If you want to make your head spin, Google “Facebook organic reach is dead.”
It’s a one-way ticket to a world of irreconcilable opinions. “Abandon ship; organic reach is dead!” versus, “No, wait; Facebook is still a land of opportunity!”
It’s more than a little difficult trying to figure out who’s right—especially because in a lot of ways, everyone is right (and everyone is wrong, too).
Though there’s no arguing that Facebook has offered diminishing returns for businesses and marketers over the years, that’s a symptom of growth with any relatively young, increasingly competitive medium. That’s why I made the conscious decision to stop paying attention to both sides of the organic reach argument.
Instead of allowing myself to be passive and feel helpless in the face of declining reach, I learned how to adapt to Facebook’s changes before they happen—and to refocus my strategy on statistics that affect my bottom line a lot more than reach ever did.
Here’s how I shifted focus, and where you can start:
Stay up to date on algorithm changes
Facebook uses complex algorithms to determine how much organic reach to give your updates. If you pay attention, every now and then they’ll give you an inside peek at what they’re looking for.
Facebook’s newsroom periodically shares news about upcoming algorithm changes, so savvy marketers can start adjusting their social media strategies ahead of time. Share the right kind of content, and Facebook might reward you with better reach. Post the wrong kind of content, and that reach could tank.
For example, in autumn 2014, Facebook announced that it was going to start favoring link posts with images attached over photo posts with URLs in their captions. As of February 2015, link posts were getting as much as three times the organic reach of photo posts—and because I had adjusted my strategy months prior, I’d been reaping the benefits for a long time. If I hadn’t known, I might have been wasting my time and energy on posting the wrong types of content-as a lot of organizations were doing.
Keep an eye out for Facebook’s announcements regarding algorithm changes, and you can stay ahead of the curve.
Watch your own data
When are some of the best times to post on Facebook? Around noon? Just after dinner time? Weekdays, weekends?
Actually, the best times to post on Facebook depend entirely on you and your audience; that’s not an answer you’ll find in a blog post.
Instead of scouring the Web for tips about hot times to post, stay on your own Facebook page; that’s where all the answers are. Your page’s Insights tab will provide a wealth of information about your users, including the days and times when they’re online.
You can also sort your posts according to which ones got the most engagement and which had the highest reach, so you can determine not just when you should post, but what you should post.
I’ve found that these statistics exhibit some ebb and flow as my audience and its habits change over time, so I monitor them periodically and use my findings to continually refine and refocus my posting habits.
Variables such as my ideal posting times and my most popular content aren’t always consistent, but by checking my statistics regularly, I can eliminate a considerable amount of guesswork and have an easier time posting when it counts the most.
Ignore misleading statistics
Statistic taken out of context can be dangerous, so think twice before listening to the wisdom of the crowd. Case in point: Most consumers say brand managers should post to Facebook just once or twice per day. Should you take their advice? Absolutely not.
Consider that the average organic reach on Facebook is about 7 percent—a statistic that most consumers probably aren’t aware of. If you post only twice a day, you might be reaching about one-seventh of your followers at best.
Facebook’s algorithms mean that most of your fans won’t see any given update you share. Depending on the types of updates you post, you could share 10 in a day and still reach only about half your fans. So although they might want to see only one or two posts from you in a single day, you would have to post significantly more frequently than once or twice to hit that mark.
The solution I’ve implemented has been to save my social media updates and re-share them over time. This makes it easier to maintain a heavy posting schedule (posting as many as 20 updates per day, across different social media networks), and it ensures that every update gets multiple chances to find its audience. Why throw away a perfectly good Facebook update when 93 percent of your audience didn’t even see it?
Keep these points in mind, and not only will you worry less about whether organic reach on Facebook is “dead,” but you’ll also watch your own organic reach improve over time.
Laura Roeder is the founder of Edgar, a social media automation and content management tool. A version of this article originally appeared on BusinessCollective, which, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.