Ah, Facebook organic reach. No other subject in social media marketing has caused as much controversy…or as many headaches.
While many social media professionals have noticed a decline in Facebook reach over the last few years, the effect has become more extreme in the aftermath of the 2018 Facebook algorithm change.
Is organic reach on Facebook really that low for Pages and brands? According to the latest data, it sure seems like it. Take this case study on organic reach for Facebook Pages in the APAC region over time:
Okay, so average Facebook reach in 2018 is pretty low. What’s the solution if you still need to get your posts seen?
While the obvious answer is to devote more time and money to paid Facebook ads, there’s still hope for your organic posts. You can beat the Facebook algorithm, reach a wide audience, and make Facebook an effective distribution channel for your organic content.
How? By following these 15 essential tips. Click the links below to skip to each tip, or just keep on scrolling.
But first—what does reach mean on Facebook?
What is Facebook reach, exactly? Before we dive into all these tips to boost organic reach, we just want to make sure we’re on the same page.
In general, reach on social media refers to how many people saw a post. This is different from impressions, which refers to how many times a post was seen overall and counts multiple views from the same user. That’s why reach is sometimes called ‘unique impressions’.
However, there are several different types of reach on Facebook and we want to be clear about which one we’re talking about here.
First, there’s Page reach and post reach.
Page reach, also called total reach on Facebook Insights, is a metric that tells you how many unique users looked at any content related to your Facebook Page in a given time period.
Post reach, meanwhile, is the number of unique users who saw a specific post you made.
Within post reach, there is organic reach and paid reach. Organic reach is the number of people who saw a post that was not boosted with ad money, while paid reach is the number of people who saw a post because you paid to promote it.
The tips we’ll be giving in this article are about how to increase organic reach on your posts, but increasing your post reach will naturally contribute toward your total Page reach as well.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, on to the tips!
1. Mix up your post formats
Our first tip for extending your organic reach on Facebook is to test out a wide variety of different post types.
If you mostly post images and your reach has been falling off lately, try creating a few videos and see how they perform. If your videos aren’t getting the same reach they used to, try making link posts that highlight content your audience will love.
Even if you’re getting decent reach by regularly using the same Facebook post types, trying new ones will keep your content flow fresh and engaging for your audience. Plus, you might find there are post formats on Facebook that perform even better.
While Facebook has never officially confirmed it, many social media marketers believe that Facebook prioritizes posts in new formats in the News Feed, getting them more reach. Trying out recently-invented post types like 360 video or Facebook Stories may have an added benefit if the algorithm prefers new formats.
Most social media managers know about standard Facebook post formats like images, text, and videos, but there are a crazy number of available post formats on Facebook at this point.
Don’t be limited to the basic post types—see if you get more organic reach and engagement by writing a note or a list instead of a standard text post. Or get your audience involved by creating a poll or starting a Q&A.
There are no wrong answers here. By tracking the average reach of posts in each format over time, you can gain an understanding of which types are the most relevant to your audience and end up in their News Feeds most often.
2. Go live!
Speaking of trying out new Facebook post types, we highly recommend working with live video content.
Live video is unique in that it creates a genuine sense of community in the comments section. Everyone is sharing the same viewing experience at the same time, so they all have a common touchpoint to connect over.
Facebook is very much aware of this—they recently stated that live videos get six times as many interactions as regular video content.
And with the latest Facebook algorithm update prioritizing posts that generate more “meaningful interactions”, more interactions means more organic reach.
That doesn’t mean you can just broadcast a live stream of a plain image and watch your content fly to the top of people’s feeds, though. Facebook has stated that they lower the reach of ‘graphics-only polls’ that only show static or looping images on the stream.
It’s also important that your live videos are, well, actually live. Users spend three times longer on average watching live streams than watching recordings of previously live videos.
So create live video content that resonates with your audience and gets them to start conversations in the comments—you can be sure that your organic reach will grow as a result.
3. Use attractive images and videos
Having visually appealing content is essential to standing out in people’s increasingly crowded News Feeds. That’s why a recent survey found that over 60% of marketers think visual content is crucial for their social media strategy.
