It’s no secret that Facebook reach has dived to an all-time low. I get it— it’s super frustrating when you craft some fantastic Facebook content to see it reached less than .5% of your Facebook fans. BUT— there are some ways to increase your reach and engagement rate. Follow these 13 best practices and you’ll improve your chances of your blog or small business appearing in more news feeds.
1. Get niche
In my experience, the most successful pages on Facebook (that didn’t have to pay for thousands of pounds worth of advertising in order to be successful) are the ones that cater to a niche audience. A great example is the Facebook page for my site The Abroad Guide — I have never paid for a page likes campaign in order to increase our likes, and the only other advertising I’ve done was to promote sponsored posts and our e-book, which in total cost less than £50. Despite Facebook’s ongoing algorithm changes, the Facebook page still sends a large amount of traffic to the site, because I create content for a very specific audience — American students who will be studying abroad.
When I worked in the corporate world I managed the Facebook page for Citalia Holidays, which consistently had an unusually high engagement rate, much of which can be attributed to the fact that our audience was made up of super-enthusiastic Italy fans who loved to talk about their own holidays and secret hot-spots they discovered in Italy.
Just as with your business or blog, when it comes to Facebook it’s better to focus on a smaller, more specific market than to try to cater to everyone. You’ll create a community more quickly of people that are willing to engage with you and will be interested in what you have to say.
Is your target market even on Facebook? Here’s how you can find out if they are, and also which other social networks you should or shouldn’t be using.
2. Post vertical photos
According to Facebook, over 80% of people using Facebook are on their mobile phones, therefore they think of themselves as a “mobile first” company, and you need to do the same.
What “mobile first” means is that they create updates, products, support, etc. thinking first about the mobile experience and then later on thinking about how it affects their users on desktop. You should do the same, and the first step in thinking mobile first is to think about how your images show up when someone is viewing their newsfeed on their phone. A tall, vertical photo is much easier to see than a wide landscape one (take a look at your mobile newsfeed right now if you don’t believe me!)
So as a rule of thumb, post vertical photos over square or landscape ones. They’ll look much better and are much more likely to be engaged with, which will help increase that particular post’s reach.
3. Don’t combine photos + links
A few years back, Facebook reported that photos get the most engagement on business pages, and when they did, everyone started uploading photos and then sticking links to their products or blog posts into the caption of the photo. More recently, Facebook wasn’t a fan of that and therefore is “penalizing” pages that still use that practice.
So when you’re posting a link, make it a link ONLY (don’t upload a photo until the link preview has appeared) and keep links out of your photo captions in order to increase your reach.
4. Use short + sweet captions
We’re thinking mobile first again with this one— so you know how when your posts are longer than a sentence or two, the caption gets truncated and that “see more” text pops up? Well, I hate to break it to you, but your followers will RARELY click to see more.
Facebook captions and statuses should be kept to once sentence, two at the maximum— shorter is definitely sweeter. I’ve even created somewhat-viral Facebook posts that only had one word in the caption. Short, succinct, and clever is the goal here!
Are you making one of these common mistakes that small business owners make on social media?
5. Don’t post videos that are heavily audio-based
So, you’re posting videos on your Facebook page? THAT’S GREAT! Facebook favors video so much at the moment so that’s a great move. However, remember that Facebook videos are different to Youtube. If the attention-grabbing point of the video is audio-based and not visual, you’ll miss out on views because when Facebook users are scrolling through their newsfeed and your video pops up, they might not have sound enabled— or even on— and will miss the audio that’s meant to grab their attention.
Instead, create your videos so that they have a visual right at the beginning that grabs attention. If the viewer is intrigued, they may turn on the sound— although many don’t, so if you choose to focus fully on the visual, that’s just fine.
SweetAmbs is a baking blog that absolutely KILLS it when it comes to Facebook video, so her page is a great one to look at. I watch many of her videos when they pop up on my Facebook feed, but I barely ever turn the audio on– her videos don’t need audio because it’s all about the visual. Head to her page to see what I mean.
6. Ask questions
Social media is SOCIAL— so don’t just talk at your followers. Ask them questions, and encourage them to interact with your posts. They’ll feel special when you listen and reply to their comments, and will feel more like your page is a person and not just a faceless robot trying to promote your stuff to them.
