The best things in life are organic.
From coffee beans to produce, organic is the way to go.
When it comes to social media, the same applies.
Organic reach on social media is the ability of your posts to reach their intended audience without a financial boost.
The result is an outstanding brand channel that converts an engaged audience into sales without paying a cent!
But there’s a hitch.
With the recent algorithm changes at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – hell MySpace is probably restructuring things if anyone bothered to check, the power of organic reach is on the slide.
There’s no point trying to hold on to the organic strategies you had, the damage has been done, and it’s irreversible.
A brief moment of silence for the halcyon days of posting and basking in the glow of sweet, organic love.
Ok, moment’s over. We’re all in mourning but we’ve got to move on.
Truth be told, organic reach has been on life support for a while now.
With Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, prioritising more content from friends and family, the number of posts from branded publishers and pages has been in decline.
“You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” said Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of 2018. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people”.
You can bet your bottom crypto dollar that if Facebook is making the change, the remaining players in the social media game are moving to do the same.
What does this mean for you as a business?
If you want to continue to reach the widest audience possible, it’s time for change.
Four ways to ensure your organic reach is as broad as possible
#1 Create unique content for each social media platform
Consumers in 2018 are far too savvy to be served the same content, fragmented across each social media platform of your brand.
Not only will this fail to attract the organic attention you’re after, but it smacks of laziness.
Each social media channel is different, in some cases distinctly so. Failing to take advantage of the unique strengths of each is the equivalent of missing your target and shooting yourself in the foot in one slick motion.
To maximise your organic reach your content should be created with a pre-determined social platform in mind. This means creating your post to suit your medium, understanding caption lengths and image formatting, as well as the unique terminology and patterns of behaviour that come with each social channel.
An errant @ symbol on Facebook isn’t just a typo, it’s a message to potential customers. If you don’t want to invest the time in your own brand, what incentive is there for them to do so?
Repeated content across your socials creates disengaged followers. By creating fresh, original and platform-specific content you will encourage interaction and give yourself the best chance of engaging with the different audiences that use each channel.
#2 Share content from other industry leaders
We are all the lead character in our own lives. Surrounded by a supporting cast of friends, family and coworkers, we’re the star of the show. So this may come as something of a surprise but your audience will not care about your brand nearly as much as you.
Sharing really does become caring, so go ahead and put the social in social media by celebrating the content produced by industry and thought leaders around you. Not only will you open up new avenues by connecting with the original creators, but you’ll give yourself a chance to tap into their audience as a result.
As time passes you’ll build your credibility as a thought leader of your own, with 85% of curators agreeing that thought leadership is their primary goal. When you position your brand as one to trust, you’ll build the level of engagement surrounding you. In the era of shrinking brand awareness and reliability, this is pure gold.
Even better, curating content on this level is:
- A huge time saver
- Extremely cost-efficient
- The simple way to introduce a valuable diversification of content
If something catches your eye, it stands to reason that it will catch the eye of your audience who should be aligned with your brand goals and values.
With 80% of marketers sharing 3rd party content to improve company visibility and buzz, using your platform to elevate the thoughts and opinions of those around you is great for your business and maximises your organic reach at the same time.
#3 Get to know algorithm changes
We’d like you to meet someone.
His name is Al.
Terrible puns aside, understanding what changes are occurring across the algorithms of your chosen social media platforms is vital if you want to effectively combat them.
While social media algorithms have always tried to provide the most relevant content, there is a greater emphasis than before to provide posts from family and friends.
Nans before brands. It’s just the way it is.
Rather than bang your head against the digital brick wall, understanding what drives the most popular social media algorithms can help you find ways to stay in touch with your audience.
Posts in your newsfeed will prioritise your friends and family first, information second and entertainment in third.
Facebook’s current algorithm favours active interactions like commenting and sharing over passive interactions, which include likes and click throughs. Whether your branded posts previously attracted a handful of clicks or a tsunami of attention, there’s trouble on the horizon without adapting.
According to Facebook, activities deemed ‘meaningful’ include comments, reactions (the ‘love’ icon carries more weight than the simple ‘like’ icon for example), comment replies, shares, and sharing links over Facebook messenger to others.
Pivoting your content strategy to create content that satisfies these requirements will be required going forward.
In the early days of Instagram a reverse-chronological feed was at the heart of the pictures and videos that appeared. Simpler times.
Following a comprehensive algorithm update in 2016, and with changes as recent as 2018, Instagram now utilises machine learning to ensure your feed is unique to you, and as a result of your personal interactions no two feeds are the same.
With that in mind, there are three main signals Instagram uses to rank posts.
Interest in post – This is based on how you’ve interacted with similar posts in the past. For businesses this comes down to engagement. When people engage with your content, they’re telling the algorithm that they want to see more.
Time posted – While the days of reverse-chronological feeds are over, Instagram still prefers newer posts to produce fresh content for users. As a business this means A/B testing to determine when your audience is online to frame your posting times.
Relationship to poster – If you often ‘like’ or comment on someone’s posts, you’re more likely to see their content. Pretty straightforward. For businesses this means developing authentic relationships with followers.
While social media algorithms are always subject to change, ensuring your knowledge is up to date is the best way to stay ahead of the curve and give your organic posts the best chance of exposure.
#4 Embrace influencer marketing
Love them or hate them, influencers are at the heart of a marketing revolution across social media. With highly engaged audiences of loyal followers, the micro-communities they create are fertile ground for businesses who are ready to think outside the box.
Ad saturation has reached a tipping point with consumers able to opt out or plain ignore ads. By aligning with influencers who share the core values of your brand you’ll be able to tap into their fervent support and use it to leverage your own success. Advertising hidden in plain sight!
Keep in mind, it’s more important to find an influencer with whom you truly share values. There’s nothing worse than an obvious product spruiking from an individual who looks more out of place than a fax machine rep at a Future of Technology conference.
When you work with influencers who want to work with you, you’re more likely to convert their followers to yours.
Vibe, meet tribe.
With that said, avoid making their follower count your primary metric. Huge numbers can be bought (though not always) and can make a consistently high level of engagement a challenge.
Smaller follow counts, held by micro-influencers, are more affordable – with 84% of micro-influencers charging less than $250 per post, but more importantly they are more trustworthy – with 6.7 times more engagement per post compared to influencers with large followings.
Seth Godin once said that “Marketing is a contest for people’s attention”. Which begs the question, would you rather pay attention to the brand trying to sell you a product, or a person who you look up to and admire?
Your answer to that question should make the importance of influencer marketing crystal clear.
Much like Search Engine Optimisation, organic reach comes down to ticking the right boxes of optimisation, user experience and quality. While changing algorithms will continue to present a challenge for businesses, the necessary adjustments that must be made will drive brands to focus on authentic, natural and lasting relationships with their customers. While the short term effects of such a transition may present obstacles, such goals will undoubtedly benefit both business and consumer in the long run.
Alexander Porter is Head of Copy and an SEO Strategist at https://www.searchitlocal.com.au/ a Digital Marketing agency based in Sydney. Alexander is passionate about providing brands with a voice, understanding emerging technologies and social media. He enjoys sharing his insights on copywriting, digital marketing, SEO and the power of language to strike consumers like lightning.