Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Friday, June 3, 2016

I recently saw a Sri Lankan Facebook community page with 50,000 fans reaching up to 600,000 people organically. Yes, I saw it right. Not a single cent was spent on boosting this post. Other than this post, the same page had many more posts with organic reach up to 20,000 people in some occasions (more than 40% of it's fan base). An average post on this page reaches up to 15% of its fan base.
But you heard, an average Facebook page post reaches up to 3% of the fan base, right? Can’t believe what I said? Here is a screenshot from the page I am talking about. I had to blur the exact content of the posts, as I am not permitted to reveal which community page this is.
Now, you want your brand page on Facebook to gain similar organic engagement, don’t you? Read on.
While community pages on Facebook attracts phenomenal rates of organic reach and organic engagement, most brand pages we manage for our clients struggle to attract more than 5% organic reach without a paid boosting. In fact, many Facebook marketing experts suggest the average organic reach of brand pages on Facebook has become less than 3% of the page’s fan base.
Many believe this is a gimmick by Facebook to compel the page admins to boost the post. I rather disagree with this belief. If Facebook wants to play such a low trick, why don’t they play the same trick on community pages?
I see the fundamental problem here as failure by brands to understand the Facebook ecosystem and newsfeed algorithm. Inability to understand Facebook as a social platform; not as another advertising medium is the first problem brands face on Social Media.
When planning content for a branded Facebook page, the brand’s social media manager must wear the hat of an editor of a newspaper, not as the advertising manager of the newspaper. And editor knows the importance of ads for a newspaper. Without ads, the editorial team won’t get their pay check at the end of the month. But, they know the primary focus of the newspaper has to be engaging content for its readers. Without engaging enough content, the paper will not attract enough readers. The advertising manager of a newspaper thinks different; they always focus on how much money the paper can make by selling ad space. In my experience, most Sri Lankan social media managers approach their Facebook pages as an advertising manager. They put too emphasis on pushing the brand’s marketing messages to the community, and pay less attention towards finding good quality content to keep the audience engaged. Facebook is a social platform, and it loves what the users love. If users are engaging less with too much of brand centric content, Facebook algorithm will automatically get adjusted to deliver lesser amount of your page’s content organically to its users. More you push your branded posts, and more it gets rejected, harder it will be for you to reach your audience organically. At one point, your page will get cornered into a ‘black hole’ in the Facebook universe. Nobody cares or notices your page…organically. This is the point where you have to keep boosting every single of your posts with enormous amounts of marketing dollars.
To overcome this vicious cycle, all you have to do is one simple trick. Dedicate 80% of your Facebook content for non-branded content, and use only 20% for your branded posts. Think of it as you create your own newspaper for your brand. 80% editorial, 20% advertising.
I know most brand managers get unhappy, the moment I mention ‘non-branded content’.
Typical question asked is, “Why should I post about what happened in Games of Thrones last week, if my brand can’t get a mileage out of it?”.
The answer is, if you want organic engagement for your page, you have to give social enough content for your fans. When your non-branded content gets more visibility organically, it creates a spiral effect on your branded posts too. Bottom-line is, not every single Facebook post on your brand page has to be branded or brand-centric.
What I mean by a “branded post” is, a Facebook post with a brand frame around it, or a clear promotional message. If you post about Game of Thrones and still use a branded frame around it with your logo on the lower right hand side, that post is still a branded post. The moment you put that frame, and your logo, your fan gets to know it’s an ad. The thing about ads on Facebook is, people don’t share ads on Facebook. People share socially interesting content. That’s why you have to make your posts look more like socially interesting content, not like a newspaper quarter page ad.
Take this example from Volvo Facebook page.
They haven’t put a corporate color frame around this post, and they haven’t pasted their logo in this. In fact, this is a picture taken by one of their fans. The car in the picture is a Volvo, but you can hardly see the logo. The social media marker here has clearly focused on what the fans want. Fans want car pics, not Volvo ads. Those who know will know that this is a Volvo. You don’t have to make it too obvious by pasting a big Volvo logo on one corner of the image.
To sum up, secret to attract more organic engagement for your brand’s Facebook page is to create more socially interesting content on your page. Make your content look less like advertisements, but be clever enough to retain your brand’s identity in the post. If you want to study the masters of this strategy, follow   Volvo, Oreo, Pringles, GoPro and Red Bull on Social Media.
Next time before you ask your Social Media manager “why is my page’s organic engagement so low?”, check whether you have given enough freedom to him or her, to experiment with the 80-20 rule of non-branded to branded content.

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