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The truth about social media: most of your followers aren’t seeing your posts

I was at a meeting last week with colleagues at a local community centre. They’re hard working, committed and caring people. They run a fantastic centre, providing support services, companionship, social and leisure activities to all ages. They post regularly on Facebook – but as one of their biggest fans, I mentioned that I hadn’t seen their posts for about six months.

Facebook had decided that the centre wasn’t really of interest to me (it really is!). Why? Because I hadn’t ‘engaged’ with its posts – liked, commented or shared. And as a result, it isn’t serving them up in my feeds any more.

I went to their page. They’ve been sharing some great content that would be of interest to me – but I’m just not seeing it.

It could be happening to you

Could this be happening to you and your followers? It’s worth asking a few (not your staff/colleagues, but people who won’t have a reason to actively seek out your channels). You may be surprised at what you find – as my community centre colleagues were.

If you’re investing a lot of time feeding the social media beast, posting and sharing regularly, this is probably the last thing you want to hear. But the fact is that Facebook (other platforms too, in different ways) has changed the way it selects content to share in people’s feeds – and because of that, we all need to change the way we ‘do’ social media.

I’m going to refer to Facebook in this blog, but similar changes have happened in other social media sites. I’ve included tips for these too towards the end of this blog.

Why are followers no longer seeing my posts?

In the Spring of this year, Facebook announced that it wants to encourage people away from just ‘consuming’ content, to actively engaging with it – ideally, having conversations online.

It now prioritises ‘meaningful content’: posts from family and friends, and those from ‘pages’ (ie organisations/businesses) that you’ve interacted with. To do this, it uses a calculation (its ‘algorithm’) that puts engagement, or ‘interactions’ in the following order of priority:

2. Shares (on a timeline or via messenger)
3. Reactions (likes, clicks etc)

A simple way of looking at it, is that your post has to pass a series of algorithm ‘tests’ in order for it to appear in people’s feeds. It also looks more generally at your page to see if it’s getting lots of engagement.

It’s not all bad

I welcome this, because it will hopefully encourage more authentic communication. It will discourage organisations from simply ‘broadcasting’ what they want people to hear or know about.

We all need to be far more savvy now, in understanding what our audiences will find interesting and useful: and because of that, shareable and remark-able.

What content should I be posting?

People are on social media to have fun, learn things (including how to make their lives easier), and connect with friends, family and colleagues.

Anything you post needs to feed one of these needs, and ideally be shareable and/or prompt a comment or reaction.

Here are some types of content that are most effective:

1. Personal – many people like to share things that expresses what they’re all about – their interests and their lives. Good examples are when people ‘check in’ to a place or event on Facebook or share a photo or video that they or someone they know is featured in. What can you do to help them do this?

2. Opinion – ask for people’s views or advice is a sure way to get comments – and it can give you useful market research/feedback. Make sure you know your audience and ask a question that’s likely to prompt a reaction. You may need to take a few tries before you understand what will work.

3. Useful – all marketing is ultimately about identifying a need and serving it. Creating content that your followers will find useful can be a brilliant way of creating trust, liking, and engagement. What knowledge, resources or information do you have that your followers would find useful, shareable? A guide to …, Advice for …., A template to …

4. Inspiring – people like to share inspirational content that shows what they believe in – particularly if it uses the classic image-quote combination. Could you create your own?

5. StoriesBeing in a school wasn’t easy for Joe. The noise of other students, the anxiety of not being able to concentrate in lessons, and the fear of being alone at break made it a scary place to be. The music department had become his safe space because … Sharing content in a way that makes people curious – ie storytelling – can be powerful. Think about what writing style you could use. A small tweak to create a tease and prompt curiosity can make a big difference.

Help! What do we do to get back in our followers’ feeds?

The good news is that along with these content types, there are some simple tactics you can employ straight away to get more engagement from your followers. Try them, then check your analytics to see how each of your posts compares to others. Then try to do more of what works.

1. Create content that grabs attention and stops people from scrolling past

Use photos, videos, slideshows, infographics, stories, polls, shareable image-and-text graphics. Most platforms allow you to share live video and this is really powerful stuff (try it, and see what happens to engagement in your analytics). Anything that moves will stand out. A quick and easy ‘video’ is a slideshow of photos with captions – using an app like Adobe Spark Video or Magisto.

2. Use analytics to understand the sort of posts your followers like … and do more of them!

Set aside time once a month even if it’s only 15 mins. Also, a nice trick is that if one post has performed well, try to do another one soon after. The channel will still be serving your posts to more followers for a while following a popular post.

3. @tag people in your posts to increase engagement

Ask specific people questions, or mention to them they might enjoy this, to increase engagement. You could even direct message them to ask them to help. Other organisations/partners that you work with can be particularly helpful (make sure to reciprocate). You could even make an agreement to share each other’s posts and/or alert them to do this when you have something important coming up.

4. FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM particularly: Use video – ideally live, and recorded via the platform – to drive engagement

Facebook prioritises live video because they know it creates 6x more engagement than any other content. They like you to create it from Facebook so that it’s original content, only available on the platform.

5. FACEBOOK: Create ‘native’ content as much as possible – not just links to other sites

Facebook live, conversational posts where all the content is in the post – again because it’s unique to the platform and doesn’t drive people off elsewhere.

6. FACEBOOK: Be picky about what you share

It can be quite damaging if you keep sharing stuff that isn’t getting any engagement. It can be hard to be disciplined about this, because enthusiasm can take over! But regularly posting things that don’t generate engagement could reduce your credibility score with Facebook.

7. TWITTER: Tweak posts rather than simply publishing repeat posts

No platforms like you to repeat posts, but since February 2018 Twitter will downgrade your posts if you do. The difficulty is, repeat posting is necessary to spread the chance of being seen (and is one of the benefits of tools like Hootsuite or Buffer). So just tweak posts – change words, add emojis, swap sentences, change hashtags.

8. TWITTER: Post daily, when your followers are online

Although Twitter will show your older posts to someone who it thinks wants to see your content (ie engages with your posts regularly), time is still important. Use Tweriod or similar to work out when your users are online.

9. TWITTER: Make sure your profile is up-to-date and credible

Twitter prioritises credible accounts. Make sure you’ve included everything you’re asked for – name, biog, links, photo etc.

10. INSTAGRAM: Post regularly and post content that keeps people online

Instagram will place your posts higher in followers timelines if you post regularly. Also, the longer followers spend on your post the more likely it is to be shown to others.


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1 Comment

  1. How to write an effective e-newsletter – and why it’s important to have one – Music, arts & charities communications blog on 22nd October 2018 at 3:38 pm

    […] Email is a direct form of communication from you, to your readers. Your e-newsletter will reach them (spam filters allowing) even if they choose not to read it immediately. That’s their choice – not the choice of a social media platform’s algorithms. […]

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