And that’s not just in their heads—Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times as much engagement as those without images. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Plus, posts that get more engagement get elevated in users’ feeds, netting them more reach as well. That’s why visual content is so important to improving the spread of your Facebook posts.
You can’t just post anything to Facebook, though. Publishing low-quality images and videos could harm your brand reputation and make you look unprofessional.
But that doesn’t mean you should avoid making visual content because you don’t have a professional photographer or videographer at your company. A smartphone camera can lend your images and videos a natural, casual look and help them fit in with other personal content in people’s News Feeds.
That being said, make sure your audio is audible, your lighting is good, and your shots are focused. When it comes to uploading videos and images with the right dimensions, we recommend referencing our Social Media Image Size Guide.
4. Find your best time to post
When you post content to Facebook matters almost as much as the content itself. If you share an amazing article at 4 AM, by the time your target audience wakes up it will already be lost at the bottom of their News Feeds.
Instead, use your Facebook analytics to determine when your fans are online. You can see peak days and times for your followers on your Page Insights in the Posts section:
If you use a social media management platform like Falcon, you can easily access data on peak hours for your fans as well:
By posting when your followers are most likely to be browsing Facebook, you increase the chances that your content shows up first in their Feed—and that means more organic reach.
However, posting at peak hours also means you’ll face more competition to get your posts seen in users’ feeds because more people will be posting at those times.
The best solution is to push out your content just before peak traffic hours so that you’re the first to have your content out when people open Facebook. For example, if Facebook Insights shows that 6 PM is high tide for your fans, try posting at 5:45 to catch the wave early.
If you can’t access Facebook analytics or your fans are online pretty consistently throughout the day, you may have trouble deciding what the best time for you to post is.
Luckily, we have up-to-date research on when to post on Facebook to maximize reach and engagement for a general audience in What Are the Best Times to Post on Social Media?
The short version? Overall, brands see the most reach and engagement when posting to Facebook on Wednesday to Friday from 12 PM to 4 PM.
5. Experiment with your posting tempo
Once you’ve figured out when you should be posting to Facebook, the next step is to decide on how often to post.
As with posting times, posting cadence depends on your audience—there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your organic reach in 2019 largely depends on how willing your followers are to engage with your content quickly and enthusiastically.
That means if your brand is posting four times a day and still engaging your followers each time, your reach will stay solid. If your followers seem to get tired of interacting with your content after one post, though, it can help your reach to dial it back a little.
The key here is to experiment with how often you post and then track your Facebook post analytics to see how each posting cadence affects your organic reach.
Try setting up a few tests that run for at least two weeks each to gather data on your post performance. For instance, try posting five times a week for two weeks, then 15 times a week for two weeks, then 10 times a week for two weeks.
At the end of each two-week period, calculate the average organic reach and the average amount of engagement per post.
If your posts during the weeks when you posted five times got better average reach than when you posted 15 times, that suggests that posting less was good for your organic reach.
Try to run these tests for as long as possible on as many accounts as you can, since more data means the results will be more reliable. Once the results are in, adjust your standard posting tempo to what it was on the weeks when you got the best average reach and engagement.
If you don’t have the time or manpower to test this, Coschedule has compiled research that suggests posting one to two times a day is optimal for most brands.
6. Focus on engagement first
Do Facebook posts get high engagement because they have high reach, or do they get high reach because they have high engagement?
While this is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg question, the 2018 Facebook algorithm change means that engagement now has more impact on reach than reach has on engagement.
In the aftermath of the algorithm change, Facebook’s Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri announced the following: “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.”
In a nutshell, Facebook will show your posts to more people if they inspire users to interact with each other. In particular, content that gets people talking in the comments section will see a major boost to organic reach.
So how do you motivate users to connect with each other? Ultimately, this depends on who your audience is and what they care about, but here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Share content that speaks to strong emotions or opinions.
- Include questions at the end of your posts asking people for their thoughts.
- Post about trending topics that everyone wants to weigh in on.
- Broadcast live video content and talk to your audience in real time.
