This post was contributed by Sarah Sal, Facebook Ads Specialist.
We’ve all heard that organic reach on Facebook is down. It was as low as 1.2% in 2018.
While fan pages in the past were able to get away with mediocre content and still get good reach, those days are over. As the mountain of content grows, yours needs to stand out.
Organic reach isn’t dead, however. Facebook is fighting low-quality content. And as low-quality posts get punished, higher-quality ones get more reach.
Unique, relevant, and high-quality content always wins.
In this post, I’ll share a few examples of content that can still achieve high organic reach on Facebook — as much as 30%.
Why the best tactics still require meaningful content
This blog is not another theoretic post where I tell you:
- To ask questions
- That video works better than an image
- To post between 13:01 p.m. and 13:44 p.m. on weekends
Instead, I’ll show you real examples of better copywriting directly impacting organic reach.
The risk of focusing only on tactics is that you may read and believe that 3 a.m. posts work better than those at other times of the day. But if you post bad quality content, it doesn’t matter if you do so at 3 a.m. or 6 p.m., you’re still not going to achieve good results.
We often forget that we’re talking to humans. And we also tend to disregard that what we write and how we do so can be an effective means of capturing Facebook users’ attention.
Tactics are important. Yet without good content, they become like using the best wood-fired pizza oven on an expired ketchup bottle as your tomato base and cat food as your pizza toppings. You can switch from wood-fired to a coal oven all you wish, yet your pizza will still taste bad with lousy ingredients.
How to write copy that gets higher organic reach
My friend Emaline Delapaix used to worry:
Emaline: These days, no one sees my Facebook posts. I read Facebook does it to force you to pay for ads.
Me: Not really, but you can’t just post: “Next week I’m singing in Hamburg” and expect high reach.
Take the post below as an example. It only reached 204 people:
Me: During your shows, you share personal stories about your struggle with depression and how it inspired your songs. Just do the same on Facebook. What captivates people offline also captivates them online.
So she made the post below:
Here’s what she told me after making this post:
“I made a post with an older song and wrote a little story, and it exploded over on my fan page. Within 20 min, I had like 30 likes and over 20 shares and comments.”
The post reached 1664 people organically. Not too bad for a page with 4000+ fans!
She then boosted the post for a few dollars, because, on Facebook, when you put money on something that’s doing well organically, it’s just like throwing fuel onto the fire.
By changing how she wrote her Facebook post, Emaline saw 8x more reach.
But my niche is boring
Some will say: “But I’m in a boring B2B niche! There’s nothing inspirational or exciting about me doing email marketing.”
Well, my niche is Facebook ads, and I have 4174 fans.
The post below reached 2130 people:
As it turns out, stories and analogies are like adding spices to bland food.
Many pages will post things like: “Click like and share if you love mashed potato.”
That’s what Facebook calls engagement bait. As I mentioned earlier, Facebook now punishes such pages by reducing their organic reach. That’s why it’s more important than ever to create authentic and unique posts.
Better copy also reaches more non-fans
August of last year, I spent a few days at the Let’s Do This office, helping them with their ads and their Facebook copy.
If you’re unfamiliar with the name, Let’s Do This has made headlines as the “fastest-growing sports startup in London.” With financial backing by Serena Williams and Usain Bolt as their investor, they’re an online sports listing that’s successfully managed “100% month-on-month growth” since their launch back in January 2017.
With this background, I felt the need to communicate that Let’s Do This is much more than just a booking platform for marathons, triathlons, and races, in which many of their team members regularly participate. I mean, their team eats, sleeps, and breathes their niche so genuinely that I would see daily messages on their Slack that said: “I’m going out for an hour’s run, who wants to join me?”
Because the team is so knowledgeable about nutrition, how to train, injury prevention, and more, they share their expertise and support with those who book through their platform.
So I interviewed their team members. And I mean that as in I literally told them: “Let’s grab a tea and go to the outside garden so you can tell me your story to find what makes this company unique.”
Below is an example of one of those posts:
Not only did the ad reach nearly 30% of around 36k fans when the post was made, but it also reached thousands of non-fans as a bonus:
The second post below reached more people organically, including 4751 non-fans:
Facebook posts also improve your ad performance
Whenever you run ads, you notice more people visiting your fan page and checking that page’s content. Below is the insight section of my fan page as an example.
