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Is your Facebook page reaching fewer people?

By Laura Powell

Does your church have a Facebook page? If so, you might notice a decrease in reach due to some recent changes to the site’s EdgeRank algorithm.

According to an article from econsultancy.com, on any given day, the news feed can show an average of 1,500 possible stories, depending on how frequently you “friend” or “like” a page. Traditionally, the best way for a brand to approach this social medium was through a Facebook page. The brands that did this most effectively concentrated on providing interesting content and interacting with fans regularly, rather than just promoting corporate messages.

Now Facebook is providing a more meaningful experience for each user by filtering out the posts from pages with which the user engages the least. Most likely, these are organizations and brands. The algorithm is now set to show content from the profiles with which users engage the most and to omit pages from the feed unless they are sponsored. This will make it very difficult for brands and organizations to get their posts to appear organically in the feed.

This may mean a substantial drop in the average views for your posts.

You may ask, “If website traffic is improving, why should I care about Facebook?” There are several reasons.

First, your Facebook page is a great way to engage with readers and start conversation. It is more personal than a website.

Second, Facebook can still be a great tool for generating buzz, informing members and non-members about happenings at your church and reaching out to your local community.

Third, Facebook urges users to combine engaging posts and advertising instead of relying only on the free content channel that is a Facebook page. Since your church or organization is not run for profit, you may wonder why you would pay for posts. Without advertising, Facebook’s algorithm might edge you out. If no one is reading your content, why create it? See the cycle?

Although promotional dollars may increase the visibility of your posts, there are a few other tactics you can add to your social media marketing strategy in order to grow your reach organically.

  • Host a contest to boost engagement without buying ads. For example, you could offer free admission to the next retreat to the person with the best picture from last year. Posting intriguing images on social media can generate interest in upcoming events.
     
  • Recognize the times of day when posting on Facebook or Twitter will reach more people. This article tells when to post on social networks.
     
  • Discover your most engaging content. Review the analytics (charts and graphs) about the performance of your page. Knowing which posts received the most likes, shares, clicks or comments can also indicate the best timing for posts.
     
  • Whenever possible, use your posts to capture more information, such as your fans’ email addresses, so you can contact them. This will enhance your efforts to reach out.

Whether you choose a paid post or an organic post, you will find that these methods typically improve the reach and engagement of fans. Be wise about paying to be sponsored or boosted. Consider paying to promote content if a clear call to action exists and the message is important for your goals. A healthy mix of paid and organic posts is the best way to improve engagement.