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Facebook and Darwin – How You Can Rise to the Top of Organic Reach

By Colleen O’Donnell
Detroit Public Television

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Secrets Revealed series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

With all the changes going on inside Facebook, revelations about compromised user data, and various interest groups campaigning members to delete their Facebook accounts, is Facebook still a viable marketing tool for your company? The debate these days is passionate, with compelling arguments on both sides.

Of course, agencies, marcom, social media and PR teams everywhere felt a collective shudder when Facebook announced the “new rules” of their latest algorithm tweaks this past January, and have been listening in to the Zuckerberg congressional hearings with keen, if not obsessive, interest.

Is organic reach dead? The quick answer is no. But it’s a qualified no. For some companies it may genuinely be dead – but any company can still find a way to connect to the right audience for their products or services on Facebook by employing a bit of creativity and strategy.

It’s not really a secret at all. Facebook spelled out the formula for success with their new algorithm when they made their announcement about the changes. What it really boils down to is this:

  • Strategy: Think about what impact your product or service has on your customers’ lives – and look for ways to illustrate this. Make it tangible for people, so they can “get it” in 60 seconds or less: how your product will make their lives better. If your product or service doesn’t make people’s lives better, Darwin might be sending you a message from the grave. If you’re not in business to make people’s lives better somehow, now is a more likely time than ever for you to get edged out by companies who are.
  • Tactic: Use video, especially live video. Video is a shorthand way to accomplish many things at once: if done right, it can humanize your company (so important in these days of major declines in consumer trust), and it follows a major tenet of all good communications: “Show me, don’t tell me.” Additionally, depending on your audience’s online behavior, video tends to get the most traffic and shares on social media, which will cause your posts to appear more often in your followers’ news feeds, and substantially increase the potential for your posts to “go viral” – a key goal, exponentially spreading your message to new audiences without further effort or expense on your part. Additional tip: If you can find appropriate ways to utilize Live video on Facebook, you can boost your traffic and engagement by as much as 3-6 times on live versus pre-recorded video posts. Plus with all the current concerns about AI, bots, fake news, face swapping and the like, live video is one of the most trusted ways to spread your message.

MORE: Learn about optimizing your organic reach and other related topics at the Digital Marketing Secrets Revealed, May. 3.

  • Strategy: Think quality, not quantity. In the early days of social media, people tried to connect as often as possible with their audience, and there were few, if any, negative consequences for posting too often. Now on Facebook if you post more than 3-4 times daily, you are most likely cannibalizing your own audience for each post, causing your average reach per post to go down, resulting in being considered by Facebook to be not as relevant to your desired audience and therefore appearing less often in your followers’ timelines.
  • Tactic: Post less often and make each post count. Think in specifics about what you want to accomplish with each post. What is the call to action? Are you linking people to a landing page where they can get more information about your product, sign up for your newsletter, RSVP for your event? Are you making the most of each interaction so that you can follow up with prospects? Take a look at new integrated chat bots like Chatfuel to help you build relationships with the people who are interacting with your posts.
  • Strategy: Engage conversations. Facebook spelled it out. This is what matters to their users. If you want to be successful on Facebook, do this. You already know what issues your consumers are facing that your product solves – now show this by starting conversations that can position you as the expert with the needed solutions at the ready. Your customers are much like you. They don’t want to waste time or energy on anything that doesn’t work. Think about how you can help them and why you’re the best at it. Then say it as directly and succinctly as possible.
  • Tactic: Start a Facebook group. People who need what you offer, are attracted to other people who need the same problem solved – and to those who have already solved that problem. Facebook groups are where a large portion of Facebook traffic has been heading. Don’t title your group with your company name, title it according to what you help people do. Attract people by showing you understand the issues they face and that you have what they need. Then find ways to connect with those prospects. Avoid gimmicks, keep it real! Don’t bombard people in your group with ads, but do share how you’ve provided solutions to the same types of problems they’re experiencing. Build credibility and awareness in the group setting and then connect individually to close the sale.

There are many more strategies and tactics to make the most of the current Facebook algorithm, offering your company significant opportunities for organic reach and optimizing the impact of any paid reach. With the right skill set and focus, you can be on the right side of natural selection and evolution.

Colleen O’Donnell manages social media at Detroit Public Television, a member organization of the Detroit Regional Chamber, and operated her own boutique public relations agency Breaking Gravity since 2005.


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