How to Win Facebook without Spending Money

Facebook changes, Facebook advertising tips

Here at Signet, our clients are very involved in our marketing efforts. And we encourage that. Ask us all the questions! We love that you are interested in what we do. But some of the most frequently asked questions have to do with our Facebook strategies, and this how-to was inspired by our clients. Thank you for believing in us.

Since 2011, Facebook has done all it can to encourage businesses to pay up if they want their pages' posts to show on feeds. Relying entirely on their free services like we used to do back in the good ol' days means only about 15 percent of users seeing content in their News Feeds - the rest have to actively seek out what their favorite brands are saying by heading to the page itself. And, let's be real, unless users are looking for something specific, this strategy is rarely used. But Facebook doesn't always have to win at this game.

So, first things first:

Understanding the Facebook Algorithm

The algorithm itself can be best summed up as:

affinity + weight + time = how you show up in people's newsfeeds

Affinity calculates the average engagement fans have with postings. It compiles their likes, comments, shares and views for a clearer picture on what content they respond to most.

Weight: Videos and pictures are the most likely to appear in users' newsfeeds and rack up more likes, comments, shares and views. These receive priority placement, regardless of whether or not companies pay to have these posts promoted.

The time posts go out also impacts the likelihood of landing a precious newsfeed spot. More recent updates will almost always receive priority placement if the page owner hasn't paid Facebook.

Make It Personal

Facebook is mainly used as a tool to connect with friends and family. So, you must snugly fit in with a user's newsfeed, which means that humanizing your content rather than blatantly marketing becomes especially critical for Facebook. Yes, this also includes businesses that are more on the technical side. Content needs to be approachable, not like it was written to appeal to a focus group. This ain't LinkedIn we're talking about here.

Humorous, witty, informative, interesting and passionate postings earn the most affinity, which increases the odds of showing up in followers' News Feeds. Find creative (but relevant) ways to punch things up. Elicit emotions when possible. Challenge people to think, to learn, to act and to feel something. No topic is inherently dull. There are only dull ways to discuss a topic.

Tell Them How They Feel and What to Do About It

The best content makes viewers actually feel something. But they need an outlet for all those emotions, be they frustrated or happy or intrigued or maybe a little bit hungry. Tell them how they feel (and when in doubt, show them a picture of fried chicken). Point them toward a website or a blog post or a resource - anything that inspires them to move forward and learn or do or try whatever it is a brand wants them to learn or do or try. But it has to be strong, fried-chicken-strong, and it has to actually fit the post in question. Shoehorning a call to action that doesn't gel organically with the content or with the overarching social media goals halts the momentum. And we were just kidding about the chicken.

Also, don't beg for Likes and Shares. Such a lazy approach simply reeks of desperation and lack of imagination. Your followers recognize these transparent attempts to bolster affinity as: transparent attempts to bolster affinity. Instead, explain to them what can be gained if they follow directives ("click this link," "learn more," "visit our site for free kittens," etc.) and illustrate its importance to them - the consumers.

Alternately, show them what they could be missing out on by ignoring the calls to action. This is the make-or-break point in navigating Facebook feeds, so put thought, effort and creativity into creating them.

Right Place at the Right Time

Because timing influences whether or not Facebook posts land a coveted spot on followers' feeds, it needs to be carefully incorporated into every social media strategy. A big mistake some companies make is to post only during work hours. Because most Facebook users check their accounts after work and on the weekends, these are also optimum times for postings.

Victory Is Yours

Paying Facebook to boost ads may be a shortcut to landing on the News Feeds of fans everywhere, but it isn't necessarily within every business' budget. When using the free tools, spend time carefully crafting memorable content, posting it at the right times and influencing audiences to go beyond the photos, text and videos on the page. With a little planning and a little creativity, companies who don't purchase postings can be just as successful in social media spaces as the ones who do.

And perhaps the most important thing we can mention is to not commit to social media without first concocting a strategy. Before creating a Facebook page, know exactly how this platform works and tailor clear, comprehensive social media goals around them to offer up a cohesive, unified and most importantly, organic social media presence. Take that, Zucker.

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