- Start an interactive poll or ‘Ask Me Anything’-style thread.
- Ask for community feedback on a new product or idea.
7. Never resort to engagement bait
While getting users to connect around your content is crucial to increasing organic reach on Facebook, doing it the wrong way can really hurt you.
Note that the Facebook algorithm update is not just about prioritizing posts that get a lot of engagement—it’s about elevating posts that inspire meaningful discussion and interaction.
That’s why Facebook will reduce your organic reach if you use manipulative tactics to fish for engagement.
Facebook calls posts using those tactics “engagement bait”, and they define them as “spammy posts on Facebook that goad [users] into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions.”
For instance, posts that say “Like if you’re a Capricorn, Love if you’re a Virgo” or “Tag a friend who likes pudding” would be considered engagement bait because they push users into padding a post’s engagement stats by begging for interactions.
Here are a few more examples from Facebook themselves to help you get the idea:
Engagement bait on Facebook comes in many forms, but they will all get your organic reach punished. Source: Facebook Newsroom
Avoid making these kinds of posts for easy engagement and reach, because once the Facebook algorithm realizes you’re doing it, your whole Page will have its reach limited as a punishment.
8. Make your audience feel something
You should never beg for reactions from your followers—but you should inspire your followers to react.
One of the most effective ways to increase engagement with your posts (and therefore increase organic reach) is to appeal to your followers’ emotions. The more strongly people feel about a piece of content, the more likely they are to react, share, or comment on it.
Not every feeling encourages people to share posts, though. Harvard Business Review published a study on what emotions were most associated with viral content, and here are the key takeaways:
- Positive emotions were more common in viral posts, but posts that caused negative emotions still went viral when they created a sense of anticipation and surprise.
- Highly shared content often inspired a feeling of admiration.
- The top five emotions associated with viral content were curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment and uncertainty.
To increase your Facebook reach and engagement, consider creating content with headlines that inspire curiosity and interest. In the content itself, include twists, fascinating facts, and surprises to keep people’s attention.
If you can manage to stimulate those types of emotional reactions, you’ll see your posts get shared more often, start more conversations, and ultimately end up higher in users’ feeds.
9. Start a contest
One of the best ways to get users interested in your content is to start a contest or sweepstakes on your Facebook page. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff?
You can really boost your organic reach by running a contest that encourages people to comment on your post.
For example, a caption competition where users need to provide a funny subtitle to an image you’ve posted can stimulate tons of responses and rocket your post to the top of the News Feed.
There are a number of best practices to keep in mind to make sure your content is effective. First, make sure your prize or giveaway is related to your brand so that you attract entrants who are interested in both you and the reward.
Second, encourage users to interact with the contest post, preferably by commenting. Motivating users to comment on your contest is the best way to show the Facebook News Feed algorithm that your content is engaging and thereby increase your reach.
Third, be careful that your contest post doesn’t look like engagement bait or ask users to post to personal Timelines. While Facebook states that Pages may run contests, they can’t require users to share the contest on their Timeline or their friends’ Timelines in order to participate. Pages also can’t ask users to tag their friends in the contest post or ask for a specific reaction as a condition for entry.
Keep these guidelines in mind and you’ll be well on your way to running a successful contest on Facebook, raising reach and expanding your audience in the process.
10. Repurpose evergreen content
Don’t mess with success. If you have content that got a lot of reach and engagement in the past, there’s a good chance it will work again.
It takes a lot of time and resources to create a great video or blog article, so there’s no reason not to repurpose high-quality evergreen content.
At Falcon.io, we’ve found that even articles that didn’t get massive reach on Facebook when they were first shared have often been more successful the second time around.
This is partly because reposting quality content gives you a chance to learn from what you did right or wrong the first time you shared it. Maybe your copy or your headline could have been catchier. Maybe you posted at 9 AM originally when 3 PM would have gotten you more reach.
Think of repurposing as a second chance for posts with potential and a comeback tour for posts that were already big hits. In either case, you’ll get more reach on that piece of content and gain findings you can use to improve your social media strategy along the way.
