Want to extend your Facebook page reach? Voice, content and style matter

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Editor’s note: This is the tenth in a series of reports from five Digital First Media journalists who attended ONA13 through the Digital First Represents program.

I attended the Pro-level Social session at ONA13. Tons of great tips came out of this session, but one thing really stuck out for me. After being inundated with questions about Facebook’s algorithm, Meghan Peters, who works in Strategic Partnerships for Facebook, said this:

“It’s based off of connections. Our goal is to serve up the most relevant post to that individual user. It’s based on the user’s interactions.”

So, it’s personalized, based on the interests and friends and “likes” for an individual user, to an extent. This stuck with me.

Language, voice and word choices probably matter. How people use Facebook in their day-to-day lives probably matters.

After I returned to the Morning Sun from ONA, I decided to experiment with the voice and content of our daily Facebook weather post, to see what factors affect how posts display in news feeds.

Our daily weather post has increased reach by 5-7 times or more since I’ve made these changes. Facebook defines “reach” as, “The number of unique people who received impressions of a Page post. The reach number might be less than the impressions number since one person can see multiple impressions.”

BEFORE:
old weather

AFTER:
Screen shot 2013-11-11 at 2.19.29 PM

Here is breakdown of the changes that helped increase the reach:

Think SEO, but with more lifestyles relevance: I started by making changes to the language. Previous weather reports were more like bulletins. I wanted to add more immediacy, so I used words like “today,” “weather,” “mid-Michigan,” “central Michigan.” It appears that posts with timeliness, location and lifestyle information helped improve our reach.

Be conversational: Our previous weather posts featured some all-caps writing, and a lot of ellipses and/or fragmented sentences. So, I changed the tone to a more conversational one. In scrolling through our newsfeed, I actually noticed that any post with all caps or sentence fragments had significantly less reach. I eliminated the impersonal tone, and watched the reach of our weather posts increase.

Use active verb tense: Just like stories and photo captions, an active, present tense voice is more engaging and appears to improve reach.

Time of day is important: I began posting our weather status between 5:30 and 6 a.m., which is a little earlier than before. Half of the reach numbers on these statuses were attained by 7 a.m., and the other half came throughout the day. Considering when the information is most relevant to the community may get more views in news feeds.

Does the poster matter? We have several admins for our Facebook page. Do posts made by more Facebook-engaged users get more reach? Maybe. I am pretty engaged, and my posts on our branded page nearly always have higher numbers than other admins who aren’t as engaged overall. With our weather, when I took over posting the weather after ONA, our numbers went up. It’s something to consider, and something I am watching.

The reach numbers, and the differences between the two styles, are about average for us. So changing our style increased our engagement tremendously.

What do you think?
What do you think of these suggestions? Have you noticed any factors on your own Facebook page that can improve reach and engagement?

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis

By Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis

Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis is the community engagement editor and photographer for the Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, Mich. She is a 2000 graduate of Central Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. She is fan of books, photography, working out, community, cooking, music; her favorite thing is sharing all of it with her two sons. Yanick-Jonaitis also recently began moonlighting as a news anchor and co-host of a morning radio show. In the past she spent 7 years as an adjunct instructor at her Alma Mater. She has been on the staff at the Morning Sun for 13 years.

5 comments on “Want to extend your Facebook page reach? Voice, content and style matter

  1. Lisa Yanick-JonaitisLisa Yanick-Jonaitis Post author

    Hi John. We do link to our site on our Facebook page; the weather posts are something we do as community information, without a link, but we link to our stories all the time. In my opinion, having more reach on all posts means when we do link to stories through Facebook, our reach numbers are higher, we are seen in more newsfeeds automatically. Also, I think social media content can be just that sometimes; if someone wakes up every morning, checks their newsfeed, and gets their weather from us every morning, it’s good for our brand image and value.

    Reply
  2. AndyStettler (@AndyStettler)

    Great post! I want to add that where you post is also important. We’ve seen a lot of success in posting to local Facebook pages and groups that are relevant to the topic we are writing about. For example, one reader has created a Lower Merion Community Network page for residents who live in Lower Merion Township, located just outside Philadelphia. When we post stories to that page about community meetings and other big news, we gather all kinds of comments. One story we posted today drew over 120 comments. On that page, your “be conversational” tip is very important. We don’t want Group members to think we are just looking for page views and so we don’t want to simply post a headline. We actually want to inform and create a conversation around the content we write while gathering reader’s opinions, view points and experiences. Again, great post! Very enlightening.

    Reply

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