14 🔑(Keys) of Success to Win Facebook’s Algorithm
30M Organic Video Views, 40K New Fans & 75M Impressions, while monetizing $350k revenue in 3 Months
Recently brands like Convince&Convert, Wall Street Journal & Forrester Research concluded Facebook reach is dead, while they need to pay-to-play. Slightly true, but for a good reason. Let me tell you a story about growth & monetization with Facebook’s algorithm.
Every successful story needs a Joseph Campbell reflection, so here’s mine. I started focusing on growth & social media for an online retailer last year and there were about 86,000 fans. When I left, they were around 140,000 fans. Our calling was to reach 1M video views within three months.
After auditing Facebook we removed 2,500 SPAM accounts because inactive & invalid accounts distort Return-On-Investment metrics. This took some time, but we came up with certain variables that defined a fake fan. We were very loose, so we didn’t remove private fans but there’s very typical signs of fake accounts; less than 75 friends, excessive posting & several other factors. We manually removed the SPAM accounts.
Within 3-Months we acquired 45k followers, 8.5K engagements(likes, comments, or shares), 30M video views & 50M impressions. These metrics are from organic owned & earned media, exclusively on Facebook. Most importantly, we went from referring 5% of 500k unique visitors/month to leading 50% of referral traffic and doubling overall unique visitors/month. Thus breaking 1M unique visitors in a month for the first time ever.
The struggle is real, but this is how it happened. The first week was a major challenge, hitting a brick wall reaching 10k impressions. On the third week, we were launching an exclusive product with a major broadcast event. We reached 1M Page impressions. The broadcast event also enabled new video content helping drive 100,000 organic video views.
Three weeks later, our video metrics(views & engagement) matched the broadcast event without national press. This showed sustainability in Facebook’s platform and some type of respect for being respectful. Phase one of our strategy was identifying content our audience engages with. We used several analytics platforms(listed below) to compare historical content for competitors & our brand. Beyond metrics, I categorized each piece of content(text, image, video, GIF, or link) by category; hair, educational, makeup, exercise, healthy, food, animals, etc. We took our top 5 categories based on reach, and doubled down on posting the most engaging content based on historical data.
Engaging our audience happiness & confidence was the mission’s core strategy. The first big hit was a curated video of a hamster eating a carrot, and the video scored 1,000+ likes.
The next step was clear, use more animal videos. After licensing a controversial animal video we started doubling in likes, impressions & engagements. Growth didn’t stop. Based on research and logic, engaging our users happiness is a key to success.
Develop a Relationship With Community
Know their names. Watch the shows they watch. For example, I would watch Olivia Pope take down white collard criminals on Scandal & Leo vape at The Oscars together. I lipsync’d Adele for ‘Hello’s’ release week. We discovered what causes were important to our audience, so we created awareness & raised money for mutual environmental issues. Most important, we sent each other ❤ emojis’. Success came from listening and interacting with our audiences in a meaningful way and understanding what they want and are emotionally invested in.
It’s called social media. That means sharing other people’s content. Plus, being contextual with your audience. Content isn’t so literal anymore. You need to think of the emotional & physical state of your audience. Are they frustrated, bored, curious, tired, sick, sad, injured, hungry, traveling, cleaning the house or working?
I believe all brands need to be community organizations with a clear mission & communicate via social media. Creating relationships through content means minimize messaging & selling. Understand what your audience needs, and deliver value by listening through the content. I’m talking about animal videos, cat GIFs, world news or even pizza memes’. But only if your audience cares about those things.
Invest in Multimedia
Pictures, copy, video, gifs, links, and text include a balanced content strategy. Quotes always work. Art doesn’t so much. News is iffy, depending on where you stand on things. Actually, every audience is different. Most important, frequency & content diversity lifts the Facebook algorithm.
Partnering with brands who have aligned interests need to share content. Users expect to never run out of content. Producing original content is expensive. Partnering with aligned brands to share content is a competitive advantage. Also, it’s called social media, therefore sharing other brands voice builds social value.
Change Video Dimensions
The first 20 landscape videos I uploaded didn’t reach more than 500 views. While scrolling through Facebook, I began noticing videos with funky borders and subject lines. I thought they were stupid, until I added magenta & purple borders to my videos.
