Category Archives: General

Facebook Reach – How to reach your non profit/hyperlocal audience for free

Something has been really frustrating me recently about Facebook – and it’s been covered lots on other blogs – the reach that pages are getting with their posts has seemingly plummeted  since Facebook has moved towards a model of trying to get you to “boost” your content – or rather pay to get a wider audience to see it but when you’re a not for profit, or a community website paying to promote content just isn’t an option….and probably isn’t the best option anyway….

Insights and more importantly reach – specifically how to reach more people is something we get asked about a fair bit at social media surgeries so I’ve been doing some digging to try and work out what on is going on and can we improve page reach without paying?

The other day I posted a story about young girl Freya Powers, to the WV11 website and facebook page – Freya has not long been diagnosed with non-hodkins lymphoma and her parents are fund raising for  for the cancer ward she is being treated on. We basically put a call out asking for help with the fundraising.

This is what the reach looks like on the front page of Facebook:

Freya post 1

22 people liked this content, 38 people shared it and 4,168 people reached – just under 60% of our pages fans

BUT 38 people have shared this and our reach is less that our total page likes? I know from past experience that when you see shares like that the reach is normally way way over the total numbers of likes on a our page, so I looked deeper.

Here is the expanded insights  for that post:

Freya post 1 expanded

It’s still showing a reach of 4,168 put but it’s now showing 42 likes  – 22 on our page  – and a further 20 on shares…. And then I realised something  – on previous versions of Facebook insights you could view a separate figure for viral reach and this wasn’t showing, so I went searching.  I download the full  insights file….

They say this:

  • Lifetime The number of people who saw your Page post in News Feed or ticker, or on your Page’s Timeline. (Unique Users) 4186
  • Lifetime The number of impressions of your post in News Feed or ticker or on your Page’s Wall. (Total count) 12033

But then the figures from “fans” only say this:

  • Lifetime The number of people who saw your Page post because they’ve liked your Page (Unique Users) 2018
  • Lifetime The number of impressions of your Page post to people who have liked your page. (Total count) 4731

So it appears facebook have started to combine  pages organic reach with it’s viral reach in its overview and when looked at like that it’s worse than I thought.

Facebook have delivered our content to 32% of the people who liked our page –  the rest of the figures have come from people sharing the post which is a huge drop in reach to what we were seeing just 12 months ago.

Reach in decline

Edgerank Checker  have done a much wider piece of research into this and they’ve noted a year on year decline too

For the typical Page on Facebook in March 2014:

  • Organic Reach per Fan = 6.51%
  • Fan Reach per Fan = 6.46%
  • Viral Reach per Fan = 0.99%

Where were we before this?

Organic Reach per Fan (Median):

  • Feb 2012 = 16%

  • Sep 2013 = 12.60%

  • Nov 2013 = 10.15%

  • Dec 2013 = 7.83%

  • Mar 2014 = 6.51%”

Filtering

I Googled to see if I could find an answer for this steep decline and the best explanation I could find was on this Tech Crunch article – The filtered feed problem – Why Is Facebook Page Reach Decreasing? More Competition And Limited Attention

It is well worth a read but essentially it  says – while we add more people and more things to our facebook feed by making friends and liking “stuff” the amount of  time we spend looking at the feed stays the same so facebook are working to try and make that time relevant – which means filtering irrelevant content.

Which means fans wont always see the stuff we want them to see.

It also has a really interesting simplification on the algorithm facebook uses to filter posts.

BUT importantly it also states that all pages are not treated equally

Facebook is penalizing pages for link bait tactics and spammy posts.  Post memes or banal “share this if you love your mom” or “1 like = 1 respect”  text and image based content or over share repetitive content you are going to see a sharp reduction in the amount of places your content is seen.

So how do we stay on the right side of facebook’s filtering and increase your reach without paying to boost your content?

Based on the post from Wv11 I shared above we have an average post to fans reach of 32% –  which by looking at all the sites I’ve read through today puts us at the higher end of the scale for organic (non paid for) reach .

