So, recently, I wrote an article about, “9 Things To Know Before You Meet A Forbes China’s Venture Capitalist“. Today is something else.
If you’ve been managing a Facebook Page over the past few years, you’ve likely noticed a drop in how many of your fans have been viewing and interacting with your organic posts. So is your Facebook page suffering from organic post reach? No engagement, no comment, no sales inquiry? Feels like you’re posting stuffs to yourself where no one else is looking or even bothered what you’ve posted? Fret not. Here I will share the very same tips I’ve implemented to multiple brands (e.g. Blackmores Malaysia, Manis) including the same tips I’ve advised the Social Media Team I’m working with (Catch.That.Bus).
Why is this info even credible? Perhaps you’ve seen tons of these tips already and how do you know this is not another bullsh*t article?
I’m an 8-year experienced designer/musician-turned-organic-and-paid-growth-hacker (Google Certified) who’ve helped companies grow their PPC accounts to maximise acquisition and revenue (8x ROAS in FB Ads/Google Ads) in 6 months, managing regional strategic alliance which grows referral sales from 0 to 6-digit-figure in 6 months (10x ROAS) & digital engagement including emails and social media. Mentored by various successful people like (to name a few: Michael Lau, Thinesh Kumar, Dr Shanjay, Siddharth Janghu) around the industry. Growth/business idols: Noah Kagan, Avinash Kaushik, George Lee, Thomas Tsao
But today, since I’m gonna talk only about social media, some real life proofs of what I’ve done related to that can be seen here:
That is an increase from 0.48% organic reach out of total page likes of 25,000 fans to 4.42% organic reach out of total page likes 29,000 fans (820% increase!).
And it gets even better:
From 4.44% of 29000 page likes to 10.71% of 29000 page likes! (Another 138% increase!)
And look at the amount of engagement I’ve brought to some of the posts I was working on or I have advised on:
Link 1 (43,000++ organic post reach out of 31,000 page likes – that’s 10-20 times better than the market page post reach average)
Great! By now, you may know these tips below will be useful for you if you’re looking at replicating the above results!
Back to business, what is organic reach anyway?
Organic reach, as defined by Facebook is “the number of unique people who saw your post in News Feed or on your Page, including people who saw it from a story shared by a friend when they liked, commented on or shared your post, answered a question or responded to an event.” Any impression of your content, no matter how small, counts as “organic reach.”
Painful Facts About Facebook Organic Reach You’ll Need To Know Before We Begin
PAINFUL FACT #1: Page likes don’t matter in increasing your post reach.
Seriously. If you’re focusing your budget on increasing page likes, seriously, just stop already. Most clients or brands love to boast their page like amount as one of their social media metrics – which is totally wrong; at least until that Facebook algorithm change which happened back in 2014. This is because no matter how much you’re paying for that 10,000 extra likes to act as a brand’s social validity on the digital landscape, the most you’ll get is still 2%-6% max of your user base. Even worse, if your audience targeting of Page Like ads didn’t really represent the actual fan base that are going to be engaged to your posts.
According to a study cited by SocialSamosa, only 1% of users who like a business page will visit that brand’s Facebook page. So what does that mean to you? “That 9,900 people who liked your Page aren’t going to view your post, honey. So literally, you’re just talking to yourself, really.”
PAINFUL FACT #2: Organic post reach is so low nowadays that you may not even get any engagement at all
This decline in organic Facebook reach came to a head in 2014, when marketers started picking up on (and complaining about) the situation in droves, prompting a response from Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland and this is clearly displayed in a survey done by Social@Ogilvy below.
As how Neil Patel puts it in his blog, an average of 1,500 posts compete for attention in a user’s news Feed. This massive content explosion has resulted in a decline in the organic reach of Facebook Pages. Publishers used to reach 16% of their fans back in 2012. Now, as per a March 2015 Locowise report, the average organic reach of Facebook pages with over a million likes is 2.27%.
And what does that mean again? That you’ll need to spend every dime you have for every post you’re going to publish on your page! Argghhh….really??
Well, thank God we have tons of contingency plans for this.
