The Art of Facebook Organic Reach for Artists

The Art of Facebook Organic Reach for Artists

the Art of Facebook Organic Reach for Artists

A masterclass in building organic reach on Facebook!

Over the past month or so I have been writing about using Facebook to market your art. Having been involved in or on the fringes of the art world for the past thirty something years, I know first hand how difficult it is to find new markets. 

Being a bit of a geek too, my interest in the whole social-media scene started to grow before even the time of My Space, and throughout the subsequent years the behind the scenes of social media has continued to intrigue me, okay for a time it was an obsession!

Being around so long as meant I have pretty much seen it all over the years when it comes to social media. I remember the time when you could sign up for an account with any of the platforms and your post seemed as if it would be seen by everyone who had an account. 

Today it is different, more than 30-billion social media posts are uploaded each month. So with that many it would be impossible for everyone to see everything. Let's put that into a little context, just one billion seconds is just over 31 years, so to view each post for one second, posted over the past month on all of social media would take you more than 930 years. 

That my friends is what you call impossible. This is where the algorithm steps in so that you see what the computer thinks is relevant to you, and if it didn't, you wouldn't even be able to scroll past the first months worth of posts, or even a days worth. 

Love it or hate it, without those algorithms the whole of social media would be a complete mess and you certainly wouldn't enjoy the experience. The algorithm is though blamed for everything, yet as I explained in one of my earlier posts, if you understand it even just a little bit, you can make it work for you. Just remember though, let those numbers above sink in for a moment, because that's the size of the challenge you have ahead. 

There are ways to make sure your post has a better chance of being seen. The easiest way is to pay, the downside is that almost every brand on social media is already doing this and they have very deep pockets. If you don't have a budget then there's another way, it's called really hard work. The upside is that if you put the effort in, do it with some knowledge of what you're up against, you can still achieve good results. So it's decision time, throw money at the problem or knuckle down. Yes it's as cold as that, there's no point dressing this up any other way. If you choose the pay way though, unless you can get the organic bit right first, money isn't going to guarantee success. 

I know you're thinking right now that you need followers and likes, yes you do, but not too many and I'll explain why later. I also know you're probably thinking back to that advert you saw on Fiver, where a thousand likes are yours for just $5. 

They are, but that's the worst $5 you will ever spend. Remember the algorithm? Well it's smart enough to know that those likes came from a click farm and now it wants its revenge. It's going to down rank your posts until it decides it's finished with you. There was a time when doing that would work, but not anymore. Believe me this article is going to be a reality check of epic proportions!

Why go for organic reach on Facebook you ask? Well, for two reasons. Firstly you need visits and engagements on your page, and secondly if you have a website, Facebook will drive traffic to that too. Everyone knows I love picking apart the stats and I have been doing that for nearly twelve-months running A vs B tests on this site. Do something one way and then do it another way but use Facebook. The results indicate that most of my referral traffic to this site comes from two sources, Google organic search results, and Facebook. 

You are absolutely right in thinking that organic reach has declined, in fact if you thought it was still on the decline you would be right as well. You perhaps think that Facebook want you to pay to boost posts and run ads, yes they do, but that's not the only reason organic reach has been in decline, the simple answer is it is because there's just not enough space in people's newsfeed and it needs to apply a filter so you get to see what the algorithm thinks is relevant to you. Facebook cares about user experience, without the algorithm it would be an horrendous experience. Be thankful for the algorithm we too often see as a spanner in the works. 

I like to think of it as being akin to New York City. In 2016 the population of New York was 8.55 million people. There's only so much space where accommodation can be built, and when you find somewhere vacant there's a high demand for the space. The winner pays a premium to secure that space. The other analogy is that this is market forces working as they should. The higher the demand for rarity, the higher the price and the harder you work. 

Organic reach is akin to moving into a luxury apartment complex and living rent free, in return you're expected to maintain some standards as part of the agreement to provide you with accommodation in one of the worlds finest cities. In this case the landlord providing the accommodation is Facebook and they want people to engage with their platform. So in return for quality content they'll try to make sure you get noticed. Well up to a point anyway. 

At some point in the future we will all need another strategy if our posts are going to be seen. That strategy in time will equate to buying your way onto someone else's newsfeed through boosts and paid ads. For now we still have an opportunity to not have to pay the rent. 

