Guys, STOP FREAKING OUT.
The new Facebook algorithm may well be a bitch, but there is a way around it that does NOT involve juggling tricky Facebook ads and a heap of money. (It’ll require some money. But not tonnes.)
How do you solve a problem like the new Facebook algorithm?
Here’s what’s been setting the internet on fire:
- Facebook wants to prioritise “more friends, family and groups” content to foster more meaningful interactions. This means Facebook pages are wayyyy down the pecking order for the algorithm preference that controls how many people see anything you post to your Facebook Page.
- This means businesses running Facebook pages are going to have to pay to play if they want to get anywhere with their Facebook page (for newbies) or stop their current figures from plateauing/falling.
- Organic reach is now virtually impossible to achieve using a Facebook page alone.
- Whilst Facebook ads generally receive a pretty good return on investment, they require a certain level of skill, patience, time and money. Frankly, many of us have few of those resources, and it’s all just a GREAT BIG PAIN IN THE… NECK.
Whilst many digital marketing publications will tell you that to beat the algorithm you need to “go live more”, “advocate more comments”, “invest time in Facebook Groups” and “encourage people to follow your page”, it’s simply not feasible to do all of these things without going crazy, is it?
What’s being advised is totally correct. You absolutely should utilise video as much as you can and post the very best quality content you can muster up – that’s a given. But unless you have to hand an extensive team who understand all of this off the bat, the availability to go live on a whim and a social media audience who are A-OK with being constantly badgered to hit like and answer questions all the live long day, you’re going to get swept away with the madness and end up with nothing.
The panic ends here, sunshine.
The boosted post strategy that beats the new Facebook algorithm
The way we see it, we’re all looking for a solution that meets these criteria:
- To be able to continue marketing on our Facebook page rather than shutting it all down and starting from scratch with a group instead, like everyone else is suddenly doing, and discarding all that old content we worked so hard on.
- To spend little-to-no money or time on Facebook advertising.
- To continue posting pretty much at our current rate, because we don’t have time to churn out a post every hour to account for falling engagement rates.
- To make the most of the content we’re already working on.
- Be able to grow our Facebook page audience as well as the engagement rate for posts, which is getting harder and harder.
We’ve developed, tested and – most importantly – found success with a strategy that many will tell you not to bother with: Boosted Facebook posts.
Business leads, sales, higher engagement… this strategy has nailed them all for us despite the new algorithm rules, and all it takes is a little time to organise audience targeting and a little extra budget.
Budgeting for Facebook boosted posts
There’s no set amount for this, though obviously the more cash you can wangle to put behind each post, the better.
We’d suggest £5 per post is a good place to start if you can manage that, and even if you’re just posting to Facebook once a day this amount should see you through nicely. If you can only spare a couple of quid from your budget per post, then so be it – this will still work, it’ll just be a slower burn.
Self-employed types: Don’t forget advertising spend is something you can claim back on tax, so be sure to keep a record of your Facebook invoices.
9-5ers: When putting this case to your manager, be sure to explain that this small extra spend should not only return higher investment after an initial test period than before the latest algorithm change, but that the development would otherwise require you to spend much more time than you already do on content creation, keeping you from your other duties.
So just to be clear on budget; If you’re posting to Facebook once a day, five days per week, you’ll need a total budget of £25 per week to execute this strategy.
This is going to be the most time-consuming bit and is likely to require a little trial and error period at first. But it’s worth doing.
When you get to the stage of boosting Facebook posts in the back end of your page, you’ll be confronted with audience options like this:
What we’re looking at specifically here is the Audience options, which will only show those first three options to begin with: People you choose through targeting, people who like your page and people who like your page and their friends. Usually, Facebook will pre-select a massively broad audience for you to boost your post to before you’ve input your ideal target audience.
Scroll a little lower, and you’ll be able to select an option to “create new audience”. This is where it gets juicy.
A step-by-step guide to targeting your Facebook audience for boosted posts:
- Hit “create new audience” and pick a clear, sensible name for your audience segment.
- Refer to a business plan or social media strategy to input your audience’s demographics and interests. This may require a little assumption work, but should most definitely be guided by some sort of plan for reaching your target audience online. Start with your target audience gender.
- Try to select an age range that spans no more than 20 years (if you can be more specific than that, do it!). Occasionally there are exceptions to this that would allow good results to be delivered by boosting to a broader age range, but for now, assume that you are not one of those exceptions.
- Choose the locations in which you’re targeting people. If you need to target by, for example, major cities rather than whole countries, drill down into that and actually name the major cities rather than just leaving the location target as “UK” or similar. The same goes for suburban dwelling audiences, those who live by the seaside… spend time on this if applicable.
