The Facebook Algorithm – How to stay on the right side of it and increase your Facebook reach

With over 60 million businesses using Facebook (as of Q1 2017) – competing for the hearts and minds of Facebook users has become more of a challenge than ever recently. Facebook’s recent algorithm update hasn’t made things any easier and has seen many Facebook pages, that once received hundreds of organic viewings, clicks and likes reduced to single figures.

Facebook’s official line in all of this is that it wants to deliver more relevant content to the end user but the reality for all but the biggest brands is that is you want to get noticed, you’ll need to “pay to play” by sponsoring your daily Facebook posts. But even that’s not enough to guarantee you reach your desired audience. You’ll still be competing with other businesses who are targeting the same customers and also paying to promote their posts. So how do you ensure Facebook puts your posts above those that are competing for the same audience? How do you ensure you win favour with the Facebook Algorithm? Here some useful tips.

Facebook likes positivity

If your strategy is to post “risqué” content which might provoke negative reactions, it’s time for a rethink. The Facebook algorithm ranks posts with positive reactions above those with negative reactions. Negative reactions include unfollows, hiding of posts, marking a post as spam and even negative sentiment in the comments. If your page is regularly receiving negative reactions, it will quickly go down the Facebook rankings.

Facebook values shares and comments above likes

At businesshands we’ve always believed it’s much more powerful to encourage engagement with your audience rather than simply asking them to passively like your post. It seems Facebook agrees so going forward, you’ll need to think about how your posts can encourage debate and add value to the viewer. This strategy will help to weed out business pages that are simply farming out uninspiring content for the sake of posting something on a regular basis. It means if you want to gain favour with the Facebook algorithm, you’ll need to post regular, high quality, thought-provoking content which sparks the imagination and interest of your intended audience.

Facebook doesn’t like clickbait or fake video

Have you ever clicked on a play button on a Facebook post only to be taken to another website? It turns out the video wasn’t a video at all, just an image with a play button linking to a website page. Going forward this is a big no-no. Videos which simply contain static images will also not rank going forward.

Facebook likes real video and it likes its own videos best

Countless studies over the past few years have shown that the best performing posts on Facebook contain video, but did you know that native Facebook videos (i.e. videos uploaded directly to Facebook rather than a link to a video on an external website) are over 10 x more likely to be shared. A study completed by quintly of over 160,000 profiles found that Facebook native videos have a 1055% higher share rate than those from YouTube or other sources. They also have a 186% higher interaction rate (likes / comments).  It’s worth noting that the Facebook algorithm ranks longer videos above shorter ones and also places a ranking on the % completion. The idea being that the longer someone watches the video, the higher the quality of the content must be.

Don’t forget, in addition to posting pre-made content, Facebook also offers its Facebook live feature which enables you to deliver a live feed to talk about key issues or report from a particular event.  Facebook users are 3 x more likely to watch a live video than a pre-recorded one. We’ve used this feature with our clients to great effect and the audience really does love it so it’s worth thinking about how you can incorporate this into your Facebook strategy going forward.

Content sources matter

For many businesses, its simply not possible to create unique, high quality content every day and curating content from other websites is a perfectly acceptable strategy to use. What’s important to remember with curated content though is that quality matters. I can’t count the number of times I’ve clicked through on a link to a post only to find the content is either out of date, completely incorrect or simply not worth posting. Remember, your Facebook page is being graded on the number of shares and comments it receives on its posts. If you’re lazily posting random content without checking it, you’ll pay the price.

Even with quality content however, it’s worth testing different sources. Your followers will have preferences and will enjoy or relate more to content from some sources than others. Finding out which sources your followers prefer will help to increase those all important shares and comments.

That’s it for this article. If you would like more information about how to use Facebook effectively for your business, or you would like to talk about our managed social media services, why not contact a member of the team today on 0207 458 4788.

