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When Facebook Pages first became used by businesses, social media marketing was relatively easy. We could post content, get likes and comments and increase the reach organically. However, times have changed and gaining organic reach is not quite so simple.

Last month, Facebook announced three new algorithm updates:

  • Multiple posts from the same page are now allowed in a users news feed
  • Posts from friends now appear above adverts in news feeds
  • Users will no longer see posts just because friends have liked or commented on them

The first two are clearly implemented with user experience in mind. The third algorithm change, however, is a move to incentivise businesses to spend more money on Facebook. Without the ability for new people to see posts that your fans have liked or commented on, it makes it far more difficult to spread your brand.

Likes and comments are still massively important in Facebook marketing, as your current followers will no longer see your content if they don’t interact with it, but in terms of increasing your reach on Facebook, you have two options. You can either pay Facebook to show your content to new people, or you can create highly sharable content.

What is sharable content?
This is where we introduce the social science. Simply put, sharable content is content that is more likely to be shared. Clicking on like is a simple action, but clicking share shows that you want your friends to see the content. It’s a far more involved process and believe it or not, there’s been some really credible research on it.

In his book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger discusses the 6 characteristics of viral content:

  • Social Value: What does the sharer get out of sharing the content? For example, if the Facebook post is funny, it makes the sharer seem like a funny person.
  • Triggers: These keep people talking about things. Posts that tie into things that they see in their every day lives are more likely to be shared over time. For example, if you create a video about coffee, whenever somebody drinks a coffee, they may remember the video and be inclined to then share it.
  • Emotion: When we care, we share. Tap into the emotion of the reader and they are more likely to pass your posts to their friends.
  • Practical Value: If something is useful to the friends of your followers, it is more likely to be shared to them.
  • Public: This doesn’t necessarily come into play on Facebook, but if the friends of your followers can see something, it is more likely to be shared. This is why Apple have their logo so visible on MacBooks – friends of Apple users can see the logo, so the product spreads throughout friend groups.
  • Stories: Rather than simply posting pictures of your products and offers, try posting stories. These can be based around your products, for example, why someone uses your product, success stories and the story and reasoning behind your business.

Creating content that is sharable is good practice in general, but getting comments and likes should not be forgotten. Likeable and commentable posts are generally ones that appeal to the group (or tribe). These are posts that resonate with their views, beliefs and situation and are the ones that will keep people in contact with you, while the viral posts grow your group.