Yes, you heard it right.
It is indeed true that the organic reach on Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels has been on a steady decline. As more and more brands opt for paid and sponsored content, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get your organic posts seen. The ever-changing algorithms of social platforms have made matters worse.
While ads are a sure-shot way of getting your content seen on social media, it is very much possible to amplify your digital footprint organically. Let us see how.
1) Understand and Stay Updated on Algorithms for All Social Media Channels
All social media platforms, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn have their algorithms which determine the order and presentation of posts so that users can see what is most relevant to them. These algorithms are tweaked constantly so that users can see what they want to see the most. It is vital to understand these algorithms to maximize your organic reach.
So, how do these algorithms work? Let us discuss all the social media channels one by one.
Facebook: Facebook reported some major changes in its algorithm in 2018. Facebook now priorities content posted from friends over publishers and focuses on ‘meaningful interactions’. So, the more likes, comments, shares and reactions your posts generate, the more likely it is to be seen by people. The key lies in creating content that brings meaningful interactions naturally, for instance, Facebook Go Live.
Instagram: Instagram has three main factors that determine what content will be shown on a user’s Instagram feed:
- Timeliness: Recent posts tend to rank higher than older posts.
- Interest: Instagram uses an image determination technology to figure out what kind of content a user may be interested in. For instance, if you often search for digital cameras, you are more likely to see posts featuring digital cameras.
- Relationship: It means posts from the accounts you interact with more are likely to appear higher in your news feed.
Twitter: Like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter also uses an algorithm to determine the tweets a user may be interested in. Twitter awards a score to each tweet depending on how relevant the tweet may be to the user. The following factors are crucial in deciding the score:
- Characteristics of the Tweet: Overall engagement with the tweet (favourites, retweets, clicks and time spent reading it), its recency and type of content (videos and images are prioritized).
- Author of the Tweet: User’s interaction history with the author, strength of their connection.
- User’s Interests: If the user interacts with a certain kind of tweets often, he is more likely to see similar tweets in his news feed.
Once a tweet gets a relevance score, it gets ranked accordingly in the newsfeed of the user. In September 2018, Twitter introduced some major changes to its algorithm. Users will now be able to switch between a default top tweets view (based on its algorithm) and a reverse chronological latest tweets timeline.
2) Post at the Right Time of the Day
While it may seem surprising, there is ample data that proves there is a right time to post for every social media platform. For Facebook, the best time to post is around 9 a.m. when people go online for the first time. Facebook also sees an increase in the click-through rate between 11 a.m.-12 noon and 3 p.m.-4 p.m. The best days for posting on Facebook are Thursday to Sunday.
Instagram, on the other hand, sees maximum activity around 1 p.m. and then around 5 p.m. The best day to post content on Instagram is Friday.
Twitter sees maximum activity during commute hours i.e. 8 a.m.-10 a.m. in the morning and 6 p.m.-9 pm. in the evening. For platforms like LinkedIn that are mainly used for professional purposes, working hours seem to be the best time for posting content i.e. around 10 a.m.-12 noon.
3) Interact with your Target Audience
The social media space is inundated with brands and individuals who routinely state their opinion on your industry.
So, if you do not work proactively to connect with your target audience, you might get lost in the crowd. To remain updated on the conversations unfolding among your audience, use social listening tools like Agorapulse, TweetDeck and Brandwatch that monitor the conversation happening around your industry, product/service and competitors.
You can provide your audience with answers to frequently sought-after questions or state your opinion on trending topics or just comment to show your interest. Such an approach will help you earn followers and augment your visibility in the online world.
You can also adopt a more pro-active approach and instead of joining an existing conversation initiate a conversation of your own. Selecting topics that people are already familiar with may not generate an exciting response. So, think outside the box and choose a topic that you feel would interest your audience. Asking the right questions and striking conversation around the right topics is the right approach to get heard in the social space.
4) Post User-Generated Content
Posting user-generated content is one sure-shot way of enhancing your organic reach on social media. User-generated content is any kind of content (photo, text or video) created by a customer, user or fan. As a brand, you can share this content on your account (of course, with due consent from the user) and reinforce the credibility of your brand. Consumers are far more likely to trust the content generated by users than by brands.
According to a recent study, around 90% of the people believe user-generated content greatly impacts their purchasing decisions.
To encourage more users to generate content for your brand, you can create a hashtag campaign for your brand and ask users to post content featuring your brand or products. The content should include your branded hashtag. You can add this content to your feed after receiving user’s consent.