What we need to do is create quality content that people engage with. If we get the organic reach right it will make the business of paying for promoted reach in the future less expensive too because we will have the foundations in place. In fact if you decide on paying to promote your posts through ads, it's going to be vital that you master the art of organic reach before even spending a dime on paid reach. 

In my mind there's no question that Facebook is heading towards a paid reach only model. If your existing followers visit your page or turn on the setting to receive all posts, they will continue to see what you post. Reaching new audiences in the future is highly likely to cost, so that's why it is so important to get your business page engagement in tip top shape right now. 

We went through video on Facebook in one of my previous posts, but it doesn't always have to be video that you post. It always has to be quality though. Just one more thing before you think we have the answer in the bag, it not only has to be quality, it has to engage people. The more people become engaged with your post, the better it does in terms of reach. Video is a tool which can drive engagement for all of the reasons we discussed in my previous article, but it's one tool of many. 

Each person using Facebook will have their own individual interests, you have to make sure that your post is relevant to those interests. What you then need to do is use the CTAs we've been talking about over the past few weeks to turn those interests into sales. I could go on and talk about sales funnels and conversion, and lead generation, but let's keep it real, we just want to sell our art without any of that businessology boggle and we want people to engage with our posts. 

When your post becomes relevant to those peoples interests it will be ranked higher. In short it starts to gain traction as the algorithm believes that because it is relevant to person X it might be relevant to person Y because both have similar interests. First of all the algorithm needs to know that the post is relevant to person X. So if person X validates that belief by liking, commenting, reacting, or sharing, the post moves up a little higher and gets exposed to person Y, who then validates it so it is seen by a third person we will call person Z. 

The algorithm will be matching your content to what it knows or more specifically what it thinks to be relevant. The choices it makes will be based on indicators which in the case of Facebook could be:

  • What is it. What is the post about, is it a personal story, marketing, spam, does it have a context
  • Where did this post come from. Who posted this, is the person a reliable source, do they get good engagement, how frequently does this user post content, how engaged are that persons audience with this poster
  • Who is likely to engage with this post by commenting, reacting, or sharing, those are the people I need to show this post to. 
  • Do people who like this page spend much time reading or viewing the posts posted on this page
  • How often do people who like this page engage with each post, every post, just video posts, do they engage more with any specific type of post or topic
  • Who is tagged in the post, do those people publish those posts on their own timeline if they are tagged
  • Have I seen this post before, how did it do, was it spam, did anyone bother with it at all
  • Is this the first time I've seen this post

Whilst I'm not suggesting that this is the complete formula the algorithm uses, in fact it's nowhere near close, the algorithm will be deciding against thousands of different metrics when making the decision on whether to show it to everyone or just a few people. It will also depend on how full another persons newsfeed is too, if it is struggling for space then your post needs to be more relevant than someone else's post for it to rank higher and therefore get seen. 

That's how complex the algorithm is, it will be looking at everything and next week it will be looking for something else too. Algorithms especially in the context of social media are never static. We know that Facebook uses artificial intelligence, and the algorithm is an example of the way that the platform uses machine learning and deep learning. The algorithm is trying to understand its users, it’s constantly learning and evolving. That's why data is so important to Facebook. 

With this knowledge in hand we can now start to improve your organic reach in incremental steps. The first step is knowing what will work and what won't work before you actually post anything at all. 

Knowing off the bat what won't work is thankfully relatively easy. By understanding how the algorithm is going to read your post when it makes a decision on ranking your post we can stop wasting our time with posts which are less likely to work. 

That's not to say that every post you create from here on in is going to go viral, it's not. The algorithm will change, the time in the day when you post won't always be the same, and there's no way of knowing just how much other stuff is going on in other people's timelines or whether the content appearing is more relevant than yours. It's a bit of a lottery at times, so you'll need to have a follow up strategy too. 

the Art of organic reach on Facebook

Before we take a look at what we know or at least think we know won't work based on what the algorithm is looking for, let's talk about that follow up strategy first. 

Here's a scenario, you post on a Monday evening and immediately you might get one like, perhaps over the next few hours you receive a few more likes, but you notice that very few people saw your post. You can check your reach using business pages on Facebook, so this is easy enough to work out. 

You post a different post on Tuesday evening and twenty minutes later you notice three times the number of engagements and maybe even a share. So why did Tuesday’s post perform better?

