The Facebook Experiment – Lessons In Facebook Reach
Now, I have to preface this post by saying that I am far from a Facebook expert. I’m not going to tell you how to get exponential growth, I’m not going to guarantee you x number of likes within x period of time. What I am going to offer are the results I have found from the number of Facebook experiments I’ve conducted. These may work for you, they may not, but until you try you’ll never know…
This isn’t going to be a short post… I’m sharing with you a lot of information so please bear with me…. I promise it will be worth it.
In the first few months after I started blogging I hated Facebook. It drove me bonkers. Having to pay to boost posts, incredibly poor reach and it’s unpredictable nature (I often refer to Facebook as a temperamental teenager). Then I realised Facebook wasn’t going anywhere and that I needed to just suck it up and make it work for me.
So I did.
I set out to learn as much as I could about Facebook. I read blog posts, I watched YouTube videos and I asked a million questions (well it felt like a million anyway). I figured the only way I was going to find out what was going to work was to actually try a few different methods.
At the start of the experiment (April 1st 2015) I had around 330 page likes and had been ‘growing’ my page by approximately 30 likes per month. My average weekly Facebook reach was between 500 – 800 (sometimes as low as 300) and I posted sporadically at best.
Method 1- Regular Scheduled Posts
I watched the YouTube video from Holly Homer from Quirky Momma (Kid’s Activities Blog) who talks about how she increased her Facebook following from 13,000 to over 1 million. I listened, took notes and started to implement her process (if you get a chance to watch it, it really is full of a lot of great info).
The idea is that you use your insights to work out when your readers are online and use that as a basis for determining when you post. Sounds reasonable. Then there’s what to post….
Holly suggests this method with the idea that you are wanting to somewhat ‘train’ your readers to click on your posts:
1 – A Page Builder – post something that encourages your audience to engage, whether it be an image, a post that asks a question – something that will make your audience want to comment and share.
2 – A Top Post of Yours – post one of your top performing posts. Only post your best work – you want people clicking on your posts, engaging and sharing.
3 – A Potential Viral Post From Someone Else – again you’re wanting to encourage post clicks, likes, comments and shares.
Then you repeat this method as many times as you’d like to post. I had quite a small Facebook page at the time so I decided that 6 posts a day was more than enough so I repeated this method twice. Holly does advise that you are likely to lose a few likers in the early days and that’s okay because if your fans aren’t liking what you’re putting out there then they’re not really your fans and aren’t going to convert to a loyal readership – of which I wholeheartedly agree.
Holly also advised to try this method for 6 weeks minimum. So I did. Each Monday I spent 2 – 3 hours scheduling posts for the following week.
I lost a few likes (which I didn’t really mind) and my post reach started to climb. Yay!!! (Bearing in mind my average weekly reach prior to this was between 500 – 800 and I rarely posted). One of my posts ended up getting shared by a few of my blogging friends and my post reach peaked at 6,000.
Then it started to fall… rapidly. And it stayed low. Some of my posts were only reaching a handful of people and I was getting frustrated.
By the end of the 6 weeks my post reach was back down to it’s original 500 people per week – and I was still spending 2 -3 hours each Monday to make it work… I decided to abandon ship.
The Verdict: Let me be clear – I do believe this method has a lot of credibility… however I don’t believe relying entirely on scheduled posts is good for your reach. Facebook (and all social media platforms) want us to be present and posting organically and they will penalise you if you don’t.
I think this method is fantastic for those with a much larger following than mine – who need to post numerous times a day. But I also believe if you are going to schedule posts, it is best used in conjunction with posting organically.
Method 2 – Part Scheduled, Part Organic Posting
I decided I didn’t want to give up completely on the scheduling so I scaled my scheduled posts back to 3 per day and posted organically with this. I decided to give this experiment a 2 week timeframe.
Within the first few days I noticed a massive difference. My reach was up, especially on the posts I had posted organically. My weekly reach was up to double what it had been previously (around 1500 – 1600) and I was spending less time scheduling posts.
I followed this method for the two weeks and my reach maintained for that time. Which got me thinking… what if I cut out scheduled posts altogether??
So I did.
Method 3 – Posting Only Organically
I decided I would give this experiment the same timeframe as the previous experiment of 2 weeks. For that time I only posted organic content. This meant that some days I would post 5 times and some days I would only post twice.
My reach continued to grow. For the two weeks (which did include a post I paid to Boost – more on that a bit later) my reach increased and even after the boosted post numbers dropped off, my page was still reaching around 3000 people per week.
I decided to keep this method going for the rest of June and my reach continued to grow. Some of my posts were even reaching over 1000 people.
So, over a 3 month period of experimenting… here are the results:
1st April 2015 – 330 Likes and 500 – 800 weekly reach.
30th June 2015 – 703 Likes and 3500 – 4000 weekly reach.
But there’s more to it than that….
I wanted to see how things would go if I boosted a post… I didn’t want to just boost any old post so I decided if I was going to pay to boost a post then I wanted something really good out of it. It needed to earn me some money.
Starting in June I was going to be sending out freebies to my subscribers on the 1st of every month. I figured if I was going to boost a post, boosting one that encouraged subscribers was the smartest way to go with the greatest benefit to me.
So I did.
I paid $7 to boost a post about my free offer for subscribers over a one day period. I narrowed my audience to increase the chances of subscription.
It worked fairly well with a post reach of 2800 and an additional 10 subscribers that day (unfortunately there’s no real way for me to work out if they came from Facebook directly or not).
What happened after this was the most surprising…
I started noticing since paying to boost that one post, other posts were getting a far greater reach (unpredictably so… but still…).
I’m not sure if this is just a correlation or if there is some causation involved but it is certainly interesting to note.
One of the absolute best places to find out information about Facebook and everything to do with blogging is through Amy Lynn Andrews ‘Knowtbook’. You only have to purchase it once and she continues to update it with all of her ‘notes’ about blogging and social media. It would have to be the single most valuable tool I have purchased for my blog this year. Amazing.
My Facebook Action Plan
- Take note of the types of posts that do well. Facebook is for my family based audience predominately. Posts about parenting and motherhood do quite well.
- Use your insights as a guide only – don’t avoid posting purely because your insights say it’s not the best time. I’ve had massive reach during my ‘low’ periods before.
- If you’re wanting to pay to boost a post, do so on a post that gives you considerable gain. Boost a subscription post, an affiliate post… something that gives you a bit extra.
- Post organically. If something resonates with you, share it – it’s likely it will resonate with your readers too.
- Be active on other’s pages. Remember it’s called social media for a reason.
Like I said, these are just observations I’ve made from my experiments and things that have worked for me. I’d love to hear your views. What has worked for you and what hasn’t?