- Detailed targeting. Here we go. This can occasionally want to make you crack your head across your desk, so do this when you’re in a good mood and have a block of time where you won’t be interrupted, otherwise, this never gets done.
- Start with targeting competitors. Use SimilarWeb to find a few companies who may have Facebook pages that fall into the niche of people you are trying to reach. For example, if we were a chocolate shop wanting to reach more people who love chocolate, we’d put Cadbury.co.uk into Similar Web then scroll down to the ‘Competitors & Similar Sites’ section, and target any of those companies that have a Facebook presence recognised by the audience targeter.
- So now we just need to enter “Cadbury’s” into the ‘Interests’ section, as well as “Hotel Chocolat”, “Tate & Lyle” and “Thorntons”. Not every competitor you enter will have a Facebook presence big enough to be recognised (it needs a good few thousand fans to show up), but having even just a couple in there will really help with your specific targeting.
- Repeat this for other interest groups that your audience might fit into. E.g. If your chocolate shop prides itself on its affordability, target those who buy the Sainsbury’s Food magazine. If your audience is the more upmarket chocolate lovers, opt for the Waitrose magazine. Start to dig into their lifestyle and find the stuff they’ll be interested in. This can begin to get a bit endless and confusing, so take breaks and re-address each selection with clear eyes. If you’re unsure whether your audience would go for what you’ve just put into targeting, delete it. There are plenty of other possibilities for them to show up if they truly fall within your target group.
- From here, you go into serious detail. Consider where your audience sit in the following categories (and if you have no idea, or are dubious that this is applicable to your business at all, leave that category blank so that the other targeting stipulations, which you’re sure of, can do their job):- What gender are they interested in from a dating perspective?
– Relationship status
– Educational level
– Field of study
– Year of graduation
– What kind of companies are they employed by? (e.g. if you’re a tech company, consider the likes of Apple, Sony, Microsoft, etc.)
– Job title
– Annual income
– Family status
– Homeowners or renters?
– House value
– Ethnic affinity
– Life events (e.g. jewellers may want to target the recently engaged)
All the while you select what your ideal audience look like, the targeting dial and projected target audience will change. If one of your options looks like it’ll throttle your ad servings, get rid of it. Try and stick to choosing no more than four options for any of the above categories. Only choose what is most applicable to the audience you are trying to reach.
- Next is interest targeting, where you’ll need to input:- What magazines, blogs and/or books they read.
– Who the influencers are that they follow (celebrities, politicians and digital influencers)
– What tools they use online (e.g. social media schedulers, trello, toggl…)
– Events they like attending
- Next is behaviours, where Facebook will offer up options that your customers may conduct in their everyday lives. There are too many options for us to target here, but you can sift through Facebook’s suggestions panel and choose everything from whether your ideal customer commutes, holidays often, just spent lots of money online and even if they’ve taken out a bank loan. Exercise the same level of pickiness about what you add to your targeting list. Trust us; you’ll save yourself money and a big headache later.
- Last but not least, add any extra brands, interest keywords (e.g. “blogging” or “chocolate” you know your audience are keen on. This is the last bit to see to for now for Facebook targeting, although if your boosted posts aren’t performing as they should you’ll need to revisit this section and amend your selections.
Boosting your post
Time to reap the rewards of all that targeting work! Publish your content as usual (if you use a social media scheduler you can go back and boost the post in hindsight) and boost your post to this audience every time – NOT the pre-selected one Facebook starts you off with.
Input your budget and select how long you’d like the boost to last for. It depends on how evergreen the content actually is as to how long the promotion should run for. As a guide, a £5 boost could run nicely over five days if the content isn’t time-restricted. But if you need faster results or the content is only relevant for one day, just select the appropriate length of time and your boosted post will be served up faster to your target audience.
Note that the minimum spend is £1 per day, so you won’t be able to run a boost for five days if its budget is £2, for example.
Grow your audience as well as your engagement rate
This is the genius bit. Once your post boost is over, head back to it and click on the section that tells you who’s reacted to your post.
If you click this, Facebook will bring up the list of people who engaged with your post. Next to each name, it’ll also tell you whether that person has liked the page already, has been invited to like the page already, or it’ll give you the option to invite them to like the page.
Not only have you managed to avoid complicated Facebook ad management and reach your target audience with a relatively small spend, but you now have an easy way to convert them into page fans knowing they already like what you put out there.
Invite everyone who interacted and wait for your boss or client to pat you on the back with all their might.