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social media how toIs declining reach impacting your Facebook marketing ROI?

Looking to improve your Facebook exposure?

Organic reach has become harder to achieve on Facebook and marketers are turning to creative ways to get their messages seen.

In this article, you’ll discover how to help your Facebook posts go further.

How to Maximize Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith on Social Media Examiner.

How to Maximize Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith on Social Media Examiner.

About Facebook Organic Reach

I will say, tongue-in-cheek, that “organic reach is so 2012.” It’s a fact that organic reach on Facebook is at an all-time low of 2% to 6%, and it continues to decline. What may surprise you is that having a large Facebook fan base doesn’t seem to be as beneficial as it once was. Large brand pages with more than 500,000 likes have the lowest organic reach (~2%).

More than 60 million businesses have a Facebook page, yet only 4 million are active advertisers. You can imagine that Facebook would love to entice the 56 million non-advertisers to give ads a go.

Many businesses are stuck in a pre-2012 frame of mind, hoping that if they post more often, organic reach will suddenly kick back in. But that’s just not going to happen. The good news is you can significantly improve your organic reach with strategic paid efforts. That brings us to what I call the “Mari Method”!

#1: Start With Content Optimized to Generate Attention and Shares

Highly shareable content is the holy grail of social media marketing, and doing your best to optimize for shares is my number-one content creation tip. As people scroll the Facebook news feed, your content has to make people pause and read. The promise of your content must be thumb-stopping. What you deliver has to inspire people to respond with, “OMG, I must share this now!”

The Facebook news feed algorithms reward active advertisers and engaging content. The more reactions, comments, and shares your posts get, the better their reach. This goes for both organic and paid (your advertising dollars will go further).

Post content that will grab your audience's attention in the Facebook news feed.

Post content that will grab your audience’s attention in the Facebook news feed.

One of my favorite examples is this hilarious video by photo book publishing company Chatbooks. Granted, the company hired an agency and professional actress, but the outcome is better than anyone could’ve imagined: a whopping 63 million views and counting on Facebook! Not bad for a page with 150,000 fans (which has grown significantly since the video was posted in October 2016).

This is the perfect example of highly shareable video content that’s both entertaining and relevant. It’s a good day when you can get your audience and their friends sharing your video ads. The viral nature of this hit post has helped elevate both organic and paid reach.

The video post has continued to gain exponential traction over the past six months since it was first published. Chatbooks periodically pins the video to the top of their page, another great strategy for high-performing posts. They also published the same video on their YouTube channel, where it has received more than 6 million views.

This Chatbooks video ad has garnered an exceptional number of shares and video views.

This Chatbooks video ad has garnered an exceptional number of shares and video views.

As you develop your posting strategy, remember to minimize your ask; not every piece of content needs to have a call to action (CTA). Create a mix of content that combines promotional posts with posts that add value, educate, and entertain. And when you do include a CTA, keep it simple.

Pro Tip: Consider using a ratio of five non-promotional posts to every one promotional post.

#2: Build Organic Traction Before Promoting Posts With Ads

To get more mileage from your paid reach, let your posts run for 1-24 hours to gain some organic traction before boosting them. While increased organic reach is never guaranteed, there are ways to give your Facebook posts a better chance of good reach.

Here are some tips to make your content more likely to attract the views that yield shares and reach.

Post More Native and Live Video

Video continues to hold sway on Facebook with triple the engagement and 1200% more shares than text and image posts combined. In addition, when compared to YouTube video shared on Facebook, native video uploaded to Facebook has 10 times the reach.

Facebook native video has a much wider reach than YouTube video that's shared.

Facebook native video has a much wider reach than YouTube video that’s shared.

And because Facebook’s algorithm factors in the time spent on a video, as well as the shares it generates, you can use video to gain more visibility and reach on the platform.

Below is an example of a recent 40-minute “Ask Me Anything” Facebook Live broadcast I hosted on my business page. Remember, Facebook is favoring longer videos in the news feed now.

Although there’s no definitive answer to what Facebook means by “longer,” aim for 5-20 minutes or more if you can. Facebook is testing mid-roll video ads in videos of 90 seconds or longer, hence the reason for favoring longer videos in the news feed.

