How do I improve my social media reach?
With more people than ever working from home and free from interminable meetings, now is a perfect storm for producing and sharing great content for both your regular content and your advertising options.
How can I get more reach for my social media posts?
The first thing to note is that the giants of social media have changed their algorithms.
These social media used to reward Shares and Likes the most. A highly Shared article would be promoted to the top of the pile, appearing higher up in readers' streams and so would be seen and read by more people.
In 2020, that's no longer the case. Nowadays, social networks boost articles with the most/best Comments, then those with high volumes of Likes and then, to some degree, those with a high number of Shares.
The rationale is simple: Comments are a stronger signal of engagement with a piece of content. Commenting takes more effort. Comments are less likely to be replicated. They mean that audiences spend more time on the platform, which is part of the platform's plan. Next are Likes. Despite Likes only taking a split second, they do signal trust in the content. Shares are now ranked third in terms of importance because the networks want people to either create content or Like or Comment on it, but not just Share others’ which is less social and less likely to result in people spending more time on their platform.
There's nuance here, of course. The best options are to have people Comment and Like your article as this will extend the degree to which social networks promote it. Likewise, Sharing with a Comment is rewarded with greater reach than just Sharing as it's a sign of greater engagement.
So, if you write a piece and want it to reach a larger audience, it's worth encouraging them to Comment or writing content that will compel them to add their opinion.
What if you don't feel comfortable asking others to Comment?
There are several ways to ask people to engage with your content:
- First, you can write "I'd be interested to hear others' views" at the end of the status;
- Second, you can ask others for their opinions to go in the article as you're writing it - this *always* goes down well; and/or
- Third, you can tag them and ask them at the time of sharing. Deploy this option if you have flagged it to them already or if you are close enough to them that you know that they will definitely respond.
You may feel awkward asking people to Comment. I which case, I think that you need to know about the Benjamin Franklin effect.
What is the Benjamin Franklin effect?
Franklin wrote in his autobiography that:
"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."
The modern version is this:
"If you want someone to like you, ask them to do you a favour."
Scientists explain this cognitive dissonance as follows: If you like someone, you'll help them. But if you help someone, your brain assumes that you like the person. Otherwise, why would you be helping them? It may sound odd, but it works.
Another reason that people are willing to help is that you are validating their expertise. By saying: "Please can I have your comment?" you're showing that you value your contact's opinion. And everyone likes to be valued.
Finally, add to this the fact that you are showing yourself to be less than perfect - vulnerable even - as you ask for help, and people are increasingly endeared towards you and more likely to help.
It's a powerful combination and will produce great results if deployed well.
What difference does having Likes and Comments make?
We’ve run the stats and for every Like, LinkedIn promotes your status to around 100-200 extra people. The same for any Comment.
After evaluating your content as to how good it is (yes, really), LinkedIn only initially serves your content to a small group of people - perhaps 100 or so. If none of them Like or Share it, then it will quickly be forgotten and won’t appear in any more feeds.
The golden hour
If, however, within the first hour of it being released, it gets Likes and Comments, then the algorithm rewards it with more and more exposure which is a virtuous circle likely to get you hundreds or thousands of views.
This is why it’s so essential to make sure that your content is something that people can genuinely engage with from the outset. If they purely Like it, then it will run its course. If they Like and Comment, then it will stick around for hours and even days.
Testing our theories
Bram Vanoirbeek - a friend and fellow digital marketing geek - and I created this status to test our theories. It contains some really good thinking from around our industry and the results were as good as we’d hoped for. Within an hour, it had had almost 700 views. Within four hours, it had been seen over 2,000 times. After 20 hours it had been viewed over 3,500 times.
You can see the results in the live post here
What should I be doing right now?
Right now, people are working remotely and seeing them face to face is currently hard if not entirely banned. So using content as a way to get in front of people and remain front-of-mind makes good business sense.
Just not the old "draft it and fire it out" kind.
Let's put the social back into social media.
Oh, and if you’d like an audit of what you’re doing, we can help - see our LinkedIn audit here.