This is a classic A/B test and you'll be carrying out a number of these over the coming weeks. You need to look at the content of the post that you created on Monday and ask yourself what was different about it compared to Tuesdays post. Were they posted at the same time, did one include a call to action, did one include content which would be more relevant to your audience, and any number of other questions comparing the content and structure of the post. 

Did Mondays post contain a link to an external source, how is that source perceived by search engines, is it considered a marketing site, is it a junk site, these could be indicators that where you are linking to has a part to play in reach. Remember when we went through using video on Facebook to market your art? We spoke about native posts being ranked higher by the algorithm. Facebook loves native anything, not just video. 

The answer might be even simpler, did you check your Facebook business page Insights before you posted on Monday? It could be that the busiest day for your followers to be online was Tuesday, or it could be that Monday was especially good for more relevant content made by others to appear in everyone else's timeline. 

I mentioned that you will be running some A/B tests over the coming weeks, and when used with Facebook's Insights data, those tests will be essential in building up your understanding of what to post and when. 

I keep a posting journal for my business page, I write down the key information about the post such as subject, context, whether it's a marketing or social post, time, whether it contained images, video, a link to one of my other websites or text, or whether it was shared from someone else's timeline. Then I record the reach, and any engagement. It sounds a bit like hard work but it is essentially just a spreadsheet with yes/no drop down boxes and it takes around 10-seconds to complete. 

What I now have is another source of data which I can use with Insights to make sure I'm on the right track, and be able to predict a little better how and what might work and when. 

If a post hasn't performed I can refer back to the data and Insights, check if I posted it on my historically busier days, with a view to reposting it or making a follow up post on another busier day. More often than not I'll make a few adjustments to the post too. Maybe make it a little easier to read, remove some text and make it shorter, or add in an image. Three or four days later I will take a look at the reach and consider reposting it. When I fill in the journal I also indicate if the content has a limited time, or whether or not it is what is called evergreen content. That's essentially content that can be reused over and over again. 

Keeping a posting journal doesn't have to be a long term effort, you might want to consider doing it over a two week period and then do it again for another two weeks in six months time, or if you notice a decline in reach. 

If you review your posts and have all the data, before too long you will gain a better understanding of what works and when, and keeping the journal isn't quite so important. In short, if you understand how posts are performing, posting relevant content at the right time becomes second nature. 

Remember though that things change. I noticed a considerable difference in post engagement around eight months ago and website traffic. Initially I updated this blog on a Friday evening, then I had to make it Wednesday evenings, and after looking at the data more recently, updating on a Thursday is bringing more engagement. This could be a seasonal effect or something entirely different, but that's why it is so important to go back and review data, and have a longer term strategy when posting anything online. Audiences change, people's own diaries and commitments change, you just have to pick up on any indication that something has changed, you can do this when you have a strategy and some data. 

If this all sounds like it's going to take too much time firstly remember the size of the task, then ask yourself how important creating engagement which could turn into sales is to you, and finally consider how much time you will be wasting by creating non-engaging posts which could ultimately down rank future posts. None of this is anywhere close to the time you'll spend on getting it wrong. 

What we know doesn't work

We know from consistent A/B testing what does and does not work and a scout around the internet will provide insight into what is and isn't working too. There are some obvious things that we know Facebook doesn't like, but there are some less obvious things too. Let's break this down into what we believe or know doesn't work. 

Buying likes, I mentioned this earlier and buying likes just doesn't work. No matter how tempting this is, it's something you don't want to do. When I originally set up my business page I paid to increase my likes and this didn't work out too well at all. Not only did it cost me in terms of money to create a call to action which encouraged a new audience to click on like page, it cost me in terms of potential sales too. With social media you really can't buy love. 

I would have been better pointing people to my shop now button instead of the like button, because not one of those paid likes has ever resulted in a sale. My organic likes on the other hand frequently turn into sales or opportunities. That's because those people decided that they liked what I did and what I produce, the paid for likes just clicked on like because Facebook suggested they did. Probably around 20% of the paid for likes unfollowed within a month, whereas approximately 99% of my organic likes continue to like the page. 

Constant Marketing never works. Facebook works on interest not intent. Remember that this is a social network so making every post a marketing post is going to give the appearance that it's all about buying from you. You become a marketing machine and people see right through it. 

In fact 80% of your business page posts shouldn't be about promoting your latest artwork at all. Let me put that a little differently, a hundred percent of your posts should be geared towards building up and promoting your business and products, but only 20% should be from overt and direct marketing. 

