Do you want to get more engagement on Facebook and drive more social traffic to your articles?
We’re in a really challenging situation. Organic reach on Facebook decreased 50% in the past few years, now you barely reach 6% of your audience with your posts. Facebook traffic dropped and we just became even more frustrated.
Among all the companies we’re working with, decreasing organic reach on Facebook is a topic that keeps many marketers up at night. Since here at Momentum, we always try to find better ways to help content marketers engage with their audiences, I decided to take a deep dive into the topic and build a definitive guide on how could we leverage this trend rather than worrying about it.
Sometimes we spend too much time on tweaking our posts to get a bit higher organic reach. But this desperate fight is like scooping out water from a sinking boat. You can slow the process, but you can’t stop sinking the boat.
My goal with this article is to give you a fresh set of eyes on the topic and hopefully help you get closer to the ultimate goal which is getting high quality traffic from social either if that means conversions or just high engagement.
In this post you will learn:
- Understand how News Feed algorithm works and identify its critical factors
- Discover the anatomy of every social (Facebook) post by creating the pyramid of social media
- Find tools and actionable tips to improve your social media campaigns
We have seen marketers achieving extraordinary results on Facebook. I will tell you exactly how they were able to triple engagement and triple the ROI of their campaigns by simply paying attention to the most important elements of the social media pyramid that make a Facebook sponsored post great.
How News Feed algorithm works
If you are serious about increasing social traffic, then first you have to understand how News Feed algorithm works. To demonstrate it and make it less boring, I asked Bob and his friends to join. Meet Bob:
Bob will represent an average Facebook user with real interests, friends and opinions. Here is another guy, called News Feed algorithm:
It’s responsible for filtering tons of stories and only shows the ones Bob likes. It works like a security guy at a club who makes sure that inappropriate persons can’t get in.
These are the stories that keep News Feed under siege every day, desperately fighting for Bob’s attention.
They are really diverse, most of them are pretty nice guys, but some of them can’t wait to trick Bob and get his money and attention without providing value. News Feed tries to keep these stinky guys out of the scope.
The algorithm applies hundreds of different factors to select the most appropriate content their users will engage. To filter stories, here are the major factors it takes into account:
- Interest: Interest of the user in the creator
- Post: Post performance among other users
- Creator: Performance of past posts by the content creator amongst other users
- Type: Type of post user prefers
- Recency: How new the post is
Alright, now we see how News Feed works and highlighted its main ranking factors. It’s time to move to the next part and get familiar with the pyramid of social media.
Focus on what really matters – Pyramid of social media
Imagine social media as a pyramid, containing a few elements in hierarchical order.
These are necessary for every successful social media campaign and can be divided into two main groups: appearance and relevance.
Appearance is how your post looks on social media. It includes the creative, message and post format.
Relevance represents what is behind the actual post, who your target audience is and when you are trying to approach them.
This is how our pyramid looks in full detail:
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Facebook traffic is gone? Here’s how to increase your social traffic via @momentumai (Click to tweet).
Imagine this as a present, wrapped with nice wrapping paper. Appearance is the wrapping paper and relevance is the present itself.
For a great social media post, you have to use stunning visual content (creative), a catchy message and title and select the appropriate post format.
But this is just the surface. You can have the best optimised post, but it isn’t worth too much without being relevant to your audience.
Don’t trick your audience: pay attention to appearance and relevance
You can trick your audience by tweaking your post’s appearance, but News Feed algorithm will track spent time on given content. The longer the user stays, the more valuable the content is.
So, if you mislead users with your posts, they will leave your website as soon as they realise it. Facebook will know it and will adjust your post’s ranking according to it. This is why it’s so important to deliver what you promised. This is the harmony between appearance and relevance.
The same is true for the other way around. If your post doesn’t catch your audience’s attention, no one will discover the awesome content behind it, even if you nailed the content, audience targeting and timing. You won’t capitalise on the true potential of that content, leaving extra engagement and website clicks on the table.
