6 tips to optimize your Facebook posts in 2014
When Facebook released its December update, it didn’t just send a shot across the bow – it nearly sunk the ship. With only 3 in 100 fans now seeing a business page’s posts in their newsfeed, the message from Facebook has been clear: pay up if you want your posts to be seen.
For many businesses, that just isn’t possible. At a minimum of $5 to “boost” a post made on Facebook, it’s far from practical on a regular basis. Abandoning Facebook altogether might sound convenient, but the hard truth is that your business still needs to have a Facebook page, and you still need to keep it updated.
While it’s doubtful you’ll see the same level of engagement you saw in previous years, here are six tips to optimize your Facebook posts in 2014 without paying Facebook for it:
1) Use #hashtags
This one’s a contentious point. Using a hashtag in your post adds it to the newsfeed stream for that hashtag, allowing your post to be seen by users outside your fanbase. In September, there was a large hubbub about hashtags reducing viral reach. With the new addition of Facebook’s “Trending” sidebar – which takes into account popular topics and hashtags – we’re betting that hashtags on Facebook (when used properly) will actually be useful this year.
2) Tap into trending news
While the practical effect for most business users has been reduced reach, Facebook’s explanation of the update was a focus on “quality content.” Drilling down a little further through the PR speak, this means Facebook wants to re-position itself as a hot spot for sharing news, similar to Twitter – hence the new sidebar. Hypothetically, this means that posting “newsworthy” content will increase the chance of your posts appearing in fans’ newsfeeds. Just try to keep it relevant and appropriate to your industry.
3) Combine with content marketing
People enjoy sharing the content they like with their friends – it’s one of the basic foundations of social media. If your website creates high-quality original content – especially if it taps into current news topics – the benefit is twofold. First, it makes your posts more likely to be shared if they have something new to show. Second, the more reputation you build in the “newsworthy” vein, the more likely (hypothetically) Facebook is to show your content to fans in their newsfeeds.
4) Encourage discussion on your page
What’s the saying – if you can’t go to the circus, bring the circus to you? That’s probably not quite it, but you get the point. If your posts only show up in a small scattering of your fans’ feeds, they should at least show up in different feeds each time. Establish a dialogue and bring those fans back to your page by asking a question when you post content to Facebook.
5) Don’t just post one type of content
Variety is the spice of Facebook, apparently. Earlier in 2013 when EdgeRank bit the dust, it was found that different users had different strains of algorithm preferences, based on their account activity. For example, if one user most frequently “liked” text-update statuses, the algorithm would show more preference to that sort of content in their own individual feed. Make sure you’re posting different types of content to adjust for that: images, text updates, videos, and links.
6) Post at peak times
This is one of those topics that’s been the subject of discussion for a long time, and there are plenty of infographics floating around out there declaring “the best time” to post on each social network. While there’s some good evidence behind “later in the week” and “afternoon-ish” on Facebook, the fact is that a lot of this data conflicts, and doesn’t necessarily apply to your target audience. The best thing you can do at this point is study your own traffic and track when you have the best engagement.
While there’s still some time before we see the full impact of the latest algorithm update, there’s no escaping the fact that marketing for “free” on Facebook is going to be an uphill battle from here on out. Facebook’s new bottom line is that they want you to pay them directly for advertising on Facebook, and that includes any engagement with your hard-earned fans.
If it seems like your time spent on social media marketing is better spent on other social networks now, stay tuned: we’ll be posting on the best alternatives to Facebook, and the merits of each.
Until then, drop us a line in the comments below (or hey, why not on Facebook) and let us know how your business has been affected by Facebook’s notorious December update.