You may be thinking that you’re alone in the battle to win organic reach on social media platforms but the good news is, you’re not.

Organic reach has remained low for some years as platforms adopt an approach similar to that of Google — aiming to serve only relevant and engaging content to its users.

Known as the News Feed Algorithm, it intends to deliver a positive user experience but in doing so only serves your posts to a small pool of users in the first instance — in some cases it can be as little as 1%!

If that small pool of people engage with your content then it will be shared with a larger pool of followers and users, and so forth.

When your content is engaging, there will be a snowball effect — it’s a slow burn but more and more people will gradually see it. But what’s considered engaging? And how do you use it to increase your organic reach?

Organic reach — what it is and what drives it?

To put it simply, organic reach is the number of users who see your content without any paid distribution — it includes your own followers but also extends to friends of followers who have interacted with you online.

Engagement with your content is a key influencer of its reach — that is, how many people like, react to, comment on or share your post. But there’s also other important and growing factors at play that play a key role in the reach of your organic content.

Oceans of content — With an ever-increasing number of users, record amounts of content is being published on social media every day. Facebook alone hosts more than 55 million status updates per day and 14.58 million photo uploads every hour (that’s 4,000 per second!) with 1 million links shared every 20 minutes.

Personalised news feeds — Serving masses of content to users just doesn’t provide a pleasant user experience, so to narrow down the volume of posts in news feeds, social media platforms only serve the most relevant content to each user. News feed content is tailored to every individual user in order to increase engagement and provide a relevant user experience.

With the amount content posted in comparison with what is served, the question now is whether organic content is worth the effort or if platforms are simply driving businesses to paid advertising solutions?

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Ten helpful hints to improve your organic reach

While paid solutions are great at getting quick results, organic content is still very much an important part of any digital strategy.

So how can you create content that cuts through the crowd? We’ve put together our top tips that will help you improve the reach of your organic content.

Creating engaging social media content requires significant time investment which should be made wisely. Rather than spreading yourself across every platform, make sure your audience are there first. There are easy ways to determine if a platform is worth your efforts. Ask yourself, what platforms are your competitors on? A simple search will give you the answers. Where are your customers? This can be worked into almost any conversation or interaction. Ask your customers what platforms they use and where they would prefer to see you. Lastly, if you have a share button on your website, for example on your blog, this can provide you with valuable analytics about who is sharing your content and on which platforms.

Once you’ve decided on the right platforms but before you even write your content plan, get your head around the basics of each platform and its algorithm so you can create a strategy that amplifies your organic reach.

For example, the Facebook algorithm is complex, looking at thousands of factors to determine relevancy for a person’s news feed. It’s extremely unlikely that you will ever know all of these factors, but here’s some that you should definitely be aware of:

  • High-quality content is rewarded
  • Spam content will be limited or even removed
  • Posts with more user engagement are rated higher
  • Negative feedback from users will reduce reach
  • Photo and video content wins higher priority
  • A user’s previous interactions with the page or posts also impacts visibility in a news feed.

Like we mentioned earlier, social media platforms are like Google — they aim to serve only relevant content to users in order to ensure a positive user experience. Just like on-page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tactics will help a website rank high in search results, optimising your social media profile can help you improve your organic reach. There’s plenty you can do to optimise your profiles — almost every aspect of your profile can be optimised — but here’s a few basics to cover off:

  • Create an easy to remember username/handle
  • Use a recognisable brand/profile photo
  • Provide keyword-rich descriptions but avoid keyword stuffing and keep it natural
  • Include a trackable link back to your website.

These four basics should also be considered in every single post you publish.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. No matter your industry you can always create engaging content when you put your mind to it. But the bottom line is — keep it relevant. Refrain from publishing content that has a definitive lifespan, for example with an expiry date. Consider publishing content that solves problems, contributes to bigger conversations, is educational, light-hearted or humorous. And remember, positivity breeds positivity!

Posting more on social media isn’t the answer to increasing reach — you’ll really just be adding to the clutter. What you do need to do is be smarter about it. By posting relevant, top-quality content and less of it, the chance of increasing your organic reach is vastly improved. How often you publish will depend on the platform but Hubspot suggest that on Facebook, anywhere between two and five times per week is optimal — but generally no more than once per day should do the trick.

Once you have the frequency sorted, getting the day and time right could make all the difference. This will vary from business to business and will be dependent on your industry so do some research and get to know your audience behaviours.

In a similar fashion to targeting paid advertising, some social platforms will also let you target your organic content. Facebook, for example, allows you to target organic content using eight options including gender, age, education level and location.

Take every opportunity to promote or link to your social media platforms. Add link or follow buttons to your website and email signature, add the handles to letterhead, business cards, signage and flyers. You can even cross-promote between your profiles.

Diversify your messages to keep your content fresh. While it’s easy to fall in the habit of promoting only your own product or service offering, to stay relevant you need to share content that adds value for your audience. Mix up your content by including other useful titbits such as articles, blogs and how-to guides. Use a variety of content types too — photos, videos, polls, questions. This will also help create and maintain engagement.

Social media isn’t a one-way communication tool. All platforms give audiences opportunities to engage with brands and have meaningful conversations — so use this to your advantage! Reply promptly with helpful information, be friendly and approachable. Not only will this positively impact your organic reach but other users will also look to your interactions for insight into how you do business.

We can help you cut through the crowd

As social media has evolved so too have the algorithms behind the platforms that work to boost user engagement. And they are constantly evolving as — just like Google — social media platforms are working hard to provide a great user experience by only serving content that is relevant, high quality and engaging.

Having basic knowledge of how the social media algorithms work will help you create clever content and start to cut through the clutter. We know this can take time so it’s often put on the backburner, particularly for small to medium size businesses.

If you’re ready to take your organic content to the next level, the team at Online Path can put their in-depth knowledge to good use and help you boost your organic reach in the most effective ways.

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