Some ideas for questions you can ask, just tailor them to your audience/topic:
• Ask what their favourites are
• Ask for their suggestions for something you’re not familiar with
• Ask about their experience with something, like an event or holiday
• Ask what they would like to see on your Facebook page/blog/business site
7. Get your targeting right when boosting a post
Facebook advertising can be great because it gives the little guys like us a chance to promote our content starting from just £2. But even if you choose to boost your posts with just a couple of pounds here or there, make sure you’re spending that money wisely.
When choosing to boost a post, you’ll see you have some options for who you’d like to target with your ad. Since you’re likely working with small budgets, then generally speaking your best bet is to target the people who already like your page. The reason for that is that they’re already familiar with your brand— they liked your page so they know who you are and may have visited your site before. Therefore, your post is more likely to be relevant to them, and they’ll take action.
If you have a small amount of likes on your Facebook page or have some budget available for a bigger reach, choose the option “People who like your page and their friends”. The friends, although they will be a new audience for you, will be more likely to be similar to your followers and therefore similar to your target audience.
In some cases, the “people you choose through targeting” will be your best options but generally speaking, stick with the above.
8. Post once per day, every SINGLE day
Facebook themselves have said that they really value consistency — therefore it’s REALLY important that you’re posting at least once per day, every single day. This is where scheduling will come in handy, as you don’t want to ever be scrambling to get a post out.
If you post more than once per day, this won’t be too detrimental as I’ve seen plenty of Facebook pages do it, but ideally you’ll want to be posting daily, according to Facebook. Plus, we all only have so much time in a day to devote to scheduling Facebook posts!
9. Share content that is useful and isn’t just about you
In #6, I mentioned that there is (obviously) a very big emphasis on the SOCIAL side of Facebook, so it’s SUPER important that you’re not just talking about yourself/your blog/your business on your Facebook page. You won’t see any growth in your likes, and those who DO follow you will get SO bored that your engagement rate with be very sad and low.
Follow the 80/20 rule (ok fine, this is a different 80/20 rule than you might already know) — 80% of the content you share should be useful to your audience and not about you (for example, how-to’s and list posts), and the remaining 20% can be about you. Give them tons of value, and they’ll be likely to return the favour… in some form.
In the end, remember this— Facebook fans are like friends. If you had a friend that never asked you how you’re doing, but rather just talked about themselves constantly… how long would you stay friends?
10. Tag relevant accounts
We’ve just discussed sharing content that isn’t just about you, so when you share something that was written by someone else, tag their Facebook page in the post. You can do this by typing “@“ before typing out the name, and their page should pop up (although the system isn’t perfect.)
By tagging other accounts, it gives them a heads up that you’ve shared some of their content and maybe they’ll return the favor by sharing a post of yours or giving you a shoutout for the niceness. It’s easy, so get in the habit of doing it!
11. Use analytics for optimised posting
Don’t be afraid of your analytics. Use it to find out when your customers are online (shown below, found in the Posts tab) so that you can schedule your posts to go out when your audience is on Facebook.
Another metric to take a look at in Insights is your post reach and engagement. Get to the screen below (in the Posts tab again) and sort the list by Reach to see which posts reached the most people, or you can sort by post clicks or likes, comments & shares. Those posts at the top of these lists are your most successful, so you should try to emulate them as you continue to create your Facebook content.
12. Stop using hashtags
There’s nothing specifically on the Facebook Business resource centre saying that hashtags are or are not making any difference for brands, but I asked about them on a visit to the Facebook Head Office last year and the answer I was given is that they are fairly pointless. Hashtags haven’t taken off on Facebook as they have with Twitter and Instagram because the Facebook algorithm means that even if a brand uses a hashtag, there’s no way to know how much more reach the post will get, if any at all.
So… you can forget the hashtags. Don’t waste the characters.
13. Follow Facebook’s guidelines about promo posts
Did you know that Facebook devalues posts that are “promotional” in nature? In the beginning of 2015, Facebook changed its algorithm so the following types of posts will show up less in news feeds:
1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
The above is word-for-word from this announcement in Facebook’s business centre, so you know they mean business. This is something you definitely want to keep in mind when creating your Facebook content with a goal of increasing your reach. If your posts have words like “sale”, “discount”, “download/buy now” then Facebook will make sure it reaches very little people.
Are any of the best practices listed above something that you’re not already doing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.