Before you fish that content out of the recycling bin though, make sure it’s still fresh. Content that’s attached to a specific date, time, or current event is likely to go stale quickly. Likewise, industry research and statistics tend not to stay relevant for long.
Aim to reshare content like comprehensive guides, best practices, tips, and infographics that have a long shelf life. For best results, start with the pieces that got the highest reach when they were originally posted first.
If you want to know more, you could always check out our Guide to Repurposing Content.
11. Get verified on Facebook
You probably already know what Facebook verification is. It’s the pretty blue badge that shows up next to your Page name that proves you’re kind of a big deal.
Being verified on Facebook shows users that your Page is the official representation of your brand. This helps you stand out from fan pages and copycat accounts while establishing trust and authenticity with your audience.
Having the blue verification badge also means your Page will rank above other Pages with similar names in Facebook searches, meaning more organic reach for your brand.
Plus, people will be able to find your Page more easily and will be less likely to follow or interact with unofficial Pages instead of yours.
All in all, getting verified is definitely worth it. But what does it take to prove to Facebook that you’re worthy?
For starters, your Page needs to be complete. That means it has a cover photo, a profile pic, a name, and at least one published post.
Next, you need to make sure your Page follows all of Facebook’s terms of service.
Also, your Page needs to be of interest to the general public. Small brands or personal accounts probably won’t make the cut, and it’s not totally clear who will. Still, can’t hurt to try, right?
Facebook’s only hint is that badges are available to “eligible brands, media organizations and public figures.” Having a high follower account and appearing in at least one news article is likely to help as well.
12. Ask your followers to turn on notifications
The best way to increase your organic reach on Facebook is to work with the Facebook algorithm to get your posts to the top of your followers’ News Feeds.
But what if there was a way to make sure your followers saw all your posts without the algorithm’s involvement?
As it turns out, there is. On your Facebok Page, there’s a setting your followers can select to make sure they see everything you post.
We recommend mentioning this to your followers in the copy of a major piece of content like a hit video or article. Once they’ve already enjoyed your post, they’ll be excited to follow your Page more closely.
Just be sure to specify exactly how they can turn on notifications and prioritize your posts in their News Feed. Here are the steps to take:
First, they need to select the Following menu at the top of your page.
Then, they can tap the Edit icon next to the Following options to choose what they see from your page.
Optimally for you, they’d select See First in the News Feed tab to make sure your new posts always show up at the top of their Feeds.
In the Notifications tab, they can select Highlights if they only want to be notified about your top posts or Standard if they’re a superfan and want to get a notification whenever you post (up to five times a day).
By asking your followers to turn on notifications and see your posts first in their News Feed, you’re guaranteed to see an increase in organic reach.
Once your loyal fans have changed their settings, you’ll have a core group of people who always see your posts and are more likely to engage with them.
However, avoid driving away your most dedicated Page followers by posting too often or getting too sales-y with your content. After all, you’ve got a prime opportunity to not only boost organic reach, but also build a community around your brand.
13. Get your coworkers engaged
With Facebook focusing more and more on meaningful interaction between private users, it’s now tough for brand Pages to fit in. One way around this, though, is to encourage other people in your company to engage with and share your posts.
Here’s a staggering statistic: branded messages get 561% more reach on average when shared by employees instead of company Pages.
By getting your coworkers to share your content, you’ll get your content seen by a much wider audience. And because the content is coming from someone they know, that audience will be more likely to actually consume and engage with it.
In addition to sharing branded content with their own networks, your colleagues can also help out by commenting on your posts, especially right after you publish them.
A large number of post interactions straight away signals to the Facebook algorithm that you’ve got interesting content and pushes it in front of more eyeballs.
How can you actually motivate your coworkers to share company posts, though? Here are a few tips:
- Share links to important Facebook posts in company communications channels like Slack.
- Offer an incentive or prize to the top employee advocate of the month.
- Brief new employees on your social media presence and encourage them to follow and interact with your Facebook Page.
For more advice on getting your teammates engaged, here’s How to Harness the Untapped Power of Employee Advocacy.