I've said this so many times before, art buyers love to connect with artists, so use your business page to build those connections. If you approach it not so much with marketing in mind but instead see it as building a loyal band of followers who want to engage with you, those people who do follow you will be the ones most likely to become your core audience who buy from you because they like and trust you. 

There are subtler ways of marketing than just saying “buy my art”, because why would anyone buy something from someone who they don't know or trust? I see a lot of this in my groups on Facebook and I also see follow up posts from people asking why they're not selling anything. 

It's not that their art isn't good, often quite the opposite in fact but would you really buy something from someone who joined Facebook only one hour ago and who posts a work with a description reading “24x30 Oil, $300”?

If you want to be seen as a professional then you need to be professional, you also need to let people know who you are. If I was to purchase this amazing ‘24x30 Oil’ for $300 how do I know it will turn up all, what guarantee will I get that it's not just some random photo and a transaction needed through either a Pay Pal or bitcoin account? How do I pay for it? When will it arrive, what can I expect to receive? Essentially I know nothing at all about the person who posts this and their timeline is chockfull of the same. Now ask me again why it's not selling. 

You have to be social too. Add in some personal but not too personal posts, and work on building your authority. Share knowledge and experience with others and embrace other artists too. If you like a particular artist, share their work because they might just share your work too. 

I often get asked why any artist should share any other artists work, and it's usually followed up with but they're the competition. Not really is my usual reply, the competition is the big box stores and huge marketing budgets, the competition is the other billions of posts, if you share another artists work and they in turn share yours, you both get exposed to new markets and it keeps your page filled with relevant content. 

Collaboration on social media is one of the best tools you have because and I'll be frank here, you can't compete on your own if you don't have a huge budget and you're already struggling building up engagement that actually turns into sales. You need something like a brand ambassador, people who believe in you and who already have an established trust and great reputation. That's just marketing 101 and you will read that in any marketing guide or hear it at any marketing conference. That's how businesses build engagement. 

By becoming an authoritative source and building on you as a brand rather than as a brand in a traditional sense, this will certainly drive engagement but it will take time. The thing you need most with organic reach on social media is patience. 

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No click-bait

What else shouldn't we do? Well, there are lots more things that you should do than there are things you shouldn't do, yet the things we shouldn't do are the things we do the most and it's a learned behaviour that has to be unlearned. Let's take click-bait for example, this was popular throughout and just before the 2016 US Presidential election. Fake news often used click-bait to draw you in to clicking and when you arrived at the link it would be full of everything except what the title led you to believe you would read. 

The reason click bait works is because there is some psychological link between what's written and what you want to read or believe. It resonates and triggers you to respond in some way. 

When you get to the site though, what's written isn't representative of the headline, or the page is filled with ads. Getting more eyes on those ads generates income for the publisher and we’re not talking just a few pennies either. Just one of those click-bait posts would have taken more in ad revenue than I would see in three years of writing this blog, the difference is I'm still here. 

Some of the news stories appearing right across social media at the time were fabricated to get you to click through to a site whose sole purpose was to make you visit it to build up ad revenue, and to spread disinformation. The hosts made a killing with some earning tens of thousands of dollars each week. As soon as those sites were shut down, another would spring right back up. 

They were getting shares too, often playing on what people wanted to believe. The issue though isn't so much that those sites were being visited, it was that people who had great reputations online fell for it and shared those sites on their own timeline. When it was discovered that many of those posts originated from click bait and fake news sites, whoever shared it will have done a little to down rank their own posts. Quality is a key indicator for the algorithm, and now social media platforms are becoming wiser to these parasitic sites. The algorithm has become smarter and down ranks posts both current and future dramatically. The key here is to make sure your posts are relevant and factual. 

Automation doesn't work as well as it once did, unless you're doing it right. This is another A/B test I have carried out over a total of six months. Posts I automate on Twitter for example will woefully underperform compared to posts I write and post in real time. 

On Facebook the story is similar, when using third-party schedulers I notice a drop in engagement and reach. However, using Facebook Business Pages built-in scheduling features, results in less of a loss. 

If you're posting a pure marketing post you should stick around to turn any engagement into a lead. If someone has a question you need to respond as quickly as possible, and if they do have a question that doesn't result in an immediate sale, make a note to follow up in a day or so. I've seen a few instances when people have asked what frame I think they should purchase and then didn't see the sale until I reached back out to them and engaged more or offered some incentive. 

