Stop screwing up your Facebook reach

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A friend recently posted the following link, “Facebook officially kills organic reach for brands,“ and asked somewhat sarcastically (I hope) when he could kill his company’s Facebook page as a result.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to everyone killing their corporate Facebook accounts: it turns out Facebook drives more than 80% of all content shared on the web.

Let that sink in: more than 80% of all content shared online comes from Facebook. That means if you want to get something shared online, you either use Facebook or you suck wind. Staggering.

So before everyone starts raging against the fate of their organic content, maybe you should be asking why it isn’t getting any reach. Is it because the evil Facebook empire is strangling your organic content in a diabolical bid to force you to feed the ravenous ad revenue beast? Or is it because Facebook actually likes it when users share good content, because it means more eyeballs spending more time on Facebook, generating more ad revenue?

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Rage, rage against the dying of the organic reach….

I’ll give you a hint: it’s option #2. And the secret is this: there’s still plenty of ways to get your content shared on Facebook, and they all involve not sharing boring, institutional, corporate promotions.

That’s right. Want to see your reach continue to gurgle and die like a goldfish that just made a leap for freedom out of the aquarium tank? Keep using Facebook to promote your brand, because the more you crank out promotional messages that nobody wants to see, the more your reach is going to get kicked to the curb.

Trust me on this: nobody wants to see promotional content. They want to be entertained or informed. You may desperately need to promote all the cool stuff your company makes and does. Unfortunately, nobody wants to hear about it on Facebook, and the tremendous pressure being placed on you by senior executives to promote your stuff, and your burning desire to make everyone on Facebook pay attention to your promotions are not going to result in anyone paying attention; they’re going to result in the graph of your organic reach continuing to nose dive to the bottom right corner of the chart.

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Your reach is sad and is running away to the bottom right.

So here’s the secret to promoting your brand on Facebook: the more you promote your brand, the more people are going to tune you out. Facebook is not a promotional medium (unless you want to pay for it to be one). However, Facebook is a great content marketing medium. Want to get reach? Put up something interesting, not what you think is an interesting promotion.

“But wait!” you ask “How will that promote my brand?!” The answer is, It won’t: please see my previous comment about Facebook not being a promotional medium. If you want to promote yourself on Facebook, paradoxically you will have to stop promoting yourself on Facebook. If that sounds a little too zen (“What is the sound of one hand promoting itself?”) stick with me for one more minute.

How you promote your brand on Facebook organically is by driving awareness by posting interesting content people will pay attention to and share (content like this). You will drive more eyeballs to your page that way than through any other unpaid promotion. Don’t even try to protest that fun or sharable or interesting content isn’t useful because there’s no brand or promotional messages in it. The promotional messages you put up on Facebook aren’t getting any reach anymore anyways (as we’ve just shown), and it’s not like the people who saw them took any action – all that happened was that a small portion of your audience got exposed to a message they didn’t care about, and then perhaps unliked or unfollowed your page as a result.

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We got a PROMOTION going on here!

So which would you rather have: an on-brand post with really low reach, that continues the trend of turning people away from your page, or an unbranded post with really high reach that doesn’t turn people off, and which builds your future reach? Put up interesting, newsworthy, fun, engaging content (regardless of whether it promotes you) and you’ll see your reach and audience grow. Put up the same tired old promotional messages and you’ll continue to see your page wither and die.

Don’t chop down tomorrow’s forest for today’s ships: if you continue to post promotional content, you’ll strangle your audience growth and undercut future reach. Putting up fun, useful, entertaining content makes people pay attention to you, which not only builds audience, attention and brand, it even allows you to slip in – yes, I’m saying it – the occasional promotional message.

Stop asking why your reach is dying: it’s because treating your Facebook page like junk mail, with unsolicited promotional messages nobody wants to hear, is killing it. Stop requiring everything you do to be promotional and you stand a fighting chance of growing your audience and converting them from reluctant tolerators of your content to avid consumers who will identify with and listen to your brand.

Which of those two audiences is more valuable to you?

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