April 20, 2014 by Stephane Allard
As you might have already heard, Facebook has been reducing the amount of organic (=free) reach Pages achieve . Some report that organic reach will soon near zero and that in the near future the only option left to brands will be to pay for visibility.
Although reach is in fact declining – for more information, see our 6 months study on 10,000 Pages- this is only true on average. This means that some Pages are doing a lot worse… and some a lot better.
Better, but to what extent? Here are the surprising results of our study and some practical solutions used by the best performers to maintain their posts’ reach.
Facebook reach : some Pages do a lot better than others
We analyzed Page Reach, defined as the ratio of unique organic impressions to number of fans, in a sample of 10,000 anonymized Pages in order to determine whether the decrease in reach was affecting every Page the same way. The results were clear: the answer is no.
The very best Pages – in the top 1% of our sample – reached more than five times the number of fans as did the Pages of average performance.
Also notable is that the exceptional reach of these high-performing Pages resisted Facebook’s algorithm changes.
Rules have changed, you need to adapt-or pay
Althoughmost Pages experience some sharp declines in reach, this doesn’t mean that no Page can manage to enjoy high levels of reach.
Our research shows that some Pages still do astonishingly well. We found that decreases in reach result largely from increased competition for News Feed appearances, as Pages publish more and more posts, and users subscribe to more and more Pages at the same time.
In this context, good old social practices are no longer enough. Social marketers must upgrade the way they work in order to stay competitive.
Here are some solutions the best Pages have implemented to keep their reach high.
Secret #1 : A/B test your messages
Difference between a bad headline and a great one can be enormous : Upworthy has learned that a good headline can be the difference between 1,000 or 1,000,000 people reading or viewing a story.
That’s the reason why Upworthy writes 25 different headlines for every article and test every part of the message shared on social networks – the message’s text, the headline, the picture, the link and the description.
The consequence : Upworthy was named by Fast Company the be the fastest growing media site of all time, thanks to the massive traffic generated by their activity in social media.
A/B testing organic posts is difficult. It takes time and if you don’t implement the right methodology and have the statistical skills, you may come to the wrong conclusions. That’s why we’ve created a tool to help you A/B test your social messages quickly and easily.
Secret #2 : Repeat your messages
A recent experiment by Tom Tunguz showed that repeating your tweets could double the number of times it is retweeted.
What about on Facebook? Our research indicates that most of the time, repeating your post will result in a reach overlap of only 30%.
In order to do it right, we do not advise posting exactly the same message twice. This can upset those who see it twice, and is explicitly against Twitter’s rules.
Instead, try promoting your content with various excerpts, using teasers, or changing the post’s format to create a variety of posts out of the same content.
Wisemetrics’ auto-flow feature makes it incredibly easy to repeat your messages. Just enter the URL you want to share, and Wisemetrics will generate auto-filled posts and tweets, scheduled for the best time to post and with just the right amount of repetition.
Secret #3 : Optimize your timing
Thus, posting in the morning or in the afternoon, or on Sundays rather than on Tuesdays may make a huge difference in your results.
Determining the best time to post may seem easy -most social solutions claim to do it – but it’s extremely difficult to do right.
Why is it so difficult?
First, it requires more than just your own Facebook Page and Twitter data. If you only post during the week, with only that data to rely on, most social media solutions will find that the best day for you to post is a weekday. They’re unable to advise you to post on Sunday, even if it is in fact the best day for you.
Second, it is absolutely necessary to normalize your data in order to determine what has actually impacted the performance of your posts. If you have the best engagement on Fridays, how do you know it’s not because you tend to post more videos on Fridays than on other days? Or because your Thursday posts are usually successful and so improve your “Edgerank” of the posts on Friday?
Third, the best time to post on Facebook is not necessarily the best time to tweet. Some social media solutions use optimized timing for Twitter as the default for their auto-scheduling on Facebook. Users of these social networks have different habits and, you’re losing out, if you’re using the same timing for both platforms.
Finally, the best timing may seem counter-intuitive at first. For example, we advise not to post when all your fans are online.
Wisemetrics’ auto-scheduling feature uses advanced algorithms to find the very best time for your post, based on your objectives and tailored to your post’s format and content.
Yes, you can still perform on Facebook without paying for ads
But your intuition and manual labour should now be enhanced by a data-driven social marketing solution.
There is just too much noise and too much competition for attention.
To survive, Social marketing should leave behind the artisanal craftwork and embrace the information age.