Tag Archives: hyperlocal

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.

Hyperlocals and Facebook

At the 2013 Talk About Local Unconference this last weekend I pitched a session to start a conversation around Hyperlocal and Other Social Media. We’ve had so much interest on our facebook page I wanted to find out what other Hyperlocals were using as well. Talk About Local Sessioni Proposal Post It As it turns out (most unsurprisingly for someone with a mouth the size of mine) I did most the talking –  I was asked lots about our experience of using Facebook particularly, and so this led me to ask the question – If you were looking to start your hyperlocal site now – could you just use a facebook page?

I didn’t answer this myself at the time – but my answer is no. I still see WV11.co.uk as our site and Facebook is an extension of that, it’s our discussion forum – If Wv11 is the place I live in – Facebook is the pub I go to talk about the stuff that happens there, with the people that live there.  BUT to expand on that –  I don’t think our hyperlocal would have been as successful as it has been without Facebook and with the experience I’ve gained I definitely wouldn’t try to launch a Hyperlocal without some kind of presence there.

We use other sites too – but this is definitely our communities platform of choice.

Pages

The original plan for Wv11 wasn’t for it to be news site as all – but a community discussion board.  A forum for local people to discuss local issues online.  we then added the resource page because we though “what else would be useful” and only then did the news feed appear as a way of  adding as a bit of google juice for people to find the forum when they were looking for information on the area.

We still wanted a way of promoting the forum to local people so we played with what was then a new feature of facebook, pages. We set it up with the same name and branding as the website and invited a few local friends  to become a fans.  We posted links to news articles from the site to the page (we still do) but still tried to kick conversations off on the sites forum – that didn’t last long.

6 months after launching the site we archived the discussion board, we simply had no local interest in it – people who had never used the internet socially before didn’t want to move from a platform they were familiar with  to discussions on the forum – they don’t even use the simple comment form in WordPress – but they didn’t have to. Our fans started commenting on links we had posted to facebook and other conversations naturally started to happen there.  We continued to post longer form news articles to the site but we focused our engagement where the people already were and it’s worked well.

Tip Top Tips

4 and a bit years on we have over 5000 facebook  fans  and  I think we have learned a lot about how to make the most of our page for the community we’ve built there. These are my 3 top tips.

1.Think mobile. When we post links to stories on the main site we 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.

2. 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.

3.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. WV11.co.uk

There are plenty more I could add to this, but what I’d actually like to know is what are your top facebook tips?