Hidden Secrets of Facebook Organic Reach Algorithms

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For the last 12 months, I have been working on proving some of the theories on Facebook’s Page algorithm reach and I think it is time to unveil them.

In 2015, Facebook organic reach was pegged at about 2 percent. It is a ballpark. So how this is measured is pretty simple. If you have 1000 followers on your FB Page, that means only 2 percent of them will get shown your post. This is in all technicality a penalty to get you to ante up on some advertising credits.

Facebook advertising is like a blackhole that will suck up all your cash without giving you the ROI you’d expect. But at the same time, some Facebook pundits want to prove that you can beat the low organic reach on Pages with a few tips and tricks, many of which don’t actually work.

In some of my previous post, the only ones that are true so far are the following:-

  • Short Videos uploaded to Facebook increase organic reach by 4 percent
  • Post that generate comment and sharing generates 3 to 4 percent increases
  • Facebook organic reach for non paying post tops out at 1 percent of your followers
  • Followers will see your post more often only if they subscribe to your notifications

These are the rules so far that has brought results. And here are the rest that has to be dispelled before you hit that steep incline and fall off a cliff.

Posting Often on your Page will generate better Organic Reach

False. This is where the Facebook algorithm kicks in. It gets the idea that you want to reach more people and you will incur a penalty for this. It starts with one post every few days, two at most for a week. Anymore and the penalty kicks in. This penalty reduces the visibility of your post to your followers.

Posting at Odd Hours so that your post will appear on your Follower’s Feeds

False. I have scheduled post to reach people at odd hours of the morning and the organic reach fell off a cliff. What I did was to schedule some news post during the morning hours between 1am to 6am, and did this every two hours. It didn’t work as the Facebook algorithm penalty kicks in once they detect you are posting more and more often.

Boosting your post with a paid fee will generate Better Organic Reach

False as the amount of budget you have allocated is dependent on the amount of followers. I now owe Facebook 20 bucks for testing a few post to see if they grow organically within a 935+ strong followers of my page. What happens when you boost a post is that more of your followers who have not turned on their notifications from your page will see them, how much more? It is about 1 to 3 percent more over the 2 percent average. This means if you have 50 dollars to spend, that would only be for one post served up for about 100 followers.

So if you multiply the number of followers you have just to maintain that 80 percent average for 1000 followers, you have to be spending big bucks for boosting each post. The catch here is that the moment you pay Facebook to boost your post, you don’t have to do anything but sit back and see the organic reach grow. This is only for ONE chosen post so it’s not cumulative for all other post.

Difference between Organic Reach and Organic Growth

Organic reach refers to post that you make to your own FB page that is viewed by your followers which you did not pay Facebook to show on their timeline. Organic growth however is about the followers you gain for you FB page which you didn’t pay for.

Organic growth during the test period conducted only improved by about 3 people, meaning it is minuscule for a Page with 930 followers. So that’s less than 1 percent, so with it you can assume that organic growth is dead.

Organic views is limited to 2 percent by default for post you make every two days. Make anymore than that and that, then you will be penalized by Facebook. This 2 percent organic reach is free to you…but you got to earn it if you want that 2 percent reach per say. So if you want more, then you gotta pay for the eyeballs.

What’s the Best you can do for Organic POST Reach?

Here’s my take on it. If you post often like three to four times a day, your organic reach falls below 1 percent of your total followers. This means you’d be hitting around 0.3 or 0.1 percent of the total crowd. So NEVER post often. In fact, it is better to stagger your post to a maximum of 2 a week. This is where the Facebook algorithm gets worried and start to knock on your door to see if you’re still alive. 

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It is a chicken or egg issue when it comes to getting your post served up to your followers and having them liking it in the process. If your followers do not see your post, then your post becomes irrelevant. Don’t even hope to see your page promoted to those outside your followers unless you paid for it.

You can spend hours crafting a post but when it doesn’t get liked by your followers, then it gets pulled.

However you still get your 2 percent organic within a 24 hour cycle. 

