Earlier this year, Facebook and its tagalong, Instagram, made the decision to stop showing your posts.
Well, let me dial my exaggeration back a tad. They decided that only around 10% of your followers will see your posts on average.
For many businesses, this resulted in nearly a 50% decrease in organic reach from 2018, which had already seen a decrease from 2017. So if you feel like your sharing to an empty room and your content echoes into the distance, you’re not alone.
The bottom line is it’s very difficult to effectively get your message delivered to your audience without advertising.
As a personal example, I have a leather working business on the side as a hobby. I have about 2,500 followers on Instagram and reach about 700 people per post. In 2018 I was able to reach about 2,000 organically. A lot of those people seeing my post on Instagram are not followers, but people searching and following the hashtags I am using. The actual amount of followers that are seeing the post is closer to that 10% range.
I have kept the same content quality and posting frequency (we will discuss that further) for about 2 years with 1-2 posts per week without boosting. It really goes to show how difficult it is for startups to gain traction in 2019.
Why are they doing this to me?
As with many other business owners, you may feel frustrated, confused, and tempted to give up. But let’s first dig a little further before we throw in the towel.
The reason for this decrease in organic reach is twofold:
1. Algorithim Changes and AI
Facebook and Instagram are betting that their system can better guess which content users want to see.
This is party true by using artificial scanning of photos to determine its content and through your previous behavior and engagement. The more they think you will like a post, the higher they show it in your newsfeed.
In theory, this is what we want – a mutually beneficial relationship between the user and the promoter where both are able to connect with people and content that interests them.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier for small businesses to get started and stand out among the competition…and the competition is getting better by the day.
2. Increase in Advertisers
FB and Instagram ads are selling like hot cakes. With that kind of growth, there is only a limited amount of space for ads to be shown, and if FB and Instagram have to choose between your post and a $500 ad bidding for that space, well…I’m not sure how well we would stand up.
As you can see below, FB’s quarterly ad revenue nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018, but Daily Active Users (DAUs) only grew 13%.
Tip #1: Up Your Content Quality
It’s never been more important to up your content game. A stream of single image posts (especially low quality images) just doesn’t stand up to a good mix of video, creative FB and Instagram stories, user-generated content, contests, and more. We have to keep our audience interested and tuned in.
If engagement is dropping and page growth has stalled, look at how often you are posting the same content. If you have been promoting a single product or service, go back and look at the engagement rate at launch vs where you are now. How far has it dropped? Is there any new content I can create to keep things fresh?
Depending on the market you are in, lower engagement rate and higher cost may be the norm. However, the best way to judge your own social media performance is based on your past results, then work to improve from there. Each industry is so different that it is difficult to compare benchmarks.
Your social media strategy and content needs to be dynamic and adaptive based on the results you are getting. When something does not seem to be working, marketing teams have to be able to quickly pivot and optimize. Your success moving forward depends on it!
Tip #2: Post More Frequently
The more often you post, the more people see your content and engage with it, which signals to Facebook and Instagram that you are a quality account (as long as engagement rate does not drop too low).
You may be asking how often should I post? This is different for every business…
Social media experts are now suggesting that consistency matters more than the actual frequency. For example, if you are posting once a day, then go on a two month hiatus or start posting once a week, you are going to start reaching less people per post, which results in less engagement and potentially a loss of followers.
Take the time to think about a post frequency you can maintain for the long haul.
Tip #3: Utilize New Tools
The newsfeed is more crowded than ever, so we are going to have to branch out into stories for both Facebook and Instagram.
One of the main benefits of using stories is that they show up at the top of a user’s newsfeed and offer quickly digestible content. When a user is viewing your story, you have their complete attention in a full screen experience.
This allows you to take advantage of all the interactive features that stories offer, including polls, questions, reposting other content, adding GIFs and much more.
The user will also have the ability to easily reply to your story, which creates a conversation in your direct messages. I have personally noticed more conversations started through stories than regular posts. I believe this is partly due to the “live” or “real-time” nature of stories. Stories are usually something that is currently happening or has happened that same day, making it a great opportunity for your followers to participate in your activities in an informal way.
Tip #4: Promote, but Promote Wisely
If you are having a difficult time gaining momentum organically, a solid boosting strategy can really make a difference. Don’t be afraid to try a low budget to start, such as $5-$10 per post to test how many people you can reach and engage with. It’s almost becoming a necessity if you really want to see tangible improvement quickly.
However, just as content quality is becoming more important, so is your audience targeting quality. We see ads all day – some resonate with us, but most we scroll on by, driving up the advertiser’s cost.
Take advantage of Facebook and Instagram’s advanced targeting options to experiment so you do not fall into the latter category!
If you have been struggling to move the needle in your social media accounts, or have noticed a large drop in reach or engagement, we can help you get back on track. Whether you need a spark in your creative direction, help sourcing more quality content, or help optimizing your advertising strategy, give us a call or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.