Backing up the quality of your social media presence by being available is fundamental, but you can't automate a truly personal service. 

Scheduling is fine if you want to post the occasional filler post, say good morning or just ask a question that can be answered throughout the day, but it shouldn't be relied upon for all of your engagement and marketing. No one expects you to be logged in on Facebook 24/7, but as long as you are reachable some of the time, it's way better than looking like a bot all of the time. 

A million followers…

We could all do with more engagement and more followers but getting more followers leads to lower reach. Bizarre I know, but this is the way it works. You can have a follower base running into hundreds of thousands but this just means much more work. Instead of a small very engaged audience you now have a million people who will all have very different requirements for content which will trigger them to respond and engage. 

In the days of the old Edge Rank system (pre-2011) a million followers would produce incredible engagement, today a million followers is nothing more than an indicator of awareness, and not at all an indicator of engagement. 

Never get wrapped up in the numbers game when it comes to page likes, it's way better to have a smaller but engaged audience who are responsive than a huge audience with little engagement and zero responsiveness. Today a high number of likes is little more than a vanity metric, what you should be focussing more on is where it says, “XX people are talking about this”.

That's the metric which denotes the level of engagement, and as we now know, engagement is your priority. It really is a case of quality over quantity when it comes to likes these days. Building a targeted audience should be your strategy


I mentioned local organic targeting in one of my recent articles in this series and today I will show you how this is done in a little more detail. 

When we think of targeting we usually assume it has something to do with Facebook ads, but you can use targeting organically too, you just have to turn the feature on. 

You'll need to do this from the desktop version of Facebook within a browser. If you are on mobile your browser should give you an option to request desktop view, so go ahead and click this. Once you are on your page settings go to enable targeting. I have found that targeting also only appears on the desktop web version so forget using the Facebook app for now. 

Now when you post on your page you should see a new icon appear which looks like a target. From here you can target readers based on their gender, age, location, interest, education, or a combination of factors. 

Once you have set your target audience your post will show more prominently to those people, for everyone else who is not in the target group, they will need to visit your page to see the post. The downside to organic targeting is that your post has to target at least twenty people, that might not sound a lot, but if you don't have a reasonably sized audience then it's not going to work as well. 

This is another example where you can try out some A/B testing, did your organically targeted post reach more people, or was it a bust? You can find out using the Facebook Insights tool, which by now should be your new best friend. 

There is another good use for this feature and that is to set an expiry date on your post. As an artist you might want to target for example a demographic of females, aged between 45 and 54, living in the mid-west USA, and knowing that it is this demographic who purchases your work, you could post an offer or discount. Anyone who hasn't been targeted but who visits your page will still be able to take advantage, but these users will be a bonus. Add them into the next organic targeting campaign. 

If you're new to targeting my advice would be to run a half a dozen or so A/B tests with a mixture of demographics. Then look at the metrics from each post and decide which group worked best. You can add the results to your posting journal spreadsheet and you will then have a record of distance travelled and you can refer back to it in the future. 

Making a request…

Don't worry, I'm not about to make a request that you sign up for a Facebook marketing seminar, I don't run them. You need to make a request of your audience, but it's a simple one and most people will respond positively to it. 

The request is that your audience turn on notifications for your new posts. You will need to ask them to visit your Facebook page and click “get notifications”. 

As I said, most people will do this but only if you are posting quality content that people really do want to see. If people respond and do what you have asked, your organic reach will increase because these people are requesting to see your posts. 

In my experience those who will respond will be those who organically liked your page, and those who have an interest in what you have to say. The will nots more than likely will be those who liked your page out of courtesy for liking theirs, and friends. Friends like your page out of loyalty, it doesn't mean to say they're that interested in what you post, although some will be. That's another reason why inviting friends to like a page isn't always a great idea, it's a loyalty like rather than an organic business related like, and it skews your Insights data too. Wouldn't you rather know what's really going on with your core audience?

The Recap…

Over the previous few weeks we have covered a lot of ground and hopefully you will have seen some positive differences in your data and engagement. Let's recap what we have already learned before we get down to the real nitty gritty of creating a post. 