Here are some useful tips to increase your average organic reach and grow it by 10x in 6 months:
TIP #1: To increase your organic reach, define a broader, lifestyle theme and picture lookalike Facebook audiences you desire in line with your branding core
I made this statement very clear to every brand and to every marketer I work with. If their brand is too corporate and boring, so I asked them to make a larger than life, casual theme on Facebook. If the product is too niche where potential talkability is less and virality potential is minimum, hence I asked them to create related or lookalike themes that match their branding core.
If your ideal customer is made up of 100 factors together (AND rule) – split those 100 factors to its own (OR rule) and expand from there. Example below shows that Amanda (who is an ideal client persona for merchants selling baby products) has over 30+ over settings about her which help us craft specific content to accommodate people like Amanda.
But you have to remember, Amanda is only a specific, small subset of niche, which is a small subset of your target market. Look at the diagram below for example.
This is definitely good for creating a Facebook paid conversion campaign which is to acquire purchases from customers but for attempting to hack the organic reach, single person won’t be enough to bring that viral factor. You’ll need to reverse-engineer your post to a larger pool of people which is your target market.
So your target market may not contain all the 30 factors that make Amanda, but separating those 30 factors will give you 30 general segments. For example, if you take one factor which mentions Amanda likes ‘holidays at the beach and mountains’, you’ll get a new segment of people who are leisure/outdoor travellers.
A hard-selling post which is suitable if you’re targeting Amenda who is definitely a prospect:
“Hey buy our baby products and use promo code BABY10 for a 10% off! Limited period only!”
But targeting your niche will make your post looking like:
“Hey future mommies, get on a relaxing beach trip! Awesome for you and the baby! It’ll be on us! Share this post to your spouse and let him answer why should you go for this trip in 10-20 words!”
But if a post is meant for a target market which is more general:
“Know anyone in your circle of friends who’ll be expecting babies soon? We know the commitment post-delivery can be challenging hence this is the best time for them to have a time out! Share this post to 5 friends you know are currently expecting soon and would love to go for a holiday!”
One thing I love when you build a post for a broader, general target market is that the likeliness that the principle of Six Degrees of Separation is higher which means you’ll get more shares for your post.
Amanda -> Traveller 1 -> Traveller 2 -> Traveller 3 -> Traveller 4 -> Traveller 5 -> Another Amanda
TIP #2: To increase your organic reach, use VAD/PAD Emotional State Model to ensure you’re maximizing the emotional responses from each post and have a target group to assess that
In Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die book, they offer six components they believe elevate an idea from good to great. Viral content should be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and story-generating (or SUCCESs).
Let’s look at some of the most viral articles based on Buzzsumo‘s results.
The first half of the headline, “Disease on the rise” promotes anxiety and fear which is a negative valence, high arousal, low dominance. This article can still be viral without the second half of the headline, “Experts beg parents to know the signs” but the virality factor was maxed out because the second half is promoting high valence and high dominance which is to ensure viewers can still be in control (dominance) with the situation and they will feel it’s a duty (valence/pleasure) for them to share this article to their close friends and families once they have read the article.
Here’s another example which has high arousal but low dominance. Did you realise that it managed to get viral at 391k engagement/shares on Facebook but not as much as the earlier example which has 504k shares/engagements? ‘Being happy in love’ gives you that high arousal/high valence (pleasure) but ‘makes you gain weight’ makes you feel overwhelming and felt like you’re being controlled rather than in control (dominance).
TIP #3: To increase your organic reach, research your industry & your competitors’ social media to find out what works best and what fails – then innovate from there
So, what if you’re not a subject matter expert of the industry and suddenly tasked to handle the brand’s social media page? Rather than squeezing your brain juice to give you the best ideas, why not do a proper competitive research? To do that, you’ll need a few tools to begin with:
a) Socialbakers is an awesome tool that lets you monitor the MoM growth of your page and posts, and easily compare them to sector and industry wide competitors worldwide.
b) Buzzsumo is a useful tool that lets you research some of the world’s most shared posts all-time based on the keywords you’ve input in their search engine. Other than knowing the most shared content, you can also see who are the content sharers which will allow you to do a reach-out to these potential influencer(s) for your own marketing campaign.
c) FanPage Karma will analyze your page and your competitors’ accounts across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. The free comparative analytics cover engagement, growth, most-used content sources and keywords, top posts, frequency, engagement by day and time, post type and supporters, among other metrics.
