The Facebook Hack That Will 10x Your Reach
Sometimes, it seems like finding success on Facebook is a lot like a quest to find the Holy Grail.
Are you on the right path? Or is there a grumpy old bridge keeper standing in your path, asking you random questions?
If you're like most businesses using a Facebook Page, the vast majority of your posts reach just a fraction of your fans.
It's a trend that's been declining for years.
The good news is, I've found a way to turn the tides, and get back some of your hard-earned fan exposure!
Instead of reaching just 2% of your fans, how does 20% or more sound? My average Facebook Page post today reaches 25% of my fans organically, and that's more than a 10x improvement over just a few months ago!
We'll quickly go over Facebook Reach and make sure we're all on the same page, and then dive right into the hack and techniques I used to make Facebook relevant to my business again.
What is Facebook Reach?
Facebook defines organic reach as "how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page."
As the owner of your Facebook Page, any time you share a post, you'll see in the lower left a number indicating that post's reach. Like this:
Note that Reach isn't necessarily just the people who Liked your Page and saw the post in their feed - anytime someone likes, comments or shares one of your posts creates an opportunity for that post to be seen by their Facebook connections.
Therefore, it's quite possible for an individual post's Reach to exceed the number of fans for a Page.
Total Reach is the combination of both Paid and Organic. Any time you boost a post, whether it's to your fans or a different audience, you'll accrue paid reach. For this post, however, we're focusing on Organic Reach.
How To Dramatically Improve Your Facebook Reach
To improve your post reach, there are two things that you need to do:
First, Only Post Images & Videos
When you want to share something to Facebook, there are actually several different kinds of updates you might create:
- Text / Text with Link (no preview)
- Link Preview
- Shares of other people's posts
- Image with Text / Image with Text & Link
- Video with Text / Video with Text & Link
- Live Video
Note that the addition of one or more hashtags adds an additional variable to the mix. be sure to experiment with your own Page to see if the use of hashtags has a positive or negative impact on your post reach.
Facebook's current algorithm currently ranks posts according to the perceived level of interest by fans. Generally speaking, as you go through the list above, Reach increases as you go.
Text-only status updates tend to get the worst possible reach (< 0.5%) while Live Video will get staggering levels of reach, particularly if you broadcast for more than 10 minutes.
Yet, most businesses and marketers tend to share status updates that are Link Previews. Like this one:
When you put some text and a link into a new status update, or use a tool like AgoraPulse to schedule a post, Facebook automatically hides the link and generates a 'Link Preview' which shows the linked page's Title, Description, Image and Domain, as well as Author if Facebook Authorship is set up.
If the linked page is set up right, like a nice blog post, it becomes a very attractive presentation on Facebook. Users can immediately see that it's an article, what it's about, and be drawn in by the image. Clicking anywhere on the link preview will take them directly to the article.
The problem is, everyone knows that, including Facebook.
Link Preview posts are, by definition, designed to drive traffic off of Facebook and to a different website. Facebook would prefer those users stay within the Facebook universe (hence, Instant Articles which exist within facebook.com), and most Facebook users tend to ignore articles in their feed unless they're really, really interesting.
So, naturally, posts of that kind aren't ranked as highly and distributed as broadly as images or videos. Most users would prefer to see a nice image or watch a great video in their feed.
Therefore, make each and every one of your posts an Image or Video.
That's not to say you can't share links to your content, far from it. But instead of sharing links the normal way, share an Image first and include the link to your content in the description.
- Start a new status update on your Facebook Page
- Drag a great image from your desktop into the status field
- Only then, add some text to describe your post, and the link to your article.
It works whether you post natively, immediately or scheduled, or use a third-party tool like AgoraPulse.
The key is to start your post with an image first, rather than putting in your text and link, otherwise Facebook or your tool will assume you want to share a link preview.
Here's what my share of this article looks like:
Whether you're sharing your own content or someone else's, take an extra couple minutes to find and upload an image first. In fact, if I want to share an article I found and they don't have a great image of their own, I'll find an image myself, rather than just share the link and get a link preview post.
Of course, all of your own blogs and articles should have a great image included. Landscape and Square images look best.
Video refers to native videos, which means video files that you upload directly to Facebook. A link to a YouTube video will convert into a playable video in the stream, but is still considered a Link post (as are GIFs and shared Facebook posts, by the way). Over on the Facebook Page for Trafeze, we extensively tested unique, natively uploaded videos and, on average, saw a 10-20% improvement on Reach.
If you use Facebook Live to broadcast a live video to your audience, several things happen:
- Your fans and followers may get a notification that you're currently Live.
- Your Live Broadcast will appear at the top of the feed for most followers.
- Your Live Broadcast will appear on Facebook's Live Video map.
- Once your recording is finished, the video will appear in your feed and on your Page as a normal uploaded video, only now with a head start on Reach!