It all goes back to the oldest question in the history of content: Do people care about what you have to say?
Facebook plays gatekeeper, claiming that they can accurately understand what you care about. The only way to “beat” or “hack” the system is to give people something they actually care about—something that’s relevant.
How to be more relevant
To be relevant, you have to provide great content that resonates with a well-specified audience. You also have to know when to approach your users. It’s the content-audience-time triangle.
Since the goal of News Feed is to act as a gatekeeper who decides if your article is worth Bob’s time, this must be the foundation of your social media campaigns.
Do you remember the main News Feed algorithm factors?
- Interest: Represent the interest of user in the creator. How good is your targeting? Does your targeted audience like your content or not? A user’s News Feed will be filtered according to what she liked in the past.
- Post: How did your post perform among other users? If they liked it, then it will be shown to others as well, reaching a broader audience.
- Creator: Performance of past posts by the content creator. If your past posts performed well with others, it will have a higher chance to be shown to others, leading to a better position on News Feed.
- Type: Type of post users prefer. We know that native videos and link posts perform best. Facebook also tracks what type of posts a user prefers, so if Bob tends to engage with images, then Facebook will show him more image posts.
- Recency: Posts that are relevant at a given time, such as updates related to sport events and life milestones. These posts are relevant at a certain time and they will be less relevant a day after. If a significant amount of people engage with a certain timely post, then that post will be shown higher on News Feed. You have to create timely content that fans and advocates want to discuss and share.
Here is our pyramid:
If we pair our pyramid with Facebook’s main algorithm elements, then we get the following:
Type-> Appearance (Post type, user post type preference)
Recency-> Relevance (Is this content relevant now?)
Interest-> Relevance (Is the target audience interested in this content?)
Post-> Relevance (Does it resonate with others?)
Creator-> Relevance (Does this source provide value for readers?)
It’s clear that relevance has a serious impact on your post’s performance on News Feed, and while appearance matters, its weight compared to relevance is less important but still essential.
Awesome resources on how to figure out what your audience likes:
We quite often fall into the trap and try to improve appearance instead of trying to be more relevant.
We run A/B tests, tweak headlines and experiment with different visuals. This is still important; you can improve your post’s CTR and engagement rate, but these are just minor improvements compared to the potential benefits relevance provides.
But how can relevance give a boost to your social media campaigns? Let me explain it in the following part.
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Facebook organic traffic is gone. Here’s how to increase your social traffic via @momentumai (Click to tweet).
How to target the right audience
You could have the best post on social media, but if your targeting fails, it won’t deliver the desired results.
This is why you should pay more attention to targeting, and there are at least three pretty great ways to do it right.
Remarketing: target those who are already familiar with you
You can super-target your readers who visited a specific page on your site but still haven’t converted. It is much easier to convert or keep your existing readers coming back than to convert brand new ones. Statistics show that retargeted users are 70% more likely to convert, and retargeting can lead to 147% higher conversion rates.
Go to your Facebook page’s dashboard and select “Adverts Manager.”
From the menu, under the “Assets” section, select “Pixels.”
On the left side, choose “Create Custom Audience” and click on “Create Audience.”
In the following window, you can set up the details of the retargeting campaign. You can target people who visited or did not visit a specific page on your website.
Custom Audience: further segment your audience
Segmentation is key, especially when your website has a broader set of topics. We don’t want to target baseball fans with our football content. Both audience segments like sports, but it is not enough for an efficient targeting.
By using Facebook pixel, you can achieve amazing targeting. It makes it easy to separate football fans from baseball fans and even Barcelona fans from Chelsea fans. All you have to do is to create custom audience segments by following these steps:
Go to your Facebook page’s dashboard and select “Adverts Manager.”
From the menu, under the “Assets,” section select “Audience.”
On the left side, choose “Create Custom Audience.”
After selecting website traffic from the list, set up your custom audience parameters.
Include links pointing to specific articles or keywords, which can be identified with a certain audience segment.