  • We took a look at the relevance of Facebook Business Pages and you can read that post here, that was back in March 2017, and essentially was the first post in this series. You might want to go back and check it out. 
  • Back in May 2017 we started to explore how Facebook could be used to sell your art, you can find the post here
  • In July 2017 we looked at using Facebook Groups for artists and the relevance of setting up your own group to support your art business. You can read that post here
  • Just one week later we looked at the latest Facebook updates and if you missed that article you will definitely want to read it here
  • Then a week later we discussed some of the less obvious tips and tricks when using Facebook which you can read here
  • We looked at using Facebook Insights to better understand your audience and that is particularly key to this article, you can find it here
  • Using video as a tool to increase engagement was covered here
  • Building the business page itself was covered here
  • And the art of organic reach we are covering today. 

Notice that you didn't even have to sign up to get all of this information! Don't worry there are a few more articles to come in the series, although I will be taking a quick vacation for a couple of weeks, hence the double post this week! If I can get connected you'll be seeing posts from Cornwall for the next two weeks!

Facebook Masterclass for artists

One thing I am considering but only because I have been nagged a little bit of late, is to collate all of the posts and publish them as an ebook on Amazon's bookstore. If I do then I will add in some other content such as cheat sheets, SEO for artists, maybe a piece on social media style guides, and a Facebook strategy map I have been busy creating with Microsoft Visio and a bucket load of research. But with two books in the works already, I won't do it unless you want me to write it! If you would like to see it published, then please do leave a comment. (This is me doing some really smart market research here!)

The Art of The Post!

We know that organic reach is nearly the Holy Grail, we also know that the task of obtaining it is epic, and we know how we should be using the data we have at hand. We know that video is king, and we know that likes aren't an indicator of quality, what we don't know yet is other than video and Facebook Live, is what we need to do, to really bigly (why is that even a word) build up the absolute Holy Grail we call engagement. Worry not, I have a plan. 

So what's the plan?

Prior preparation prevents poor post performance. Yes that old adage of the five P’s but is now six, holds true with social media. You need to have two things in place when it comes to publishing a post. 

  • Have a posting strategy
  • Have a series of pre-created posts lined up that fit within your strategy 

If you have no strategy your default strategy will be spray and pray. What you will end up posting is a random series of posts at random points in time which don't reflect anything at all. You'll figure that posting something has to be better than posting nothing, and this is when you start rambling. As in life, sometimes it's better to say nothing at all. 

If you have a strategy it's always easier to find something to say. Posting status updates that tell the world you ate green eggs and ham for breakfast or that you're going to be super busy updating you store, will be less engaging than saying “check out my latest products”, or “over twenty new designs and products have been added today”. 

Keep quiet about the green eggs and ham unless you're a real life professional food critic who eats for a living. Having said that, if you are ever at Universal Studios in Orlando, I can recommend the green eggs and ham for a quick snack. 

Stop the un-targeted frequent posts and be more selective. Despite what the Internet will have you believe, there is no golden ratio of posts per day. The 80% social, 20% direct marketing strategy is a better way to build engagement. 

This could be one post per day over a ten day period, with only two of those posts being directed at overt marketing. This is another area where you need to find out what works for you, so conduct some A/B testing again and take notice of the best days and times indicated by Insights. 

Imagine if everyone stopped posting irrelevant posts, or sharing fake news just how much space would be freed up on news feeds which would enable relevant content to be seen more easily. There should be a campaign by users to #CutTheCrap, I might even design the T-Shirt. 

Don't be too formal with your posts, equally don't be too over familiar. Keep them family friendly as well. This is often tricky, you want to show an air of professionalism but you also want to humanise your posts, it can be tricky.  

Many of the most viral social media campaigns over the past year have been human interactions by social media teams with a very dry sense of humour. Who can forget the epic Wendy's vs. McDonalds, although it was Wendy's who took first place for comebacks, McDonalds gained some good exposure too by joining in and with a good spirit. Personally I also prefer Wendy's menu, although I only ever get the opportunity to indulge whenever I'm in the US.  

When we looked at posting native video to Facebook we also discussed how long the accompanying copy should be for the written part of the post. More A/B testing opportunities reside right here, but my guess is that you will find shorter posts create more engagement. 

Use your posts to ask questions. Too often we forget that a Facebook page can also be used to reach out to your clients and viewers as a market research tool. The option for polls is now done through a separate app within business pages nowadays, at one time it was available directly from a business page, and extremely useful it was too. Now polls only exist through groups or through a paid for application, although you can get a free seven day trial. 

