What Constitutes Good Content on Social Media?

Have you noticed a decline in the reach of your business’ Facebook posts in the last six months or so? If you haven’t, you aren’t paying enough attention. From October 2013 to February 2014, the organic reach of over 100 brand pages analyzed by Social@Olgivy dropped from 49% to 6%. Ouch. For bigger brands with over 500,000 likes, the drop was to 2%. Double ouch.

It’s no secret to regular watchers of social media trends that Facebook’s organic reach has been a source of contention and frustration for much longer than that, but now the bottom is really dropping out. The question is, is there anything you can do about it, or should you just give up on the social media marketing game? The answer: quitting is for quitters.

You’ve Been Getting Sloppy with your Content

If you are one of the many experiencing this problem, you either haven’t been reading our advice or you have been ignoring it. The first thing you should do is go back and read our archives. The second is apply it. Since you’re here now though, I’ll give you the condensed version and a few tips to get your reach growing again.

Facebook’s responses to complaining users has covered a range of reasons why their content is being more limited than before, including: too spammy, unethical posts, political posts, and being too repetitive or sharing the same image over and over. To quickly eliminate two of these issues, stop posting political and unethical posts immediately. That’s just common sense for a business.

The other two are more nuanced, so let’s address them first. Posts that are considered spammy are usually just constant coupons or affiliate marketing related, both of which are poor social media practices to start with. The way to avoid these two issues is to go back to the basics and re-establish your posting habits the right way.

Edgerank Principles for Good Content

Although Edgerank isn’t at all the same animal it used to be, now reportedly employing nearly 100,000 weight factors, it is still around. The three primary factors it uses are the affinity or closeness of the user to the content or the provider of the content, the action  taken on the content (did you create it, like it, share it, etc), and how fresh and current the content is. All of these, as well as the other issues causing you Facebook grief, are easily remedied using a few basic rules.

1. The 80/20 Rule

I’ve written about this several times, but it still holds true and is still one of the best ways to engage on social media. 80% of your posts should be original or curated content that is unrelated directly to your business. That doesn’t mean pictures of your daughter’s birthday, although it could be. Anything that people will find interesting and want to like or share is fine, as long as it isn’t a description of a new product, a news story about your company, a discount coupon, or anything else that might fall in the same realm.

In other words, 80% of your posts should be what a very interesting individual, who isn’t trying to sell anything or otherwise promote themselves specifically, might post. It;s the social part of social marketing, and it’s what hooks people to follow you and eventually do business with you. I don’t know how to say it any simpler: be interesting and engaging but leave the business stuff out. Completely.

Then comes the 20%, which is why you are there in the first place. This is where you do promote your product or service through coupons, news articles, new products, or whatever else you want to do. The key is to keep it at or below one out of every five posts. More than that, you’ll bring Facebook’s wrath down. Not to mention that people won’t be interested in your posts anyway.

The best way to handle this issue is to schedule your posts through social media management software. That way you can plan them out in advance and easily see how your percentages play out. Even using repeating posts like Socialtap offers in their recyclable Smart Queues should be used sparingly and spread out over a week or so, not shared multiple times each day.

2. Play it Smart with Good Analysis

Another great way to avoid spammy or annoying behavior is to analyze before you post. You should know the optimal times to post for your specific followers in order to maximize engagement and encourage sharing. Good software will do this analysis for you based on every post you’ve put through it. You’ll know, for example, that your image posts get the most likes or that 11AM and 5:30PM are the two times that you get the most views. This data goes a long way in preventing a shotgun approach that hopes for the best and gets marked as spam.

3. Spread the Love

Facebook might be the biggest social site, but they aren’t the only game in town. The good news is that there is a tool that makes it easy to distribute content evenly and seamlessly across different networks: the hashtag. Since Facebook, G+, and Pinterest have picked up the hashtag tool over the past year or so, using a hashtag campaign is suddenly a ubiquitous way to get your message out. Use the hashtag campaign on your website, and then your audience can share it on whatever platform they prefer. A more universal sharing strategy will up your Facebook reach as well.