5 things to consider before you make your first post on social media

So I’ve just been working on the marketing strategy for a brand-new tech start-up that I’m bringing to life called Secret Think Tank and thought I’d share with you, some of the factors we’ve taken into consideration before taking the leap into social media with the new business. Let’s dive straight in.

What’s your goal?

It’s a simple question which for many people, proves difficult to answer. Many organisations we speak to have a social media presence because they think they should, but they don’t really know what they’re trying to achieve from it or what they should expect from it – and that’s a problem. If you don’t know why you’re doing social media, how do you know if what you are posting is helping or hindering your objectives. For our new start-up, Secret Think Tank, our goals are to increase brand awareness and generate registrations for the platform before the launch. With that in mind, we can now tailor our posts accordingly and build a strategy to maximise the reach of our posts to improve brand awareness.

Who is your target audience?

The chances are that you’ll want to target your ideal customer or at least, the person with the decision-making ability with regards to purchases.  The last thing you’ll want to do is publish a stack of posts giving them the hard sell so you’ll need to think about the interests, the values and the challenges that they have and how that coincides with your products or services. Think about how you can relate to your target audience and most importantly, how you can add value to your target audience. It’s important at this stage to also figure out where they hang out. There’s little point having a LinkedIn strategy if for example, you’re trying to sell to teenagers. But don’t be presumptuous about this. Go and do your research. Hang out on a range of platforms and find which ones work best for your brand.

What is your brand persona?

Now you might think we’re starting to get all “agency” on you, but this is a very important point. Your company will be defined to the online world by how you come across on social media. If your business is always posting negative things, you’ll come across as a negative company. If your posts are short and devoid of personality, that’s how your company will come across on social media. Think about your brand values and how you want to be perceived by your followers and make a sustained effort to adhere to that in every post you deliver.

How can you integrate your social media into the wider marketing strategy?

If you’ve got hundreds of thousands of followers, you’ll probably find that social media is a strong sales tool in its own right. But if you’re not that lucky, then you’ll need to think about how your social media fits into the bigger picture. How can social media be used to complement your sales and other marketing activities? Where does it sit in the process? How can you maximise the value of social media to your business, day in day out?

What’s your growth strategy?

Starting off with zero followers and no social media posts on your wall can be pretty daunting, so how are you going to get through the first few months and build a sizeable following that starts to deliver value to your business? There’s no doubt that in the beginning at least, you’ll need to allocate a decent amount of money to run social media advertising campaigns. If you’re a social media newcomer, that might come as a surprise. After all, social media is free… right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s a bit of a myth. Sure you can post for free, but if you want to reach anyone outside of your friends, family and work colleagues, you’ll need to pay.

There’s typically three types of campaign  you might want to run – (i) increase the number of followers (ii) drive traffic to your website or (iii) maximise engagement with your audience. Whether you choose one, two or all three of those options and how you split your social media budget between them will all depend on the answer to the first question – “what’s your goal?”

 

So there’s 5 things to consider before you even tap a hashtag into your keyboard. I’m sure there’s more. Can you think of any? If so, let us know and we’ll publish the best ones on a second blog and give you credit for them.

Thanks for reading and if you’ve find this article useful, don’t forget to share.

Chris Mayfield

CEO of businesshands

Founder of Secret Think Tank

5 Social Media Myths Debunked

Most organisations now have at least a skeleton presence on social media. For many though, social media is not quite working out how they thought. Is your organisation one of them? If you are struggling to find the value in your social media activities, it could be because you’ve fallen victim to one of these common social media myths… take a look.

The more followers you have the greater the success

This is probably the most common misconception about social media… that more followers = more results but that couldn’t be more wrong. This myth has given rise to a whole industry selling bundles of instant followers to boost your count and drive results. The reality is though, there’s no point in having any followers unless they’re going to interact with your posts and engage with your brand. The bundles of instant followers you see for sale are fake. Having 10 high quality followers is far more powerful than having 10,000 fake followers who don’t do anything at all. Engagement is the name of the game when it comes to social media. Your social media activity forms part of your customer journey. You need to incite action (either a like, a click through to a website, a share, a ‘buy it now’, a ‘call now’, or an enquiry).

