Organic reach on Facebook has been a bit of a wild ride for social media marketers in the last couple of years. What works is always changing, and if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to fall behind on all the updates. If you’re trying to reach new audiences and grow your customer base on the social network, Facebook ads are the best way to improve your overall reach. But if you don’t have the budget for paid promotions, recent research suggests that the best way to improve organic reach on Facebook is by sharing videos.

We could speculate all day about whether or not it’s a coincidence that video (an area Facebook has focused on this year) gets the highest organic reach (a factor controlled largely by Facebook’s proprietary algorithm). But, all conspiracy theories aside, the fact remains that video has proven to dominate organic reach, and it should factor into your social marketing strategy accordingly!

video_organic_reach
via TruConversion

While the chart above from SocialBakers clearly shows the advantage of video when it comes to organic reach, it’s important to remember that reach is not the only metric that matters when it comes to your social media marketing strategy. If we look at engagement – the factor that Facebook’s algorithm doesn’t control – we see that photos/images are actually the medium of choice. While organic reach is certainly important, engaging content leads to sharing, which is also facilitates social discovery by new audiences.

There was a flurry of research on the topic of photos and engagement at the end of last year, which resulted in charts like the one below from SimplyMeasured, which shows that photos account for 77% of engagement on Facebook.

photos_engagement

It’s important to note that this research was done before it became clear that Facebook was really investing in video as the next big trend, so the numbers may have shifted somewhat – but it’s still clear that what people want to see and share on Facebook is eye-catching image posts.

So, do either of these statistics mean that you should abandon video in favor or photos, or vice versa? Certainly not. Not only is it good to keep variety in your timeline, it’s important to take your own social media goals into account when adjusting your strategy. If you are doing a major push to grow your following, try focusing on video for awhile. If you want to engage and strengthen the bond with your existing audience, make sure your timeline is heavy on the photos and shareable graphics.

As with all things when it comes to marketing best practices (especially on social media) the truest statistics will be those that come from your own Facebook analytics. What works for the top brands might not resonate with your audience. Take the insights above as a guideline, but make sure you’re keeping an eye on your own reach and engagement rates to see if they hold true for your audience.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Marketing Communications Manager for Webs and Pagemodo. Loves marketing, small businesses, whales (not necessarily in that order). Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog, Pagemodo blog, and Twitter.

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