Why do I think that is? Well, I think on whole it’s by following  these set of tips

  • Be useful and relevant – is the content something your page fans would want to see – is it the type of posts they are used to seeing? Write about the things you know about and your audience will care about.
  • Accessible content  – Think mobile as well as desktop. Lots of people use their mobile to browse the internet and specifically Facebook , is your content mobile friendly  -When we post links to stories  try and summarise that content for mobile only readers – some people still wont or cant click on on external links from the page, especially those with contracts or PAYG mobiles that include free facebook browsing but not a lot of other data.
  • Photos, photos and more photos.  Anything we post with an image is guaranteed to the get more love than either text or video.  It takes the lowest amount of effort from the reader to take in the information so they engage with it, which improves your reach. You can also invite readers to tag themselves and friends in photos from events. Videos are also popular but get less views from mobile than desktop. I think this maybe down to the data usage again
  • Timing. Facebook insights are a wonderful thing. They are broken down to such an extent that we can even know when our fans are online – We get a graph that averages hourly visitor numbers over days  – but we can also see data for each day of the week which allows us to post when potentially the most people are online to reach the widest audience possible.
  • Don’t post repetitive content – if we want to re-share something – we reword it or post content with a different photograph so that facebook can see your making an effort to share something new.
  • Don’t spam.

I don’t deny it’s frustrating to have put the effort in to build and audience of over 6000 to only reach a third of them. But in the short term a third of 6000 is still 2000 more people to connect with than if Facebook didn’t exist and in the long term hopefully as Facebook filtering gets better and spammy pages are penalized by following these rules the relevant, informative pages will see their reach stabilise, or increase.

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One Night On The Streets…. my experience of the #P3BigSleepOut

As I was getting ready to go out Friday night, sitting on the edge of my bed pulling on a second pair of socks – it struck me how perverse the situation I was about to put myself in really was. Warm in my house, stocking up on snacks and drinks.  James and I were about to spend the night sleeping rough on the streets of Wolverhampton to raise money and awareness for P3Charity.  

P3 charity and social enterprise. It started in Wolverhampton and now works nationally with the homeless. They run hostels and help people from all walks of life promoting independent living and supporting some of the most vulnerable and at risk people in our towns and cities – And those homeless that we were supporting Friday night, and that they support daily don’t have a second pair of socks to pull on, they don’t have the advantage of  wondering if they would be warm enough in the 2 t-shirts and hoodie I was already wearing – they have to just get on with it and so I know my night sleeping “rough” was in luxury compared to some.

8pm – Getting going

Arriving at their hostel in Thornley Street at around 8pm we were greeting by an already amassed group of about 45 other charity workers volunteers, residents  and ex residents of the hostel readying themselves for the night ahead. After a welcome from the Mayor, and a cup of tea, old duvets and cardboard were distributed and we headed towards the civic centre, and St Peters Square which was to be our base for the night. Everyone was in good spirits as we looked to prepare our beds. Those that had taken part the previous year staked their claim to their spots and we found a bit of floor just under the overhang of the civic centre…. shelter of sorts.

We're all set. #P3BigSleepOut #charity #homeless #BigSleepOut www.justgiving.com/jamesandsteph

A post shared by Steph Clarke (@therealessitam) on

A layer of cardboard (or camping mat for those that had them), a folded duvet and a sleeping bag made up the majority of the beds. Others opted to stay in camping chairs – or as one volunteer did – and air bed (cheat!!!). And we got down to the business of being homeless for the night. The first couple of hours were fun as we got to know the people around us random dancing broke out in the form of an Irish Jig and people dared not use the port-a-loo for fear of being of spun.

One way of keeping warm #dance. #P3BigSleepOut #charity #homeless #BigSleepOut www.justgiving.com/jamesandsteph

A post shared by Steph Clarke (@therealessitam) on

Time drags on

People were in good spirits but as it crept passed midnight and everyone started to settle down reality started to creep in…  I was there safe in the knowledge that my car was only 5 minutes down the road, that a hot shower and a comfy bed was waiting for me once this was over… but  for the estimated 231 people who look for shelter every night in Wolverhampton, they don’t have that security.  

P3 have 21 beds in their local hostel,  and 5  No Second Night Out supported “emergency” beds, but that still leaves over 200 people each night out in the cold with nothing but their own thoughts for company.  It was midnight and I only had 6 more hours to pass but the reality for some is this is their daily routine,  and when you’ve nothing but time stretched before you, time with nothing to look forward to and nothing to think about other than where your next meal will come from, will I be safe this evening where will I go in the morning it is little wonder that some turn to the oblivion of drink or drugs to get them through it….

1am – and so the bell tolls

The noise from the pubs and clubs kept drifting over disturbing those trying to sleep. People walked through , talking to us- and admittedly they were probably more confused by finding nearly 50 people in a doorway in sleeping bags than they would have been by one  so were more open to chat  and as the night wore on I became more and more aware of the chiming of St Peters clock – every 15 minutes and somewhere in the distance there is an argument and sirens….

