How Brands Can Tap into the Organic Reach of their Fans

Is your brand suffering from the whims of algorithms?

organic reach

Nicholas Thorne is the CEO and a co-founder of basno, the platform for creating and collecting digital badges. He started his career at Goldman Sachs in the technology, media and telecommunications investment banking group after graduating magna cum laude from Yale with a B.A. in History and a concentration in Chinese language.

Problem: You can’t really reach your fans anymore. Not without paying, at least. The changes to Facebook’s algorithm means that brands are effectively being charged to access the very fans that they spent so much energy acquiring. Although this phenomenon has been well-documented, solutions remain less clear. The discussion must turn to defining strategies for success in this new reality, and hopefully beyond.

It’s worth stating upfront that the only immediate answer is to go hat-in-hand to the very Facebook gods that just took away your reach and pay up to get it back, again and again.

Alternatively, you can begin to cultivate new channels for creating engagement and grabbing attention by tapping into the organic reach of your fans and followers. Simply put, if you can help your fans publish fun, interesting and engaging content that’s relevant to your brand, you will replace the success you once had posting directly on your own Facebook page.

Success with this strategy relies on understanding what motivates individuals to publish content and then finding ways to trigger those individuals to do just that. The main difference here is that you are no longer looking for content that will engage the audience you reach (i.e. getting them to Like and comment). Instead, you’re looking for ways to get that group to actively share content with their friends and family. It’s a completely different mindset.

Here are three approaches to consider for tapping into the organic reach of these fans and followers online:

1. Empower employees to create and share great content. Employees are your first line of offense. They know what’s important to your company, so they’re already reading and keeping their eye out for content that is relevant to your brand. If they’re confident in starting or joining these conversations on social media, they will be advancing the brand’s mission overall. Companies like Percolate have actually created tools for this exact purpose, by allowing businesses to push content to their employees on mobile, who can then easily read and share it with their own social networks.

2. Recognize and celebrate people. Use the credibility of your brand to establish a standard and recognize the very people who achieve it. When you do that, you will be helping people stand out in their own networks, compelling them to share the recognition they’ve received with friends and family. It’s a mutually beneficial branding exercise that’s well-suited for a world where people want reasons to talk about themselves online.

This is a big part of what we do at basno; help everyone from businesses to universities create digital badges that they can use to recognize people and their achievements. By issuing badges, brands put people in the position to make a statement on social media. And 80 percent of people who receive a badge share it on social platforms.

3. Publish facts and figures. Numbers and data, even in the form of a “23 reasons you…” listicle, are easily consumable tidbits that people love to share. The trick here is that researching and publishing new facts and figures is something most people rarely do on their own. So, if you can find and publish this type of content for them, they’ll be quick to share it with others, which is exactly what you want: to create opportunities for other people to share rather than just posting self-serving content.

The game has changed. As a brand, your ability to reach people on Facebook and across other social platforms will never be what it was. You can adapt by doing everything in your power to help others organically share the content that you once shared.