This image shows an increase in visits as I ran a few ads promoting one of my blog posts:
What you see reflected here are people who’ve seen an ad and think to themselves: “I don’t know that person. Let’s check out their content to see if we can trust them.”
Let me share another example.
In one of his webinars, Jon Loomer mentioned a blog post that I had written for AdWeek. So I took a screenshot and pinned a post to the top of my fan page:
Then I ran some ads for likes that targeted Jon Loomer Digital as an interest. And I ended up paying €0.30/fan.
When I ran the exact ad a month earlier, my cost was €0.74/fan – more than double the cost.
Bad content can hurt your ad performance
On the other hand, non-relevant or low-quality content can increase your conversion cost .
A few years ago, I couldn’t get the cost per webinar opt-in below $20 for a client. When I checked the client’s fan page insights, people were indeed clicking to his fan page as a result of the ads. One of those ads said: “I can help grow your business.”
Business owners on Facebook: Who is that guy? Let me check his fan page… Ohhh! Every single post is a meme with a message along the lines of ‘I’m your spiritual leader.” And “believe in yourself!”
Business owners think: Am I wasting 1hr of my time on someone who’s got nothing useful to say other than random motivational quotes?
So I did a test. I promoted the same ad, landing page, and targeting on a fan page with better quality content. The cost per webinar opt-in dropped to around $5.
Consistency grows audiences like snowballs down a mountain
As we’ve seen so far, good content and great copy also reach non-fans. Think of it like a snowball: Every time the ball rolls, it picks up more snow, increasing in size and momentum as it moves along.
To produce a snowball effect, however, you need to be consistent in giving your audience new content.
A few years ago, Gavin Bell wrote a blog post titled Daily Vlogging: The Results Of Vlogging 100 Days In A Row. In it, he shared the results from posting video content every day for 100 days.
At the beginning of his trial, he had 238 fans. By the end of the experiment, he had managed to increase his reach and nearly doubled his fans. Today, he has over 13k of them.
We know the number of fans is only the tip of the iceberg, however. That’s because Facebook allows you to run ads targeting people who’ve consumed or engaged with Facebook page content – even if they’re not fans.
So I reached out to Gavin to ask how big his snowball got and how it helped his business. In the last 365 days, over 190,000 people engaged with his videos on Facebook.
When targeting the 190,000 users in his audience, he pays $30/conversion for his monthly membership program. While targeting a cold audience, the cost per conversion is $120.
Targeting cold traffic takes Gavin 3 months to break even on his ad spend. Warm audiences, on the other hand, let him make a profit from the very first day.
Avoid engagement for the sake of engagement
I once noticed a client who shared some Gandhi quotes through his Facebook page. With sarcasm, I said: “I’m happy you’re anti-colonialist, but your Facebook page is a real estate one.”
People defend such posts by saying: “This post got engagement! And engagement is important.”
Let’s say I’m speaking at a conference where the audience is full of business owners. Imagine I said: “I love this country, no other country makes better pastries!” and then kept speaking for 30 minutes on how these people’s cuisine is the best on Earth.
The audience might nod their head and applaud me. But just because they engaged with my speech on food doesn’t mean that I made them want to hire me to help them with their Facebook marketing.
With every post, you should ask yourself: How is this going to help me achieve my business goals?
Unique content goes a long way
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you fell into a pool that’s full of spent nuclear fuel rods? Not only would that pool be cleaner and safer than your average swimming pool, but you’d also be 100% fine as its water would protect you from radiation.
Inside that nuclear fuel water, you’re exposed to less radiation than watching TV in your day-to-day life.
Those are the type of videos the What.If fan page makes. And their content gets played by millions and commented and re-posted by thousands. The page is so popular because this type of content is so unique.
When your content is similar to another 34,569 other posts, the power of your content gets diluted. One of the best ways for your content to stand out is to create an “a-ha!” moment in people’s brains.
Thought-provoking content goes a long way.
Sarah is a Facebook Ads Specialist at Hootsuite & AdEspresso. With 7 figures in Facebook ads spent under her belt in 10+ years, she’s run ads for companies like ClickFunnels and Strategyzer. She’s written on Facebook ad testing, strategy, and execution for the likes of AdEspresso, Agorapulse, Blitzmetrics, Copyhackers, ActiveCampaign, AdWeek, and Jon Loomer’s Power Hitters Club. And she’s presented in Perry Marshall 80/20 Facebook ads course.
In her daily menu, there’s always room for a warm cup of matcha.