21 / November 2017, 1st In SEO
If you’re a small business owner then you probably realize the importance of advertising on Facebook but with a limited marketing budget it’s essential you make every dollar count.
You’ve also probably felt the soul crushing frustration of spending hours creating content only to see it reach 15 people.
With engagement so low it might be tempting to ignore Facebook and focus on new exciting platforms like Instagram or SnapChat (and don’t get me wrong you should be on those networks) but with two billion daily users you simply can’t turn your back on Facebook.
Since 2012-2013 Facebook has made it clear that businesses will have to pay for reach but just because the platform is monetized doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to get the most organic engagement out of every post.
In 2016 Facebook earned roughly 27 billion dollars from ad revenue alone. And while Facebook advertising can be great for small businesses, don’t flush your money down the toilet, limit your advertising budget to important events and your absolute best content.
Don’t contribute more money to Mark Zuckerberg’s bottom line. Follow these tested strategies and double your posts organic reach.
Videos get more engagement on Facebook than any other type of media.
According to Buffer Social, on Facebook, videos get more than twice the engagement than photos and almost four times the engagement than posts with just text.
We’ve seen this reflected on our account and the accounts we manage.
It doesn’t even have to be your own content. You can get lots of traction from reposting videos from other accounts that are relevant to your industry. In the industry, it’s called “curated content,” all that means is your reposting other people’s shit. For example, if you’re in the construction business or home renovation, posting videos from DIY or HGTV will increase your organic reach more than a Facebook post with a link to your blog.
Look at this comparison between posts on our Facebook Page, which has over 22,000 likes/followers.
The first, a blog post had 11 reactions but it only reached 23 people.
The second post is a video of Anthony Bourdain disparaging Yelp, everyone’s favorite review service. I found this “curated content,” on Business Insider and reposted it.
There are a lot of factors that could influence reach but we’ve found this to be true with almost every video. The blog post above received over 25 likes and 22 retweets on Twitter the first time it was posted, so naturally I assumed it might also do well on Facebook.
This should make it clear that Facebook’s algorithm prefers video content, with over 8 billion videos are watched on Facebook every day.
If you want more organic reach your business must focus on videos. We can all recognize the characteristics of popular videos on Facebook, but how do you create successful videos that get tons of organic engagement? Here are the basics:
Follow these guidelines to create stellar videos and watch your organic reach increase exponentially.
If you’ve been posting once a day or even three times a day because you see bigger accounts doing it, try cutting your scheduled posts down to three days a week.
This is a subject of heated debate. You can easily find 15 different white papers with 15 different opinions, backed up by statistics, concerning the optimal number of times an account should be posting on different platforms.
You should experiment with frequency. If once a day on Facebook is working then don’t change anything, but if you see engagement dropping off, try reducing the amount of times you post to three times per week. After several weeks compare the results and see which method yields better results.
If you’re not the Washington Post or The New York Times you don’t need to post more than three times a day. For smaller accounts the line between seeming spammy and highly motivated is a thin one. The last thing you want to do is irritate customers by overdoing it on Facebook. There’s a place and time for overdoing it and that place is Twitter.
Along those same lines use caution when tagging people. Few things are as irritating as being repeatedly tagged in posts for a pre-workout supplement you don’t use or your co-workers pyramid scam of the week. I stopped going to a gym because of this sales tactic. I’ve stopped talking to people entirely because of network marketing. I don’t want to buy your goddamn lotion or your mushroom coffee.
This should go without saying but don’t post click bait or misleading articles. With the exception of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Facebook has been pretty straight forward about how their Newsfeed algorithm works (this doesn’t include ad buys, they are a separate more complicated issue.) They’ve stated repeatedly that their algorithm:
Keeping these points in mind you should strive to post only your best content. Take the time to create posts that resonate with your audience.
If you plan on creating video content make sure it follows the specifications listed above.
If you’re writing blogs make them informative. Write more than the standard five hundred words. Long-form content is king. Make sure to include high quality photos.