Once you researched what you need, compile all those top ideas and see how you can innovate an already-successful idea into your own organic campaigns on Facebook. Don’t plagiarize but use your own creativity!
TIP #4: To increase your organic reach, make it very clear that it’s about your users/customers, not you.
When I was working on Blackmores Malaysia’s social media page during my time in the advertising agency back in 2014, the direction I was giving to their management is to change the entire structure of posting from being brand-centric to user-centric. This is because most people who liked the page already knew Blackmores and its core business. So, we’ll need to tweak the social media in a way on how Blackmores users/customers can start benefiting from liking Blackmores social media page.
No, it’s not about that hard-sell post. It’s not about telling people that you have a deal on your product. It’s not about up-selling either. Okay, no I didn’t ask you to completely not do this. You can still do this but minimise it on a scale of 20/80 – where 20% of your monthly posts are hard-sell and 80% are lifestyle posts. Seriously, the painful fact you’ll need to understand about Facebook is that users embrace this platform as their emotion playground tool – not to see those spammy posts about the stuff you’re selling.
Hence, you’ll need to gamify your posts by start asking these questions:
a) How can my customers benefit from liking my social media?
b) How can I retain my customers who are already purchased via social media?
c) How can I make my customers’ lives better from my social media posts?
d) How can I address my customers’ daily needs from my social media posts?
e) How can I acquire my customers’ friends to my social media via delivering a mass value?
These are called customer’s gamification and do it right; you’ll amplify your social media campaign’s organic reach and its potential virality.
TIP #5: To increase your organic reach, ensure your contest is built on the best basics of social gamification psychology
Adding to what I’ve mentioned earlier in Tip #4, social gamification (which highly relates to VAD/PAD emotion states) is an art you’ll need to master in order to capture your fans’ interests on your post. It’s no longer about just AIDA principle alone that you’ll need to worry about.
Within self-determination theory, three basic psychological and intrinsic needs are postulated: (Deci and Ryan, 1985; Ryan and Deci, 2002 ; Ryan, 1995).
(1) The need for competence refers to feelings of efficiency and success while interacting with the environment. It is assumed that every human strives to feel competent when deliberately influencing the environment they interact with.
(2) The need for autonomy refers to psychological freedom and to volition to fulfill a certain task. While psychological freedom refers to the feeling of making decisions on the basis of one’s own values and interests, volition refers to the feeling of acting without external pressure or enforcement. Therefore, autonomy refers both to experienced (a) decision freedom, which implies being able to choose between several courses of action, and experienced (b) task meaningfulness, which implies that the course of action at hand conforms with one’s own goals and attitudes.
(3) The need for social relatedness refers to one’s feelings of belonging, attachment, and care in relation to a group of significant others. It represents the basic desire of the individual for coherent integration with the social environment.
Our data show that online sharing, even at viral scale, takes place through many small groups, not via the single status post or tweet of a few influencer(s). While influential people may be able to reach a wide audience, their impact is short-lived. Content goes viral when it spreads beyond a particular sphere of influence and spreads across the social web via ordinarily people sharing with their friends.
And this is actually true when you looked at six degrees of separation concept where all it takes for you to reach Person B (from other side of the world) is 6 other persons if you’re A:
Let’s say you want the post to reach from A to B where B is the point where the virality is at max. How do you ensure Person 1 to share it to Person 2 and the chain continues? If you were to hire a celebrity to endorse, yes, the reach will be massive but most likely, it will only lead to Person 2 max. Hence your post reach stops at Person 2. Now, imagine if Person 1 is someone you know hence you share the post to him/her, then he/she shares to Person 2 who knows him/her personally, will Person 2 then share the post to Person 3 who knows Person 2? Definitely! Leverage this concept together with the VAD/PAD model, you’ll make an excellent viral post.
