Yup. You read that right: organic reach on Facebook is dead. Well, practically. And to say we couldn't see this coming would be a lie — ever since Facebook started "allowing" businesses to boost posts into their followers' and friends-of-followers' news feeds, we were doomed.
But we ate it up. Because $5 here and $20 there was not a big deal when you got a big boost in traffic to your blog or website, but now? Ask any major brand or business and they'll tell you that almost no one sees their content unless it's boosted.
In fact, Facebook admitted that organic reach of business pages dipped because its algorithm works to "make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site."
And while the shift sent business owners like yourself to grumbling in a rage over budgets and the injustice of it all, we continue to engage and feed the beast. But we also learned to adapt.
Facebook Groups: We In This!
Starting a private Facebook group became the Facebook hack du jour in 2015 because you didn't have to pay to get into your group member's feeds — it happened automatically. For every post. Until Facebook allowed group members to limit how much of that content was seen. Bummer.
And while there still is no sign of boosting group posts (that would just be overkill, amiright?), it turns out that not all hope is lost for organic reach on Facebook after all. The secret? Using the tools Facebook WANTs you to use.
I'm talking about Facebook Live.
The Secret Weapon: Facebook Live
Facebook rolled out Facebook Live to all users on April 16, 2016 amidst the heated popularity of Periscope and marketers quickly jumped on the bandwagon to blast their live video feeds out to the world. This came as a surprise to literally no one because most consumers already use Facebook (versus Periscope's Twitter — and, let's face it, things are not looking good for Twitter anyway) and as a business owner, you naturally go where the money leads you.
Which is Facebook, just to be clear. Not Twitter.
Facebook threw the entire weight of the company behind Live by adjusting its entire app to accommodate live feeds for discovery and alerts when people go live. You could tell this was something the company was excited about and they wanted you to be just as excited.
The thing is, the more I used Facebook Live in my businesses, the more organic reach and engagement I saw. And I'm not the only one. It seemed that if there was something that Facebook wanted me to get behind, they'd give me more of what I wanted — reach and engagement.
Looking back, the same was true for the link preview feature. Remember when you wanted to post a link (and have it look good), you had to upload a photo and add a link to your caption? Then Facebook rolled out the preview feature (which provided a sweet image, preview text, and a URL of the website you were being sent to) and you started seeing more traffic from those posts than others?
Well the reason that all went down was because users were being baited and switched by spammers that were posting images with shortened links in their captions, and it was creating a bad experience. So when Facebook rolled out their link preview feature to cut down on the practice, they throttled reach to photos with links in the captions and allowed more traffic to those links using the appropriate auto-preview feature.
Bottom line, you do what Facebook wants you to do in order to maximize your organic reach.
That brings me back to Facebook Live. Facebook really wants this feature to succeed, and as someone who runs multiple Facebook pages, I can tell you that organic reach has increased year over year thanks to Facebook Live and video uploads. So we do more of it. But there are some tricks I've learned over the past few years:
- Be consistent. Creating content when the urge strikes isn't a good plan no matter what form it takes — you gotta have a schedule. Set yourself up for success by creating a programming calendar for yourself. Not only will your fans start to LOOK for your content, but you'll be more prepared when the cameras go live.
- Ask for engagement. Asking for what you want your fans and followers to do is a best practice no matter what you're doing. Having that call to action and giving your fans something to DO will increase the chances that they'll engage with you. As soon as you go live on Facebook, ask your viewers to do something. Ask them to tell you where they're watching from, what their favorite color is, or hell — ask them to like and thumbs up this broadcast. The more engagement you get in the beginning of your broadcast, the better your broadcast will seem to Facebook's algorithm, and the more overall reach you'll see.
- Test your times and lengths. There's no set rules to when the best time to go Live is. And if anyone tells you different, they're full of it. I could have sworn that an early morning broadcast would have been the best time for CreativeLive's audience (during commute hours when people are on public transit or getting into work), but turns out it was more like 11:00 a.m. Not even lunch time! Who knew?
- Test your formats. We also found that the CreativeLive audience preferred demonstrations over lectures. We wouldn't have known that unless we tested out different formats at different times of day. Live in a world where you're never afraid to test and learn and you'll never go wrong.
Facebook Live can be your key to increasing your organic reach on Facebook, but it's not a silver bullet. Organic reach is dying quickly, so be prepared by increasing your boosting and Facebook Ad budgets. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Need some fresh eyes on your Facebook page, or social media channels overall? I can help you out with that. Check out my services page and see how a consultation can help you put your best business foot forward!