There are plenty of free, low-cost, easy to use software applications that can help business owners in the quest to create better content.
You can also hire someone on one of the many freelancer sites to create videos or graphics.
There is no excuse for low quality content. Take the time or money to produce better content and your business will see positive results.
Attaching your business to a trending topic can rapidly increase organic engagement but be careful about which topic you choose. Trending topics are often controversial or linked to politics, tread carefully, even benign topics can quickly turn on you.
Most of the businesses we work with don’t have the desire to be enveloped in a political firestorm and I don’t blame them, if you’ve followed our company long enough then you know we’ve had our own brush with politics.
When our former CEO went on Fox News and announced he was refusing to take Trump supporters as clients, it injected the company into the middle of a political shit storm. This had an immediate two-pronged effect, (1) the company’s website received more traffic than most SEO companies get in a year, crashing the server. (2) Our former owner’s address, phone number and the location of his children’s schools were published on white supremacist message boards and he received thousands of death threats, obscene phone calls and negative reviews over the Thanksgiving Holiday.
As bad as everything looked from the outside, it actually doubled our customer base and gained us many enthusiastic supporters, literally overnight.
Someone even went through the trouble to create a blog saying we were a fake business without any customers. For several months, our most searched search term according to Google Analytics was: “what is an SEO?” I can tell you what it is not. The whole thing was a lot of fun and it was super cool to be the center of a right-wing news conspiracy but eventually all the craziness died down.
We got tons of inquiries from customers in major cities as well as brands that were beyond our capability to promote. Shortly after, Matt sold us the business and moved on to the politics.
Matt’s approach might seem very counterintuitive for a business owner but it’s actually a tried and true marketing tactic-say or do something controversial and watch your exposure sky rocket- all publicity is good publicity. To use another tired buzzword, it was Growth Hacking 101.
A year later we still receive the occasional hate review and our Google My Business rating is pretty low but the business is doing very well and poised for more growth beyond just search engine optimization and web design.
The longer you spend in marketing the more you realize that there are really two ways to get attention; either spend a ton of money and focus on conversions or insert yourself in the center of a controversy and spend nothing. It’s that simple. If you’re in a boring business you have to spend money to get a fraction of the exposure you could get from doing or saying something controversial. But tread carefully, there is always a downside and that could come in many different unexpected varieties.
So, what I really was trying to say before that short diversion was that as you probably know Facebook has a list of trending topics when you hit the explore feature on mobile and on desktop it’s on the right-hand side of the page, I don’t know anyone under the age of 65 that looks at Facebook on desktop but whatever.
Look at these topics and then click on the videos associated with them. If they are apolitical and you feel like they represent your business well then repost them i.e. curated content. We do this on some level for most of the Facebook business pages we manage and we see much higher referral traffic on Google Analytics from Facebook than when we just post blogs from customers websites.
With over 2 Billion daily users Facebook is the best direct marketing platform in history. Your business should absolutely be taking advantage of its highly targeted advertising capabilities but if you have a limited budget, getting the most out of every dollar is imperative. Until you have the revenue to devout at least $1000 a month to Facebook advertising you’ll need to be strategic.
Save money for your best content and most important events.
Take the time to develop quality content that resonates with your audience. Be patient, content marketing takes time. Building an audience that responds to your content won’t happen overnight. Persistence is key and so is experimentation especially with Facebook.
And while Facebook continues to drastically cut organic engagement it’s still one of the best ways to reach new customers.
Remember, utilize videos to your advantage, make sure it has subtitles uploading an SRT file is easy, don’t rely completely on the auto generated captions provided by Facebook and YouTube there are several transcription services available at low cost that will prevent you from posting an embarrassing typo.
Post your highest quality content, save your very best for Facebook.
And finally, if you notice a dip in engagement, try posting less often or reposting trending topics.
Follow these simple steps and watch your organic reach double in no time.