And whilst you may think it doesn’t do any harm to buy a few thousand instant followers to make your profile look good, doing so will affect your ability to measure the success of your activity… and if you can’t measure the success of your marketing, how do you know if you’re spending your time and your money wisely.

You need to have a presence on every platform

We’ve covered this in a few posts recently but it’s an important point. Don’t waste time advertising in places where your customers won’t be. B2B companies tend to do well on LinkedIn, Twitter and surprising for some – Instagram. For B2C, replace LinkedIn with Facebook. But don’t take our word for it. Go and explore each social platform yourself. Are there brands similar to yours on that platform that are doing well? Are there people you would like to target, hanging out on these platforms. If you can’t decide whether a social platform will be good for your business, the best thing to do is dive in and give it a go. Put a 1 month, high visibility strategy in place and measure the benefits. This could be an increase in website visitors, enquiries or sales.

The key is not to make assumptions about your audience and where they might hang out. Here’s a few businesses you might not expect to do well on their chosen social media but they do.

Instagram

Biltwell (bike parts):                        https://www.instagram.com/biltwell/

King Arthur Flour:                             https://www.instagram.com/kingarthurflour/

Facebook

Mabel’s Labels (stationary):         https://www.facebook.com/Mabelhood

Brian Bilston (poetry):                   https://www.facebook.com/BrianBilston/

LinkedIn:

Farm and Stable Suppliers            https://www.linkedin.com/company/10342445

The Sausage Man                             https://www.linkedin.com/company/5343033

Twitter:

Severn Trent (utilities)                   https://twitter.com/stwater

Charmin (loo roll!)                           https://twitter.com/Charmin

Social media is not a sales tool

Ok, ok, there is some truth in this. But if you’re expecting to push out a few tweets and have the phone ringing off the hook or be inundated with orders, think again. Social media is a sales tool however, if you put a strategy in place and build it into your sales process and customer journey. Think about how your clients currently buy from you. The chances are they come through your website, right? If that’s the case, how do you get more people to visit your website? Through social media of course. But you’ll need to get creative. Social media offers so much more than simply the ability to push out post after post. Think about paid advertising campaigns, sponsored content connected to landing pages… what about a competition or a direct messaging campaign either through LinkedIn or Twitter? There are hundreds of ways to use the social media platforms to engage with your target audience… and as we mentioned before, engagement is the name of the game.

You can put all of your posts into a scheduler on a Monday morning and then forget about it for the week.

So this follows on from our point above. The more time and effort you put into social media, the more it will deliver for your business. Working with SMEs, we occasionally have to compete with social media freelancers for clients and typically they come in at about ¼ of the price. Now that might sound like a good deal to you, but if all they’re doing is putting a few posts in a scheduler once a week, you won’t be getting value for money. Stacking a couple of posts per day into a scheduler and ignoring it for the rest of the week is akin to standing in a shop doorway and occasionally commenting on the world or shouting out the occasional offer. It’s not an effective way to do business. Far better is to get amongst your customers, get involved in their conversations, grow brand awareness and build relationships. That’s when social media begins to deliver value to a business.

It’s impossible to measure the benefit to your business of social media

One of the core principles of successful marketing is measurement. It doesn’t matter if it’s door to door leaflet drops, a Google AdWords campaign, an email newsletter or your social media. So what should you be measuring when it comes to social media marketing? Well, that all depends on what the point of your social media is. If you’re posting blindly to your social media pages without a strategy and a set of objectives, you won’t have a great deal to go on… and furthermore, your social media won’t be very successful. First, think about what you want to achieve (brand awareness, a click through to a website, a share, a ‘buy it now’, a ‘call now’, or an enquiry). Next think about how you’ll be able to measure this metric. Take a measurement now, before it all starts. Finally, develop a strategy to help you achieve your goals and put it in play. Measure regularly and modify / fine tune your strategy as and when necessary.

