I knew it was time for a change. So I did hours and hours of research about the latest Facebook algorithms, trying to figure out how to organically increase my reach (AKA how to get a lot of people to see my posts without paying for ads or likes or followers).
As I closed out August 2015 with almost three times more blog pageviews than the previous month, Facebook was my number one referral site. By a long shot. An average post a few months ago was reaching 6-18% of my Facebook fans. Now, I average 83% of my Facebook fans reached per post. This is obviously a significant increase, and there's a direct correlation between my new level of engagement and my spike in pageviews.
Today I want to share with you how I did it. I believe blogging should be all about community, not competition, and when I find something that works for me, I want to share it!
Your Facebook page is an extension of your brand
I thought my Facebook page was a place to link to my brand. I was wrong. The page itself is an extension of my brand. Instead of just promoting my latest blog post, I started posting relevant content from other sources interspersed with my own content. If I saw an article that fit really well with my blog aesthetic, or was about a topic I frequently discuss on my blog, I posted it. People started seeing these posts, interacting with them, and getting to know my brand on a more comprehensive level.
An example: If your company sells watches, your Facebook page should definitely have promotions and links to your watches, but it should also have content that has to do with fashion accessories, current trends in the world of watches, or time as a whole. You could post articles, photos and videos with titles such as "5 Surprising Time-Saving Tips," "Best Watches for the Professional Woman," or "Anyone else ever get a lovely tan line like this from forgetting to take off your watch? Oops!"
See what's happening here? Fans aren't just seeing a picture of your newest color of watch band. They're getting an entire experience from your Facebook page. Engagement will go up, and readers will continue to click on and see more of your future content. If they recently commented on your funny watch tan line, they're more likely to see your next post announcing this weekend's watch sale.
I'm very picky about the content I choose to repost on my page. I don't want to flood my fans with links all the time, and I don't want to share anything that doesn't reflect who I am or what my blog's about. But I've had lots of success engaging my audience by asking for their opinions (see my latest opinion post here) and posting content that relates to what I blog about (see my latest outside source link here). As a result, people like and comment a lot more, and the number of people reached per post has gone WAY up. That way, when I post links to my latest blog post, I have a large audience who knows what I'm all about and knows what to expect when they click through to my blog.
Capitalize on trending topics
One of the tricks that has brought me huge success is capitalizing on trending topics. If I'm scrolling through Facebook, and I see that a few friends have shared the same link, I'll click on that link. If it fits with my blog, I'll share it on my page. That way, even if people don't click on the link, they see your name as it says, "Silver Lining and three other friends shared a link." This helps readers see your name often, and expands the engagement to your page.
Figure out the best times to post
This is the most obvious tip in the whole post. Use your Insights page to see when people are viewing, and engaging with, your post. Surprisingly, a lot of articles I read in the past few weeks recommended the "infomercial" approach: post in the middle of the night! Nobody else is posting anything, so there's no competition, and then your content is the first thing people see when they scroll through Facebook the next morning. I haven't tried this yet, but I want to. Anyone out there had success posting in the middle of the night?
Engage your audience
Facebook has a hierarchy of interaction. Likes are the least rewarded. If someone likes your post, awesome for you, but your reach won't go up significantly. Shares are second best for increasing your reach, and comments are the absolute best! The more people that comment on your post, the more people will see your post. Try asking an engaging question to encourage people to comment on your post.
These are the four biggest things I did to increase my Facebook reach organically. However, there are a lot of other tips and theories out there. Here are some of the top trends:
Other current Facebook trends:
1. Become personal friends with your blog readers. Lots and lots of bloggers are sending personal friend requests to their readers now. Why? You are way more likely to see what a friend posted than what a fan page posted. Bloggers are capitalizing on that opportunity by becoming Facebook friends with their readers and then posting their blog links to their personal page. Some really big bloggers have started setting up a second personal account just for this use.
2. Using a Facebook group to promote your posts. I'm a member of a few grow-your-blog type of Facebook groups, where we all help promote and share each other's posts. I have mixed feelings about this. It might help me get lots of likes on a certain Facebook post, but it rarely results in more long-term readers, which is what every blogger needs.
3. Post videos! One of the latest algorithm updates (April 2015) gives slightly more preference to videos. I posted my first video last week and it had a big reach.
4. Don't sound like a salesperson. Less preference is given to posts that sound overly promotional. Do not use a lot of salesperson phrases such as, "Click now! Comment and share! Enter the giveaway! Sale ends tonight! Don't miss out!"
5. Buy ads. If you do decide to pay to promote your post, it is relatively cheap. I also like that you can specify your exact target audience. I'm planning on promoting this post (only my second paid promotion ever), and I'll be sure to update this post on my reach and whether it was worth the money. But again, I grew my Facebook reach significantly without paying for a single ad.
Now it's your turn. Tell me what works and doesn't work for you when promoting your posts on Facebook. Or are the Facebook algorithms just getting too demanding so you promote elsewhere now? If so, on which sites have you found the most success?
Two of the most helpful articles I found about increasing your Facebook reach: here and here
Why nobody's reading your blog: the hard truth and how to fix it
How to write an awesome pitch email
Quality vs. quantity: Which is more important and why it matters