Why We Still Believe in Organic Reach in Facebook
Last week one of my team posted a rather innocuous quote on one of our facebook accounts (luckily it for me it was one of our 'in house' pages – my Parenting and Education page for the ECE teacher market. )
This page currently has just under 1400 likes. I was a bad person, and left it alone for a year (sitting at around 600 likes) because I wasn't sure what my game plan was, and then started to rebuild a community at the beginning of this year, using one of my team members to help me source and post.
Last week we posted this quote to this audience. Without boosting or paying for advertising, this one quote has reached an audience of 17, 800 people, shared 132 times, been liked or commented on more than 1100 times and help use increase our page likes by 42.
I often hear people say organic facebook growth is a thing of the past, and you need to pay to be seen. And yes - I agree that your page probably does need a budget to use in effective targeted advertising. We have one and I use it carefully (around $100 NZD a month targeted at the specific demographic) We mainly use this to direct people to events, or to push to a paid offering.
However, this post above is illustrative of how we have built an engaged community, that helps us then to more effectively market to them. We often get likes, engagement and shares that are higher than our total page likes.
When we take over the management of an existing facebook page, we often find increasing levels of engagement can take a little - mainly because the original likers aren't that engaged, and often haven't been "fed" for a while.
It takes time, effort and consistency to build an engaged community.
Here are some simple tips
- Think about your target market and what they need or want to be reading and interacting with, when they are in their downtime. Are you delivering that? Have you taken the ego out of your facebook page? Some of my most shared items are nothing we've created specifically - and I'm good with that because they bring in people who DO then read our stuff.
- Unless you're a big brand, you can't rely on sporadic posting- you don't have the numbers or the referral audience. Are you building a level of trust through regular and consistent posting? (we post from five to twelve times a week on different pages, depending on the target market. We measure engagement carefully - for some less increases the engagement, for others, more is more.)
- Use your budget carefully.There is still room and benefits of "paying to say" but if that's all you are doing, you are just broadcasting, not creating a community of people who want to stay with you. Facebook is pretty good at helping find the posts that will work best in a boosted post, but utilising the ad manager section is better for reaching your target audience. (and not all their suggestions work - the post above had way too much text, so even though they suggested to add budget, it would then would not have been approved!). A good use of budget in this case would have been to target the same group with a pay-to-use offering.
- Effectively leverage off high trafficked groups and pages to increase views and engagement. We didn't use this in the post above, but we do use this across all our pages - we look for and find communities that want value, and then supply it (after taking the time to build trust first)
- Stay positive. I've blogged on this before - but if you get moody, or stressed or snarly online because facebook isn't fair, you turn off a pile of people or attract the wrong sort of engagement. This includes the old "please share so people can see it" posts. If it's good, or it strikes a chord, they will. You don't get to choose what they do and don't want to share. It's missing the point of what true engagement is all about.
I'm really passionate about building engaged communities and followings around brands and businesses. It does take time. And it does take effort. But -if you are advised that you need to pay to say on facebook, and that organic reach is dead, you are listening to the wrong people. And you'll get less than optimal results (and possibly just end up blaming facebook for something that is not its fault. )
Yes, facebook is a business, and yes, it's frustrating when you've got page likes but little interaction, but actually part of the fault will rest with you - if you aren't interesting or relevant, people won't want to visit you. (it's just like real life!). The more interesting you are, the more facebook helps you be seen.
Couple this with some of the incredible tools facebook provides to help you locate your customers, and we've got a winning marketing tool suitable for many businesses (note: not ALL)
Rachel Goodchild is managing director of Identify.
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