebook, is the exposure your posts have when they’re posted. In case you didn’t know, Facebook’s algorithm is constantly measuring the relative engagement between your brand and each individual user. If they visit your page, click your posts, like them, share them or comment on them, it increases their engagement ranking by some amount. If they stay away from your posts, hide them or otherwise ignore your brand, their engagement rank decreases over time.
The reason organic reach is important is because it’s a measurement of how high, on average, the engagement of your users happens to be. This is distinct from the engagement on promoted posts, which is artificially inflated and costs you money to enact. Sure, you could increase your engagement across the board by promoting every post, but that’s going to rack up significant costs over time.
How do you work to increase your organic reach? Here are three basic ideas.
1. Understand the Algorithm
The first thing you need to do is learn what Facebook considers an engagement factor, what drives users away and how you can affect your relative engagement. The umbrella term for all of this is the News Feed Algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank.
EdgeRank, as many still call it, is a constant calculation made between any two users. Interacting more with someone will cause their posts to show up on your feed more often. Ignoring them for a long time will tell Facebook that you don’t care what they post, and will lower their post visibility on your feed. It’s all specific on a per-user basis; there’s no one EdgeRank for your Page. Essentially, you need to know what goes into the calculation and how you can affect it. Here are the basics:
- Freshness of interaction. Essentially, the more recently a customer has interacted with your page in some way – even if that’s just clicking on your page and viewing your feed – the more likely your posts will show up on their feeds. How can you affect this? Post more often! More frequent posts, of varying types and with varying content, gives users more chances to click and engage with your page. More engagement, more recently, means more post visibility. At minimum, post once per day. Larger companies can get away with several posts per day.
- Type of post content. This is a little one that’s often overlooked. Facebook has started demoting the value of engagement for engagement’s sake. In other words, if you post a picture and ask your users to like it for no reason, those likes are going to be less valuable in the algorithm than likes on a posted picture where you didn’t ask for likes. How can you affect this? Don’t beg for likes and shares. Yes, common advice says to just ask for it, but it’s increasingly less effective to do so. Instead, be clever about asking for engagement. Ask questions, post riddles or post images that are attractive enough to like on their own merits.
- Type of interaction. There are only a handful of actions a user can take that affects their EdgeRank. They can click links in your posts. They can share your posts. They can comment on your posts. They can like your posts. They can follow your page as a whole, if they haven’t already. Beyond that, nothing has a major effect. How can you affect this? Post a variety of content that attracts each type of engagement. If you never posts links, you’ll never receive link click engagement. Post links that attract users to click through, post images users like to share, post questions users will comment on; it all adds up.
The keys are variety and frequency. If you master them both, your organic reach will expand.
2. Make Use of Facebook Insights
Facebook Insights is the Facebook equivalent of Google Analytics, designed to record the actions and demographics of the people who interact with your business page. This is an incredibly valuable little dashboard, if you know what’s important.
- Demographics. You can see the genders, ages and locations of the users engaging with your page. More importantly, you can see the engagement statistics for those demographics. Curious how often women between the ages of 17 and 25 share your posts? It’s right there, in the Insights panel.
- Engagement statistics per post. You can see, on a post-level basis, three numbers. One is the reach; how many people, in total, saw your post. One is clicks; how many people clicked the link in the content. The third is engagement; how many likes, shares and comments that post received. All of these are valuable to know.
- Engagement breakdown by time. You can see, in wonderfully constructed graphs, what times of day and what days of the week are best for posting new content. When are your users most active and most engaged?
All of this information is valuable on its own, but it truly shines when you put it together. Learn what types of people are most engaged with your brand, and what audience groups need a little love to shine. Learn what types of content gain the most exposure, and of what kind.
3. Draw Connections and Optimize Content
This is where you take your knowledge of EdgeRank and your insight into your community and combine them to increase your engagement as much as possible.
- Expand your audience. To do this, look at your demographics to find the audience groups that aren’t dominant, and determine what sort of content they like the best. Post more of that content to attract them.
- Engage your existing audience. You don’t want to neglect your dominant audience groups. Do the same thing you did for the previous step, but with your primary audience. This should be your main focus; keep the largest group of people engaged. Expanding your audience is important, but focusing on a core group is essential to maintain your current reach.
- Post more of your best content for clicks. Clicks are a very valuable metric for engagement, but they’re also essential for driving conversions to your website. Use linkbait titles, post partial infographics and otherwise encourage users to click through to your site.
- Post more of your best content for engagement. Some content doesn’t funnel users to your site, it keeps them in place and gets them to comment and share. Ask questions, run polls and generally encourage your users to engage; that’s how you succeed on Facebook.
- Time your posts for best effect. Figure out what the peak hours and peak days are for activity amongst your audience groups and time your posts to be available just before the peak. Make sure they’re visible when users sign on to check, but not so old they’re buried under more recent updates.
- Experiment with new styles of content for new audiences. At least one post each week should be an experiment, whether it’s to try a new type of engagement or to attract a new type of user. Without experimentation, you’ll stagnate as a brand.
Putting your knowledge to work is how you build your reach organically and save the money you would otherwise spend on promoting your posts.