Increasing your Facebook page reach—without spending a dime

This is a guest post by Anne Chaconas

This is the second in a four-part series discussing the recent updates with Facebook pages and how you can make the most of these changes and continue to make Facebook an integral part of your marketing strategy.

Recently, Facebook gave fan page admins an interesting stat below each post:

Now we can see exactly how many people see our posts—and the number is, unfortunately, dismally small. In a previous post, I explained that the reason behind the fact that not all our fans see all our page posts is due to the algorithm EdgeRank, which essentially calculates how relevant your post is to each individual user based on affinity, type of post and age of the post.

Facebook, in an effort to both make it easier for us to reach more of our fan base and, undoubtedly, in an attempt to make money (now that the company has gone public and has had lackluster stock performance), has given us the option to pay for posts to be more visible (an option which is available to pages with 400-100,000 fans):

The problem is, most of us don’t have the funds to drop $5, $10, $15 or $20 promoting Facebook page posts, particularly since one single promotion wouldn’t be enough, and we would quickly find ourselves having to spend hundreds of dollars just to reach the fans we already have. It’s simply not feasible (and, truth be told, it feels a little silly).

Feasibility of payment or not, though, we still have to find a solution to the post visibility problem.

Before we delve into some solutions, let me start by dispelling a “Facebook myth” that I’ve seen lurking around quite a bit after page admins became aware of the fact that not everyone was seeing their posts: “Facebook has unchecked the ‘Show in News Feed’ option on the pages you’ve liked! If you want to see my page content, hover over the ‘Like’ button my page, and make sure the ‘Show in News Feed’ option is checked!”

Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happened at all. I wish it was, and that the solution to the visibility issue was that simple. It’s not, though. Facebook minions haven’t gone around un-checking “Show in News Feed” buttons (there are 42 million brand pages out there—think about the logistics and the selectivity it would imply given that you still see some, but not all, pages’ updates; it just doesn’t make much sense). The culprit behind some of your fans’ inability to see your posts is EdgeRank, not smarmy Facebook un-checking elves. Going around and making sure the “Show in News Feed” option is checked on all your pages will mostly just result in a waste of your time (although you’ll likely start seeing more of those pages’ posts, simply because you’re interacting more with the pages by ensuring the option is checked).

Here’s the deal: The best way to increase your page’s visibility is to increase fan interaction. The more fans comment on, share and like your posts, the more affinity they will have with your page, and the more they’ll see your posts. Kind of a catch-22, isn’t it? To get more visibility, you have to be more visible. Yeah, I kind of want to punch me in the face right now, too. But there are ways of getting this done. Here are a few:

Make your posts interactive. This means that you shouldn’t just post about what you’re reading or working on and leave it at that. At most, all that will get you is a “like” (and “likes” are not weighted as heavily in the EdgeRank algorithm as comments or shares). Instead, try this: “Currently reading The Best Book Ever by The Most Awesome Author Ever. Any suggestions on what I should read next? I’m looking for a great read! What are YOU reading?” This kind of call to action invites fans to reply, and it asks them for their opinion, which lends itself to commentary.

Get graphic. No, not like that. Use pictures! For example, if you were posting the example above, you could find and attach a picture of the book cover for what you’re reading. Facebook users typically respond much better when an eye-catching graphic accompanies a post (think about it—what do you notice first: a pretty picture or a funny comment? The picture is much more visually attractive.) Which leads me to my next point:

Use visual humor or inspiration. Nothing gets shared and liked faster than an inspirational quote, humorous saying or clever content over an eye-catching graphic. I speak from personal experience on this. At one point, I had close to 80% visibility on a single post—it was an image of everyday phrases coined by Shakespeare—that people found interesting enough to share, comment on, and like. A great example of this kind of “post virality” is George Takei’s Facebook page—he posts humorous images and pictures all day long, and his visibility is insane, thanks to all of the shares, likes and comments his page gets. A fantastic side benefit of sharing virality is that, if you are the original uploader of the image, you will be attributed every time the image is shared, no matter how many degrees of separation there are between you and the sharer. This can lead to more fans, simply because they like what they see!

Consider implementing contests or giveaways on a regular basis. Things like contests and giveaways that work on the premise of sharing something on your page wall or commenting on a post have a tendency to have an increased virality, which will increase your affinity and relevance with those who comment. Another great way to increase interaction using a content is to assign a point value to each interaction (“5 points for a like, 7 points for a comment, 10 points for a share”), and make it so that your fans can accrue points to get prizes (“first 5 people to reach 75 points get a free signed copy of my book!”). You can update your fans with a point leader board to get everyone involved.

Stay positive. Nothing turns fans off faster than a whiner or a Negative Nancy. Now, don’t get me wrong, emotions are good—and you shouldn’t pretend to be happy all the time if you’re not—but if all your posts involve you moping under dark clouds, then you’re not going to get any fan interaction, and you’ll slowly drop off the Facebook radar.

But Anne, I hear you asking, those are all great—but how do I get to the point where my fans are actually seeing my stuff if they don’t see it now? Here are some tips:

  1. Share your fan page posts on your personal profile wall. Cross-promoting will make your friends aware of your post, and they might like, share, and comment. Every interaction makes it visible to their circle of friends, and when they share, comment, and like, then their circle of friends will see it. Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.
  2. Tag other pages (both people, companies, and places) in your post. No, not obnoxiously or excessively, but come up with relevant posts that you can logically tag others in (use the @ protocol for other pages—the tag will show up as a blue clickable link, and the tagged page will be notified).

The admins of tagged pages are more than likely going to drop on by, like your post, and maybe even comment on it. When they like and comment, it shows up on their friends’ pages. And that’s visibility.

There is one more strategy you can consider. If you want your fans to be able to see all of your posts, you can encourage them to add your page to an interest list (Facebook explains how you, as a fan, can do that here for pages you like); interest lists show all updates from all pages on that particular interest list. However, the problem here is that your fans will not only have to go through the extra steps of creating an interest list, but will then have to remember to check it in order to see all of your updates. While some fans might be diligent enough to do that, most will not. Creating organic visibility through posts, comments, and shares is much more likely to be effective, although not as quick.

Building fan interaction takes time and effort, but it does work. It may not overnight, but it’ll take hold. Like everything else, the good stuff takes hard work and consistency. However, be careful—don’t over-post or “spam” your fans. If they start seeing a post from you at every turn, they’re more likely to tune you out or unsubscribe from your posts, which would undo all your hard work.

But what if you’re totally fed up with your fan page, and you just want to direct fans to your personal profile page instead? You can do that—just make sure you’ve got your privacy settings set up correctly. I’ll discuss that in the next post in this series.

Previous posts:

  • Help! No one is seeing my Facebook page updates!

Upcoming posts:

  • Using your Facebook profile as a fan page (instead of your Facebook page).
  • Moving from page to profile? Strategies to get your fans to make the change.

 

About this post’s author:

Anne Chaconas was born in Central America and educated in the U.S. Northeast. She moved to the Deep South for love and currently lives on the East Coast (and misses winter terribly.) Her snarky husband, adorable daughter, three rambunctious cats, and two very adoring dogs keep her busy. Salve Regina, her debut novel, will be available this fall. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, GoodReads and Tumblr.


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