Facebook’s algorithm changes have drastically reduced the ability for brands to reach fans organically. But, Facebook’s suggestion to boost ads with paid options can help brands increase their reach, and Facebook’s native targeting options can assist brands in pushing specific content to targeted audiences.

This article was originally published on Socialnomics.

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How-to Increase Reach and ROI

Facebook’s organic reach is on a steady decline, forcing bloggers, businesses, brands, charities and other groups that rely on Facebook posts to convey announcements and other information to fans to change their strategies.

There are two reasons behind the drop in organic reach. First, Facebook says people are liking more fan pages, yet are reading their newsfeed for the same amount of time each day, creating competition for visibility. Second, algorithm changes have given posts from friends prominence over posts from brands in an effort to give users what they want to see. Facebook’s solution is paying to use promoted posts to increase the reach, turning the previously free platform into a place where it pays to pay.

Brands and other groups that invested heavily in acquiring new fans through paid advertising are obviously upset. Facebook’s response is that brands shouldn’t think of fans as a way to spread messages for free, it should think of a fan base as a way to make Facebook paid ads more effective through targeting. While blogs and businesses that enjoyed the free distribution channel in the past may not like it, Facebook is right; targeting specific audiences and subgroups of a fan base is the most effective way of pushing messages to Facebook users.

How far has the organic reach fallen? Emarketer looked at the organic reach of branded Facebook pages and saw a distinct decline since February 2012. According to the research, the median organic reach worldwide fell from 16.0% in February 2012 to 6.5% in March 2014. With further algorithm changes expected, and more fan pages being liked every day, organic reach is predicted to decline even further going forward.

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Here is what businesses should be doing to increase the impact of Facebook marketing:

  1. 1. Maximize organic reach: While organic reach is shrinking, quality posts that invite likes and shares can still outperform averages and reach mass audiences. Posts that include pictures and videos attract more engagement than posts with words or links alone. While Facebook is cracking down on like-baiting, posts that ask questions and invites comments are still not only allowed, but encouraged.

  2. 2. Create audiences from current fans: Targeting is the social media optimization tool brands on Facebook need to take advantage of today because of its ability to increase the effectiveness of existing content and paid advertisements while increasing ROI.

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    Facebook’s native targeting options are becoming deeper so businesses can break down audiences into even smaller segments and provide uniquely created content to those small groups. Facebook users can be broken down by location, demographics, interest and behaviors. Inside those four main options are several more subgroups, allowing advertisers to break down the groups even smaller. By starting a targeting strategy with a list of Facebook users that have already liked a page, brands can begin by looking at people that already know the brand, enjoy the brand and most likely have spent money supporting the brand.

    1. • Target groups outside of fans: Facebook’s targeting options allow businesses to specifically target users who are not already fans of the page. While most brands use this to gather new fans, it can also be used in conjunction with option targeting options to send specialized content to potential consumers who might not know about the brands or might be a fan of a different brand. By eliminating the current fan base, brands can create specific ads that are made to attract new customers instead of reinforcing current opinions, increasing the effectiveness of the ads and ROI.

    2. • Create customized content: By breaking down current fans into small subgroups, brands can push content that is meant to appeal specifically to those subgroups. Users who relate to a sponsored post are more likely to comment, like or share, spreading it even further and increasing the odds of impacting the decision path of the user in the future, reducing waste and increasing ROI.

    3. • Measure and adjust: Facebook paid advertising optimization requires constant vigilance in the form of metrics and continual content updating based on results. Facebook metrics to specifically keep an eye on include reach, paid reach, likes, comments, shares and traffic from posts to other digital assets like websites. Brands can get around the diminished organic reach by emphasizing content that creates engagement and spreads naturally while minimizing posts that don’t.

    Facebook’s organic reach is not coming back if for no other reason than Facebook makes more money by enticing brands to pay for visibility on the platform. Brands, brands, blogs and other organizations with fan pages may not like the fact that their fans aren’t seeing as many posts as before, but with targeted paid ads, they can get out the word without breaking the budget.

    This article was originally written by Chris Moreno, senior paid advertisingstrategist for ZOG Digital

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