Second, Frequently Post Engaging & Entertaining Images
As a content marketer, you're no doubt using your Facebook Page to engage your audience and share with them the latest content that you've published, which is great!
However, most people using Facebook aren't looking for your latest post. So when they see a linked article in their feed, they not only have to judge their personal interest, but also whether they have the time available to invest in reading it.
That's why most people who see your content their feed keep going.
They're looking for 'snackable' content.
If all you ever do is share links to your articles, or even a mix of your articles and other people's articles, you're missing out on opportunities to engage with other members of your audience who might not be interested in reading, or reading that particular topic, at that particular time.
Instead, mix in images and even videos along with those links to give your audience the kinds of posts they can immediately react to and engage with.
That means it needs to be media that is both engaging and entertaining. Humor. Quote Graphics. Even brief tips can be OK.
Make it a point to share one or two great images a day and you will accomplish to essential feats:
- Your audience will come to appreciate and expect your image posts, and will Like, Comment and Share them more often.
- Facebook will see that increased engagement and will:
- Show your posts more often to your engaged fans
- Show your posts a little more often to your other fans
Doing this consistently, day after day, week after week, will restore even the most brutally barren Facebook Page.
Trust me, I've been there.
Six months ago, as I mentioned earlier, I was lucky to get a 2% Reach on my Facebook posts. Despite thousands and thousands of fans, I'd share my latest blog post and Reach no more than 150.
Post Planner is more than just a social media management tool for Facebook and Twitter. The tool is specifically designed to help you find interesting and engaging content to share with your Facebook Page.
You can find content that's Funny, Informative, Inspirational... whatever you're looking for.
You can designate specific sources that you know and trust, or allow Post Planner to serve up posts that have already seen success on Facebook within the past week or month.
And that's how you can get started.
Create a Post Planner account, connect your Facebook Page, and look for images to queue up to be shared. If it's appropriate for your Page and audience, your best bet is to use humorous images and memes. If your audience tends to expect a more serious tone, consider motivational quotes.
The key is to choose content that your audience can take one look at, appreciate, and then react to with a Like, Comment or Share.
Post Planner allows you to create a schedule for your Facebook Page so you can decide in advance when the best times to share with your audience might be, and then simply add content you find to your queue. Post Planner takes care of the rest.
Once you've re-engaged and re-invigorated your Facebook Page audience, you can use Post Planner's fantastic queue to line up shares of your evergreen content. Simply create a new share with your article's image, add descriptive text and a link to the post, and add it to your queue. Be sure to turn on the Recycle option so that the evergreen article will be re-added to your queue once shared.
I currently have 30+ articles in my recycled queue and continue to add more from my archive as part of my ongoing maintenance.
Third, For Even More Reach, Post Using Instagram
Once you've found and begun sharing great pieces of content using Post Planner, it's time for the final part of this hack. Instagram.
Since Facebook owns Instagram, and since Facebook knows that users love seeing great images in their feed, Facebook tends to give even greater weight to images shared from Instagram.
In other words, once you have an image you want to share, you'd post it first to Instagram and, before sharing, toggle the Facebook share button, like this:
Of course, you'll need to make sure that it's your Facebook Page that's connected to your Instagram profile, and not your Facebook profile. You might even consider creating a second Instagram profile for your brand, once that's connected directly to your Facebook Page, as I have.
When you post the image, it immediately goes to both your Instagram profile and Facebook Page, and begins to reach both audiences.
Here are a few tips:
- Instead of adding hashtags to your Instagram caption, which would then be simultaneously shared to Facebook, try posting the hashtags as the first comment instead.
- Be mindful of each account's best times to post. You may find that it's best for you to post to Instagram & Facebook a couple of times during the day, and then only to Instagram late at night and early in the morning, for example.
- While caption length tends to be irrelevant on Instagram, Facebook users tend to prefer that you keep things short. You can reiterate the text that's in the graphic or say something about it, as long as you try to stay within 120 characters total.
I've also found that it's extremely helpful to find a style of image post that's easily reproduced, like a quote graphic, and have a large supply of pieces of text available. You can then use an app like Typorama to create high-quality, branded images for both accounts.
Facebook Reach has been going down for brands, and will likely continue to go down to as little as 1% in the coming years. To ensure the effectiveness of your Facebook activity, it's critical that you create the kind of activity that your audience craves and Facebook rewards.
Right now, that means sharing images and video content.
Even when you have an article you want to share, that share must be created as an image or video post rather than a link preview.
And you can use Post Planner and Instagram to quickly ramp up your Facebook engagement.
Within a few weeks, you should see all of your Facebook posts achieving far higher levels of Reach than before.
If you have questions, leave them in the comments below. And stay tuned for future observations and updates on utilizing Facebook!
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."Follow @Mike_Allton