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How to Leverage Facebook's New Audience Optimization Feature for Your Business

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 17/03/2016 Young Entrepreneur Council

2016-03-11-1457710993-2403717-SteveWeiss.png © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-03-11-1457710993-2403717-SteveWeiss.png If you were using Facebook at the start of 2015, your business' page was most likely one of thousands that lost its organic reach overnight. This was around the time Facebook changed its newsfeed algorithm and many businesses noticed a drop in their organic reach. As the CEO of a company that specializes in online growth-hacking, I know the latest strategies that can help with user acquisition. If your page suffers from low organic engagement, here's why that's happening -- and how you can remedy it.

Why Your Page Is Getting Low Engagement

Every Facebook page is given an EdgeRank, an algorithm that decides what content each user will see on their newsfeed. If your page is getting low engagement, chances are it's not meeting EdgeRank's three main criteria:

  • User affinity. This takes into consideration how likely the content posted relates to the user's interests.
  • Content weight. This is how often the user takes action with your content (clicks, likes, shares etc.).
  • Time. New and unique content is more likely to be shown to users than older posts that have been used before. Facebook does not want to serve outdated content to users.

How Facebook's Audience Optimization Can Help

Over the years, businesses have posted too much content that wasn't relevant or engaging to their fans, and, now, their organic posting strategy was more or less useless. This was a common phenomenon until earlier this year, when Audience Optimization was introduced, a feature that helps publishers reach more of their fans organically, depending on the content of their posts. It also lets you segment your current fan base to show relevant content to certain fans, and restrict others, adjusting your page's EdgeRank.

Audience Optimization achieves this by letting you adjust the following during post updates:

  • Preferred audience. This allows you to serve posts to fans who have certain interests. For example, if you're posting about a local sports event, you can target users who like a specific sport, team or event in a certain state, city or town. This ensures that your local fans will see your content, while others won't.
  • Restrictions. This option allows you to limit the amount of people who see your post. For example, if you run an online retail store and are about to post a new line of women's shoes, there would be little reason to target males. Restrictions ensure users who aren't interested in your content don't lower your EdgeRank by not interacting with your post. You can restrict users by age, gender, language and location.
  • Audience Insights. This is an analytics tool that reveals how your posts are performing. These insights help you understand how different segments of your fan base are responding to your content, and discover ways you can further optimize.

Before you begin, you need to stop treating all your fans as numbers: different people follow your page for different reasons. If you carry on serving content to all your fans as one base, your EdgeRank will worsen and your reach will drop even lower.

Here's how you can put Audience Optimization to use:

  • Define an audience. Instead of focusing on a product or keyword for your next post, define your audience to better target your content.
  • Use broad and narrow interest tags. You can use to 16 interest tags per post to get the most impact. I suggest using a combination of broad and niche terms. Avoid using terms such as sports, music, travel and food as they are too generic and will be hard to engage with people with those interests. Let's assume you were uploading a post about the Superbowl 2016. Broad terms would be NFL, Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, whereas niche terms would be the name of players, towns both cities play in and team nicknames.
  • Leverage memes and hashtags. When Steve Harvey named the wrong women as Miss Universe, he became an online meme sensation with pictures going viral everywhere. If you post meme-related posts quite often (many brands do), you might be able to find interest tags for it. Note that not all memes will have interest tags since they have a finite life.

For the longest time, the only way publishers could reach their organic audience was by paying to promote their posts. If you take advantage of Audience Optimization today, you might not notice a huge increase in organic views after just one post. However the more you do use it, the greater your page's EdgeRank will increase, which will compound over time if you create engaging posts catered to the right audience. Before you know it, you will have revived your page and will be able to reach thousands of fans for free.

Steve Weiss is the CEO of MuteSix, where he works with team of data-driven customer acquisition fanatics that specialize in driving growth for e-commerce companies on Facebook, AdWords, and native ads.

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