So, how do you identify who qualifies as someone who knows your brand? Look at your engagement data and see who rises to Top 10 most engaged to your brand page. Best tool that can help you with this is AgoraPulse where they will help you identify who has been the most engaged based on their number of likes, shares and comments on your page.
TIP #7: To increase your organic reach, focus on complying to Facebook’s News Feed (used to be called EdgeRank) algorithm metrics
Page likes, post likes, post shares, post comments…there are just many factors to begin with. During a phone call back in 2013 between Marketing Land and Lars Backstrom, Engineering Manager for News Feed Ranking at Facebook, estimated that there are as many as “100,000 individual weights in the model that produces News Feed.” The three original EdgeRank elements — Affinity, Weight and Time Decay — are still factors in News Feed ranking, but “other things are equally important,” he says.
Paul Ramondo wrote a very comprehensive list of the possible News Feed metrics that you can look at to improvise your organic reach.
Based on my own experience running hundreds of different types of engagement posts, here are the estimated weights of each engagement and how it impacts which posts will be shown at the top of almost every user’s News Feed (on a scale out of 10):
a) Post Likes – 2/10
b) Post Likes and Comments – 4/10
c) Post Likes, Comments and Shares without Tagging – 6/10
d) Post Likes, Comments, Shares and Tagging Multiple Friends – 8/10
e) Post Likes, Comments, Shares, Tagging, Friends of Commenters Commenting on the Comments Creating A Conversation – 10/10
Hence, if your post is having an (e) type engagement, rest assured your post is heading on the course of being viral.
Disclaimer: Facebook doesn’t encourage Pages to do brand incentivizing to users to gamify engagement hence there’ll be risk the Page can be penalised. Hence, do this on your own risk.
TIP #8: To increase your organic reach, use related Facebook groups/community forums for free advertising BUT DON’T MAKE IT LOOK LIKE A SPAM!
This tip highly relies on Tip #1 where you’ll need a proper brand profiling on what’s your branding core VS what’s your branding core lookalikes. So you know Amanda loves travelling to the beach and mountains and you’re holding that free trip contest, another way to look at how you’re going to get further engagement and reach is to add yourself to a general travellers group or preferably beach lovers or scenery enthusiasts. We know this is somewhat our broad target market but then we know Amanda loves travelling, so we may hit a chance to reach 100 more Amanda(s) in this group who are also moms or moms-to-be. And you’ll blast something like this:
Instead of being straight-to-the-point, you may want to slow down that hard-selling tone and make it more casual to decrease the chance of being kicked out of the group for being irrelevant (you need to find that fine line between your brand and the group you’re attaching yourself to):
Hey travellers, who doesn’t like to go for a holiday at the beach or mountains? We all do! But if anyone among you are moms or moms-to-be, this is the best moment to get a time-out. Got this awesome freebie I would like to give personally. Check this out!
TIP #9: To increase your organic reach, seek free contest promotion platforms for free reach
This is pretty simple actually. Just search the keywords like ‘submit a contest’ on Google Search and you’ll find tons of sites who are offering free contest placements. You’ll get some organic reach here if you found a site which has a large amount of traffic. I can’t really tell the examples since it differs for each country. Then, the same contest promotion platforms will also have their own social media pages – seek their approval to be featured there as well.
TIP #10: To increase your organic reach, leverage all your marketing assets to bring organic traffic back to Facebook with strong CTAs. EDM, app push, website, blog, SMS, WhatsApp, anything.
If you have a large traffic on your own web (if you’re an e-commerce), leverage that! If you have a large database of email or SMS subscribers, leverage that too! Put a link that goes directly back to the Facebook page (well, the link is quite long so you may need to shorten the link on SMS). Make a banner placement on the website main page (preferably first fold and if you have a promo section) and lead the banner to a landing page with the contest T&Cs page and put a CTA back to that exact Facebook post. Or send a push notification to all your users informing about this particular interesting contest or post you’re publishing on Facebook and as usual, put the link as the CTA or make a button.
