Facebook-Newsfeed-Organic-Growth-social-mediaWhat’s a business to do? We flocked to Facebook by the lure of easy and free marketing via social media. It seemed too good to be true: put out a few posts and customers would flock to your front door. But with the exponential growth of the Facebook community, the party is now over, and page managers now have to struggle and work for each new Like, Comment, and Share.

Now for a moment of truth, there isn’t a vast Facebook conspiracy that is hiding your content from willing eyes. The reason why your posts aren’t being seen really boils down to three factors:

  1. The typical Facebook user isn’t on 24 hours a day and can’t possibly consume every piece of information that could potentially be presented to them.
  2. Your message is competing with countless other messages.
  3. Your message may not be resonating with your community

Facebook currently estimates that 7-8% of your community will see your content. That estimate was downgraded from a 17% viewership estimate that they made a year ago. Why the drop? Part of the reason is the way Facebook has now structured the newsfeed. In an effort to make the end-user experience more enjoyable, the newsfeed will feature (or bump up) stories that have activity. That’s why you’ll see a post that’s days old float to the top of the screen just because it received a fresh content.

Facebook’s efforts to monetize the newsfeed stream has also pushed out organic content. Pay to Play with an ad or story boost, and your message will move the top of the screen. But this action has the effect of pushing out other content. You can only view so much, so promoted posts will get higher billing than unpromoted ones.

How do you combat these effects and get your content to be seen?

Post content that is relevant and interesting to your audience. I can’t stress this enough. Ask a question, post an image, provide an interesting status update. Facebook’s highly optimized newsfeed makes it harder and harder to ‘game the system’ with baited links and posts that ask users to ‘LIKE and SHARE’. These types of posts will naturally trend downwards in the newsfeed. But on that same regard, Facebook remembers every click, Like, view, and Comment you do; and will offer comment that it ‘thinks’ your viewers find interesting. Hence interesting content will get more views.

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Vary the time of day you post content. Let’s face it, we are busy people and may only have 6am to put something out on Facebook. But this may be the worst time of day for your viewers to see the posts. Use the Facebook Insights for your page to find when your followers are most likely to be online and then use the clock button to schedule your posts for those time slots. Time shifting your posts for your audience is still the most effective way of reaching them.

Get active in Facebook groups and communities. I’m not asking you to SPAM the groups, but if there is a community that is compatible and relevant to your business, get involved with the community and provide advice and resources. Becoming known as an expert in this communities will go a long way towards increasing your social profile overall.

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Use the Hashtags and recognize other pages. Including one to three hashtags in a post or referencing another page via an inline link are great ways of increasing your reach. Facebook’s Graph Search treats hashtags as keywords, which opens your posts up to whole new audiences that are search for similar items.

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 7.44.04 AMPeriodically promote your post via the Boost button. Did you know that you can promote a post for as little as five dollars? Facebook will give you a default value based on the size of your pages reach. But these estimated costs will only cause you to overreach your audience by spending too much. Look at the estimated reach, and pick a cost that fits what you feel is an appropriate amount. For pages between 500-2000 followers, I recommend only spending $5-$10. Bigger pages will have to spend more to get the reach they wish to target. One or two promoted posts a week are all you need to give your page an increased presence.

Finally, think about where your audience is. Would another social channel like Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter better serve your marketing purposes? With its large amount of connections and users, Facebook’s still a great place to be. But if your message isn’t getting out and resonating with your audience, you need to start investigating a channel that works. Experiment by adding one channel at a time, working it for 3-6 months, and surveying the results.

With an increased competition for eyeballs and a seemingly endless stream of content, organic growth on Facebook is becoming more and more difficult. It’s like Facebook’s success has become its downfall. But you can still make an impact. Do you have tips on organic Facebook growth? Why not share them in the comments below.

Looking for more social media tips for your Business?

My popular introductory social media for business course runs February 5 & 12, 2014 and my Advanced Social Media for Business class is February 26, 2014. Both these live in-person courses are taught at the University of Wisconsin Marathon Center in Wausau, WI.

Details and course registration are available here.