3 weeks after my 500 view plateau, 3 of my purple border videos began to reach up to 5,000 organic video views. I’m assuming the color contrast in the feed draws your attention. Leading up to this event, I tested three dimensions. Vertical & square videos outperformed horizontal landscapes.
Overlay Text & Remove Sound
NowThis & Buzzfeed dominate Facebook’s video content game. We took notes and saw major results after implementing. Facebook users watch video in places they can’t play audio. Visual storytelling with text overlay speeds up the story.
- Why would they care? What’s the benefit or value of the share. Will it provide the user a great experience?
- Why would they share? Will this make the user look intelligent? Is your post valuable for target’s audience?
If you can’t answer these, then your post will less likely go viral or have a longterm lifespan.
I used to think 2–3 posts on Facebook were too many. Now, I recommend 8–12 posts a day to my clients. Every single hour, from 9–5 or outside those hours. Follow The Prince A/B tests’ content frequency to understand audience behavior. Every community is different, so the key is to discover their interests.
I am confident Facebook’s #1 variable in their algorithm revolves around momentum. Philosophically, I connect real world sciences; physics, biology, and math with the laws of the internet. I believe scientists are building symbiotic systems between the digital internet & physical universe.
Use Scientific Method
Every move should have a hypothesis followed by a test. We analyze and listen to our audience. Data drives our decisions. Rinse & repeat.
Engage with Community
We had over 150,000 comments and 500 inbound messages. We answered every single one. They asked for the price or product, and sometimes shared their deepest feelings. Promptness is highly valuable for a quality feedback loop. Most messaging interactions turned to sales, and they are going to stick around because of those experiences. I’m talking about discussions of female Goddesses disregarded from popular culture or re-posting a tagged photo from a client that felt like we changed her life by recognizing her. The only skill I needed was to absolutely care.
Set Intentions & Execute
Building confidence and trust was our number one goal. Through a strategic content marketing strategy, we’re able to create ownership of our content. When we speak to our audiences in a unique and personalized way, they respond with interest. What are your intentions? Now, execute.
Build a Tool Belt
I’m just human. I need some robots to give me insight. So my robots of choice are Tubular Labs, Spike & Shareable.
Tubular helps identify our video content strategy, plus what videos to license. We then license them on places like Juke Media & similar services.
Spike curates non-video content across Reddit, Facebook, Twitter & other places on the internet. They are the most affordable services and have excellent customer service.
Shareablee is more focused on measuring our competitors analytics & the marketplace data. We can better position ourselves from competitor data. Also, we can set goals & measure results with more clarity.
There are many more tools, and you can even build your own. However, don’t let these define your path. If you can’t afford these at the moment, do the manual labor necessary until you get a client that pays for one of them.
Yes — a hammer helps knock down nails, but if you don’t have a hammer, there’s always a rock. — Prince Boucher
Non-stop determination is what made this happen. You have to roll your sleeves up, listen to your audience, and communicate with content. When you don’t have access to the certain content, make your own. If you have an idea without a budget, make it with your own cellular device. I’m a huge fan of aesthetic, but it’s not everything. Too many people are too focused on the glittery surface, but context is more important. You deliver context over time or through volume. Regardless, It’s all about that grit.
Facebook’s algorithm will change, but these 14 keys are a framework to building relationships online or offline. Relationships are difficult & building a community is even more challenging. The tactics and methods will change, but the philosophy will continue evolving.
I’m passionate about Facebook because I believe it helps small groups of people, more than the big guys. I’ve experienced successful results personally and for my clients, so I want to share those keys publicly. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please reach out. If you like this article or it helped you, please let me know and share with your friends.
Special Thanks to Brunsniks.com for collaborating to create stunning visuals. I met Justus Bruns in Amsterdam last summer through a mutual organization, World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers. He showed me around his beautiful city, introduced me to friends, and shared stories about current challenges locally & around the world. We stayed in touch and have been trying to find a project to start. First, we started Shape Design & this article is our second collaboration. Now, we’re looking forward to the next project!