Facebook Lookalike Audience: find new, relevant audience
Using Lookalike Audience is one way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your content.Facebook automatically suggests similar users based on your current followers’ interests and behaviours.
Under the “Tool” menu, click on “Create Audience” and choose “Lookalike Audience.”
In the settings, select the audience you want to find.
If you want to target your competitor’s follower base, then in the advert settings, select the specific interest you need.
Content: provide value by creating great awesome content
If you have great content, your readers will spend more time on your website and more of them will actually like and share it with their friends. It’s a good deal having great content.
I’m sure creating quality content isn’t your biggest issue; content promotion on social media is a way bigger challenge. But for a successful promotion, great content is essential. Oh wait—great content is not enough anymore; you need epic content.
This post is focusing on content promotion on social media, so I don’t want to go into the details and repeat everything awesome people have already said. If you want to learn more about how to create epic content, just check out these resources:
The only thing missing from relevance is timing. When exactly should you promote your posts?
Timing: find the perfect moment to promote your content
We want our audience to engage with our social media campaigns and eventually drive them to our website. We already took the first steps by giving them content they like. Now, we should figure out when they want to engage with it.
If people engaged with your post right after you published it, this indicates that the post was more interesting at the time it was posted (and probably less interesting a few hours later). Once Facebook identifies these posts, they will more likely appear higher in News Feed.
As Facebook said: “A page you are connected to posts about something that is currently a hot topic of conversation on Facebook; that post is more likely to appear higher up in News Feed, so you can see it sooner.”
But looking at your audience’s activity and selecting the most or least active periods isn’t enough to harness the power of newsworthiness. It just gives you a rough estimate about your audience activity, but it isn’t really effective.
The key is to real-time monitor your content performance and act as soon as shares of that given content surge. This is the best time to put some money in the game and start promoting that post to your audience.
An online football brand, FourFourTwo, decided to run some experiments and changed their strategy by paying more attention to real-time engagement of their posts. Earlier they experimented with targeting and were able to significantly improve the ROI of their Facebook campaigns. They already had well-targeted audience segments who loved their content when they started focusing on timing.
By the end of the 90-day experiment, they were able to double the audience of the selected section of FourFourTwo’s website and got 3 times more likes on Facebook generating an additional 1000 newsletter subscribers per month.
Applying audience insights and relying on newsworthiness, the team decreased customer acquisition costs by 77%, further reduced cost per clicks by 45% and increased campaign ROI by 300%.
The marketing team at FourFourTwo achieved extraordinary results by continuous experiments and relying on timing. By following their way, you can achieve similar results too. Check out their case study and how exactly they did it.
Having great content and a well-targeted audience is a solid foundation of a successful social media campaign. Optimising timing by real-time monitoring of how your content is being shared will complete the (content-audience-time) triangle and significantly improve post engagement, reach and eventually lead to increased social traffic. But it’s necessary to put some money behind your campaigns.
We already know how to be relevant, but one thing is still missing from the pyramid: appearance. Without attractive appearance, it’s really hard to achieve the desired results.
Let’s wrap our present!
Help us spread the love!
Pyramid of Social Media: Here’s How to Increase Your Facebook Traffic via @momentumai (Click to Tweet).
Appearance: make your post look great
News Feed algorithm takes into account many ranking factors related to post type and what a certain post contains. In terms of (sponsored) post appearance, you should pay attention to the following elements:
- Post Type
- Post Text
What are the best performing post types?
Videos (Facebook native videos), link posts (with pulled images) and images perform the best in the News Feed. As a content marketer, you will post mostly links, pointing to your articles. Try to experiment with different post types such as videos and images, but do not add a link to your image post (News Feed algorithm doesn’t like it).
Your selected post type depends on the preference of your audience. Run experiments and figure out which resonates with them the best.
- Engage fans with photos (93% of the most engaged posts contain photos). If you share a link, let Facebook pull the image of your articles.