With these 5 social media myths debunked, hopefully you’ll save time and money and getting better results from your marketing efforts in future. Here’s one last myth we should probably debunk. Social media isn’t free. You might frown at this as you sit there regularly posting on your favourite social media platform without paying a penny, but if you want to promote your organisation through a social media strategy, you will need to spend money on paid social advertising campaigns to see any kind of success.

If this all sounds a bit complicated or confusing… or you just don’t have the time or the skillset within your organisation to make your social media work, contact a member of the businesshands team today on 0207 458 4788 or email us at info@businesshands.co.uk.

PS: Don’t forget to share this post if you’ve found it useful.

Where is your business on the social media scale?

An old boss once said to me “to understand how to do something well – you need to understand what good looks like” and he was right. Only when you know “what good looks like” can you put a structured plan in place to help you achieve it. So in this week’s article, we’re going to introduce you to what good looks like in the world of social media and give you the opportunity to understand where your business sits on the social media scale.  You’ll find a handy graphic at the bottom of this article illustrating your social media readiness.

Goals and Channel Integration

One of the first things to note about social media, is that it’s not just about posting messages and following people. If you’re going to do social media well, you first need to understand why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve from it.

Social media is part of the customer journey. A person finds and follows your company on social media, then they see an interesting post from you and click on it to get to your website. Next (hopefully) you’ve got some kind of call to action or sign-up form and from there (if you’re really good) not only will you receive an enquiry or sale, but your visitor will also be fed into your e-newsletter list or a set of automated mailers. By putting this structure in place, it helps you to understand what posts are good for social media and what posts aren’t so good. Having an endless stream of links to articles on other websites for example (as many organisations do) is not going to add any value to your business.

Community Management

The next key takeaway in this article is that social media is a 2-way communication platform. That means you need to be encouraging conversations and watching for and responding to your followers if they decide to communicate with you. If you’re really good – you’ll be actively searching the social media world for mentions of your organisation and proactively involving yourself in those conversations.

Content planning

Put your hands up if you have a 1-year content plan in place… anyone? What about 6 months… or 3 months? Ok – last chance, how about 1 month?

The chances are, when you think of social media, you think of short posts and images – but the reality is that the majority (and most successful) of posts contain links to articles. If you’re not writing your own blog / regular article – then your only option is to post links to articles on other websites and that immediately throws your highly effective customer journey out of the window.

Devising and creating regular content is critical to the success of your social media. The further you plan your content in advance, the more strategic it can become and the more value it will deliver to your organisation.

Paid Social Media Advertising

If we think back to the customer journey – perhaps the most critical part of it is to make sure you get found in the first place and that’s where paid social media advertising comes in. Social media advertising is hugely powerful, allowing you to target specific age groups, interests, geographical locations and even times of the day. Not only that, but you can set goals tied into your advertising. Do you want to acquire more followers, increase web traffic, get app downloads or increase newsletter sign-ups? Anything is possible. Here at Business Hands, we put a strong emphasis on social media paid advertising because we believe it offers better targeting options, better results and better value than traditional PPC (pay per click) methods through platforms like Google AdWords

Evaluation

Lastly and probably the least practiced – evaluation is the most value-add part of the social media journey. Let’s equate being a social media manager to a farmer. To get a high yield from your social media you need to invest in the right tools, you’ll need to try different strategies, you’ll need to nurture your crop (your community) and you’ll need to measure and evaluate everything you do. With the right technology in place, it very quickly becomes clear what is working and what is not and as time goes on you can fine tune your social media feeds to maximise audience engagement, drive website traffic and most importantly – increase sales.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this high level introduction into what good social media looks like. You’ll find a helpful graphic below to help you plan to take your social media to the next level and obviously we’d love to help you achieve that.

Social media scale from the Initial to the fully integrated social strategy

Business Hands offers fully tailored content, social media and email marketing packages for every size of business at very competitive prices. To find out how we can help your business, contact us today on 0207 458 4788.

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