That doesn't stop you asking questions on your page though, but make sure the question is pertinent and not just, do you prefer green eggs and ham or candy. 

We have previously covered the CTA (call to action) so by now you should be familiar with the concept. Make sure that a proportion of your posts include a CTA, but don't be tempted to use “please like and share this post” as a direct CTA. 

Explicit requests are picked up by the algorithm and the post is down ranked. Even if you think you're being clever by placing text within a photo, the algorithm will detect it and down rank your post. The same goes for asking for likes and comments, this too will land you in the down rank zone and your reach will decline. 

If the post is relevant then people will engage with it without the need for asking, and if you are asking a question then people are more likely to respond without you asking them to. Think of this as an organic approach to organic post creation. If the post doesn't get the expected engagement, review what you did and refine it, but it might be best to repost a refined version a few days later. 

Take time to grow your presence on Facebook. Think of it as a long term strategy and remember that patience is something you will need by the bucket. As most of the work you need to do in building up engagement takes time, think about doing things incrementally. Whilst it would be great to set up a page at 9am and have a large engaged community by 5pm, it's not going to happen. 

Whilst you're building your presence work on building credibility and trust too. Ultimately both of those things are going to be the foundation of what you do from here on in. When you build credibility and trust you'll notice your engagement increases, people will then organically share and engage, and your overall ongoing strategy becomes a little easier to achieve. 

I mentioned polls earlier but there are other tools that you can utilise to drive engagement on your business page. I've also mentioned a few such as the shop now button in previous posts, but if you haven't customised your page, you will miss out. 

There are plenty of third-party applications which can be used to customise your page, but there are also a number of easy customisations available directly within Facebook. 

For this you need to add a Call To Action button to your page. To do this you will need to click on the Create Call To Action Button. At this point you will be given a choice of actions which can be added, and importantly you will be able to preview them before making them live on your page. 

The options will give you a broad range of tools such as a “Contact Us” button, “Book Now”, “Call Now”, or “Send a message”. With some of the options you can also send visitors to your website or even an app, and the third-party options such as Shopify can make it really easy to add e-commerce options and stock to your store. 

Custom tabs are vital and can make a huge difference to driving engagement on your page, especially adding email sign-up forms, contests, and the all important e-commerce options. It's surprising just how many business pages are set up and left with just the basics showing on the page, yet with just a tiny amount of work you could be significantly increasing your engagement and organic reach, and crucially you could be increasing your sales. 

Cross Posting

Cross posting is sharing the same content multiple times and it's a really good strategy, but only if you do it right. If you do it wrong it will reduce your organic reach as identified in a number of A/B tests I've carried out over the past six-months. 

Initially cross-posting whenever, had the effect of driving numbers and engagement up, then over time I saw a decline in reach. So what happened?

I became eager to share my posts in a blaze of glory and then nothing. I would post this blog on my business page, share it to my personal profile, and in my groups, one after the other over at most thirty-minutes of clicking share, share, share. Then I would do nothing until I repeated the process the following week. 

This approach annoys people. Many of my followers and friends are in the same groups that I am in so all that they would see would be their timeline becoming full of the same post from me. I noticed it too with people I follow and who did the same, my timeline became full of consecutive posts from the same person, all saying the same thing. If I was scrolling for thirty seconds to find something new to read I felt sure others were doing that with my posts too. At best, only one of those posts would garner any tangible engagement. 

M.A or Beechhouse Media has shared a post in X group, M.A or Beechhouse Media has shared a post to his timeline, but it was the same post, and whilst I might have something of interest to someone, I know that not every post will be of interest to everyone and repeatedly posting the same thing is boring. 

So how do we cross post effectively? We spread out the love over a period of time in different places. Always share a marketing or commercial post from your business page to your personal timeline, and then share from there or your business page. As long as the original post originates on the business page you will increase the metrics on your business page, and you won't be breaking the rules of Facebook by using a personal profile to post marketing or commercial activity. 

Another consideration is to change the post slightly to match the target audience. If you post on your business page, think about changing the image or the text when you share it to a group to make it more relevant to that specific group and its members. 

Cross promoting across different social media channels needs to be tailored to those channels. A good example of this is that whenever I publish this blog, I create the images for the blog itself, images for Twitter in a different aspect ratio, and images for Instagram and Google+ the latter not needing too much of a change. 