The local police popped by a few time throughout the night, they were aware we were there and they came by to check everything was alright. At one point two PCSO’s came over while a trio of lads leaving the city a little worse for wear wandered through – they were jovial and put some money in the collection bucket the officer was holding and one of the residents joked – “you stopped me from doing that the other day officer!” – and that joke highlighted another question for me- we were there as an organised group, would the police have come to check in if I were a solo –  really homeless –  sleeper and if not who would? And if  they did stumble across me out alone would they check if I was ok or would they just have moved me on?

3am – Get a fucking Job!

I was still awake at 3am when a pissed man wondered the opposite side of the square. He stopped as he notices us and starts screaming abuse.  Apparently it was people like us that was everything that was wrong with society (…the irony) and that  we should all “GET FUCKING JOBS”.

He shouted and argued at us but with himself for a few minutes – offering to fight us all if we wanted to go over to him – big brave man wasn’t brave enough to come over and find out what we were all actually doing there  and unsurprisingly no one took him up on the offer and eventually he left.

We’d all ignored him, mumbling between ourselves what an idiot he was, safety in numbers had kept us secure but I felt genuinely aggrieved and I could tell others did too. I was scared for the people he may encounter who were alone.  What would he do with his aggressiveness when stumbling across an individual alone, cold, hungry and tired?  Where do they go to sleep safely when there are odious people like him walking the streets?

The  bigotry this one person displayed was awful and it highlighted the stigma that follows homelessness everywhere –  that somehow it is a lifestyle choice to be out on the streets. What people fail to realise is that there is cracks we could all fall down anywhere. Most of the population is only one pay packet away from financial hardship and it only takes one slip, one bad decision, one wrong turn and you too could find yourself in need of the support charities like P3 provide.

I was almost there once myself, through no fault of my own – 10+ years ago and only by the grace of god did I have the support of my family and a floor I could sleep on that kept a roof over my, and my sons head.

To contrast the shouty man though others who came across us stopped to find out what we were doing, some left donations and others insisted on shaking the hand of everyone involved restoring some of my faith in the good of the masses.

4:30am – Here comes the rain

From 4am I managed to start to doze, on and off, with my sleeping bag pulled up right over my head to keep the breeze off my face,  waking every time the  clock chimed.

Cold surprisingly wasn’t too much of an issue, I remember thinking how lucky we were with the weather – for an October night it was surprisingly mild just a bit of drizzle early on but around 4:30am a rain shower hit. It came down suddenly  and there was mad scramble to get under the hang over from those in the open – the wind blew spray into where we were laying and I was again wide awake. 

I spent the next hour lying, listening to the murmur of conversation of those around me, to the  bars emptying their bottle bins with a clatter and an argument between a group of women somewhere in the city that by the time it reached me sounded like a gaggle of geese squabbling.

5.30am Packing up

At 5:30am the last of our visitors appeared, an obviously drunk young lady with a story of a fight with her boyfriend who had walked miles into town and just wanted somewhere to sit for 5 minutes and promised not to call the police on us if we let her rest on the end of one of the sleeping bags.

It took us a minute to get her to understand that we weren’t really homeless and we were there for charity but we let her sit for a while, a broken night sleep further disturbed and the group started to stir and pack up for the short walk back to the hostel and breakfast…..

Nearly 6am and we're starting to pack up, and so ends our night sleeping rough. #P3BigSleepOut

A post shared by Steph Clarke (@therealessitam) on

Sleeping rough so others don’t have to

In 21st century Britain the fact that in a supposed first world country we still have so many people eking out an existence on the streets is heart breaking. There are many reasons as to why people end up homeless but it is charities like P3 that break the cycle that keeps them there. They work hard to ensure that the most social excluded are given the support they need, be it in their hostels or through their outreach workers, to live their lives to their full potential. One day you may find yourself in a position that you need the support and help of an organisation like P3 and this is why I chose to take part Friday night, raising just a little bit of money for and hopefully a bit of awareness of those people who need the support NOW.

I spent a night sleeping rough in the hope that now and in the future others wont have to and I would be grateful if you could do your bit by supporting P3 and other homeless charities in the work they do. Groups and organisations like these are always after volunteers who are able to give a bit of their time, or you can find other ways of helping through practical and financial donations (you can still sponsor James and me if you like).

Streetlink

Finally  if you spot someone sleeping rough, don’t be a dick screaming abuse like the idiot we encountered, call Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 and give as much information as you can – this support line will connect rough sleepers to local services hopefully getting them the advice and support that they need.