Even though we all know how important Facebook is to any social media marketing strategy, it can be hard sometimes not to throw up your hands and admit defeat upon hearing that organic reach is declining…again. If you haven’t already noticed it for yourself, perhaps you read about it on sites like Valleywag, which recently reported that a source implied marketers should be prepared see their organic page reach decrease to 1 or 2 percent in the coming months. In fact, Valleywag went so far as to say “companies on Facebook will have to pay or be pointless.” While the road to better reach will certainly become more difficult for marketers now, this last statement seems a bit hyperbolic.

Would paying to promote your content on Facebook help your content reach more people? Yes. Would that give you a distinct advantage over brands doing Facebook the old fashioned way? Of course it would. But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for those with little to no cash in the Facebook fund. After all, the rules of engagement for your Facebook content are not changing; just the original pool of viewers.

Industry experts advocate a ‘back-to-basics’ approach to this new challenge. If your content is going to be seen by fewer people, that means you have to really step up your engagement game. Having the 100 people who now see your content engage with it is more valuable than having 10,000 people see it and not take action. Facebook is still concerned with surfacing the most engaging, relevant, and quality content organically, so the fate of your Facebook presence is still largely in your hands. If you create a.) a winning posting strategy and b.) winning content, you can still succeed on Facebook without paying a dime. (Of course, if you have a dime to spare, and you want better results fast, spend that sucker on a well-timed ad or two!)

Tips For Improving Facebook Reach:

1. Improve your content. If you want more people to see your content, you’re going to have to give their friends a reason to share it in the first place. Industry expert Michael Hyatt suggests things like:

  • Creating more powerful headlines – try numbered lists, provocative questions, how-tos.
  • Including relevant and appropriate imagery – not clichéd or over-used stock photos.
  • Making your content easy to share – social buttons on the page, calls to action in the update text, etc.

2. Pay attention to trends. Remember when Facebook introduced Trending Topics? This handy feature is like a cheat sheet for marketers to help them figure out what is being discussed on Facebook so they can join the conversation. If you don’t see any topics there that you think interest your fans, set up feeds through services like Feedly, Google Alerts, Flipboard, or Paper to help you find inspiration for timely topics that will get your fans to like, comment, and share.

3. Take time to respond. Facebook’s EdgeRank system pays close attention to fan/brand interactions, to which it assigns an Affinity Score. The more high scores you have with fans, the more relevant and active your brand seems. So take the time (hire someone if you have to!) to respond and relate to your fans when they engage with your content. Reply, reply, reply.

4. Tag other brands on Facebook. As we reported last month, Facebook recently enabled tagging between pages, allowing one brand to possibly reach the fans of another brand just by mentioning the brand they like in a post. Be classy about this of course – only mention pages when you have a legitimate reason to.

5. Promote your posts selectively. While the methods outlined above can help you dramatically improve your organic reach, there’s no shame in ponying up the cash when you have something you think will really engage your fans. One of the most engaging content types on Facebook is contests, so if you want to try paid promotion for just one thing, consider creating a contest and promoting that.

We know it’s frustrating. But, as many others have pointed out, Facebook is not a non-profit or a school project. They need to make money too so they can keep delivering the products and services you enjoy. Unchecked organic reach was fun while it lasted, but now is the time to get crafty and make the most of it. Many marketers – your competitors perhaps? – will not put the effort into maximizing their reach with the strategies above. Don’t be one of them! Remember…quitters never win.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the product marketing manager and resident blogger for Pagemodo. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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