It’s no secret: reaching your digital audience is harder than ever.
In recent months, Facebook released a series of changes to its algorithm, resulting in the reach of page posts dropping as low as 2 percent for large brands. That reach decrease is enormous given that it stood at a reported 16 percent two years ago. Many social media experts fear that organic reach could soon reach zero.
Facebook isn’t the only channel where reach is falling. As early as October 2012, research found that a user’s Twitter reach and interaction declined as its audience expands.
So what’s a brand manager to do? Here are four easy steps to help you reclaim your brand’s digital reach lost to Facebook’s changing algorithm.
Measure and optimize post performance
Research shows that in some cases, Facebook engagement has actually increased since the algorithm changes. Facebook will still serve the content that users are likely to interact with, so your most loyal and engaged fans should still see your posts.
Marketers should shift their focus to measuring and optimizing engagement, a metric that signals a deeper relationship with the consumer. Boost engagement by:
• Promoting the right content: Put ad spending behind the content that can boost your bottom line, such as product listings, promotions, and coupons.
Ignite consumer content sharing
• Posting about your coupons and sales: Everyone loves a great deal, and coupons and sales drive sharing and commenting.
• Testing a variety of types of Facebook content: Monitor the differing engagement levels of status updates, photos, videos, and links.
• Avoiding calls to action: Facebook considers taglines such as “Like this page,” or “Share us with your friends!” part of a tactic called “like-baiting,” and it could penalize your post.
• Sharing links: Facebook itself stated that links would receive preferential treatment within news feeds. Even better, links that are commented on are “story bumped,” or reintroduced into the news feed at a later time.
• Analyzing the days and times when you receive the most traction: Change your posting habits according to these measurements. Use Facebook’s analytics to find “when your friends are online.”
• Using geo-targeting for posts relevant to a specific region: This will help you reach a more targeted, engaged audience.
• Interacting with Facebook users: Asking questions in your posts and responding to comments is a simple tactic that many brands ignore.
With the rise of mobile, Facebook, and content-sharing networks such as Vine and Instagram, consumers are more empowered than ever to create and share content. Organic reach might be down, but brands can still amplify their messages through consumer sharing.
Encourage your fans to create and share content as a way to strengthen bonds and increase reach by:
• Creating contests or giveaways to encourage sharing: Use a social media marketing app to run contests in which users are spurred to enter sweepstakes, take polls or quizzes, secure special offers, and more.
Diversify your channels
• Building in sharing benefits: Encourage people to promote your campaign to their friends by offering additional perks—such as more chances to win—for sharing.
• Running a photo contest: Photo contests rack up engagement. Your fans submit photos in droves, share your campaign, and encourage their friends to visit and vote.
• Working closely with influencers: Influential celebrities and brands with a big Facebook audience will share your campaign, resulting in more reach and participation.
• Partnering with like-minded brands: Businesses can tag brands in their posts for wider reach. Use this to your advantage by running partner campaigns.
Facebook is still the most popular social media network, but brands are finding success on other fast-growing networks where. Developing campaign strategies that take advantage of all these networks will become more crucial as Facebook reach declines.
Connect campaigns by:
• Promoting a campaign hashtag: Hashtags enable you to gather campaign participation from all channels—social media, direct mail, radio, television, and digital ads.
Focus on the data and metrics that matter
• Embedding your hashtag campaigns on your website: This increases visibility and participation.
• Monitoring and showcasing real-time responses to your campaign: Build a branded collection of responses, and publish them on a landing page or your website.
• Featuring a digital gallery of user photos in-store: In-store displays prompt your brand’s in-person customers to interact with you through mobile and digital.
• Collecting email addresses: This arms a brand with contact information that can be used for future targeted promotions over the long term.
• Extending the reach of your emails by making them social: Create Web versions of your emails, and include “share” buttons.
• Including coupons and links to products: Your campaign will drive site visits and e-commerce sales with direct links to purchasing options.
When it comes to social media, reach is only one measurement of success. Ultimately, you’ll have to move beyond Facebook’s in-channel metrics like fan count and PTAT and think about optimizing all of your social media efforts for ROI. Do this by:
• Reporting on social media referral traffic to your site: Narrow down which posts drive numerous site visits that signal which kind of content works best.
• Monitoring click-through traffic and sales: Using Google Analytics, unique links, and UTM parameters you can track the traffic and sales performance of each social media campaign.
• Tracking email acquisition: This can be refined to include cost per subscriber and identify which social media networks are performing best.
For a more visual look, consult the infographic below:
[WORKSHOP: Brand Journalism for Corporate Communicators Workshop.Dates in 4 cities: Chicago, Washington D.C., Toronto and Denver.]
Read more tips and tactics to respond to Facebook’s decline in organic reach by downloading Offerpop’s comprehensive eBook, "Thriving After Facebook’s Reach Decline."
Mairead Ridge (@MaroidRage) is the senior manager of marketing for Offerpop (@Offerpop), a marketing software company based in New York City.