The one secret to increasing Facebook reach that nobody talks about.
Social media marketers are sick to death of discussions about how to (try to) beat Facebook’s algorithm. Post reach has gone so low that some have either stopped posting altogether or have caved in to purchase Facebook advertising. Reach as low as 2% has been reported, making other channels look more appealing to marketers. We’ve tried everything: contests, apps, posting multiple images, video; even killer content sometimes falls flat. But there’s one secret to increasing Facebook reach that nobody talks about: homogeneity.
The more alike your Facebook fan base is, the more likely it is that you can find and create engaging content for them. It has always been the case, from old-school one-way advertising until now, that it’s easier to reach people effectively the more they have in common. Targeting and segmenting are still the key. What determines how homogenous the group is may be age, gender, interest, socio-economic level, or geography. If you can get more than one of those factors within the group, you’ve got some real potential for reaching them with the right message.
Case in Point
Kingston Springs, Tennessee is a little bedroom community of Nashville that has about 3,500 residents. The town sits at the very Southern tip of the county, separated not only geographically but also socio-demographically and ideologically. It considers itself unique and, indeed, it is. Many people know each other, the town has a long history, and there is a great deal of community pride. When the town decided to start a farmer’s market, the market’s new Facebook page got over 600 likes right away; about 17% of the community liked the page. What municipality gets 17% of its residents to do anything, ever? But the really striking metric is an average post reach of 43% without any boosting or other paid advertising.
While Facebook won’t say exactly what goes into its algorithm that determines post visibility and therefore reach (and the possibility of engagement), certain factors are known to help, such as posting pictures and videos vs. text-only posts. Indeed, some of the photo albums on Kingston Springs Farmers & Artisans Market page have gotten over 300% reach. The page uses a number of best practices. But what is most striking in this example is the homogeneity of the group. The interest of its members is very high for things going on in their community, and there aren’t as many retail and other outlets competing for their attention.
Homogeneity is the one secret to increasing Facebook reach that nobody talks about. So what is a social media manager to do if its constituents are diverse? Here are some things to do that can help:
1. Create separate pages. Let’s say a large nonprofit wants to reach donors, clients, grant-making bodies, and community partners; the message to those segments may diverge. Create a group page (a different sort of page than a company page) for clients that speaks to their needs.
2. Create a page around an issue. Get like-minded people to rally around a mutual concern, like homelessness or the environment. Instead of one entity running the page, share the page among a small number of organizations with mutual interest in the issue.
3. Be very specific in your messaging. It may not be practical to segment and manage multiple pages. If your audience is diverse, be sure that each post speaks to ONE thing that one homogenous sub-group cares about. Don’t try to be all things to different people in one post.
The key social media success is relevance, and the more homogenous the audience is, the more relevant the content is likely to be. Increasing Facebook reach isn’t easy but it can be done, without paid advertising but with consistent work and a finely tuned understanding of the audience.
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