As more businesses are starting to understand the dynamics of social media, they are starting to further question the abilities of the agencies that they use for social media management. Maybe you are that person asking that very same question? You know that having a follower count of 1000 means nothing to your campaign unless you have a social strategy that means your reach goes further than your initial 1000 fans. Before we delve further, let’s define what reach is for those who do not know…

Reach is the overall number of unique people who see any one update that you make. They do not have to be a fan either as it also counts a person who saw a friend sharing your Facebook update, or saw a retweet of yours as an example.

Why measure reach?

With so many factors to consider, it is hard to know which ones are important, but the truth is they all are as they quite often work together. If you want to increase your reach, you need to increase your engagement levels. The difference is with reach, you get to see the bigger picture on how far your message is travelling, and if it is resonating with the marketplace/community that you are not yet directly connected with.

In an ideal world you would have a high engagement taking place that helps push your reach levels further up. Ultimately, this is one of the easiest ways to increase your following on any social network, as new people who see your message see an active community and buy in to the idea that you are a good brand/cause to follow.

You can use it as an early warning sign that something is not quite right in your campaign too…

Facebook Reach

In the graph above you can see the total reach takes a nose dive. Looking at this you could start analysing a number of possible causes such as:

  • Have you changed your social strategy in some way, and if so, maybe it is not resonating with your fans?
  • If you are still getting engagement, does it mean key influencers are no longer sharing your posts?
  • Is it seasonal, such as a public holiday and your industry takes time off as a result?
  • Consider what is happening in the news which may mean people are not focused on your brand; e.g. think about where the focus of the world is at a time like the Sandy Hook shooting in the U.S.
  • Not that I have ever seen this happen, but quite simply this could be a case of updates not actually being posted if using 3rd party software.

Needless to say, whatever was affecting the reach on this Facebook Page was addressed as you can see it steadily returning to normal levels again.

Ideas to increase your reach

As I touched upon earlier, engagement helps no end but you really need to look at the overall picture of the campaign when trying to increase your reach. Below are just a few ideas to help you.

Run a competition

As you can see from this photo album on Facebook, there were a number of Likes on each photo uploaded to the Britain’s Best Office Dog competition (6.5k in fact!). Just be sure to check out Facebook’s rules about running competitions (otherwise known as Promotions in the Facebook Page Terms). We constantly see big household brands risking their pages being closed due to not following the guidelines!

Connect with influencers

Who are the influencers in your marketplace? If I was launching a new healthy dog food company I may want to connect with well-known dog nutritionists, as well as celebrities such as Cesar Millan and Victoria Stilwell. Hopefully by forming relationships with such people they will start expanding your reach as they share your content with their own established audience.

Live tweeting

Not just from events, but you can host interviews and hold debates on the Twitter platform. Quite often engagement levels will go up with people sharing the discussion or snippets of information that you are sharing from a show. Remember this needs some work in building up awareness of what you are doing prior to the event and to use a hashtag so people can follow.

Pick your content wisely

Not all content is created equal. Photos of cats on Facebook may do very well; where as a tweet with a video attached may do far better with your Twitter audience. (P.S. In no way do we endorse sharing of cats on Facebook Ahem!)

Look at your updates shared by your followers and analyse which were most likely shared again by their connections. See any patterns? What type of content and topics travel the furthest? Your content strategy should tie in closely to your social media strategy for maximum effect.

Timing

Try not to share everything as soon as you see it because you can get more reach by timing your posts when more people are likely to be online. If it is 10:30am, try waiting till midday when people are having their dinner break, or the late evening when the kids have gone to bed and people start settling down for the evening with no interruptions. Not only will they see the update, but have the time to share or retweet it.

Take part in conversations

This should be part of any strategy anyway, but in the cases of Facebook/Google+ it is important to keep the conversation going under an update. You remember forum threads that used to be 10-20 pages long? Keep adding fuel to the fire by liking people’s comments, answering questions, asking them to expand the conversation or share further info and thoughts with them. In the case of Facebook this will mean the original update will pop up in more newsfeeds increasing your reach.

Start conversations

I’m not talking about saying something for the sake of just saying something, but the genuine question such as “What are your plans for the weekend?” Then monitor what people have to say and take part in the conversation rather than it just being a statement – updates like this can often surprise your audience by showing there is a human in charge of the account.

I have even seen some brands make a comment on Facebook about a TV reality series on a Sunday, meaning that they were sat there at home away from the desk at work sharing their experience. Would that update have much reach? Maybe not, but it does mean due to Facebook’s EdgeRank that those followers who interacted with them on Sunday are far more likely to see their important marketing message on Monday increasing the likeliness that it is shared.

Reaching the end

I hope you have taken away some useful tips for your own social media campaign. I would say that’s the end of the process, but it’s a white lie because as soon as you acquire your new fans, followers, pinners, people who put you in circles (are we calling them Circlers Google+?), you have to analyse the data all again. It is like an infinite loop. Analyse – refine – acquire. All the while making sure that your company’s goals are being achieved; more referrals, sign-ups, sales, donations…

I would love to hear your tips regarding increasing engagement levels and your reach, and if you have seen any strategies put to use that have awed you – or simply made you run a mile!