This is the latest in a series of posts where we share our own experiences as a business on social media. Check out lessons we learned from 15 of our best-performing Tweets and what 20,000 Tweets taught us about Twitter images.
Let’s play a game of true or false, shall we?
It’s harder than it once was to reach your business’ Facebook fans with your content.
It’s impossible to reach your Facebook fans.
It’s time to give up on Facebook.
Really, very, super false.
Facebook is probably a more powerful business tool than it has ever been. The company is pushing e-commerce features like a brand new buy button; it ramped up its video strategy, making it a serious competitor for YouTube; and Facebook ads are becoming more accessible to all businesses.
If you’re a small business trying to make an impact on Facebook, you might have been frustrated by your falling reach. Social media advertising, while cheaper than traditional alternatives, isn’t a budgetary option for everyone, and many just don’t feel comfortable testing those waters.
When you rely on organic posts to succeed on Facebook, you really need to put in the work and ensure that you’re sharing the right content. Content that both meets Facebook’s expectations from brands, and resonates with your following.
We’ve tested organic posts on Facebook for years, and all of that data has taught us a lot about what makes good Facebook content. You can find a lot of that insight below.
How to Succeed on Facebook
Know your audience
This is good advice for any social network, but is especially true on Facebook where organic reach isn’t easy to come by. To increase your chances of getting your content seen, you need to share content that is as interesting and relevant to your followers as possible. You need to share this content consistently, not every once in a while. Every single post should be something that you believe your followers will want to read. If they do read it, they may be more likely to see your content the next time, and then the cycle repeats itself.
As a social media tool, we know that our followers would be most interested in content that relates to social media.
That is not nearly enough information though.
We know that our followers wouldn’t really want to read about LinkedIn or Google Plus on Facebook, so we emphasize content that is related to Facebook and Instagram. We also know, from years of testing and tracking analytics, that our Facebook audience prefers more simple, helpful content over technical stuff.
All of that information is used every day by our social team to guide their Facebook posting. The results speak for themselves.
This Facebook video on Facebook ads organically reached over 30,000 people, earned over 1,000 clicks and over 550 individual engagements. And it did so, despite being a very blatant product video (those work?!). In addition to capitalizing on the power of video, it meets every quality discussed above that would make it relevant to our followers.
This post doesn’t even have an image (something we generally avoid doing) and still managed to reach nearly 15,000 people. In doing so, it earned over 700 clicks, well above average. Why? Because the content was extremely relevant to our audience. We knew this post was going to be a hit on Facebook, and we weren’t disappointed.
Post a lot of content. Learn what your followers enjoy. Learn what resonates and what reaches the most people using Facebook Insights. Then, double up on this type of content. It’s the only way to succeed organically on Facebook.
Capitalize on video
As mentioned above, Facebook has made a serious push into the video world. In addition to introducing a whole slew of incentives for video creators, the social network recently changed its algorithm in order to take into account other forms of engagement on videos—turning on the sound or making it full screen, instead of the traditional focus on liking and commenting. This means, videos have a better chance of appearing higher in the feeds of people who watch a lot of videos. Considering videos on Facebook now average four billion views each day, that’s a pretty big demographic on Facebook.
Brands should be taking advantage of these changes by emphasizing video on their pages. Some of Hootsuite’s best ever Facebook posts have come from videos in the last few months.
We scored an exclusive interview with Shia LaBeouf. We chatted about social media, fan engagement and general tips and tricks… until things got a little weird. #INTRODUCTIONS
Posted by Hootsuite on Friday, June 5, 2015
Earlier this summer, actor Shia LaBeouf released video of himself talking in front of a green screen, allowing anyone to reuse the footage. We decided to take him up on that, and put together a weird video pretending that Shia joined us for an interview.
We posted the clip organically twice. One of these posts reached 111,000 people, though it had only a few hundred clicks and similar engagement (Likes, comments, shares). The other post had less reach, finding its way to 54,000 people, but had 1,300 clicks.
Both of these posts were huge successes for our page, and they represent only a few of our forays into Facebook video. We’ve seen success with higher production videos like our Social Game of Thrones, which reached 15,000 people and earned a high number of shares. Small businesses can take solace in the face that we’ve also seen success with low effort videos, like our Star Wars Day clip. The 18-second video reached 58,000 people and earned over 700 clicks.