TIP #11: To increase your organic reach, prizes and the way it’s presented plays a role as well
I launched a lot of movie tickets based contest on almost all the brand pages I’ve taken care of. I’ve noticed a very significant difference of engagement when “VARIANT 1: you put a famous movie as your visual and put the movie ticket as the main highlight” VS “VARIANT 2: not showing any famous movie on my visual and put the movie tickets as runner-ups prizes”
Apparently, putting a famous movie as your visual really hooked a lot of people and tapped a lot of general overlapping segments which in the end makes the contest viral on its own. That’s because when a new movie just premiered, a new trend emerges which can be seen visibly via the usage of hashtags on Twitter or other social media channels and digital consumers will try to get familiar with the trend to prevent being FOMO – mostly the talkability will happen up till a month post movie release. Hence, putting a visual of extreme familiarity on their Newsfeed just makes it easily attachable to anybody who sees them.
Disclaimer: Be sure to credit the movie tickets provider and the movie themselves (better to at least notify their Branding Team if they can give a green light for such campaigns)
TIP #12: To increase your organic reach, create your own lifestyle groups and pages affiliated to your brand
This technique requires you a lot of patience, creativity and manpower. Building a product page is hard but building a page related to lifestyle topics especially if you’re really tackling the Emotional Combinations and making sure Arousal and Dominance Factor remain high, your page just gets viral easily because people will find real values to it. But, you’ll need to find a way to ensure there’ll be a pathway to relate it back subtly to your brand without being too much.
In the future, if you build 10 pages or groups and each manage to reach 50,000 likes or followers, each post you promote on your product page can be then promoted back to these lifestyle groups and pages in an effort to increase your overall organic reach. But remember, as mentioned in Tip #8, ensure the content doesn’t look too spammy. Best to lure people first to your page and get them to trust your brand by making them feel your posts on a personal level – then start introducing your core service/hard-selling post in between on a ratio of 20 hardsell/80 lifestyle.
Facebook, after all, is a social networking platform. Not a social selling platform.
TIP #13: To increase your organic reach, stay committed in making at least one interactive activity weekly
Make this a priority in your social media monthly calendar. Be dedicated to launch it once weekly if you can’t commit more than that.. Be it photo contest, video contest, sweepstakes, GIF contest, interactive games, and many others. Look for awesome contest ideas here:
There are tons of Facebook interactive campaign builder out there that you can try out:
TIP #14: Don’t have money to sweeten your engagement incentives? Make sponsorship reach-out efforts.
If you’re just starting a brand and don’t have much budget to play around with, the only workaround is to find sponsorship from potential partners who are also looking to increase their awareness via voucher distributions and redemptions. So you don’t have money to actually get Amanda that holiday trip she wanted via your contest, so we’ll reach out to partners (in this case, can be that hotel by the beach) who will be willing to giveaway some promo codes for discounted rates or best if it’s a totally free 2 Days 1 Night Hotel Room package that can be given away via contest. Benefit for the brands who will be giving you is the reach that you’ll be building via the contest which will definitely help push their brand awareness. As simple as that. You’ll definitely need to do some convincing on your first pitch since the brands who will be sponsoring you will have some expectation on what you need to deliver for them, so listen to what they say and be creative at that!
A similar concept adopted by what Noah Kagan said in one of his articles, “You never know what you can get unless you ask!“
Author: Nik Harith – if you have more inquiries about this article or need to seek social media consultations or advises, reach me out on LinkedIn or email me at email@example.com. Plus, if you’re a growth hacker seeking to exchange ideas, challenges and solutions about any area across the AARRR funnel, I’m open to those kind of discussions too! Let’s have some productive chat!
I’m a designer-turned-growth-hacker who composes music at pastime and has a strong passion to help entrepreneurs in providing access to VCs and grants across Malaysia, Singapore and China other than providing consultancy/execution service of acquisition and retention strategies via paid PPC campaigns, performance marketing and formation of strategic alliance of regional partners to help you build new, emerging markets.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains some facts taken from multiple sources.