It’s a war most of us as bloggers find ourselves in with Facebook fairly often: our desire to have our posts seen by our likers, versus Facebook’s desire to not overwhelm its users with thousands of updates every single time they log on.
With so many users on the world’s biggest social media site (Darren said this week it’s been logged as 1.317 billion monthly active users in the second quarter of this year), the potential for reader overload is astronomical. Facebook advertising executive Brian Boland explained a few months ago that Facebook now handles more pieces of information than ever before, mostly due to how easy smartphones make it for people to share. He says that there is “far more content being made than there is time to absorb it”, and for people with lots of friends and page likes, there is potential for up to 15,000 stories to be available every time they visit the site.
So what does that mean for Page owners? Well, it means that the Facebook News Feed Algorithm is designed to show your readers what is most relevant to them, not every single thing uploaded. What you need to do now is be relevant. And how do you know what is most relevant to your audience? You get familiar with your Insights.
What does your audience want?
For all the general advice we can give, it doesn’t beat your own personal experience, and the needs of your readers.
In your Insights tab, you can click on “Posts” and then “When Your Fans are Online”.
As you can see, the Likers of my Veggie Mama Facebook page are online pretty much all day – but 8pm sees the biggest spike. If I want to catch the most of my readers, that would be the time to do it.
So now you know when your readers are online – the next step is to see what types of posts on your page they interact with the most. Click “Post Types” and get an overview of successful post types (including their typical reach and typical engagement rate). For me it’s video, followed by status, link, and then photo last.
Where to from there?
Make a plan to increase the types of posts your readers like, while still trying to stay useful, interesting, and entertaining. Facebook themselves say the most engaging posts you can create on Facebook are “short, original, benefit the person viewing the content, and connect to your objectives and identity”. But at the end of the day, you want real interactions with your readers, so being authentic regardless of post type should be your main aim.
Facebook also recommends video and images for the best interaction, especially those that depict humans and their relationships with others.
Facebook’s recommendation to use video, and my insights listing video as the most popular post type, is consistent with the conclusions we came to yesterday about what worked on popular pages. For four out of the five pages we studied, video was their first or second most successful post type.
You can see here that a recent video shared on singer Beyoncé’s page has had incredible success. 222,000 shares (almost double the highest share rate from yesterday’s posts), 42,000 comments, and almost half a million likes.
So what makes it work?
- it’s original – only Beyoncè has this particular video
- it’s current – The 50 Shades of Grey book was a phenomenal success, and excitement for the new movie is ramping up
- it features a never-before-heard Beyoncé track that fans would be interested to hear
- both Beyoncé and 50 Shades of Grey are highly popular among their target audience
- It also doesn’t hurt that mobile Facebook video autoplay would make this run automatically in people’s feeds, making it look like they’re interested in it (regardless of whether they actually want to watch it or not)
It has long been said that images were consistently achieving the best results for people looking to increase their reach. Beautiful images, relatable images, funny images – as visual creatures, it appears that appealing to that sense is usually a winner.
There is little doubt that Humans of New York has nailed the use of images on Facebook. Primarily to showcase his photography work, Brandon’s Facebook page has become a legend. Every day, millions of people see and interact with the images and small snippets of conversations he provides.
So what makes it work?
- It’s heartwarming
- It’s relatable – whether you are someone like that, or know someone like that. It might make you think of your parents or grandparents
- Love is a language that transcends all barriers
- It’s a beautiful picture in a beautiful park
- The people are smiling – they’re obviously happy, and that can be contagious
- Readers might think this will brighten others’ days as it has theirs, so they share
- It’s also a bit cheeky and people love a bit of a joke.
- It’s a little bit unexpected – often the elderly have assumptions made about them and their usefulness due to their age. To see them cheeky and joking around is pleasantly surprising.
While usually focused on people (hence the “Humans”), sometimes the unexpected on the HONY page works even better.
For a while there, it was popular to try and provide useful or engaging text statuses, as they seemed to be the least penalised by Facebook (at least, less penalised than links, which could be seen as too promotional or salesy, and less penalised than overtly meme-y or spammy images). It gave rise to the question, or the fill-in-the-blanks. For some, it works really well. For others, it really can be seen as a blatant engagement grab, and quite off-putting.
So what makes a great text status?
Let’s look at Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. With more than two million fans, and a regularly-updated Facebook page, Ree connects with her readers in a variety of ways (mostly with images of her delicious cooking). But Ree has a quirky sense of humour her readers love, and often gets the text status exactly right.
Always self-deprecating, Ree likes to poke fun at herself and how she looks on her Food Network cooking show. Her penchant for overexaggerating also usually sparks a giggle.
Ree has a brother with special needs, and he is quite the character on her blog. Many of her readers can relate, and think he’s sweet.
Again, her quirky humour and casual, friendly demeanor really makes an impact. Thanking your readers for something is usually something they appreciate.
People want to know there’s a human person behind the Facebook page, and that the person is interested in them. If the reader comments or otherwise engages with the content on the page, they want that engagement to be a two-way street. If you are a blogger, then make an effort to be around. Don’t just post and run – post and chat. Post regularly (but not so much that your posts get hidden as people get sick to death of seeing you) and be approachable. Facebook keeps track of the pages that each person interacts with, and boosts the visibility of the last 50 pages in the newsfeed. It’s ideal to be one of those last 50 interactions (which include engagement and profile/image views).
Not only will Facebook limit the reach of meme content in favour of more relevant (i.e. current news or shared interests) pieces of content, but fans will see through desperate grabs for likes or comments. It also pays to be thoughtful and aware of giving your readers what they want without appearing overly strategic. At the end of the day, you still can’t beat being useful, inspiring, visual, and interactive. And nobody will tell you what works on your Facebook better than your readers will, so get to know your Insights.
As Jon Loomer says:
Meh. Just share interesting content. Monitor your results to figure out what works.
(Jon will be back tomorrow with some super-useful tips from the other side of the coin – advertising and marketing on Facebook – it’s not to be missed!)
Do you think as a whole, bloggers are over-thinking Facebook organic reach strategy? Have you found reaching your fans frustrating? Or have you hit a stride that works?
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.