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 companies from a reported 16 percent two years ago. Organic reach is the number of people who see a Facebook post without any paid promotion or advertising boosting its performance.
What’s the solution? Develop the social marketing strategy you should have had from the beginning: a results-driven effort diversified across multiple social-media platforms and connected to other marketing campaigns.
Businesses should harness the power of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Vine as well as Facebook. And they should look at the content and the data collected during these campaigns in more creative ways.
Here are four ways companies can react to Facebook’s declining organic reach and build a more resilient social marketing strategy:
1. Build a presence on other social networks. In some ways, Facebook has become a victim of its own success. The vast volume of content that streams through the world’s largest social network is one of the main reasons its suddenly decreasing organic reach. Facebook is crowded, and sometimes posts and photos get lost in this sea of social content.
Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram are smaller, more targeted and have passionate and engaged users.
Social reach is still alive and well on these networks, and companies should leverage this to engage with fans, followers and potential customers.
Does the thought of consistently being active on all these networks seem overwhelming? Consider using a single hashtag to combine user-generated content from all social networks into one campaign. By using a branded hashtag, campaigns can elicit responses from Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. With tools like Hashtag Gallery, responses with the same hashtag from numerous social networks can be collected and showcased on a website or Facebook landing page, displaying the combined social response to a campaign.
A campaign that taps into the entire social media universe will connect with consumers on whatever platform they prefer. This will also help companies gauge the effectiveness of Facebook versus its smaller social siblings.
2. Cross-promote campaigns. The decline of Facebook’s organic reach means that some campaigns never get off the ground because some content never gains any traction. Don’t let your campaign become a dud; be sure to publicize it outside of social media. Using email newsletters, television advertising and online ads, your social media campaign will gain a steady stream of participants even without a big Facebook launch. This generates momentum that gives your message an advantage over other companies just relying on organic reach to spread their message through the social sphere.
Cross-promote campaigns by promoting the hashtag of a social campaign in newsletters, contests and advertising, giving social users easy access and a direct connection to the company’s social campaign.
3. Measure and optimize social-media performance. Your Facebook post impressions might be on the decline, but you can still drive business value from social networks. Marketers should shift their focus to measuring the outcomes that matter.
Retool your social post strategy by figuring out what content results in engagement, clicks and sales. Test a variety of types of content (like status updates, photos, videos, links), and monitor performance. Analyze the days and times when your posts receive the most traction, and change your posting habits accordingly. Put your ad budget behind the content that can boost your bottom line such as product listings, event promotions and coupons. Monitor, report, and retest your approach.
4. Leverage social data. The changes to Facebook’s algorithm add up to a growing social-media problem for companies. As companies’ social audience shrink, they also realize that they are renting, not owning, their audience. Renting an audience means that companies must pay each time they want to communicate effectively with consumers. Savvy brands are pushing for more ownership over their audiences, and that means collecting contact information and other data during campaigns that allows them to connect with consumers directly.
Use contests to gather email addresses and mailing addresses. Discover your fans’ interests and then retarget them with ad campaigns. Find your most influential fans and followers and form 1:1 connections. Then use this information to connect with your consumers, drive them to your website and take ownership of them as an audience. This lasting connection with your consumers will be valuable marketing tool even if Facebook’s organic reach disappears completely.
5. Collect and showcase user-generated content. Facebook and Twitter built the framework for social sharing, and users provide a constant stream of free content. This concept can be replicated by companies on a much smaller scale, using social networks. Use your customers, fans and followers as content producers. Their images, reviews and feedback are powerful and authentic content that can be more persuasive than marketing materials, but rarely fully leveraged by companies.
If your Facebook posts are getting limited exposure, run contests with prizes or giveaways that encourage fans to submit photos, video or blog content. Take that content and use it in email newsletters, on your blog, on the company website, or in in-store displays.
Don’t limit social content to social media. As your Facebook reach declines, make sure that your social content receives exposure in your blog, website, newsletter. Companies can even take that user-generated content a step further by developing regular blog ambassadors or on-the-ground photo teams.