Fact: bloggers like to complain about the infamous Facebook algorithm. I get it. It's frustrating to create content, post it to Facebook and have only a tiny fraction of people who like your page see the post.
I've been blogging for just shy of two years and Facebook has consistently been the number one source of referral traffic to my blog. That means most people who are finding Ripped Jeans and Bifocals find me through something I post on Facebook or something someone else shared from my blog on Facebook.
While the "just-when-you-get-it-right-and-figure-things-out-then-Facebook-changes-again" is frustrating, here are 11 things that have helped me with Facebook reach and engagement and ultimately, getting eyes on my blog posts.
Image: Sarah Marshall via Flickr
Before You Start - Naming Your Page
Before you buy a blog domain, check out the availability of social handles. If your blog is Kate's Cupcakes, your Facebook page should not be called "Kate Loves Dessert."
If you're already too far in the game, Facebook does offer you the option to do a one-time page change. This may cost you followers in the short term because your followers will be notified of your name change. If you decide a change is in your best interest, don't be disheartened by a dip in "likes." You're probably losing people who weren't engaging with your content in the first place.
Bottom line, you want to make it easy for people to find you on social media. Make sure the name of your blog's Facebook page makes sense.Reach and Engagement Are More Important Than the Number of Followers
Reach refers to the number of people your Facebook post was shown to. Engagement refers to the number of people who interacted with your post in some way – likes, comments, click-throughs and the coveted shares. These things are way more important than number of likes.
If you have 10,000 people that like your page and no one interacts with your post... well, you know what they say about trees that fall in the forest where nobody is there to hear. Bottom line, don't sweat the number of followers. Think slow and steady and focus on engaging with the followers you have.Looks Count
Your Facebook cover should be very similar to your blog's header. Your YouTube channel cover, Twitter cover and G+ cover should all be similar, too. Make sure you're sizing everything appropriately. The dimensions are slightly different for the different social channels.
You want people to know what they're looking at. My blog has a distinct logo, and I use the same avatar across all my channels. It's a visual clue that people are reading my unique content.Know Your Way Around
Understand what information is available on your insights tab at the top of your page. This gives you all kinds of information about when people are on your page and what they're doing. You can tell how many people open a particular blog post and how many people have hid your page or unfollowed it as the result of a particular post. (Which, personally, I would not sweat but good information to know.)
Your insights tab will show you when your page is the most active. If your page is getting the best engagement at 2 p.m., why would you post your best content at 8 a.m.?
You can also "watch" other pages. This is a good way to measure how your page is doing versus similar pages in your niche. Be warned: the owners of pages you watch will get a notification when you start watching their pages. Measuring your Facebook activity against another page can be helpful and not... too much comparison probably isn't healthy.Pay Attention
Know your way around your insights and how to interpret the information Facebook is giving you about the behavior of your page, but pay attention to what's going on with your page. Watch how people are interacting with your content.
If you're posting cat memes at 4 p.m. every day and no one is interacting with them, then maybe you want to find something your audience wants to see or post your cat memes at a different time.Be Consistent
I post every day and roughly the same amount of times each day. Facebook seems to reward consistency. If you post 10 things on Monday, two things on Tuesday and nothing else until Friday, you're probably not going to have much success with Facebook reach and engagement.
Everyone has to find their own sweet spot. I post between four and eight times a day with content spaced out at intervals. I use the Facebook scheduler but sparingly. It might be just me but I get less engagement on posts I schedule.
I use it to make sure I'm providing consistent content on days where I know I'm going to be busy, and I try to make any of my scheduled posts high-reach posts (i.e. from a larger site like Scary Mommy, Purple Clover, or Huffington Post.)
If you're going to schedule, you'll get your best results using the built-in scheduler in Facebook versus other tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.Be Varied
I post a mix of content created by me (both off and on my own blog), content created by other bloggers in my general niche (parenting), trending content in my niche, memes, pictures, status updates and questions. I don't have it down to a science, but I try to keep a fairly equal mix of these things going on my Facebook page.
There is nothing more annoying than going to a blog's Facebook page and seeing ONLY their blog posts. Why would I not just go to their blog?Be Social
Social media is supposed to be social. Interact with other people. If you post a status update – especially if you post one in question form – talk to people. Like their comments and answer them back when possible. Facebook rewards you for it, and your readers will value you all the more if they see you value their time and contributions.Share Other People's Content
I share content I know my readers will like. Most of my readers are moms in their thirties, forties and fifties. I know this because I pay attention to my insights and the way they behave on my page. I find things on the internet that I like that I think will resonate with my readers, I add my own caption, thoughts or lead-in and share it.
This shows my readers I know what they like and it gives them some extra insight into my personality. Sharing larger page content is great for your Facebook reach and engagement, especially if the content is trending. If you see other pages sharing a viral article, video or meme, that's your clue to share it, too, if it fits with your page.
I have 7,500 followers on Facebook. I shared a trending article the other day and Facebook showed it to over 26,000 people. I don't have 26,000 people following me, but some of my followers shared what I posted and my page name got pushed out there as a result. I gained a few followers that day.Stay True to Your Niche
There are plenty of bloggers who will disagree with me about niches, but I'm a firm believer in them. My page is all about content catered toward moms and women with midlife and adoption as sub-niches.
Would my readers respond well if I started sharing posts about science or politics? I don't know. My page isn't about those things, so I stick with the things that I know my readers are interested in. If I do go out of my niche, I give some sort of explanation on why I'm sharing it, such as:
"Hey people, I don't normally share blog posts about auto mechanics but I had a flat tire the other day and I wish I would have known THIS."
Then share the article. Voila, I've just made it personal. Randomly throwing out car care articles might not make sense otherwise.A Word About Tagging Other Pages
I love sharing the work of other bloggers, and I love to help out a smaller or just-starting-out page when they've got great content. Be warned, though. Kindness comes with a price. If you share something from a page that's substantially smaller than you, your reach and engagement might take a dive.
Sometimes it's worth it to build relationships online. You can usually make up for it by posting something high-reach (i.e. whatever The Bloggess has posted on just about any given day) but just be aware of what results sharing small-page content can have.
If you tag a smaller Facebook page, odds are Facebook won't show it to very many followers, which kind of sucks. I've seen some people tag a page that they want to give a shout-out to in the comments. As stingy as it sounds, I tend to stay away from tagging smaller pages all together and find some other way to support that blogger.Don't Get Complacent
If you pay attention to what you're doing on Facebook and how your audience is responding to you, you're probably going to find your sweet spot. Don't get complacent and rest on your laurels. Keep paying attention because Facebook changes from time to time.
This is a source of frustration for bloggers but Facebook is not out to get you. Facebook is trying to give all of their users the best possible experience and they're continuously changing what they're doing online, probably part of why Facebook continues to be so popular.
So if you notice your 4 p.m. cat memes that usually blow up the internet suddenly aren't getting much play, change it up. Do something different and find what works.
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