Pivot from Organic Reach on Social

By Emma Fitzpatrick      

New year, same social media conundrums. While most of us have accepted that a social media presence is a must-have for our banks, we continue to struggle with the continually shifting landscape. What, for example, are we to do about the ever-dwindling numbers on our Facebook pages? For what seems like the umpteenth year in a row (actually, since 2014), organic reach is down. An analysis of nearly 30,000 Facebook pages found that organic reach for Facebook pages dropped, on average, 13.62 percent in 2018.

Not only are fewer people organically seeing your Facebook content, but they’re also engaging far less. Engagement rates have dropped more than 50 percent in the last 18 months.

Let’s look into why this is happening and then we’ll dive into what you can do about it.

Why do my Facebook numbers (organic reach and engagement) continue to drop?

Source: Buffer’s analysis of over 43 million Facebook posts (https://blog.bufferapp.com/facebook-marketing-strategy)

The change Facebook made to its algorithm in January 2018 certainly plays a role in that. By design, Facebook shows less public content from brands and publishers than it used to.

But, there’s another major factor here: Facebook use is down across the board.

In September 2017, Facebook accounted for 16.9 percent of all digital content consumption. In September 2018, it was only 14.3 percent. While a 2.6 point drop may not sound dire—or even all that bad—its implications are enormous.

That equates to each Facebook user reading, on average, 20 percent less content.

Should I be doing more advertising on social media?

Perhaps. If you want to mirror the reach numbers of yesteryear, then yes, you likely will have to pay (either via post boosts or ads) to make that happen.

But, because of that decrease in Facebook use, the competition for eyeballs on Facebook is fierce—even for ads. ROI on Facebook ads has deteriorated. According to C3 metrics provided to Marketing Dive, it’s down 75 percent (from an index value of 2 in April of 2018 to below 0.5 from May to August 2018).

If you choose to advertise more on Facebook, you may end up paying more than you have in the past to reach the same number of people. Many companies see that as a necessary evil since Facebook is the platform that houses their largest following and has the largest number of daily active users.

But if you’re looking for other options, Instagram—especially Instagram Stories—has emerged as a possibility. According to data from June 2018, over 400 million people watch Instagram Stories every day. That’s nearly double the number of daily active users from a year prior. So far, this growth shows no signs of stopping.

Another option is to consider shifting some of your time spent creating social media content toward writing more search-engine-optimized blog posts. In 2016, Facebook was driving more referral traffic than Google sites. But now, Google sites are driving about 25 percent more referral traffic than Facebook. Creating content that answers long-tail keywords and ranks well with Google can continually drive traffic for months and years to come.

If I do more social media advertising, how can I make better ads?

  • Create more video ads. A 2018 HubSpot case study found that ads with videos drove more clicks than ads with images, and often, cost less per click as well. Be sure to shoot it vertically, though. Vertical video reached 58 percent more people, engaged 29 percent more people and cost 65 percent less.
  • Keep it short. After analyzing more than 750,000 Facebook ads in 2018, AdEspresso found the magic numbers. Your headline should be five words (or 25 characters) long and your link description should be 13 characters long. If you’re creating a video ad, try to keep it six-seconds long. Ninety percent of advertisers saw greater ad recall after testing 300 mobile, six-second ad campaigns on YouTube. Facebook also found the six-second ad had the highest brand metrics compared to other ad lengths.
  • Say your name earlier and often. Your bank’s name should, ideally, be within every frame of your ad. But it must be in the first few seconds. Facebook data shows that makes it more memorable for viewers. That way, even if your viewers don’t finish the whole ad, they still learned your name.

Emma Fitzpatrick is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and marketer, whose specialties include content marketing, social media marketing and short, snappy writing. Pick her brain at emma.l.fitzpatrick@gmail.com

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