You can also create a reward-based campaign and reward one or more users generating content for your brand. In 2014, Starbucks launched a contest under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest and encouraged users to draw an artistic doodle on their white cups and post the finished product on Twitter or Instagram. The winning drawings would be used by Starbucks as a limited edition template for their cup designs. The contest generated tremendous response among users-Starbuck received 4000 entries in a span of just three weeks.
5) Conduct Live Streaming Sessions
Live streaming content is another tried-and-tested method of enhancing your organic reach on social media. Live sessions offer brands the opportunity to connect with their audience one-on-one. As per a recent study, social media users interact with live videos three times as much as they do with traditional videos. You can use live streaming sessions for providing information about your product/service or capturing an event.
Live streaming is particularly popular on Facebook and Instagram. Both the platforms allow you to stream live videos and let your audience interact with the video in real-time. You can notify your audience in advance that you are going live and get information on the number of live viewers, people reached, comments and shares.
There are, however, some major differences between the two platforms. While Facebook lets you broadcast up to four hours, Instagram allows just one hour. Facebook lets you add the video to your page once the broadcast is over; Instagram does not have the feature to save live videos.
As a brand, you can test a wide range of videos out of instructional videos, webinars, Q&A sessions and special announcements to test what works for your brand and what does not. Eventually, your target audience will decide what kind of content they are most interested in.
6) Use Hashtags appropriately
Hashtags can do wonders for your organic social media marketing if used appropriately. Starting as a tool to organize tweets on Twitter, the hashtag is now used extensively on Facebook and Instagram as well.
People search for hashtags more frequently than any other kind of content. So, if you use hashtags that are popular and trending, your content will generate more eyeballs and you will be able to reach the right audience at the right time. For example, you can leverage the hashtags currently trending on Twitter to fabricate content around the hashtag and gain more impressions on the platform.
The hashtag should be relevant to your brand and help you connect with your target demographics. Make sure not to overstuff your post with keywords. Do not use the same set of hashtags over and over again. Experiment with different sets of hashtags to keep the audience engaged.
7) Collaborate with Social Media Influencers
Another way of reaching the target audience is through collaboration with a social media influencer. Roping in influencers to promote the brand is a common practice among all the established brands.
Nowadays, small-and-medium-sized enterprises have begun seeking micro-influencers to promote their brand. It is possible to create the right impact even with a micro-influencer provided you reach out to the right influencer. For instance, if you are a food start-up, you can work in collaboration with a renowned food blogger with up to 10,000 followers and connect with a wider audience.
8) Run Contests from Time to Time
Who doesn’t love freebies? Add to it the thrill of participating in a contest. Contests help create a buzz around your brand and enhance awareness on your products and services. You can run contests to give a caption to an image or select the picture that best represents your brand. Or, you can simply ask the audience to share your content. You can reward winners of the contest by giving them freebies or featuring their content on your social media page.
Dove, the personal care brand owned by Unilever, ran a contest on Facebook entitled ‘Real Beauty Should Be Shared’. Instead of offering prizes to winners, Dove challenged the audience to nominate their friends and family who they think are beautiful. The winners of the contest were chosen to represent the brand and be advocates for the campaign.
9) Focus on Quality and Not Quantity
If you wish to reach you to more people, focus more on the quality of the content you churn out and not the quantity. With a quality-focused approach, you may end up producing fewer but better posts.
As we have discussed above, the algorithms on all social media channels prefer content that engages the audience and this is possible only when the audience finds the content meaningful. Only high-quality posts can generate meaningful interactions. So, instead of posting dozens of low-quality posts each day, post only one or two quality posts. Avoid clickbait as it can negatively affect your ranking.
10) Monitor Organic Reach using Analytical Tools
You cannot build an effective social media strategy unless you are clear on what’s working and what’s not. Today most of the social media platforms have their own analytical tools for monitoring user engagement through metrics such as likes, shares, comments and clicks.
It is good to have a tool of your own to analyze the interactions on a deeper level. For instance, if someone clicks on your Facebook post and reaches the landing page of your website, you can use Google Analytics to track the actions the user took next.
The key lies in analyzing what kind of posts are generating user engagement and then producing more of such content and identifying what type of posts are failing to generate any meaningful results and avoiding them.
Do you have any out-of-the-box ideas on improving the organic reach on social media? If yes, please let us know in the comment section below.