Understand & Improve your Organic Social Media Reach
A little context
Facebook uses an algorithm to decide what posts to show people in their respective news feeds. It is widely thought that a 6% organic reach, for a page, is the norm unless you have over 500,000 followers where organic reach hits a lowly 2%. That is to say, if you have 2,000 followers the chances are your organic posts will reach less than 350 people.
How you act on your own page, (posting and interacting with people) influences this algorithm; either by boosting how often you get shown or by doing the wrong thing you can harm how many people you can be shown to. Therefore it’s incredibly important to post in a certain way whilst on these platforms as it will either positively or negatively affect your performance on social.
So how does the algorithm work?
My favourite explanation for this came from Adam Mosseri (VP, News Feed at Facebook when the quote was taken, now head of Instagram). He explains that an algorithm is “a formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem” and the problem Facebook needs to solve is, what posts should be shown in the news feed and where.
The average user has 338 friends, whilst there are over 60 million active business pages. So understandably Facebook wants to show people the posts they think users will enjoy the most. Otherwise, people would get less enjoyment seeing posts from people/pages they don’t care about as much risking less time spent on the platform.
Adam continues by drawing the perfect analogy to explain how Facebook decides what to show you, by comparing this to a real-world scenario: what food to order in a restaurant for your partner. The four steps you would need to take to come up with the right response are as follows:
- Assessing what’s on the Menu.
- Peripheral Factors i.e the time of day will influence whether to order breakfast or lunch.
- Predictions based on previous experiences, last time my partner enjoyed the vegetable tacos, maybe another vegetarian dish is the way to go or some Mexican Food?
- Make your Move - Place the order and remember next time how they enjoyed it.
In Facebook terms, this boils down to:
- What People/Pages have been posting?
- Signals such as time of day, the device the user is on etc. As this will influence how people react to different types of posts.
- Using previous data to see how they engaged with those types of posts. Did they like, share or comment? How long did they spend watching the video or reading the article?
- Deciding what to post, but analysing how the user reacts to post to continuously learn and remember the types of posts that will keep you on Facebook for as long as possible.
One thing Adam doesn’t explain is how a post is drip fed from the beginning to test engagement. To continue the analogy imagine you order your partner a pizza. Rather than the waiter bringing out the entire pizza, they bring a slice at a time. This way you can check that your partner is happy and responding well to the food you ordered. If no one reacts to your post, or engagement slows the waiter will stop bringing out the pizza. Even if there was once a positive reaction.
Therefore to get the best out of our posting we need to keep a balance between keeping our users happy and engaged but also Facebook/any other platforms you post to. So how can you positively influence your pages algorithm and keep users happy?
Mixing up your posting
I always stress to clients the importance of mixing up the types of content you post. As users will become bored by a repetitive type of output but more importantly because you want to keep your page in Facebook’s good books. Let me explain…
Social media platforms algorithm works in a slightly different way to Google. Google wants to find the most relevant piece of content for your query and help you get to page away from theirs. Facebook and the like, want to show you content they think you will enjoy, but they also do not want you to leave their site. So posts with external links get pushed back negatively, being shown less in the news feed.
Not only will this stop your post from getting seen, but if you do this too many times you will affect your pages algorithm meaning regular posts or photos get shown to fewer people too. This is why you need to post photos, videos, notes and regular posts as often as you post external links to your own website.
*Top Tip - For clients who have a little budget, boost your external link posts with some paid advertising. These paid posts don’t negatively affect your page and will get the post shown to more people, who you can also target more effectively.
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