Facebook Insights Part Two: Understanding Reach

Facebook Insights can be a bit daunting, and then some. If we had hours to spend together, we couldn’t exhaust the data available. So instead, let’s focus on one metric that’s often most misunderstood: Reach.

You’ve likely seen the numbers hanging out at the bottom left of your posts. They indicate the number of fans who had your post displayed in their news feeds. That means not all of your likes are seeing your posts. To understand your reach and how to increase it, it’s helpful to understand how Facebook distributes posts to its users. So let’s start there.

Playing a new game

To determine which content is shown to which fans, Facebook uses the EdgeRank algorithm. That sounds scary, but all it really means is there’s a set of factors Facebook takes into consideration when deciding if your post will appear in someone’s news feed.

What it means to you: Recent changes in the formula have resulted in a reduction of reach for brands’ posts.

Why was the formula changed?

Well, that depends on who you ask. But to hear Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tell it, as he was quoted as saying recently, ensuring the quality of individuals’ news feeds is crucial in order to not turn off users. If the newsfeed is clogged with posts from brands they “liked” ages ago and haven’t interacted with since, their experience with the site will suffer.

What it means to you: In essence, Facebook is cutting the fat. If your content isn’t very meaty, you could end up talking to yourself.

So, how do I increase my reach?

If you know what they’re looking for, you know what to give them. So here’s a look at some of the criteria considered:

Engagement: How much interaction has the post attracted by way of likes, comments, sharing, etc. among users who’ve already seen it?

Previous interaction: How engaged has a person been with your page in the past?

Negative feedback: How many people have hidden a post or reported it as spam?

You can see from these criteria that improving your content will result in increasing your reach, not only now but for future posts as well.

What should I do now?

When it comes right down to it, little has changed. Just as before, the more engaging your content is, the more likely it will be seen by more people. So, going forward, you should do the things you’ve always known to do. (Whether you were actually doing them before is a different story.)

  • Don’t talk just to be talking. Be interesting in what you have to say on your posts.
  • Be on the lookout for photos to accompany your posts. EdgeRank is a sucker for photos.
  • Study the insights to see what your fans have liked and what they have shared with others.
  • Don’t just wait for people to come to you. Get your name out there where they are.
  • Promote your social media efforts through other channels.

A final word

The new formula may mean your posts are seen by less people, but it also means that the ones who do see it will be the ones who will be most likely to like, comment or share it – all of which will increase your reach even more. So keep your content engaging and fresh, and let the algorithm keep the other pages’ junk out of your way.

Thanks for reading,

Drew Larison