Mari hosts an

I hosted an “Ask Me Anything” Facebook Live broadcast for 40 minutes.

Pro Tip: Use your video views to create a custom audience and retarget with future posts.

Create a Mix of Post Types

You can deliver content on Facebook in a number of different ways, including video, slides, photos, and text. While some people may prefer (and therefore share) your photos, users who are pressed for time might be more likely to share a text post. Mix up your post types and you’re more likely to attract views from a variety of users.

Repost Popular Posts

Identify content that received a lot of attention the first time you posted it on Facebook. Then repost it to capture the attention of people who didn’t see it the first time and give users who did a chance to revisit it and share it again.

Use Organic Audience Targeting

If you have specialized content that’s more likely to be of interest to a specific type of Facebook user, use Facebook’s Audience Optimization tool to choose a more friendly audience for that content.

To access this tool from your page post composer, click the targeting icon.

Click the targeting icon to add tags and restrictions with the Audience Optimization tool.

Click the targeting icon to add tags and restrictions with the Audience Optimization tool.

The Preferred Audience tab lets you select interest tags to show topics to people who’ve demonstrated an interest in them.

Add interest tags that reflect the people you'd like to reach with your Facebook post.

Add interest tags that reflect the people you’d like to reach with your Facebook post.

Use the Audience Restrictions tab to narrow the visibility of your post based on location, age, gender, and language.

You can also narrow the visibility of your Facebook post.

You can also narrow the visibility of your Facebook post.

After your post runs, refer to the Audience Insights feature to see how the post performed so you can adjust the preferred audience and restrictions for future posts.

Pro Tip: The Audience Optimization feature also works with Graph API, Instant Articles (add tags to your stories when adding to your RSS feed), and third-party publishing platforms like Sprinklr.

Tag Relevant Pages in Appropriate Posts

If the content of your Facebook post mentions or promotes another business, tag the business in the description/narrative of your post. Your post will then pop up on the other business’s page, which is likely to draw their attention and result in a share, increasing the potential audience for your post.

If you have a blue check mark verified page, be sure to make use of the Branded Content feature when promoting a third-party brand, product, or sponsor.

Pro Tip: If your page is blue check mark verified and you’re publishing branded content, consider working with promotional partners from time to time to help elevate the reach of one another’s content.

If you have a blue verified badge for your page, use Facebook's Branded Content feature for third-party promotions.

If your page has a blue verified badge, use Facebook’s Branded Content feature when working with promotional partners.

Drive Traffic From Off-platform Sources

If you embed Facebook posts on your blog or link to them via other channels, you’ll help send people who click on them to Facebook, improving your reach. (The unique URL for any public post on Facebook is the timestamp of the post.) In addition to showing your Facebook feed on your website using a plugin, you can embed individual posts and videos in your blog posts.

It’s also advisable to include a link for a specific Facebook post in an email or to link to your Facebook page by including the icon in your email footer, blog, or other website pages.

All of these methods give people who may not have seen your Facebook content another chance to click through.

Publish From a Verified Facebook Presence

If you have a large business, you can apply for a blue check mark verification for your Facebook page. Not only does this check mark lend authenticity to your page or profile, but you’ll also get a higher priority in search results, giving you more visibility for your posts.

While not exactly the same, verifying your local business with a gray check mark badge has similar benefits.

Getting a gray check mark badge for your Facebook local business lends credibility to your page.

Getting a gray check mark badge for your local business lends authenticity to your Facebook page.

Tests to Run for Fine-tuning Your Posts

Length: Not every audience prefers bite-sized Facebook posts. Whether it’s character count or video time, test post length to determine what gets the most organic reach. This will tell you if your audience prefers short- or long-form content.

Timing: During off-hours, people are less rushed and may be more likely to take the time to share your content. Play with the timing of your posts to find out when your audience is most receptive.

Frequency: If you publish posts too frequently, people may start ignoring them. Try posting less often to see if mixing things up is more likely to draw attention.

#3: Prioritize Audience Engagement

Take every opportunity to engage your audience because that’s part of what keeps them coming back for more. The guidelines of good conversation for in-person contact apply to social media too. When people leave a comment, recognize that they’re starting a conversation and be sure to respond to any comments you receive. Let people know they’ve been heard.