14. Optimize your link posts
If you share content on Facebook, you probably do it via link posts. What you may not know is that Facebook checks out the quality of your links and moves your links posts higher or lower in user’s News Feeds based on that.
For example, Facebook announced back in 2017 that they would start prioritizing link posts that lead to fast-loading pages. On the other hand, they also penalize posts that link to slow landing pages.
Page speed isn’t the only factor that affect how high your posts get placed in the News Feed, though. Facebook also penalizes link posts with “clickbaity” headlines like this:
Source: Earth Porm via Zerone Magazine.
On top of that, link posts that lead to “low-quality web page experiences” such as a lack of actual content, excessive or disruptive ads, or sexual/shocking images will have their rank decreased as well.
Plus, Facebook gives more priority to “high quality” links. One of the main signals of link quality is how long users spend on the linked page before returning to Facebook—the longer the better.
Finally, Facebook also considers how many people click on the link and then engage with the post afterward. If more people engage after seeing the linked content, that’s a signal they liked it or at least found it interesting.
If you follow these guidelines for your link posts, they’ll end up at the top of people’s feeds and fetch you tons of organic reach. So don’t link to clickbait or spammy pages, keep your website’s load times low and share links your audience will find relevant and engaging.
To learn more about how to work with the Facebook algorithm, see 5 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Links.
15. Try a user generated content campaign
User generated content on Facebook is all the rage, but it’s more than just a passing trend.
Consider this: UGC that involves a brand gets 6.9 times more engagement on average than brand-generated content shared by users.
If a user likes your brand enough to create content featuring it, that’s a major trust signal to other users. People are also just more interested in content their friends and family produce than branded messaging.
That means more engagement, and as you may have picked up by now, more engagement means higher organic reach. The lesson here is that it’s better for your Page to share content from users than for users to share content from your Page.
To get people excited about making UGC that involves your brand, try one of these ideas:
- Invite people to write reviews of your products on Facebook, then share the best ones.
- Start a branded hashtag for your UGC campaign so customers can connect their content with your brand and get inspired by others’ posts.
- Launch a UGC contest asking users to post photos or videos relating to your brand for a chance to be featured on your page (or even win a prize).
If you’re looking for inspiration to start your own user generated content campaign, have a look at the 7 Best User Generated Content Examples From Brands on Facebook.
Bonus tip: give ads a chance
Okay, okay, so this isn’t technically a tip to increase your “organic” reach. But if your goal on Facebook is to reach as wide an audience as possible, using a small ad budget to boost organic posts could be just what you need.
If you want to increase organic reach on Facebook because you’re short on cash for ads, don’t worry. Depending on the content you’re promoting and who you’re targeting, you could potentially reach hundreds more users for as little as $5 or $10.
For marketers on a budget, we recommend using organic Facebook posts as a testing ground to find which content is worth boosting as a sponsored post. See which of your organic posts get the most views, reactions, comments, and shares, then boost the winners.
If you’re paying for people to see the post, why does it matter what its organic stats are? Well, for starters, you know popular organic posts are worth sponsoring because they have a proven track record.
Plus, good organic performance means your ad will probably be shown to more people at a lower cost. Facebook’s ad algorithm considers the quality of your ads and their relevance to your audience when deciding who will see them and how much you need to bid.
If a lot of people click on, view, or interact with your sponsored post, it’s going to be cheaper and more effective. The best way you can predict that is if your post was an organic hit first.
If you haven’t already, experiment with some limited ad spend to increase your Facebook posts’ reach—you may be surprised by the results.
Why increasing organic reach matters
In 2019, organic reach for brands on Facebook is like water in the desert. It’s essential, but it’s hard to get.
Even if you also have a paid advertising strategy on Facebook, getting solid unpaid reach is valuable for your brand because it’s totally free. Every user that sees your post organically is another user you don’t need to pay to reach.
Yes, building your reach after the 2018 algorithm change is an uphill battle—but it’s one worth fighting.
Keep trying new tactics, experimenting with your strategy and releasing great content and you’ll see results eventually. So get out there and post, soldier!