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Engaging More People on Facebook

more-likes

I’m a staunch supporter of sharing content on Facebook while adhering to the tongue-in-cheek guidelines set out by this comic on TheOatmeal.com: How to get more likes on Facebook; if you share interesting, likeable content, you will get more likes.

Coming up with interesting, genuinely likeable content isn’t all that difficult; we put hours or sometimes days into our carefully worded reviews or advice columns. The more challenging part, I find, is to be heard over the din of everyone else’s (and their cat’s) blogs, promotions, and general online natterings. It’s very tricky, particularly when you’re doing it all on your own.

Everyone with a whiff of a marketing strategy turns to Facebook, to get word out, and direct people back to their site or blog. It seems like the perfect vessel; it’s social – it’s supposed to promote conversation, and anyone talking about all your hard work is a good thing, and means someone’s reading it. Plus, Facebook’s free. Awesome!

Facebook itself is a business. Just like Google, which many companies spend literally millions a month attempting to get higher in the search engine results, Facebook has a master algorithm, that determines who sees what and when in their News Feed. Different content is served to everyone. Just because you can see your post in your news feed does not mean everyone else can – or anyone else can.

One of Facebook’s intentions is to be the front page of the Internet. Through games, apps, notes and feeds, the idea is that nobody ever needs to leave Facebook to do anything else social online. They aim to promote conversation, but they also aim to own it.
This goal has been wound into the Facebook algorithm naturally, which effects all of us who write on and for other websites. While it may change in the future, I’ve noticed an interesting trend of late that may help you in getting more reach, and thus more likes, on your content.

The more reach, the more likes; the more likes, the further the word spreads.

One of the best ways I’ve found to gauge just how many people you’re engaging with is to watch Facebook Page’s “reach” option, that appears below every post, visible only to the Page administrators.

forty-percent-reach-highlighter

This indicator is very sobering, sometimes. Why, on a page that has over 500 likes – 511 at time of writing – is this particular post only appearing in under 40% of people’s News Feeds? Sometimes it’s a little better, but more often than not, it’s worse.
It’s not fair – and it’s kind of infuriating. If someone has clicked “Like” on your page, doesn’t that mean they want to see your content?

Not according to the algorithm. It has to juggle not only the content that links to your blog, but everyone’s personal musings and photos, plus the “promoted” content which companies are paying to have appear in a higher percentage of News Feeds.
So how can you try to ensure more people see your Facebook shares, without having to resort to promoting – spending money – on getting your blog post out there?

The trick is simple once you understand one of Facebook’s goals, as I said earlier; to be the front page of the Internet. Think about it – if you are posting a link to an external blog, you are trying to divert from this goal, because you’re requesting Facebook readers to go visit another website. Your intention is that readers leave Facebook momentarily, which is something Facebook, and the algorithm, doesn’t want. So it penalises you, by showing your content to fewer people.

The trick is to never post links as statuses – that is, never paste the URL of your post into the status box.
Post a text-based, or image-based status, and put your link to your content, that takes the user offsite, in the comments section of that status. Readers will still see it – and still click it – but Facebook won’t think you’re trying to take people away from Facebook any longer.

Over the last few days I’ve been experimenting with Facebook to highlight just how much more effective this method can be; experimenting in fact with the Creatives Unite Facebook page, which (at time of writing) has 102 likes.
A few days ago, I wrote up a blog post about a great vlog I found, which every fortnight discusses creative writing and challenges the user to join in. After publishing the blog post on Creatives Unite, I posted it – as a link – on the Creatives Unite’s Facebook page.
Over the course of 24 hours, it had reached under 20 people:

nineteen-percent-reach-2

Ugh. The algorithm strikes again! I’d reached only 19% of people who’d Liked the page, which was very frustrating considering that I genuinely felt the topic of conversation would be of interest to 100% of people who’d Liked Creatives Unite’s page (I may be biased, but aren’t we all, of our own content?).
So, I took this as an opportunity to test the other way of linking to content on a Facebook Page. 24 hours after posting the initial link, I posted a text-based status instead, and put the link to the blog post in the comments.
The reach, in less time, was staggering:

seventy-five-percent-reach

77. Over 75% of those who’ve Liked the Creatives Unite page. A vast improvement from 19%!
But I’d changed nothing about my content. It was linking people to exactly the same blog post, the only difference being that one had linked people to the blog post in the status bar, and the other had linked them to it in the comments.

But what a difference!

I can’t guarantee that this technique will work forever, as all algorithms evolve over time – but it works at the moment, and I’ve not been the only person to see it working for many months now. So try it, if you have a Facebook Page yourself – you have nothing to lose!

Anyone else had success with this trick?


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