In April, Facebook announced another update to its so-called news feed algorithm. For Facebook users and page admins, this change has meant different things.
First, Facebook is trying to show users a mix of relevant and trending content from friends/family, public figures, publishers and the brand pages they are connected to.
Second, Facebook is showing fewer updates about the stories people have liked and commented on. It's this second change that is posing a challenge to Facebook page admins who had relied on their fans' enthusiasm to spread the brand's stories to their friends.
Following Facebook's recommended best practices -- e.g., post consistently, target the posts, use quality images, invest in advertising, etc. -- will help get your posts more attention. But there are four less well-known things you can do (for free) to ensure that your posts get maximum exposure.
1. Post "native" videos only
People who use Facebook as a marketing tool tend to notice when certain kinds of content get momentum. Take video. Earlier this year, it was hard not to notice the autoplay videos that were suddenly appearing in everyone's news feeds. Almost overnight, Facebook seemed to give preference to these "native" videos. Marketers who study their Facebook Insights and other data took notice because videos uploaded straight to Facebook get 52 times more views than links to videos on YouTube, according to data from GetResponse. The native Facebook video is more prominent, and, as noted, it starts playing without needing a click or any other user action. It's also worth noting that while native videos are doing really well on Facebook right now, as soon as "everyone" is posting them, they likely will lose their preferential status.
2. Make sure all posts are mobile ready
There are two reasons you should check links to anything you're linking to from Facebook on a mobile device (including blog posts, landing pages that are linked to advertising, downloadable resources like PDFs infographics, ebooks, etc.).
First, Facebook users prefer mobile. Of Facebook's 1.44 billion monthly active users, 40 percent of them use Facebook on mobile devices only. That's not quite a majority, but it might as well be. Each quarter, more and more people are accessing Facebook via mobile, so the sooner you think "mobile first," the more likely Facebook will reward you.
A few other stats from Facebook's 2015 Q1 report:
- Mobile DAUs were 798 million on average for March 2015, an increase of 31% year-over-year.
- Mobile MAUs were 1.25 billion as of March 31, 2015, an increase of 24% year-over-year
Here's the other reason mobile readiness matters: Facebook's algorithm detects the quality of the links you share. Since August of last year -- when Facebook made an announcement about penalizing click-baiting -- Facebook has been tracking "how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook." If a person clicks on a link and actually consumes the content they've linked to, Facebook considers the content valuable, making it more likely that will end up in the news feed. On the other hand, if someone clicks a link and then quickly returns back to Facebook, the content gets a negative mark in Facebook's calculations. Facebook only wants to show users the most relevant and otherwise "best" content in their news feeds, so links where people linger get preferential consideration.
The final thing to remember is that the neither mobile nor desktop exists in a vacuum. You have to be conscious about both since what happens on mobile affects what appears on desktop, and vice versa.
3. Create content just for Facebook
Studying what other page admins are doing -- whether they're in your industry or not, will help you learn about the kinds of posts that get great reach and engagement. It's been my observation that the posts getting the most attention have been made specifically for Facebook.
One brand that customizes its posts for Facebook (and for other platforms as well) is Clinique. Not too long ago I listened to an episode of Jay Baer's Social Pros podcast with special guest Shannon Otto, Clinique's North America social media community manager.
Clinique crafts content to look just right on specific channels rather than creating a single post to share on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr. The posts often feature the same products, but the presentation is very different. Clinique presumes its followers are looking for different content on each network. The Facebook audience might be looking for sales and deals, while the Instagram followers are looking for inspiration.
4. Share your content more than once
Whether you use a scheduling tool like Post Planner or Buffer, or you rotate posts manually, posting content on Facebook multiple times gives your content a longer, better life. Remember, only a very tiny percentage of your fans see the posts you share. Most brands have fans in different time zones, so posting the same thing more than once increases the chances that far-flung fans will see your posts. But that's only one issue to consider. A few years ago, brands could count on 16 percent of their fans seeing a post. Today it's half that (or less). To give your content a better chance of being seen by a larger percentage of your fans, you have to post your content multiple times.
Facebook will continue to make changes to their news feed algorithm. The changes can be frustrating for marketers, but those of us who can adapt have a much better chance of success than those who give up.