I know I have a very different audience on Twitter than I do on Facebook and as tweets have to be really short, I tend to stick with similar formats and text for each tweet. Twitter users have a faster paced timeline than on Facebook, so building consistency is really important. 

Be evergreen!

When I first started writing this blog much of the content was time-bound and very little of it would be relevant today. After the first six months I changed my strategy entirely and decided that creating less time-bound content was a more sustainable way to move forward. 

The problem with time critical content is it has such a short shelf-life and it's only relevant for a fleeting moment. To sustain it you need to keep creating and uploading more or less on a daily basis so that readers have something new to read each time they visit.  

With evergreen content its shelf life can be extended, and you have an option in the future to revisit it and make it more relevant. This equates to a slightly longer content incubation period, creating it takes a little more time, but this is more than offset by the time you get back by not having to write a constant stream of articles or posts. 

Time bound content is great for delivering news and it doesn't harm you to throw in a time bound filler post, but posts which can be reused are way more useful. To give you an idea, I have at any one time somewhere in the region of twenty pre-written articles for this blog, so if I have a particularly brutal week in terms of time I can pick from a menu of pre- written material. 

None of it is dependent on being published at any particular time, and if there is a sudden need to write about a particular subject for example something I have written about might become a sudden trend, then I can quickly pull up that content and be ahead of the game. Hence I use Google Trends as a tool, but that is another article for the future. 

In terms of publishing on Facebook, I know that my posts about last weeks blog will still be relevant this week and in social media that's a very long time for a post to remain relevant. 

If you are stuck for ideas on producing evergreen content here are a few which always do well.

  • Works in progress - these can be reused when you finally complete the work 
  • Video tutorials - if they're really good these can be syndicated to other publishers too
  • Lists of websites or tools an artist needs 
  • Historic and current data and other statistics 
  • Reviews of products
  • Quick tips
  • Video

Make your posts pop…

When using images keep them in tune with the rest of your page. Never be tempted to share the badly lit photograph or the badly pixelated inspirational quote. If the image you need to share is that bad, consider recreating it. Be aware of rights issues, but if you have the opportunity to add your own flare to it, do it. 

Partner Up!

One more strategy worth considering is to partner up with other Facebook business pages within your niche. This could be a single page, or a collective of artists working together. As I said in a previous post, two brains are better than one, ten brains are even greater though. 

If a number of artists collaborate and share each other's posts on their business pages, then organic reach becomes more achievable for everyone concerned. Maybe each page has a core focus specific to that page, but where there is commonality then using each other's posts can add in a totally different perspective. 

Many of the larger media companies are already doing this by syndicating each other's content. Whenever they do this there is usually a strap line added at the footer of the post saying that this post was originally published on X site or page and is followed with a link to the original post. 

This can significantly reduce the time needed to generate traffic and build engagement and it also develops a sense of community, and after all, Facebook sees itself as a community, and that could well be the ultimate answer. 

Your Facebook Page!

Let's tell the world that your Facebook page exists! If you are a visual artist who has used any of the information I've written over the past weeks, let me know and I will feature the best on this site! 

Also if you have noticed engagement and reach going up on your page let us all know what you did that was different to how you normally post. 

Still to come…

I am still working on the changing face of search engine optimisation and a few more Facebook for artists features but if there is a specific subject you would like me to cover, tell me and I will try to include it in this summer long series. Also remember to let me know if you would like to see the extended book covering all that we have covered to date and a few bonuses too! 

Want to know how to gain even better engagement? I've got you covered and I'll be publishing that just as soon as I get back from vacation!

About M.A

Mark A. Taylor is a British artist who primarily works with digital mediums but still loves to paint in his studio with acrylics, watercolour, and oil. His work is sold around the world and in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada. You can buy Mark’s work here

You can follow Mark on Facebook here and on Twitter @beechhouseart 

Mark doesn't like getting anyone to sign up with email in return for a PDF document which is just like every other PDF document, I.e. Generic and sparse of meaningful information. Instead he prefers you to sign up for one reason that is definitely not to build a mailing list, but to get this blog post delivered directly to your inbox every time the blog is updated. You can opt out at any time, and all you will ever receive are blog updates once or occasionally twice per week. Click on subscribe and you're all set. 

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Mark taylor art artist


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