Using Comments to maximize a 2 percent reach in 24 hours

This apparently works but it takes a lot of work and is not worth you time. During my test period of 4 weeks, you need to show that you are actively posting comments on other Pages with your own FB Page’s altered ego or persona.

For example, if you are the owner of a page, start to comment as your FB Page identity in all your post. The Facebook algorithm assumes that comments that get Liked by others are a form of engagement and that means your FB post will be shown to more of your followers all for free.

Facebook assumes that as long as you did not pay for a reach, it will award you with a 2 percent organic reach as long as you get an average of 35 Likes for your posted comments in ONE day.

Wow, 35 post comments Likes per day. And this is only to extend your organic reach to the maximum allowable 2 percent a day…consistently. Facebook will NOT give you any more organic reach for your post above 2 percent a day unless it was a video post and one that is shared by your followers.

Beating the facebook algorithm on organic reach

Just remember that the Facebook algorithm will give you a two percent maximum organic reach a day provided you are actively commenting and getting those 35 Likes for these comments. If you add more than one post a day, say two…then your two post per day will have to share that 2 percent allowable organic view between them.

This is why you should not post often.

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Conclusion, it’s not worth it

Once you work so hard, curate the best content or by creating them, the organic reach within your own fellowship is going to hover around the 1 percent average in a week without doing anything. For all your older post, there is no limit on how far this growth will grow. Right now, I am see a five week old post gaining over 20 percent organic reach.

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Facebook’s own algorithm only detects engagements and sharing as signs of interest, so if someone indulges your post, chances are they will see more of it. If the majority of us like to sit back and read stuff without lifting a finger to say something, then those post will decline in importance and they won’t be seeing them anymore unless they have subscribe to all notifications from your page.

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This insight is crucial if you are a small business operating in a social media environment. When your page stops engaging others (and I do not mean spamming them with links), you need to work around how to achieve your desired goal within the limited organic bandwidth Facebook allows without paying.

It’s different if you say you want an immediate reach to your followers by advertising say 100 bucks to boost a post. Even then the ROI is subjective since you cannot see who are your paying customers.

Within the Facebook ecosystem, you can already sell directly to your followers but for that to happen, you will need to spend money or in this case, milk that 2 percent organic reach per post a day. In five days, you’d have 10 percent organic reach, in ten days…20 percent. So if you are planning on a month long promotion. You could possibly get 80 percent organic reach using this formula.

So if you are a small business, plan well. Be active with your FB page persona, say the things which gets Liked and in return, Facebook will eventually reward you with the much deserved organic reach without you having to pay for those eyeballs.

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Blackhat Tactics of Using Instagram

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You would have heard by now that Instagram is open for advertising. Mom and Pop stores are all ready to take the plunge but the folks at Instagram isn’t opening a rate card for advertisers when they said they were taking promotions. Why?

How User Experience is important to the User

Facebook is a good example of something that is spinning out of control when it comes to advertising and promotions. Every nook and corner is being used to show you some advertising and they now appear on your mobile feed as well. That is probably one reason why the app got so bloated that they had to take out the Messenger functions and put it into a separate app.

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Instagram will stand to lose users if there is an advert appearing in your feed all the way. This is why they are only negotiating with big brands with between US$500,000 to US$1 million to spend monthly on Instagram advertising.

This sort of advertising will appear in your Instagram photo feed as a ‘sponsored post’. So if you suddenly are seeing Ben & Jerry’s adverts in your photo stream, hey, you probably used the hashtag #icecream a little too often.

Besides, Instagram sponsored post are location targeted. So if your Ukrainian hryvnia can’t buy enough dollars for an Instagram campaign, what are you gonna do?

Black Hat Techniques

There are only a few which you can take advantage of. The reason is simple, you can’t post active URL links unless it is part of your profile. So that limits the amount of spamming, but spamming can still happen.