Owly-Wan Kenobi is at it again. #StarWarsDay #MayThe4th
Posted by Hootsuite on Monday, May 4, 2015
You may have noticed that a lot of the content in our videos was related to pop culture. Why? When Facebook introduced hashtags in 2013, it showed its commitment to surfacing trending stories and themes. That commitment remains in place today, and capitalizing on trends is a surefire way to increase your chances at success with organic Facebook posts.
Don’t try and force unrelated posts into a trending conversation with hashtag dumping or weird associations. Only connect your content to trends if it makes sense and feels natural. Or, plan ahead if you know something is going to be trending on Facebook.
The latter technique is what we use this past Father’s Day. Facebook is no longer just the realm of friends: users span all generations, which means entire families are on Facebook, from grandkids through to grandparents. We correctly assumed that Father’s Day would get its fair share of attention on Facebook, and decided to create content for the occasion.
We put together an album of social media dad jokes, and uploaded them to Facebook as an album. Though engagement on the album was average, the post fit into the mold of what was trending on Facebook at the time and ended up in a lot of people’s feeds. Reaching nearly 8,000 people, the album actually ended up being our most-clicked post of the past few months, having been clicked 1,400 times.
This formula for capitalizing on a trend can be emulated by any business, regardless of size. Find a trend that makes sense for you, and prepare content. Even a simple campaign can greatly expand your organic reach.
Take a stand, join a conversation
Similar to trending topics, a new theme among brands is actually taking a stand on social issues in the news. This seems to go against everything that has been taught and said about marketing for decades, since taking a stand can isolate certain clients. With that in mind, we don’t recommend that you do this unless you’re very aware and comfortable with the consequences.
That being said, 56 percent of Americans now believe that corporations should engage in discussions on socio-political issues. Plus, over 20 percent of 25 to 36-year-olds are more likely to buy from a business whose socio-political stance mirrors their own. It’s no wonder the Guardian dubbed 2015 the “year of the pro-social brand”.
If you share the beliefs of your core audience, publicizing those beliefs in the right way can actually help your business. Where else would you publicize those beliefs than on the same social network that millions of individuals already use every day to engage in these social discussions? That’s right, taking a stand on Facebook can actually make your brand feel more like a regular user, which can only help your organic reach.
A recent example of a social issue which became the talk of Facebook was the American Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. This is a topic that we at Hootsuite are fairly passionate about supporting. When the ruling was announced, we felt that we needed to share our joy with our user base, so we shared the following to Facebook.
Other brands clearly felt the same, as companies like Starbucks and Spotify also took to social channels to express their happiness at the Supreme Court’s decision.
We cannot emphasize this enough: do not take a stance for the simple sake of getting lots of likes or comments. Only take a stance if you truly feel strongly about a cause, and are willing to put your business behind it, potentially losing clients in the process. We wanted to share this point because a growing number of brands are talking about socio-economic issues on social media, and this is something that businesses should be thinking about. This is especially true of companies in some way tied to these issues, which could mean everything from the environmental impact of your product to the treatment of animals by your food suppliers. Even if you’re not prepared to post on these topics yourself, be aware of these issues, since someone else might just bring them up on your page.
Listen to Facebook
A lot of the mistakes brands make when publishing content to their pages all comes down to one factor: ignoring the algorithm. Facebook is very open about what content they are favoring in news feeds, and what content is going to take a back seat. It may seem like a simple lesson, but many people aren’t paying attention to the regular changes that Facebook announces.
When Facebook started favoring Page posts that included images, we made sure to include images. When they cracked down on overly promotional content, we listened and made sure to avoid those algorithm queues. We truly believe this has helped our organic reach, and we found out about these changes at the same time as everyone else: when Facebook announced them.
Follow the Facebook newsroom blog for news of changes to the algorithm or pages. Pay attention to news sites that cover the social media industry, like TechCrunch, Mashable, and yes, this blog, to stay on top of less apparent Facebook shifts. And, perhaps most importantly, watch your Facebook analytics. Any rapid changes or drops in reach will be a big indicator of changes happening on Facebook’s end.
These are some of the many lessons we learned from our top performing Facebook content. For more insight, check out some of our other Facebook marketing tips, and Facebook’s very own “Page posting tips and best practices.”