Also acknowledge people who share your posts. Hop on over to the shared post and hit one of the reaction buttons (like or love) to let people know you appreciate their share.

When Facebook fans leave comments on your posts, be sure to respond.

When Facebook fans leave comments on your posts, be sure to respond.

Remember, Facebook loves to reward posts with high engagement. There’s a news feed algorithm signal for “recency”; posts that garner engagement quickly are more likely to get wider organic reach. But with your more evergreen (rather than time-sensitive) content, audience engagement may continue for a longer period of time, especially when you apply the technique discussed in #4 below.

#4: Amplify Your Organic Reach With Paid Promotion

Here’s where you start to pay to boost the reach of your content to improve your Facebook marketing ROI considerably. Rather than promote everything, apply some strategic selection to amplify the established organic reach of specific posts with Facebook ads.

For some posts, your objective may be to raise awareness and increase engagement and video views, for example. But for other posts, you’ll want to promote those with a link so you can drive traffic to your website. (Of course, remember to have the Facebook pixel installed and test retargeted promoted content.)

After you select your posts, decide how you want to allocate your budget. For the best results, spread out your ad spend and avoid blowing your entire budget on a single post with one boost or one ad.

When you run your Facebook ad campaign, it's best to spread out your ad spend.

When you run your Facebook ad campaign, it’s best to spread out your ad spend.

Here’s an example: Suppose you have a $300 budget to amplify a specific post. Take the first $100 and create an ad set to promote the post. If your post includes a link to your website, choose the Traffic objective. If it’s a video, you might choose Video Views as your objective.

Facebook’s ad algorithms will start amplifying your organic content and paid content. Run your ad for two to three days, and then pause it for a day or two. Next, take another $100 and create a different ad set and repeat the process for the same post. Finally, repeat this process again with the last $100.

Pro Tip: The Mari Method has proven you can extend organic reach over many weeks and months, even. With a quality, evergreen post and using the wave theory of applying budget, pausing, and then applying more budget, you’ll find the life of your post extended significantly.

One favorite example is a signature blog post by fitness expert Bree Argetsinger (a.k.a. The Betty Rocker) that she shared on Facebook. Periodically, she’ll add budget to promote this Facebook post to drive new traffic to her evergreen blog post, allowing for fresh custom audiences and retargeting.

The Betty Rocker continues to garner reach, engagement, and clicks from a Facebook post published over two years ago.

The Betty Rocker continues to garner reach, engagement, and clicks from a Facebook post published over two years ago.

Although The Betty Rocker blog post was written in 2015, it continues to deliver measurable results with a whopping 29,400+ shares and counting!

Another example is the Facebook Live “Ask Me Anything” broadcast mentioned earlier. About 24 hours after the broadcast, I allocated a $200 budget in Ads Manager with two different ad sets, targeting a lookalike custom audience of my customers in the United States along with a lookalike custom audience of my fans in Canada.

I let my Facebook Live video get organic views before adding budget, which helps lift organic reach.

I let my Facebook Live video get organic views before adding budget, which helps lift organic reach.

In less than 24 hours of running the paid promotion and then pausing the campaign, video views had doubled. Now I have 31,000+ video views, of which more than 13,000 are 10 seconds or longer. This is a great segment for creating a Video Views custom engagement audience and retargeting with additional content.

Video metrics are available for page admins when you click on the total reach or in your Insights.

Video metrics are available for page admins when you click on the total reach or in your Insights.

Note: Depending on the country I target, I’ve seen the cost per 3-second video view come down from $0.01 (U.S. and Canada) to $0.005 in other parts of the world where additional segments of my target audience reside.

Conclusion

The steps outlined above will help you significantly increase the organic reach of posts with paid Facebook promotion. That said, Facebook’s algorithm is driven by many factors. Though everyone in the Facebook community has some say in what they see, Facebook has other considerations as well.

For the best results for your business, work with the algorithm as it exists right now. Stay up to date and make adjustments as the algorithm shifts.

What do you think? Have you paid to promote posts that have established good organic reach? Will you try this method? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

How to Maximize Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith on Social Media Examiner.

How to Maximize Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith on Social Media Examiner.

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