Craft the perfect headline and post text
“You won’t believe what happened next…” This is a typical clickbait headline that isn’t favored by the News Feed algorithm. Your post could be considered as clickbait even if what you promised in the headline doesn’t meet the expectation of your audience when they see your article. Avoid clickbaiting and you should be fine.
A cheap but really efficient trick was used by certain pages to entice their followers to share a given post. I’m sure you remember posts with the text: “Like if you love kitties,” “Like=agree, Share=disagree.” Fortunately, we see less from these posts, since they were ditched by News Feed algorithm.
If you enjoy this post, you could help me and Bob spread the love by sharing it with your friends; just click here to share.
- Pay attention to the optimal image sizing and make sure it is optimised for mobile; here is a handy free tool you can use.
- Use hashtags (60% increase in interactions).
- Posts with questions get 23% more engagement.
- Keep link title less than 100 characters.
- Tag related pages, when it makes sense.
- Use emoticons.
- Remove links from link copy (see image below).
Is your headline good enough? Test it with these tools:
Additional resources for post optimisation:
Creative: what makes an image great?
Visual content process information 60.000X faster in the brain than text. It’s no wonder that most of us love images.
When you share a link, pointing to your article make sure that Facebook can pull in social meta tags from your website. It ensures for example that images added to your post will be visible in your Facebook post as well.Articles with working Facebook preview image meta tag got three times more shares than articles without these meta tags.
Your image has to be relevant to your content. Content with relevant imagesgets 94% more views than content without relevant image. Fun fact: colored images increase people’s willingness by 80% to read an article.
Don’t use funny kitties just because cat related content is the most popular content on the internet (but if you have a cat-related website, then definitely go for it!).
According to Canva Design School the following image types are the most appropriate for Facebook posts:
- Photos: relevant, everyday photos of products, services could easily catch people’s attention.
- Charts: a simple, but informative chart is a pretty good teaser, which not just gets attention, but also entices your audience to click.
- Visual representations: if you are about to explain complex things or connection between things then a simple, easy to understand visual representation could be really catchy.
- Comics: everybody likes having fun. Make sure that the selected comic is not offensive and fits your brand.
- Annotated Screenshots: a great screenshot can get your readers talking and make your post more irresistible to click.
Before selecting any images for your post make sure that you answer the following four questions:
- Does this image help my audience to understand what I’m about to say?
- Is it easy to understand?
- Are there any images that could be better suited?
- What could be my audience’s reaction?
- Don’t use stock photos, where random people smiling in an unimaginable situation
- Don’t use inappropriate pictures (for example cute kitties when you have nothing to do with pets or cat lovers)
- Don’t attach image to your link, let Facebook pull in the image from your post
Here is a list of high quality stock photos and some additional sources here.
Do you want to create your own illustration? Here is an easy to use drag and drop photo and visual editor (trust me, if I can use it, I’m sure you will too).
Tips to create stunning images for your posts:
Every time we run a Facebook campaign, we have a good estimate about what could work and what couldn’t. But the only way we can make sure is via experimenting.
Testing is the only way to improve our social media campaign benchmarks. I collected some cool tools you can use:
There is a limited space in Bob’s News Feed, so Facebook makes sure that only the posts Bob is interested in will be visible for him. This limited space and the pressure on Facebook to generate more revenue has led to a much smaller organic reach.
Instead of expecting organic reach to grow or trying small tricks to optimise your posts on Facebook, you should take a step back and re-think your social media strategy fundamentally.
With this article I wanted to give you a fresh set of eyes on the topic and hopefully help you get closer to the ultimate goal to get high-quality traffic from social.
Following the pyramid, you can break down this complex problem and identify the essential elements you have to focus on: relevance and appearance.
Relevance is the foundation of every social media activity. To be relevant, you have to provide great content that resonates with a well-specified audience; you also have to know the best time to approach your users with your content.
But relevance isn’t enough in itself. You have to pay attention to how your content actually appears on Facebook. Selecting the appropriate post format, adding nice images and a tempting title is necessary for getting your people’s attention on Facebook.
Keep in mind the pyramid, and Bob will be ready to engage with you.