First, you need to have an active account where you post a regular feed. Don’t be lazy on this as people who eventually follow you want to know if you are one of those fly by night entities where they post a whole load of stuff for one day and then silence is all they hear. The rest of the work is detailed down here.

#1 Use the Follow4follow Method to grow your followers

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Getting followers without paying for them is very hard. What’s more it makes no sense paying for fake followers as they don’t convert to anything meaningful.

So get down to the basics, search for hashtags of things which are related to your business. If you are an online shop, so much the better as the world is your oyster. You can start adding people from all over the world. Add the #follow4follow or #followback tag. This will help you get even more people. Once you have those #f4f fans, you can grow it even more by going through their own followers to add them to your account.

This is a lot of leg work but that’s what you have to do when you don’t have a million dollars to spend on Instagram advertising.

#2 Use location tags to find followers to add follow

This is a little more tricky but it can be done. Look out for tags of locations within your sphere of business. If you live in a city like NYC then look out for #nyc or #newyork. Problem with this method is that there are a lot of cities in the US which have similar names to cities in Europe. So do your homework, add those by checking their feed using Iconosquare. This site lets you see stuff on their feed and know the relevance. If that person is just visiting a place of your business sphere, chances are you have to add them to find out if they would be interested in coming back.

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Restaurants, cafes and even retail shops should use this method to best optimize their reach without having to pay a cent.

#3 Use that one link available to you in your Profile

Think of this as your one phone call while in jail. Nothing else matters. So think very hard on where you want this to lead.

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If you had to put a link that says something about your business or service? Will that be an impressive site that you spent time on? Or just another template website to bore the hell out of people? Think very carefully about this as people do not want to click on a link to a sales pitch.

#4 Use hashtags to find followers of similar Interest

If you sell waffles, of course you would follow people who post waffle pictures. Engage them if you like, and hopefully they will return a favor.

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For example, I post pictures of drones used in aerial photography and Instagram users who use that hashtag often will follow you base on that. This is also where the ball gets rolling and as long as you add more, then people will follow you back in kind as you have the same interest.

This can also be a branding exercise, if say you are pushing out your own special brand of toys or for that matter drone related accessories. Just with those drone pictures alone, I have people asking me questions on where to buy them or if I can sell them one. Now that’s what I call a sales lead without even trying very hard.

#5 Bait your comments to an Instagram Feed

This is the last trick in the book. People know that user accounts are clickable. What you do is to insert a secondary Instagram account that is nothing more than your product catalog. Link baiting is something Instagram cannot avoid as these are they are users. Some companies create entire catalogs on Instagram, This was how Ikea for Russia created the catalog.

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By citing the @useraccount in the comment section of a post to any of your followers, you are actually baiting them to come take a look. This eyeball method is what you basically need to optimize traffic. Sometimes you can follow a celebrity and do the same thing….it’s called link baiting by Facebook, and by posting something like that on a celebrity who has a million followers, you could slide your product catalog in on the sly.

The Last Frontier of Social Media

Social media campaigns and marketing is a lot of work. Do not think for one moment that you can spare the dime and do the time. Many will eventually give up because it is a full time affair posting, creating and crafting content for Instagram.

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However Instagram is relatively free of interference from its owners, Facebook. There are certain blocked hashtags you can’t use on Instagram but you can always get around this to find similar minded users by browsing their feed. This manual method of identifying of customers is what builds your followers. And once you do that, you can engage with them directly.

The outright sales pitch is probably not very useful. You can of course use Instagram for branding as well. Contest wise, it’s less visible as the web site Iconosquare is the only place that let’s users engage with brands provided they bother to user the site to log in.

Right now, there are no real third party apps which can access Instagram APIs fully on a mobile app. Some allow you to browse your feed but not manage your post. It is probably this stage of Instagram which is not yet regulated makes it a real challenge for mass market spammers.

The idea behind the instagram black hat strategies is not about spamming but chosing your content to market to like minded folks. This, takes time and the rewarding part is seeing your content post do its magic without having to part with a million dollars for Instagram advertising.