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You’ve got your Business Facebook Page set up. You’ve put the effort into getting it all decked out with a nice profile pic and a timeline cover. You’ve even built up some followers (Hallelujah!). Now it’s time for the post. You set aside a few minutes, crank out a nice little status update, maybe even upload a picture to go along with it.

And then you wait.

You wait for that juicy little moment of validation. Will it be a comment?

You wait some more

Who will “Like” it first?

Still waiting.

Maybe someone will think it’s useful, entertaining, or interesting enough to “Share” it!

But you’re too busy to sit in front of Facebook and wait around for meaningful interaction with your content. So you get busy with other things. After an hour or two, you come back and check the stats on the post, only to find that your post reached 10 people.

“What? I’ve got 437 ‘Likes’ on my page! Why hasn’t Facebook shown it to more people?”

You, my friend, are not alone.

Since November, 2013, the average “Reach” of a Facebook Page (defined as the number of people who see content published by that Page) has declined dramatically, to say the least. A few months ago, we co-opted a term from someone else in the industry and began calling it “Reachpocalypse.”

The fact of the matter is that Facebook told us this was coming. And as Facebook has shown content from Business Pages less and less frequently, their own advertising sales (and stock price!) have skyrocketed.

You’ve no doubt been shown plenty of opportunities to “Boost” your content by paying for visibility, and it’s hard to not be cynical about the situation. What used to be free now comes with a price.

Or does it?

Should I Even Bother Posting to My Facebook Page Any More?

The lack of “organic” (read: unpaid) reach on Facebook has left many small businesses wondering if it’s even worth the time or energy to bother posting to Facebook any more—especially if you haven’t set aside any budget for Facebook ads.

But with a little time spent developing a strategic plan, Facebook can still be a fantastic way to reach your best audience: your existing (and/or past) clients and—perhaps even more importantly—their peers.

This leads me to the number one problem I see with social media marketing when it comes to business owners and their teams: the strategy.

You’ve probably heard me say it before (and this won’t be the last time), but you must have a strategy to be successful.

Remember the 3 critical elements of your marketing strategy:

  • Who: Who are you marketing to? What do you know about your “ideal” customer? What’s going on in their world today?
  • What: What problem(s) do you solve for them? What value does that add to their lives? What are the benefits of doing business with you… for them?
  • How: How can you package the value you bring and the benefits you add to your customers in a way that connects with them… emotionally?

I train our clients and customers to develop a “cheat sheet” of the answers to these questions and keep it in front of them when they go to prepare a marketing message of any kind, whether it’s an email message, a blog post, an advertisement or promotional message, or a Facebook post. (Don’t have a “cheat sheet” yet? Get started right now. You can always improve it over time.)

Armed with your cheat sheet, here are some ways that you can improve the reach of your Facebook Page—with or without spending money on Facebook ads.

Ways to Improve Visibility of Your Facebook Posts

  1. Be Valuable. Remember that we go to Facebook primarily for personal reasons. We’re there to keep up with the goings-on in the lives of people we know, to socialize (it’s a “social network” after all!) and to enjoy ourselves with humorous pictures and videos (can you say “Ice Bucket Challenge?”).Research continues to show that often people don’t mind interacting with brands they love and care about on Facebook—in fact, often they prefer interacting on Facebook than in other ways. However, human nature dictates that people will only engage with content when they find it valuable in some way.Ask yourself: “Will this be useful in some meaningful way to my audience?”  (Even better: “Will this get used?”)
  2. Be Generous. Don’t be afraid to give away your expertise. Share the “how” and “what” that you know about your business that your customers don’t know. This can be scary, because perhaps you have proprietary knowledge and information. Or perhaps your customers will take the information and run. But at the end of the day, sharing your knowledge builds trustestablishes credibility, and activates the law of reciprocity. With reciprocity, people will do business with you when you’ve done something valuable for them. (I think I might’ve even read a Scripture about that somewhere…)
  3. When In Doubt, Inspire & Encourage. Let’s face it. Life can be hard. Everybody can use some inspiration and encouragement sometimes. The old adage says that people do business with those that they know, like, and trust. If you encourage me at a time when I need it, I’m going to remember you, I’m going to like you, and I’m more likely to trust you.Don’t know where to start? If you need a source of encouraging or inspiring content, check out Zig Ziglar, Nourish The Dream, and Gary Keesee Facebook Pages. Don’t hesitate to share their content to your page!
  4. Use Pictures. As often as possible, find (or create) a picture to accompany your message. Research continues to show that people see and engage with image-based content on Facebook more often than text-based content.Not a graphic designer? No problem. Check out my recommendations page for sources of free and low cost (“royalty free”) images you can use to spruce up your posts. You can also use services like Fiverr and oDesk to hire someone at low cost to produce great quality graphics for you. (One caveat: remember to dictate to them that any photographs they use must be properly licensed. You’ll be the one on the hook if they steal or improperly use a copyrighted image without permission.)
  5. Use Video. A few months ago, Facebook implemented an “autoplay” feature that causes video clips to start moving without the user having to hit the “Play” button. You could argue that the “Ice Bucket Challenge” would never have taken off without this feature. But when you see something interesting (or unusual!) moving by you on the screen, it can be hard to resist.Today, video is easier than ever. Virtually every smartphone on the market today is capable of producing great quality video without a lot of effort. Get someone to hold it up for you, and start talking. Keep it short, sweet, interesting, and valuable. Upload it to YouTube first (using your smartphone’s YouTube app) or directly to Facebook.

These are some quick ways to increase the level of visibility for your Facebook content. I hope you find it useful! If you have questions, leave a comment here or contact me on the web, on Twitter or on Facebook and I’ll do my best to tackle your question in a future post!